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Nobody is to Blame for Boris Going but Boris

Kevan James

July 15, 2022.

Sometimes it may be a good thing to pause and reflect, to think a little more about what may or may not have happened. I’ve written that before but instant reaction was the choice of almost all when Boris Johnson stood in Downing Street and announced that he had agreed with Sir Graham Brady that a new party leader was needed. In other words, he resigned.

Typical of Johnson, the words ‘resignation’ and ‘resigned’ were not used. And therein can be found the key, at least to one of the doors, of Boris Johnson and his tenure as Prime Minister.

Like most politicians (and for that matter writers too – yes, I admit it, I can dazzle with words. Or at least attempt to, now and again), Johnson is good with words. He has the ability to use them to great effect and knows many words, and their meanings, better than others. But the fact he couldn’t bring himself to simply say, “I am resigning as leader of my party and as Prime Minister”, but chose to hide it and himself behind a plethora of wordsmithery says a lot about why so many have fallen out of love with him.

That use, or perhaps overuse, of language says to many that Johnson is a man who hides, rather than comes straight out with what needs to be said. The image of a large fridge immediately springs to mind but as I said, most politicians are like that. Boris Johnson however, was Prime Minister and people want their leaders to be reasonably straight talking. Diplomatic yes, but nonetheless, reasonably straight in what they say and do. And on top of that, they want them to be truthful.

Unfortunately the truth and Boris Johnson appear to be mutually exclusive. To the point where the first question asked of him during his interview with Mumsnet dwelt on that very issue; to where the question “Are you going to tell the truth today?” was also asked at a press conference and before any other.

Politicians tell lies. We know that. And to a degree, we generally accept it, at least up to a point but only up to a point. With Boris Johnson however, routine lying was taken to something close to an art form and it proved his undoing. Not however, as most people tend to think. The backbreaker was not ‘partygate’, cakegate or any other gate either.

The affair over the aptly-named Chris Pincher’s appointment to the whips office, even though Johnson knew of unsavoury allegations surrounding him, became the final straw. Johnson’s initial denial over knowing about those allegations was yet another lie – but was that the only reason? The answer to that is a little more complex.

If Johnson had said from the start, “Yes, I knew, but he (Pincher) hasn’t been charged with any offence, he hasn’t been found guilty of anything and until and unless he is, he is an innocent man,” Boris Johnson would still be Prime Minister and there would be no contest to replace him as party leader and PM.

Yet Pincher has form; he has faced similar accusations in the not very distant past, going back to 2017. And it is this, or more accurately the nature of accusations, that led to the downfall of Boris Johnson.

Given Pincher’s previous, why on earth was he even considered for a government appointment? But it is not just Johnson’s misjudgement in this respect that triggered the mass resignations, Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak being the start of an avalanche of them.

It is that Chris Pincher is allegedly a sex offender. And nothing, but nothing, makes politicians run away faster. Even though the accused may not have been charged, tried and found guilty. And until an accused is – they are, in law, innocent.

But as far as any possible sex offending is concerned, no current politician has had the courage to stand up and say, “Let the course of justice have its way – if guilt is established, then and only then, do we take action. Because until guilt is proven the presumption of innocence matters.”

To his credit, Pincher has not denied any of the most recent accusations and removing the party whip from him at the start of this month was inevitable (he now sits as an independent MP). But in the wider view, anybody accused of any kind of sex offence is automatically cast out from society - whether they did anything or not. Innocence or the possibility of it is not a consideration.

Pincher is not innocent. He has said so. But has he broken any law? He does appear to have made inappropriate sexual advances to other men and more fool he is for doing so. But the law has not taken any course, he still has not yet been charged, tried and convicted of breaking the law. He may well be an idiot but he is not yet a criminal.

This however was Boris Johnson’s biggest mistake – to be perceived as on the side of a sex offender, the lowest of the low. And it is why the soon-to-be former PM has been abandoned by many parliamentary Conservatives. Yet all he had to do, and especially as Prime Minister, was to say that Chris Pincher was not a convicted criminal and that he knew of the allegations that had been made.

Boris Johnson’s time as Prime Minster has been chaotic and peppered with accusations of one kind or another. But it has also been noted for an apparent desire to restrict and remove long-cherished freedoms, most obviously over COVID-19. There is also other legislation that provides greater power for the state. These are matters that should be of huge concern but Johnson’s premiership has also been noted for the amount of lying that has gone on.

All politicians lie. But over the Pincher affair, for Boris Johnson, it was one lie too far. And the only person to blame for that is Boris Johnson.

© Kevan James, 2022.

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