BORIS Johnson got both barrels during last Wednesday’s PMQs from Andy McDonald, the Labour MP for Middlesbrough.
The impenitent Corbynista was shadow employment minister until he quit during last September’s Labour party conference, relinquishing a job which few outside Westminster knew he even held. Anonymous Andy briefly re-emerged from his backbench obscurity to ask: ‘How on earth does [the PM] sleep at night with so much blood on his filthy privileged hands?’
His diatribe was approvingly reproduced on the cover of last Thursday’s Northern Echo. Also, Old McDonald had a fan on Labour’s front bench: his condemnation of Johnson was enthusiastically shared by deputy leader Angela Rayner.
Johnson has certainly become a contemptible figure, yet Rayner and McDonald were both part of the opposition front bench which spent two years eagerly endorsing every inhumane interdict and ruinous restriction, then decrying each tentative step back towards liberty and freedom. Keir Starmer criticised last summer’s so-called Freedom Day for being ‘reckless . . . when the Johnson variant is already out of control’.
Almost a year later, Labour remains unrepentant and now portrays the PM as a threat to public health because of his personal conduct. In fact, Johnson’s disregard for his own lockdown laws simply confirms that he and the other Downing Street partygoers felt unthreatened by Covid and correctly (though hypocritically and shamelessly) regarded as ridiculous the restrictive rules they had just imposed on the rest of the populace on pain of arrest, fine and social sanction.
In addition to his sensational assertion that Johnson has ‘blood on his filthy privileged hands’, at PMQs, Andy McDonald accused Johnson of ‘laughing in our faces as the cost of living crisis and fuel poverty could well leave thousands more to die of cold in their own homes’. Well, there is no question that is how it felt to many of us.
However in a country which for the past few decades has signally failed to secure cheap and reliable supplies of energy, and has followed a net zero agenda to which he and his chums have also given their full backing, what did mindless McDonald and other lockdown lackeys imagine would be the consequence of then enervating the economy for the thick end of two years? Isn’t McDonald laughing in our faces too?
Yes, the Prime Minister does bear ultimate responsibility for the long-term horrors of battered businesses, lost livelihoods, school shutdowns, damaged children and the thousands of untreated cancer patients who will die as a result. Yes, he carries the can for his government’s unpardonable attempt to coerce vaccinations. But rebels were few in number and all the MPs who supported those cruelties, many of whom wanted the punishments to be even harsher and longer lasting, have to share the blame for this appalling collateral damage and the UK’s lamentable lockdown legacy. Including Johnson’s accuser, one Andy McDonald.
The wine-stained mitts of Boris Johnson were not the only culpable hands.