Boris Johnson’s lecture speech: what he said and what he wanted to say | Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson let his pride flow as he gave a speech intended to support Tory activists despite their nerves over the upcoming national insurance hike and the risk of dangerously high inflation levels.

In a purpose-built auditorium, the PM announced just one new policy – spending the remainder of his 45-minute speech fleshing out in color and tone how he plans to retain the swathes of voters who voted Conservative for the first time in the last election and meandering between some of his other favorite topics.

Here’s what he said – and its meaning:

Upgrade

We have one of the most imbalanced societies and imbalanced economies of all the richest countries. It’s not just that there is a divide between London and the South East and the rest of the country: there are painful divides within the regions themselves.

Johnson knew the pressure was on to start implementing what some Tories see as a nebulous concept that has not been fleshed out for nearly two years since the last election. He chose not to – given that the upgrade white paper is expected to be produced within months and also keen to save the fanfare for budget and expense review. Unlike Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who used his speech this week to effusively pay tribute to the fiscal management of his Tory predecessors, Johnson instead aimed at prime ministers of recent decades – including three Tories – in an attempt to dissociate from their austerity campaign and reinvent the party. Johnson specifically named Buckinghamshire as an area that was leveled – a cautious choice, given it was home to the constituency of Chesham and Amersham where a huge Tory majority was overthrown in the June by-election.

The NHS

When this country was sick, our NHS was the nurse. Frontline healthcare workers struggled with a new disease, selflessly risking their lives, sacrificing their lives. And it is right that this party – which has watched over the NHS for most of its history – is the one rising to the challenge.

The Tories have always claimed to be safe stewards of the NHS and Johnson has clearly tried to take that narrative further. He understands its importance to Labor voters and wants to be seen praised for it, especially in light of Covid. Recalling his own personal experience of hospitalization with Covid in March 2020, Johnson wanted to show that he had an emotional connection with one of the most beloved institutions in the country. However, he has sought to manage expectations, also admitting that waiting lists will increase before they go down.

Cultural wars

It became clear to me that this is not just a joke – they really want to rewrite our national history, starting with Hereward the Woke. We really run the risk of a kind of culture of annulling all knowing, iconoclasm of knowing all. We conservatives will stand up for our history and our cultural heritage not because we’re proud of everything, but because trying to change it now is as dishonest as a celebrity stealthily trying to change their Wikipedia entry, and that. is a betrayal of our children’s education.

Johnson threw red meat at his followers by signaling that he was seriously concerned about the cultural wars slipping – though he appeared to blame the “awake” reexamination of historical figures for it, rather than allies of his own. side stoking the flames. Some kept

Capitalism

It was the private sector that made this possible. Behind these vaccines are businesses and shareholders and, yes, bankers. You need the deep reservoirs of liquidity that are found in the City of London. It was capitalism that made it so that we had a vaccine in less than a year and so the answer is not to attack the creators of wealth, it is to encourage them – because they are responsible for it. overall increase in the country’s wealth that allows us to make these Pareto improvements.

Realizing the fragile coalition of voters he must hold together – traditional low-tax Tories and new supporters who want higher government spending – Johnson was addressing the former at this point. His staunch defense of capitalism and praise of the bankers was meant to encourage wealth creators to stay in the party, and possibly to help replenish its coffers with donations. However, the Prime Minister’s lavish praise for the private sector for helping produce the AstraZeneca vaccine was significantly more restrained than the comments he made privately to Tory MPs earlier this year, when he called it “greed.” .

The labor party

Tired of old Labor… Did you watch them last week in Brighton? Desperately divided, I thought they looked, their leader, like a seriously shaken bus driver, pushed here and there… by a bunch of bespectacled sans-culottes Corbynists. Or the captain of a cruise liner that has been captured by Somali pirates desperately trying to negotiate a change of course and then change their mind.

Johnson is most in his element when insulting the opposition – seeking out the most bizarre and colorful metaphor that will leave onlookers who support him screaming. To keep the energy in the room, the Prime Minister searched for ever stranger descriptions of Keir Starmer. But his most serious intention was to try to portray Starmer as being crippled by his party and therefore unreliable on politics – subject to the whims of divided Labor members.

Broadband

When I became leader of that party, there was only – can you remember what percentage of households had gigabit broadband when you were kind enough to name me leader? Only 7%. And by the new year, it will be up to 68%. Thanks to Rishi’s super-deduction, the pace is now massively accelerating as companies push fiber-optic sprinkles into the hardest to reach places.

The most important message Johnson wanted to hammer home was that the government had delivered on commitments made in 2019, despite the obvious distraction of dealing with Covid. Conservatives are worried about the deployment of gigabit broadband – realizing that in an increasingly digital age, the difference in Internet speeds is slowing down some parts of the country considerably more than others. Highlighting the success that has been achieved in closing that gap was one of the main ways Johnson tried to demonstrate that ministers were – in the words of the conference slogan – ‘get down to business’.

Taxes and Margaret Thatcher

Does anyone seriously imagine that we shouldn’t be increasing the funds now to deal with this problem? Is this really the point of view of the responsible Conservatives? I can tell you something – Margaret Thatcher would not have ignored this meteorite that has just crashed into public finances. She reportedly waved her finger and said that more borrowing now is just higher interest rates and even higher taxes later.

Quoting former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is usually a guaranteed way at a Tory conference to get a round of applause, and Johnson has attempted to advocate increasing national insurance to pay off the NHS backlog and social care. Despite claiming to be a low-tax conservative, Johnson knows that many of his MPs think he has given up on “conservatism” – so what better way to try to cover this up than by citing Thatcher, who has itself redefined the term?

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