They may be rabid right wingers, but Boris and Biden are pursuing peaceful disarmament and left wing rhetorics when it comes to big government intervention.
The UK has always prided itself on its special relationship with the United States. The two countries are bound by not only the same language, but fundamental common interests on the issues of economics and defence. The Thatcher-Reagan relationship, for example, was very much defined by this. They both believed in the free market, low taxes and a limited role for government along with a commitment to end the Cold War.
Thatcher’s free market economics, which was designed to create a growing middle class, was largely inspired by Reaganomics. It was Reagan’s words that said “money trickles down” and it very much was the case that money did trickle down during the Reagan-Thatcher years. Self-employed businessmen bogged down by government bureaucracy and regulation soared financially once the red tape was removed and their businesses could flourish.
The Blair-Bush relationship was defined far more by war-like foreign policy than it was economically. Blair came from the same genetic pool as Bush’s predecessor Bill Clinton- the same Third Way rhetoric that shot Barack Obama to power in 2008. But it was Bush and Blair who initiated the bloody invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan - the former that would define Blair’s career and have him branded a “war criminal”. The British press even went as far as to describe the British Prime Minister as “Bush’s poodle”.
Years later, commentators repeatedly describe Boris Johnson as “Britain’s Trump”. A not entirely un-apt comparison as, on the surface, both Johnson and Trump are right wing populists with strong anti-immigration rhetorics. That being said, Johnson condemned Trump over the 2021 Capitol attack.
There was a lot of scepticism about what a Biden White House would look like for Britain’s Trump. The two men have a generational age gap, different positions on the political spectrum (Johnson a populist, Biden a liberal conservative) and utterly different leadership styles. Dan Balz went on to describe them as “anything, but natural soulmates”.
And yet, at the 2021 G7 Summit, Johnson and Biden laid out plans for the new Atlantic Charter which commits countries to work together on cyber security, emerging technologies and climate change. The latter of which Trump had been a staunch sceptic of.
Johnson rebranded the special relationship as the “indestructible relationship” and it’s certainly a relationship that will be defined by the controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan and, oddly enough, left wing state interventionism.
Johnson’s Conservative party have traditionally favoured a small state, low taxes and deregulation and branded their left wing opponents as being like a “nanny state”. Yet the Tories themselves are now spending £407 billion, have set peacetime records for borrowing and raised the Corporation Tax by 25% (just 1% short of the tax rises proposed by Labour’s crypto-communist leader Jeremy Corbyn). These are the figures that arose from Budget 2021 which was a huge fistpump for left-wing state interventionism.
It’s not that Biden hasn’t engaged in state interventionism either. His Covid Stimulus Bill had $1.9 trillion pumped into the economy to help Americans hit hardest by the pandemic. The bill includes $1,400 payments, the extension of jobless benefits and a child tax credit that will lift millions out of poverty.
Even by UK standards, Biden is considered to the right wing of the Democrat Party as Johnson is considered to the Hard Right of the Tories. He is, of course, the man who backed Vote Leave. And yet, both their agendas since entering No.10 and the White House, have been unusually left-wing; increasing the size of the state and doing a lot of left wing nannying to bail the country out of bankruptcy.
It’s unquestionable that we live in exceptional times and circumstances and the Right have never been against increasing the size of the state when it is called for. They fundamentally believe the state should only step in when absolutely necessary and a global pandemic without question calls for big government and massive state intervention.
Then there’s the withdrawal from Afghanistan. It’s ironic that Blair and Bush’s relationship was defined by engaging their countries in bloody foreign conflicts. Now Biden and Boris receive criticism for pulling their countries out of such said conflicts. This is a world away from the Americas and Britains of the past which saw themselves as the police forces of the world. You could say Biden and Johnson are pursuing a discourse of peaceful disarmament. It’s a world away from the war-like foreign policy of previous Republican and Tory governments and more in line with the stop the war campaign rhetorics of the Hard Left which believe their countries shouldn’t have a role in the conflicts of others.
Johnson and Biden may be rabid right wingers, but their policies have been anything but. Is this a new brand of social democratic conservatism emerging? Perhaps this pandemic has made anything possible. The Right and the Left are becoming indistinguishable from one another.
Boris Johnson made the right decision to pull out of Afghanistan. Britain is not the police force of the world.
171,000-174,000 people. Those are the numbers of people killed in Afghanistan during the international conflict between 2001 and 2021. These are the numbers Joe Biden will use to justify his withdrawal from the country on August 31st. With its biggest coalition partner pulling out, Boris Johnson and Britain have no choice, but to follow. Britain cannot be the police force of the world alone.
Johnson has been attacked on all sides for his handling of the Afghan crisis since the Taliban took over last Sunday. Former Prime Minister Theresa May says it is “incomprehensible” that the UK is not doing more to maintain a presence. Ex-minister Johnny Mercer calls for more help for veterans and Keir Starmer has accused the Prime Minister of “staggering complacency”. There was also silence in the Commons when Conservative MP and Afghanistan veteran Thomas Tugendhat said it was shameful of Biden to question the willingness of the Afghan army to tackle the Taliban.
Amongst the biggest Biden sceptics is former British Prime Minister Tony Blair - a man ridiculed for being a war criminal for his involvement in the 2003-2011 Iraq War and who led Britain into Afghanistan in 2001. He calls Biden’s withdrawal “tragic” and “unnecessary”. These are harsh words from the man supposedly responsible for 460,000 deaths in the Iraq War.
Tony Blair resolutely stands by his decision to invade Iraq with the line “I did it because I thought it was right”. I’ve always thought Blair was a man of integrity and genuinely believed he thought with his heart rather than with his head. He saw the wreckage left by Saddam’s regime which had supposedly been harbouring weapons of mass destruction. At the time, this seemed like an alarming reality that could have led to a far bigger Nuclear war on a global scale. That’s why I defend Blair over Iraq. It wasn’t the right decision, but it was what he thought was right.
Similarly Johnson stands by his withdrawal from Afghanistan because the “core mission” to extinguish the country of terrorists succeeded. The country is now clear of Al Qaeda terrorists and the population have enjoyed better education, women’s rights and free lesions since 2001.
Johnson has regularly been accused throughout his Prime Ministerial career of acting too early or too late. He lifted restrictions last summer only to have to impose them again in the autumn and winter. And, now, he’s accused of pulling out of Afghanistan too early and not foreseeing the current Taliban threat which threatens to drag the country back to pre-NATO era 2001.
I still stand by Biden and Johnson’s decision to leave the country. 457 deaths of UK armed forces personnel have taken place in the conflict. That’s a staggering number that bodes badly for the mums, wives and children at home. Low twenty billions have been spent on the conflict - figures that threaten to bankrupt current recession Britain. And now the UK has plans to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees.
I’m all for giving homes to genuine refugees fleeing war-torn countries, but I question the extent. We have a few hundred thousand people homeless in the UK and up to 14.5 million living in extreme poverty. Shouldn’t we think about housing them before giving homes to hundreds and thousands of refugees?
Biden and Johnson have made the right decision. It’s a decision made by their head and not their heart. Ironically the opposite of the one Tony Blair made from his heart to invade Iraq. Afghanistan is now under an oppressive regime, but terror threats have been vanquished and we need to look after our own before we can think of looking after others. Britain and America can no longer be the policemen of the world.
Freedom Day confirms Boris Johnson’s status as the next Winston Churchill.
May 8th, 1945. That was the day victory was declared and the Nazis were defeated. World War II was over and Winston Churchill went down as our greatest Prime Minister. A man who consistently boosted the morale of the nation during a time of extreme crisis. July 19th, 2019 has the potential to go down as our new V.E Day.
This is Freedom Day. The day all legal restrictions in England were lifted as we head out of this terrible pandemic. On July 19th, nightclubs were allowed to open, masks are no longer mandatory and there will be no legal obligation to social distance.You can also order at the bar without doing track and trace.If this easing of restrictions sticks, Boris Johnson will use this day to cement his reputation as our next Churchill.
The similarities run rampant in their buffoon image with Churchill’s peace sign and Johnson’s thumbs up. They were both notorious for politically incorrect remarks. Churchill described Gandhi as a “fakir” and Boris said burqa-clad women look like “letterboxes”. But mostly they came to power in a time of crisis and consistently boosted the nation’s morale in our darkest hour.
Johnson knows a lot about this. His clap for carers scheme was a searing indictment of communities uniting and Captain Sir Tom Moore was doubtless inspired by Boris’ words of optimism. We owe it to Johnson that we are coming out of this pandemic alive thanks to the vaccine rollout.
Sebastian Mann, a freelance film critic, sees the similarities between Johnson and Churchill. “They’re both very British characters” he explains.”You know the British bulldog kind of look” he continues. Boris would be over the moon to hear this comparison as Churchill was his greatest idol and inspiration on his Prime Ministerial image.
Without question, Johnson has made mistakes that have cost him his reputation dearly. “Each and every decision was too early or too late” says a former member of the Labour Party. Johnson promised we wouldn’t see a 2nd lockdown only to implement a tier system that was a lockdown in everything, but name and then a 2nd and 3rd lockdown. In hindsight, these decisions could have done with more realism and less optimism. However the vaccine rollout and the cautious, but irreversible success of this roadmap more than makes up for his mistakes. Chris Bright, 62, who voted for Brexit for “spiritual” reasons, agrees with me. “I think he’s done a good job in genuinely difficult circumstances” he tells me.
Johnson has received particular hate for his handling of this pandemic simply because he is a Tory politician. David Cameron and Theresa May would have received as much hate because the Tories are widely considered the “nasty” party - the party that cuts benefits and funding to our healthcare services. Had Keir Starmer been in charge during this pandemic and made as many mistakes, people would be doubtless more sympathetic as Starmer is a Labour politician and Labour are widely considered the “nice” party and defenders of the dispossessed.
Our worst peacetime Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for example, has been consistently heralded a pariah for his handling of the 2008 Financial Crisis because he recapitalised the banks, abolished boom and bust and saved the world. Ironic when it was Labour’s overspending and system of regulation that helped cause the financial crisis.
90% of adults have received their first dose and 77% received their second. The number of patients in hospital are stable and no longer rising in many areas. Public Health England estimate that the UK vaccination programme has prevented nearly 85,000 deaths and more than 23 million infections up to August 6th.
These are all extraordinary results. Whenever Johnson receives flack for his handling of this pandemic, we must look at these figures. We may not be out the woods yet, but we are well on our way out of them and coming out of this pandemic will be the greatest success of Johnson’s Prime Ministerial career which he will surely achieve within the next few months.
Freedom Day is Boris’ V.E Day and cements his status as a very modern Winston Churchill.