Boris Johnson’s shambolic speeches hide a bigger problem: the Tories are getting tired

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The most important thing to understand Boris Johnson is that he loves practical jokes. One of his most frequent moments – which he has played to any number of unsuspecting audiences over the years – is appearing at an event and pretending that he either missed his speech or didn’t expect her to have to deliver it. This joke has a continuation when he begins to speak: many of Johnson’s speeches are written in such a way that it seems as if the thread of his argument quickly escapes him, only to make him come to his senses.

Was Johnson badly received appeal to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) November 22 – in which he talked about Peppa Pig, compared himself to Moses and seemed to struggle to navigate his own text – a joke that didn’t work? Or a sign that the prime minister is in serious trouble?

Boris Johnson speaking at the CBI conference on November 22, 2021.

Downing Street’s official line is that he stumbled with his speech – a misfortune that can happen to anyone. But some MPs fear that the problem is more serious. V The prime minister has always relied on humur to compensate for his lack of preparation and attention to detail. Whether it’s the result of time or the lingering effects of his battle with Covid-19, they see the CBI speech as proof that Johnson can no longer use his wits to get him out of his lectern crisis.

Others, however, suspect that the real problem was that Johnson’s joke didn’t hit the audience. “This is Boris’s classic maneuver,” said one of the Conservative MPs. “But it usually works because the public wants him to be successful. It was rude to try to do it in front of the CBI, who almost everyone hates him. “

Rumors of the prime minister’s bad speech echoed the Conservative Party’s chatter about the Johnson administration as a whole. Is the problem of the inappropriateness of the Downing Street operation that caused the prime minister to send a speech ill-suited for an audience with the CBI? Or is it the prime minister himself?

Some MPs – not all of them Johnson supporters – completely reject the issue. “What’s the problem?” they are asking. Zoom out and all that has happened is that the government, several years ahead of the next election – a competition whose date will be chosen by the prime minister anyway – is on par with the opposition or a little behind in polls.

Controversial measures to reduce the cost of social assistance to adults in the interests of the richest in the country and to the detriment of the poorest were passed by parliament and will become law. Tax collection Budget undermined both the popularity of the government and the good reputation of his most beloved minister, Rishi Sunaka. These are not insurmountable or even unexpected difficulties. But one of the reasons people are now talking about leadership crises all over the place is because Westminster and its accompanying media are just bored, and a little dose of the internal Tory war yields a nice change in pace.

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Most of Johnson’s difficulties are fairly typical of the ruling party, especially one that has been in power for more than a decade. Conservative social protection proposals are so controversial because they are essentially transfers of wealth and asset protection from conservative voters in marginal places, where homes tend to have lower par values, and to conservative voters. in reliably conservative locations, whose homes tend to be much more expensive.

This reflects a long-standing division between Tory MPs, who sit in a comfortable majority, and those who look over their shoulders in narrow margins. One MP, who is in a safe place, told me that effective governments “rule over the majority of their people, not just the marginalized.” Those at the forefront of the battle against Labor have the opposite view of how to stay in power – take care of the marginalized and take care of the rest.

There are other structural reasons for dissatisfaction. The government’s 77-member government workers’ majority in the House of Commons is regularly cut to 20 votes in parliament because the Conservative benches are full of rebel MPs either dismissed by Johnson or who believe they will never achieve high office under him. Everything Prime ministers complicate their job as their enemies congregate in the back bencheswith.

The plight that No.10 currently suffers has a bearing on the long-term prospects of Conservatives in government. Johnson’s great gift to the Tories in 2019 is that he filled them with an air of freshness. He made a stubborn administration that was in power for most of a decade, akin to a rebel force. The reality is that when you look at government today, it is neither new nor fresh. It doesn’t have the kind of policy it has been waiting for years before it can be introduced, as it did with David Cameron in 2010 or Tony Blair in 1997. It does have a parliamentary party made up of the underprivileged and never possessed, as Gordon Brown and John Major did before they lost power.

The Johnson government has pledged a level of youthful energy that may not be possible after more than a decade in power. For all his faults, the prime minister is probably the best leader of the Tory party if they want to win the next election. But many MPs do not like this fact, and this is inevitably followed by grumbling and discontent. Bad speech will not be the end for Boris Johnson, but the reaction to it is a warning of future problems.

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