An open letter to the Conservative Party

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds at the Conservative Party Conference. Photograph: Da

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds at the Conservative Party Conference. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA. - Credit: PA

JULIAN SELF pens an open letter to the Conservative Party following the Dominic Cummings scandal.

Dear Conservative and Unionist Party,

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I'm afraid that the numbers simply don't lie: the UK's dithering approach to the coronavirus has cost thousands of lives and we are now enduring the worst effects of the pandemic felt anywhere in the west apart from the US – and we may well have only been held off from taking first place there thanks to Trump. This is not an enviable position for a G7 nation to hold.

If we are to get through this then we need the entire country to pull together, acting as one for the interests of the whole; but that requires firm leadership. Right now, we don't appear to have any decent leadership whatsoever.

Quite specifically, the current situation with Dominic Cummings is making the Conservative party untenable in governing – an actual laughing stock. The majority in the House is unassailable, for sure, but that's of very little worth if the country doesn't respect the government. And let's not mess about: the soil is already slipping. This is the trouble with landslides, you see: the ground is never that stable afterwards.

Johnson's aide must go, right now – that much is surely beyond question to even the most disinterested observer – but I suspect that the prime minister has already done himself irreparable damage by flapping and blustering in his defence. That's a technique that works quite well in after-dinner speeches, when everybody has had a few drinks and is feeling jocular; and it even worked to good effect on Have I Got News For You. It doesn't play out so well in the political arena. To be honest, the signs were all there when Johnson was mayor of London, which he clearly regarded as no more than a jolly jape, and then Foreign Secretary, when his frivolous attitude to detail cost yet more years from the already fragile life of the wrongfully imprisoned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Nonetheless, even given that priming, his Select Committee appearance on Wednesday was farcical: it was almost painful to watch. We are supposed to be a heavyweight nation with some international standing, but that reputation is being frittered away at a rate of knots.

I'm not going to lie to you: I'm not what you'd call a natural Tory supporter – but that's really not the point here. You have to understand that the country delivered a resounding majority to the Conservatives not because people supported Boris Johnson but because almost nobody thought that Jeremy Corbyn was up to the job of running the country. Now it is becoming abundantly clear than Johnson is even more unsuited to the post. You were lent votes at the last election that will never be blue again if the blond blusterer is left in place: he is inept at best and utterly uninterested at worst. Not only will he drive away new converts, he will eventually alienate most natural Conservative voters. With Keir Starmer leading a renewed Labour party, Johnson may well end up being the Conservative party's suicide note – and just because the face behind the hand penning it is smirking, doesn't mean the end result will be amusing for anybody.

Parliament only functions, without proportional representation, by having opposition voices of some clout to hold the government to account. It is the duty of the Conservative party and its members to ensure that it is able to continue to perform, if not as a party of government then at least as that party of opposition. I think the path that now lies before you is clear.

Yours faithfully,

Julian Self


Milton Keynes

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