Voices: Ignore the local elections – what matters is whether Boris Johnson is levelling up or squishing down

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
He’s only got two years left in which to be less talk and more action (AFP via Getty)
He’s only got two years left in which to be less talk and more action (AFP via Getty)

There aren’t any good days in the calendar of British politics any more, but few are as reliably bad as the day after local elections.

In some parts of the country, some parties tend to do well, while in other parts, other parties tend to do well, all of which serves as an infinite buffet of unfalsifiable meaningless puff from which politicians rush onto the airwaves to talk complete rubbish.

The Tories have lost Wandsworth – or “Margaret Thatcher’s favourite council”, as Margaret Thatcher described it fully thirty-five years ago. Some Tory MP genuinely seems to think that winning in London is “bad news” for Labour, because other voters, not in London, will “see them as the Remainer, liberal elite types that they are”. Yes, Labour will be gutted to have won in London. Try not to dwell for too long on the tragic fact that this level of insight draws a salary from the public purse.

If last night’s results were repeated in two years’ time, various projections indicate that Keir Starmer would be prime minister in a hung parliament. And not a lot’s going to happen in the next two years, is it? Things have been quite quiet for a while now, and there’s no reason why that should change.

What’s that? Hang on. Ah. Right. Where were we? So Starmer is now under investigation by Durham Police on the basis of “significant” new evidence regarding his takeaway curry last year. So actually, he’s not projected to be prime minister in two years’ time, but is instead projected to have resigned by this time next week. In the even shorter term, Labour MPs are no longer projected to go on the TV to talk about how great everything went for them. Instead they’re projected to stop even replying to text messages. That projection has actually come to pass.

Naturally, Labour still reckon they’ve done nothing wrong. Emily Thornberry is blaming it all on “Conservative MPs and Conservative newspapers” putting pressure on Durham Police to investigate the incident. And she’s right to blame them. It’s their fault. They did it. On purpose. Because why wouldn’t they? And one imagines that Thornberry and Co were not living underground for the entirety of December and January, when there was barely a soul anywhere not putting extreme pressure on the police to investigate Boris Johnson, which Cressida Dick then did, but not quite quickly enough to prevent Sadiq Khan (what party is he from again?) from forcing her out of her job.

Starmer can only survive the police investigation if he is found to have been utterly beyond reproach in every conceivable way. He’s told the House of Commons months ago that it was a pause from work to have a takeaway meal, though he was mumbling a bit as he did so. He’d better be right.

It’s two years since Starmer became leader of the Labour Party, and two years since I began typing out the same thing over and over again. Boris Johnson is prime minister on a promise to “level up” the country, with votes that he himself has acknowledged are borrowed from Labour. If his promises turn out to be all talk and no action, or even if his action is overshadowed by his own poor personal behaviour, then those votes will be returned to their lender.

To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment, sign up to our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by clicking here

It may not have escaped everyone’s attention that he only had four and a half years to level up the country, and two and a half of them are gone. Two years is not very long in which to level up a whole country. And a whole country really will notice if it’s not levelled up, even though it still doesn’t seem to know what levelling up means.

There’s nothing in last night’s results to tell Boris Johnson what he doesn’t already know. The people are crying out to be levelled up, and at the moment they’re being not so much levelled down as squished into the ground, via absolutely disgusting price rises on everything, which are threatening to ruin their lives yet further.

He’s only got two years left to be less talk and more action. Political predictions have never been more of a mug’s game than they have been for quite a few years now, but all that notwithstanding, I’m not convinced I can see it happening.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting