The Hypocrisy on Show at Cop26
The Daily Mail, November 4, 2021
Now we know what was really bothering Boris Johnson when he spoke of the ticking clock standing at 'one minute to midnight'. He was worried about missing Last Orders at the Garrick Club.
Presumably, that's why he took a private plane back to London from the Cop26 summit in Glasgow on Tuesday night to join fellow Tories and compadres from Her Majesty's Daily Telegraph for a convivial gentlemen's dinner. If he'd let the train take the strain, Boris wouldn't have arrived at Euston Station until 11.30pm.
Given the permanent gridlock in Central London these days, even with a police escort he'd almost certainly never have made it to the Covent Garden club in time for a nightcap. Late night revellers and theatre-goers heading for the Tube could have been treated to the sight of our dishevelled Prime Minister clambering out of the back of his official limo and running up the steps shouting: 'Large gin and tonic, Giovanni' before the shutters came down in the cocktail bar. So to be on the safe side, Boris chartered an executive jet and landed at Stansted airport at 7.16pm. A couple of gas-guzzling Range Rovers were waiting on the Tarmac to whisk him to the Garrick, no doubt with Blues and Twos blazing. By the time the Daily Mirror tracked him down at 8.45pm, both SUVs were parked outside the club. Boris had arrived comfortably in time for his tea, which we can safely assume wasn't 'plant-based'. Red-blooded Tories don't do vegan.
My guess is that red meat and red wine were involved, followed by the finest full-fat cheeses.
I wonder what Boris's dining companions make of Rishi Sunak, an allegedly Conservative Chancellor, whacking up duty on vintage clarets and plotting to tax the roast beef of Olde England? That's more than sufficient grounds to get Dishi blackballed by the Garrick, should he ever care to apply for membership. For the record, I have no problem with a few like-minded chaps getting together for Chateaubriand washed down with Chateauneuf du Pape.
I don't even care if Boris takes a private plane back from an international summit. It's the stinking hypocrisy that sticks in my craw, the 'Do as I say, not as I do' arrogance of all this.
I couldn't give a monkey's about the double-standards of Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, or any other of the preening global junketeers who turned up in Glasgow this week. But I am extremely concerned about the behaviour of our Prime Minister and his Cabinet, who increasingly behave as if the rules they impose upon on the rest of us don't apply to them.
Boris has spent the week warning about climate change apocalypse. In pursuit of his insane Net Zero vanity project, he proposes to make us colder and poorer, change our diets and cut back on travel, especially foreign holidays. After banging on about aviation and vehicle emissions destroying the planet, does he really think taking a private plane and a thirsty Range Rover to a jolly-up at an exclusive London club is a proper way to behave? What kind of example does that set? If catching the train back from Glasgow meant missing a dinner with Lord Snooty and his pals, so what?
Sadly, this pattern of behaviour has become the norm among our ruling elite, ever since Boris's ex-sidekick Dominic Cummings flouted the Covid lockdown by driving to Durham. Ministers exempted themselves from the travel ban and the need to self-isolate. On the pretext of combating global warming, the Tories' Cop26 champion Alok Sharma flew to no fewer than 30 countries, never once quarantining on his return to Britain.
Next month, it'll be two years since we gave Boris a thumping 80-seat majority. It should have been the start of a national renaissance under a popular, self-proclaimed libertarian PM.
Admittedly, the pandemic changed everything. But that is no excuse for what has happened subsequently. I've been asking friends and family who voted Tory in 2019, some for the first time, if they can name a single one of this Government's policies they actually support. Other than getting Brexit done and sub-contracting the vaccine programme to Kate Bingham, most came up blank.
Somewhere along the line, a so-called Tory Government has completely lost the plot. Forget the humiliating U-turn yesterday before Owen Paterson resigned, which smacked of a ruling party in utter disarray, shorn of any moral compass. Brexit was supposed to mean we took back control of our borders. Yet Priti Flamingo has failed miserably to stop 20,000 migrants floating across the Channel this year alone. Not one has been sent back.
Ministers talk tough, but achieve nothing. It turns out that Lord Frost's alleged hardline over the current fishing dispute has been nothing of the sort. The Scottish trawler held hostage was only released after Britain agreed, under the radar, to hand out another 95 permits to French boats. No wonder Macron is crowing. These issues are mere sideshows in the scheme of things, however. What is truly worrying is that this Government seems to be suffering from some kind of political long-Covid malaise.
Having acquired a pseudo-socialist appetite for an authoritarian punishment culture during lockdown, they seem reluctant to give it up. Draconian restrictions on liberty and travel have given them a taste for more of the same. Conservatism is supposed to be about low taxes, individual responsibility and freedom of choice. Yet all are in short supply right now.
We're not trusted to make our own decisions about what cars we buy, how we heat our homes, where we go on holiday, what we eat. Nor even where we live any more, once we reach a certain age. The Housing Minister told a Parliamentary committee this week that older couples should be forced sell their larger properties when their children move out to make way for young families. So much for the property-owning democracy advanced by Mrs Thatcher. At this rate, the Chancellor will start imposing an empty bedroom tax on people with 'too much' living space. The Tories have already given in to the climate alarmists, pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Far-Left anti-car activism such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and deserted cycle lanes. Yet here's how a Downing Street spokesman tried risibly to defend Boris's use of a private jet. 'It is important the Prime Minister is able to move about the country and we faced significant time restraints.'
And it's not important for the rest of us to be able to move around the country in a vehicle of our choice? What about our time restraints, especially when journey times are doubling because of artificially created traffic jams as a matter of Government policy? Whenever this Government decides it must change our behaviour, it always involves heavy fines and higher taxes. Boris and his ministers reach for the stick, not the plant-based alternative. Frank Luntz-style focus groups may tell Boris that his policies are wildly popular, but that's not the impression I get from radio phone-ins and letters and emails from Daily Mail readers, who say they'll never vote Tory again. For years, Boris has been allowed to have it both ways. But lately his cakeism has morphed into 'let them eat cake'.
His blatant hypocrisy in taking a private plane back from a conference designed in part to stop the rest of us flying anywhere may not be the final straw, but it is another brick missing from his Blue Wall. Boris may think his 80-seat majority gives him licence to act in any way he sees fit. But he can't go on insulting our intelligence, punishing us and picking our pockets, while behaving in as cavalier fashion as he pleases. Not without long-term consequences at the ballot box.
If Labour could mount even a half-decent show of Opposition, the Tories would already be in big trouble. There's probably only two years max before the next election. By then, turning up late at the Garrick Club could be the least of Boris's problems. It's not yet one minute to midnight, but the clock is ticking. Let's have your glasses, gentlemen, please. Tick, tock.
© Richard Littlejohn / Daily Mail 2021.
Graphic - The Daily Mail