Opinion: ‘Serious times need serious leadership’

Councillor Shaz Nawaz, Labour Group leader on Peterborough City Council, writes...

Sunday, 19th December 2021, 3:15 pm
There was a Conservative rebellion in Parliament.

There is a careful balance to be struck when determining policy for containing Covid. On the one hand, our goal must be the preservation of human life. On the other, there is no such thing as a life that is devoid of risk.

Meanwhile, if we lock down, we will damage the economy.

It would take a prime minister of unique vision and skill to navigate us through this safely. Unfortunately, we don’t have one of those.

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I have heard it said that nothing can stand against the power of laughter. I tuned into an episode of “Dead Ringers” last week, and the current occupant of 10 Downing Street was the target of most of the jokes.

It wasn’t just that it was funny, it was that each bit of mockery found the bullseye. As much as someone may laugh, however, these are serious times: do we really want someone un-serious in Downing Street?

New measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 have been passed thanks to the votes of Labour MPs.

The scale of the Tory rebellion was substantial.

This indicates that a portion of the Conservative Party has clearly lost its way on dealing with the pandemic: I understand that there is a form of cabin fever making its way through the party, however, the impulse to be free should not supersede the rights of others not to get infected.

If Johnson is such a great leader, then why would he have this problem? I understand our own council leader is a great defender of his: but why? Surely on the basis of performance alone, the only notable achievement Johnson has to his name is that he won the election in 2019. As for the pandemic, it is more due to the skill and perseverance of the NHS that we have been able to vaccinate the public at the rate we have achieved. The NHS, however, was a Labour creation which the Conservatives initially opposed.

The NHS showed that co-ordination across the country was possible, and good health outcomes could be delivered to all. The Conservatives have tried to inject internal markets and other such administrative wheezes, but they have largely hindered, not helped the NHS. It is only because of the public’s desire to see it continue, and its central ethos remaining more powerful than the tinkering around it, that we have been able to respond as well as we have.

So, what has Johnson done? Refugees have drowned in the Channel due to overly aggressive immigration policies. No great trade deal with America has been forthcoming. COP26 wasn’t big on results.

Levelling up seems a distant dream.

Johnson’s government got the wrong message from victory and thought it could ignore rules it set for others.

There is a stench of decay around the Conservative Party which extends from Westminster to Peterborough Town Hall. A party that has been in power too long forgets why it is there and only seeks to stay in situ, not achieve goals.

The voters are noticing. The end is in sight.