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Boris Johnson’s More Personal Battle Against Covid-19

Written by Comment

Our writers discuss Boris Johnson’s admittance to intensive care due to the coronavirus, and what it means for him, and British politics.
Alex Walker discusses how battling the coronavirus will only boost Johnson’s public persona

The Prime Minister’s situation might not look great at the moment, but immediate danger aside, his hospitalisation will only help boost his public persona long term. Johnson has always sought to present himself as an unstoppable force in British politics, a Churchill-like behemoth, bowling over obstacles with his atypical blasé, can do, slightly scruffy attitude. His success with the Olympics, the Referendum, and the 2019 Election only serve to bolster this persona.

Many people both within the Conservative Party, and politics as a whole have underestimated him because of this, yet the attitude plays very well with the voters. Johnson has managed to capture the hearts and minds of not just the Conservative Party membership (which at current count stands as twelve old bats at a church hall in Sussex), but vast, traditionally working-class, voters across the country. The loss of seats such as Blyth Valley hurts any Labour voter. The loss of the party’s working-class roots hurts more.

A personal recovery from Coronavirus, as well as the inevitable political recovery when the virus is over, will cement this public image

Johnson has proved himself able to knock aside political opposition, and voters like it. A personal recovery from Coronavirus, as well as the inevitable political recovery when the virus is over, will cement this public image. To quote Kelly Clarkson, and to a lesser extent Nietzsche, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ The urban legend of the great, unrelenting beast that is Boris Johnson will grow out of the bumbling, scruffy, rather ill, man, currently in intensive care. It’s also very helpful if the seas get a bit rough. Johnson will be able to look those who suffer during this virus in the eyes and say, I went through this with you. For the first time ever, a Conservative has actually been affected by their own policies.

Johnson will be able to look those who suffer during this virus in the eyes and say, I went through this with you

My heart goes out to his fiancé, and I hope Johnson does recover, for his family’s sake. However, I am confident a recovery from a man whose career has been written off so many times, will only bolster the numbers of his supporters. 

Alex Walker

Matthew Petty highlights how the PM’s battle against the virus hits home as a reminder of the severity of the event.

There are some moments in our news cycle that have power. The power to stop a nation in its tracks. The power to make those who read it sit up, listen, and take a sharp intake of breath. The news on Monday evening that our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had been transferred to intensive care was one of them.

As the whole world continues to grapple with the greatest public health crisis in a generation, the man in charge of our national fight is now in his own personal one against this virus.

As I write on Wednesday afternoon the PM remains in intensive care but is responding well to oxygen treatment. It has not yet been deemed necessary to place him on a ventilator. He is said to be in good spirits. For the PM and his family, this is primarily a personal struggle. But we must take his battle as yet another wake up call. Johnson is 55, has no underlying health conditions, and was in perfectly good health just two weeks ago. He is now in intensive care. To those who still think that they are somehow immune to this virus, that they are too young or too fit to fall seriously ill, you are not. This invisible killer fails to discriminate.

To those who still think that they are somehow immune to this virus, that they are too young or too fit to fall seriously ill, you are not

In a time where Coronavirus has already turned life as we know it on its head, it has now struck its presence deep into the heart of our government. That poses significant questions about whose job it is to lead us through this crisis.

Boris Johnson’s illness poses significant questions about whose job it is to lead us through this crisis

It is true that we operate a system of cabinet government in the UK, with ministers collectively making decisions around the cabinet table. But leadership is not just about making decisions. It is about giving those you lead the comfort that you have a grip on events. And in a crisis unlike anything in peace time, it is about being a national figurehead that people of all political persuasions can rally behind. Without the PM at the helm of our national fight against Coronavirus, it makes the challenge we face all the more difficult.

Even the black door of 10 Downing Street was not enough to protect its occupant from harm

Monday’s news showed us all just how wrong the presumption that those in power are somewhat untouchable was. Even the black door of 10 Downing Street was not enough to protect its occupant from harm.

In a time of unprecedented crisis, we the public, naturally cry out for leadership. With the PM in intensive care, right now, that is something we just don’t have. That inevitably makes the already colossal mountain we have to climb seem that little bit higher.

Matthew Petty

Last modified: 11th April 2020

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