Former Labour voter who appeared in Boris Johnson’s campaign video gives verdict on PM’s first year

PUBLISHED: 12:04 24 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:08 24 July 2020

David Barnard meets Boris Johnson in a general election video. Photograph: Conservatives/YouTube.

David Barnard meets Boris Johnson in a general election video. Photograph: Conservatives/YouTube.

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A former Labour voter who made an appearance in Boris Johnson’s campaign video during the general election has been tracked down to give his view on the prime minister’s first year in power.

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And despite reports that ‘red wall voters’ are shifting away from the Tories, this first-time Tory voter says he would vote for Johnson again.

David Barnard unknowingly met Boris Johnson in a party political broadcast when turned up to give his views on backing the Tories at the 2019 general election.

The highway maintenance worker, who lives in the Bolton North East constituency, was asked by The House magazine to rate Johnson’s first year in power.

“Christ, it was a hell of a year for him to take over.”


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But he did not appear to regret his vote, despite tens of thousands dying from the government’s pandemic response, heavy criticism of his senior adviser and inner circle, and no sign of his ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal promised at the election.

“All I can say is thank God it wasn’t Jeremy Corbyn in charge because we probably would have had Churchill’s statue floating in the Thames and the furlough scheme money would have been spent on trains and trees,” he said, despite initially showing some interest in the former Labour leader before the Brexit vote.

Rating his leadership a “B” grade, Barnard said that he approved of Johnson’s leadership efforts so far, saying that Rishi Sunak was “one of the best chancellors we’ve had in a long time”.

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“At the last financial crash, Labour was very keen to bailout the banks and this time it seems that Boris and Rishi are more concerned about bailing out the people with the furlough scheme, which is really positive”.

But he acknowledges some mistakes were made in his handling of the coronavirus, telling him to sort out his messaging.

He explained: “Boris needs to be a lot clearer with his delivery, especially in the midst of a major health crisis. It is very important to be extremely precise with the message that you want to deliver. I don’t have a problem with the message that he is delivering, it’s normally just the way that he is doing it that I sometimes cringe at a little bit.”

But he added: “He’s done well. He’s certainly under the microscope with everything that’s going on, but there are certainly some encouraging things to take from it”.

He praised Starmer for “purging” the Labour frontbench of “Corbyn’s people” and welcomed efforts to tackle anti-Semitism in the party.

But he said that the Labour leader was more concerned with appearances, and “bandwagons” like the Black Lives Matter movement.

He explained: “Labour at the moment have got a real problem where they’re just preoccupied with trying to appear morally superior, rather than providing sensible, pragmatic policies. They just seem far too preoccupied with making themselves look good rather than actually providing anything of substance”.

Asked if he would back the Tories again, he said: “There is certainly nothing that has put me off it”.

“He has realised that the important aspect to our economy is the workers. If your workers are paid then they’re able to put that back into the economy through spending, buying, going to restaurants, the cinema – whatever it is. That’s what keeps the economy moving. That is its bloodline.

“You’ve got to support that. You’ve got to have the focus of your support on the workers. That’s what has been encouraging for me, especially with Rishi Sunak, that is what he seems to have grabbed.”

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