Boris may be hated now, but, get ending this lockdown right, he will be widely seen as a saviour Prime Minister come the time.
On May 17th, indoor hospitality, cinemas and restrictions on meeting outdoors will be lifted. On June 21st, all remaining premises including nightclubs will reopen. This will be the irreversible end of lockdown the Prime Minister is promising us provided the evidence is backed up by “data, not dates”. 32 million people have now been vaccinated their first dose and the number of Covid deaths is down by 350 on the previous week. These are all the greatest successes and hoped-for successes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Prime Ministerial legacy.
Johnson has faced a lot of criticism for his handling of the pandemic. Last March, he told us “we’ll send Covid packing within 12 weeks” - only for the 1st lockdown to last 4 months. He became complacent last summer with the Eat-out-to-help-out scheme; claiming a 2nd lockdown would be disastrous only to impose a fragile and irresponsible tier system that was a lockdown missing only the name.
This didn’t stop there being an actual 2nd lockdown and it was a complete disaster. Schools were open when they should have been shut and most shops open for Click and Collect. The numbers still soared over the winter and yet Boris planned on giving us a 5-day window to meet over Christmas. That got cancelled the moment the numbers were against him.
Brown’s key to solving the financial crisis was ironically to spend more. To pump billions into the economy through a stimulus package in order to get the money to rise up through the ranks and spread evenly. An antithesis to Ronald Reagan’s trickle down economics. It was a big gamble, but the Tories would likely have done the same too - going against the low spending, low borrowing, low tax philosophies that have always been integral to their DNA.
Brown was mocked by David Cameron when he had a slip of the tongue and said he “saved the world” instead of “saved the banks”. He didn’t do it alone - revitalizing the economy globally required a team effort from world leaders including Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. But nowadays Brown’s “save the world” mantra is widely considered to be true - he recapitalized the banks and got the global economy back to a healthy medium.
Like Brown, Boris is in charge of shepardeering the country through its worst crisis in centuries. We haven’t seen a global pandemic on this scale since the Spanish Flu - just like we hadn’t seen a financial crisis on the scale of the 2008 crash since the Wall Street crash of 1929.
And, like Brown, Boris has been hugely scrutinised and criticized for his handling of the crisis. I certainly think a bit less optimism and a bit more realism could have been needed to raise the morale of the nation. But then I think to myself, could I do any better?
Boris and Brown faced criticism and scrutiny in the moment because any leader tasked with revitalizing a nation wrecked by a juggernaut was going to receive so. The difference is that Brown is now widely considered a pariah once the crisis was over and the economy back on track. His pricey stimulus package is now considered the saviour of the nation.
Johnson ought to take note. If he gets his judgement right and gradually and steadily brings us out of lockdown within the next 2 months, he will be considered a post-war Prime Ministerial saviour. A Prime Minister mocked at the time of the crisis, but looked back upon as a man who really did save the nation...
Meet Roshan Chandy
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
Roshan's Top 5 Films of the Week
1. A Quiet Place: Part II (in cinemas)
2. Cruella (in cinemas)
3. After Love (in cinemas)
4. Dream Horse (in cinemas)
5. Frankie (in cinemas)
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