Allister Heath

Is Theresa May still in charge? Has Sir Keir Starmer suddenly become Prime Minister? What’s happened to the ebullient, optimistic, can-do Boris? These were the questions that even the Prime Minister’s greatest fans had started to ask after the drift, chaos and lack of direction of the past few weeks.

With Boris Johnson almost invisible, the Government felt rudderless, bogged down in detail, strangely unable to lead us out of lockdown, excessively risk-averse and in hock to discredited “experts”. It gave the impression of being blase about the calamitous economic, educational and welfarist cultural consequences of the never-ending lockdown and insufficiently self-confident to be able to admit publicly that the state apparatus had failed.

Then came the hijacking of the anti-racist protests, the traducing of a heartfelt movement decrying the despicable murder of George Floyd in America, the lawlessness, the hard-Left and hard-Right protests, the smack of cultural revolution, the orgy of officially-sanctioned wokeness.

Where was Boris? Wasn’t this meant to be a conservative, patriotic and competent government? Why was Churchill’s statue boarded up, and the mob allowed to tear down or deface with impunity in what purports to be a law-governed democracy? Where was the modern, anti-racist, pro-meritocracy, conservative side of the argument, the alternative narrative that Boris ought to have been so great at delivering?

三级成人视频Priti Patel and others did a great job putting that argument, but it felt piecemeal. The void from the centre was mystifying. It was as if the virus had blown the Government up, that it was still suffering from shell-shock, its confidence shot to pieces by the death toll, its ability to readjust to a new political landscape severely impaired.

三级成人视频Some of this was unfair: No 10 has been forced to micromanage much of the fight against Covid as a result of the failure of our nationalised health establishment. Massive improvements have been quietly pushed through. Johnson was exhausted: the coronavirus is exceptionally draining and damaging, and its victims take ages to recover fully. But political warfare isn’t fair, and the Government made unforced errors, not least in imposing a quarantine even on countries that have defeated the virus. Its inability to reopen schools has proved especially debilitating, as has its obsession with a two-metre rule that isn’t followed in nations that have reopened without a second wave.

Yes, the Government is right to be worried: Covid is a terrible threat, and the number of cases is shooting up again in the US and elsewhere. But the only way forward is to reopen regardless, as France, Spain and Italy have done, to shift the narrative towards one of co-existence with a contained virus, to hope that new drugs and vaccines are arriving soon, to tell the public that they can go back to work, to put in place genuinely mass testing and tracing systems. We cannot lock down forever and we cannot afford to lock down again.

三级成人视频The drift of the past two months has allowed the Left-wing establishment to reassert itself. The BBC has appointed one of its own as its new boss; an ex-Treasury, ex-IMF, Left-wing think tanker was appointed as head of the Office for Budget Responsibility; the CBI’s new boss used to advise Gordon Brown and work for the Guardian. The only economic policy we heard about – apart from the necessary spending of hundreds of billions to cushion the economy – were “green jobs”, state-infrastructure, government this and government that. The Left-liberal elites were beginning to hope again that Boris’ project was about to fail. The EU detected weakness, crashing the talks before seeking to prolong the transition.

Yet with luck all of this is now history. The Government has finally launched its comeback, to the great relief of its base. It is holding firm on Brexit 三级成人视频and reinjecting energy into the talks. Johnson sounds like himself; his mojo is returning. The first real signs of this fightback came on Sunday, with the revelation of a crackdown against those defacing war monuments. We were also reminded that May’s gender-identifying reform plans would be ditched.

Then Johnson wrote one of his classic, barnstorming articles for this newspaper. The new equalities commission, set up by the brilliant Munira Mirza, suggests an innovative, authentically liberal-conservative and anti-Marxist approach to tackling entrenched inequalities, racism and poverty. Kemi Badenoch, another Tory star who deserves to be promoted to the cabinet at the next reshuffle, will be leading the group. The significance of this endeavour and the excellence of the personnel selected for it cannot be underplayed.

Next came the abolition of the Department for International Development, and its absorption into the Foreign Office. Australia and others have long since pushed through such a sensible reform, which will reduce waste, junkets and ineffective, counterproductive spending, and allow a unified foreign policy. It’s a great step in the right direction: the useless aid-industrial complex hates it.

There have still been some missteps such as the fiasco over free school meals. It was never a battle worth fighting and should have been nipped in the bud. But the trend is hugely positive: Johnson was on his old form at PMQs三级成人视频, trouncing Starmer over the latter’s refusal to accept that it’s safe for children to return to school. His language is Johnsonian again: “A great ox has stood on your tongue”, he said of Starmer; the aid reforms end “the great cashpoint in the sky”.

Which takes us to the virus: Boris’s relaunch must extend to shaking-up the Government’s frightened approach. He needs to tell his Johnsonian stories again. Scientists 三级成人视频can no longer be used as human shields. All schools will open fully in September, with no social distancing. He must ditch the two-metre rule immediately. Above all, he must display leadership, passion and optimism, dragging Britain back to quasi-normality.

三级成人视频His language has shifted; the signs are promising. But a PM elected with such support and promise can no longer allow his Government to falter. The next 12 months will determine his fate and legacy: the old Boris has returned, and the country cannot allow him to disappear again.