Derek Taylor
Derek Taylor

Thank you Mr. Johnson

Screen grab of Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation from 10 Downing Street, London, as he placed the UK on lockdown as the Government seeks to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo credit: PA Video/PA Wire via Jewish News
Screen grab of Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation from 10 Downing Street, London, as he placed the UK on lockdown as the Government seeks to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo credit: PA Video/PA Wire via Jewish News

Thank you Mr. Johnson.

Now can we see if we have common ground? Are we agreed that in 2020 we did not want to be Prime Minister? We would have had to deal with a pandemic for which there was originally no cure, Brexit, and the likelihood of the economy collapsing.

So it is very likely that we owe our lives to the decisions Boris Johnson made. Never mind the politics. If he’d got it wrong, much difference would it have made if he was a Conservative or Labour politician.

He put the country into lockdown where America didn’t; 570,000 Americans have died. He got us enough ventilators and the NHS was able to cope. The Indian equivalent isn’t able to do so; 190,000 have died, and in three days last week there were a million new cases. We had enough oxygen; they haven’t. Their hospitals are overwhelmed; ours weren’t. Boris Johnson decided to vaccinate the whole country; over 30 million have now had at least one dose; In Italy on April 8 only 2% of the over-70s had had their first jab. He bought enough vaccines; the Europeans didn’t.

It’s all very well saying that he got it right because he took the views of the scientists. Which scientists? There were a lot of different views. It was Boris Johnson who got it right because he made the final decisions and at the end of the day, the buck stopped on his desk. He also knew that either the economy or the people would suffer disastrously from a lockdown. Try deciding which when you’re planning when to start a lockdown. If he’d got it wrong he would have been blamed; so give him the credit for getting it right.

But what are the newspapers going on about? The money spent on his flat. Well, he is supposed to live in a 200 year old house, and given £30,000 a year to keep it up to a standard where he can meet with the world’s leaders. I don’t want him to spend time on the furnishings, the kitchen equipment or the colour of the paint.  I want him to do his best to ensure I don’t get coronavirus. All the time. Of course, he had to recover from a severe case of coronavirus himself. He didn’t take the long rest which is needed; he went back to work. I’m grateful for that too.

The opposition parties are there to oppose but how would they have persuaded commercial companies to switch production to making ventilators and vaccines? They had to meet, they had to talk, some tried to do deals; I don’t care how we got the ventilators, or the number of hospital beds expanded or the supply of vaccines. I want the man in charge of the government to do his absolute best to see I don’t get coronavirus. Do you want anything different?

The mud is being thrown at Mr. Johnson by Dominic Cummings. In March 2020 it was essential for us to stay indoors and socially isolate. Only in that way could we hope to reduce the 1,000 a day who were dying from the pandemic. Mr. Cummings, a senior adviser to the government, drove 200 miles North to his family instead of isolating. His explanation was that he and his wife were ill and there was nobody to look after his child. People all over the country were facing that problem, but are we really to believe that a senior official at No.10 couldn’t get a decent carer?

Giving a good example was essential in a situation without parallel. Mr. Cummings didn’t provide one. Now Mr. Cummings is accusing Mr. Johnson of being unethical. I hope the committee to whom he is talking will think long and hard about the reliability of his evidence.

Mr. Keir Starmer is saying that the behaviour of government ministers “stinks”. If we hadn’t got the ventilators, the vaccination programme and the country pulling together, that would have been stinking. Not who is having lunch with who and who is talking to who in an unparalleled emergency..

I’d love to have seen the faces of the officials when Mr. Johnson decided that the whole country would have to be vaccinated. Fifty million people or so! I can imagine some thinking “Is he stark raving bonkers? You can’t vaccinate an entire country.” Well, yes you can, if you mobilise our great British public. But you need the imagination, the determination and the charisma.

What you don’t need is nitpicking about the cost of armchairs. President Putin has built himself a palace, Barack Obama spent over a million dollars on the White House and I doubt that came out of his pocket, the upkeep of the Elysee Palace costs a fortune. Heads of government around the world rob their citizens without compunction.

We’ll get back to normal, but so far we’ve seen a lot of dicey decisions come right; not all, but most. Boris Johnson has saved so many of us from dying from coronavirus. Thank you Mr. Johnson.

About the Author
Derek is an author & former editor of the Jewish Year Book