Boris Johnson and the delusion of a ‘new deal’

Letters

Yet again we have seen Boris Johnson compare himself to great statesmen of the past (How does Boris Johnson’s ‘new deal’ compare with Franklin D Roosevelt’s, 30 June). After Churchill, Johnson is now Franklin D Roosevelt reincarnated, but his proposed capital spending is a fraction of FDR’s New Deal.

When London mayor, he claimed he was the capital’s Pericles. Pericles built the Parthenon. Johnson presided over the mega loss-making ArcelorMittal Orbit and the barely used cable car. But there is one Periclean fact closer to home: the ancient statesman’s policy allowed an outbreak of plague to run rampant through Athens – shades of Johnson’s record on Covid-19? Given the twists, turns and double dealing of Johnson’s career, if he is to claim a role model from history, surely it is Alcibiades.
Andrew Dismore
London assembly member for Barnet and Camden

• Boris Johnson says his new project sounds like Roosevelt’s New Deal. But there is one thing he ought to know – and another I’d rather keep from him. FDR’s New Deal included support for the arts under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration, launched in 1935. It helped provide work for thousands of unemployed artists, musicians, actors and writers who, while not always economically productive, were felt to play a valued part in society. I hope Boris might feel the same way.

But don’t tell him that what brought the Great Depression to an end was not the New Deal, but the economic expansion necessitated by war.
Daniel Snowman
Kentish Town, London

• Our Walter Mitty prime minister is disappearing further into a fantasy world (‘Absolutely fanciful’: Boris Johnson’s new deal not Rooseveltian, say critics, 29 June). He sees himself as Churchill Mark 2 and has now likened himself to Roosevelt. Roosevelt brought in experts and followed their advice, whereas Johnson surrounds himself with sycophants and fellow Brexit travellers. His “new deal” includes plans to repair a bridge in Sandwell and plant thousands of trees, but perhaps the modesty of his deal is driven by the International Monetary Fund’s forecast that the UK is heading for one of the worst economic downturns in the G7. Johnson’s response is: “We will not just bounce back, we will bounce forward.” The rest of the world reacts with ridicule of the PM and pity for us. You couldn’t make it up.
Alan Healey
Baschurch, Shropshire

• I agree with Rafael Behr (Boris Johnson’s ‘revolutionary new deal’ is a hollow distraction, 30 June) that the revolutionary spirit Boris Johnson is trying to foster is out of sync with the country.

So to upend Whitehall appears unnecessary and out of touch with the electorate, who want stability and continuity. Although reform is probably required, not least in the Home Office, it should be done carefully and sensitively, and not in the spirit of an anarchic modus operandi. Neither should civil servants be set up as fall guys for whatever is happening. They are the servants, not the masters, so their remit has always been limited.
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

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