I am an experienced Social Media practitioner with a strong passion for connecting with customers of brands. As part of a team, I presently work on the social media account of a leading European auto company. On this job, I have brought my vast experiences in journalism, marketing, search engine optimisation and branding to play.
by Morak Babajide-Alabi
It is no surprise that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived the confidence vote yesterday. We knew he would survive. His handlers knew he would be undefeated, but their main concern was how many votes he would pull. The Tory members who pushed for the confidence vote knew they could not win, but they hoped it would damage the Johnson brand. It was incomprehensible to think the Prime Minister would lose the leadership contest.
Boris Johnson was going nowhere. Not at this time. His slim victory has prompted comparisons with Theresa May, John Major and Margaret Thatcher. These three had the same in common with Johnson as they survived the confidence vote with a dent on a previously held majority as leaders. Yes, figures do not lie. The margins may be similar, but the characters and settings are different.
Hear me out. When Theresa May won the confidence vote in December 2018, she instinctively knew that the end was in sight. It was not because she was bereft of ideas of leading or unable to push the BREXIT agenda forward anymore. May knew there was no way out for her, as the quality of opposition within her party was too strong to scale. She knew that the individuals assigned to dig her political grave were too heavy to resist. She won the confidence vote, but it was the start of her sleepless nights. The “undertakers” were united and persistent in their calls.
This is where the similarities end. The bullish manner the opposition went about dislodging May from 10 Downing Street is absent in the call for Johnson to be ousted. It is understandable. As we recall, individuals like Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg were very loud in their attacks on May. It was surprising that the official opposition Labour Party showed more measured decorum than the Tories in calling for the ousting of May.
Johnson and the Tory rebels threw everything at May. In the end, she cried at the betrayal by her party men and women.
Johnson would be worried about the slim victory but not to keep him awake at night thinking about it. It might have roughened him up a bit, but not to smash his confidence. The fiery Tory members that could have given him headaches are all on his side. They have deployed their arsenals in support of Johnson. Some of them had to double-take on their stands in 2018 when May won the confidence vote. They unashamedly twisted their tongues as they went about the media rounds.
The Stephen Barclays, Rees-Moggs and Dominic Raabs, who, despite May’s victory, called for her resignation, are at the forefront of sustaining Johnson’s Premiership. They are comfortable shifting positions on principles as long as it is Johnson. They are not shy in praising and hailing Johnson as the “leader” of the moment, anointed to lead the people out of the pandemic, the Ukraine war and the current global economic crisis.
The opposition to Johnson is muffled. With the calibre of vociferous support for Johnson, it seems the opposition figures are whispering their “opinions.” They are not whispering. It is just that their voices are drowned by the beneficiaries of political posts and contracts. The ones who see Johnson as their bread and butter and decided to look the other way, no matter what he does. The opposing figures in the Tory Party are the decent ones who cannot fight dirty. They spoke because they are the hardcore, propelled by the values of the Conservative Party.
In a piece published on December 12, 2019, titled: For Johnson And Corbyn, It Is The Final Stretch of The 2019 Election, I wrote on the night of the election: “Whichever way it goes tonight, it is not portending good things for the future of the country. The Tories have presented a “bull in a china shop.” Here is a man that needs constant attention and reining in so he does not go off the handle. Some of the hard-core Tories have regrettably asked how they ended up with a man like Johnson at the helm of the party. It was too late to realise. They were united in chasing Theresa May away without considering the aftermath. They got Johnson on a platter of gold.”
They may argue Johnson is the best candidate for the job right now, but deep inside they question their sanity. The public is quick to pardon them as the Labour Party has also capitulated and with no impact on the political terrain. With this, the public is not offered any credible alternative to Johnson. Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is neither here nor there on big political decisions. Sometimes one wonders if he or his party has anything better than Johnson. It is a shame that a beautiful alternative to Johnson does not exist.
The lack of alternatives has brought apathy to the public space. They would rather be unconcerned with Johnson’s politics, gaffes or inactions than trust the big job to Starmer with no clear plans.
Johnson is a damaged good. He is no longer the beautiful leader that the electorate handed a majority in 2019. Johnson has frittered the goodwill of the people on scandals, parties and wines. The huge support he got in 2019 is beginning to thin away as the beautiful leader has turned into a monster. The leader that promised them the beautiful UK outside the European Union, has lost his way. The leader with the swag and hope for a beautiful tomorrow threw everything away during the lockdown, with a lack of good judgements.
The real task ahead of Johnson and his team is the forthcoming by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton following the resignations of Imran Ahmad Khan and Neil Parish. Khan has been convicted of sexual assault, while Parish was caught watching porn in the chambers. The Conservative Party is projected to lose these seats. While the defeat may not affect the Johnson Premiership directly, it may set the ball rolling for another confidence vote in twelve months from now. We never can tell, there may be some interesting developments. Fingers crossed.
What is certain, for now, is that the beautiful leaders are not yet born.