Boris Johnson is trying to mark his own homework – but will it work?

The prime minister’s broadcast listing the ‘achievements’ of his first year in office is effective propaganda, even if we can see the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, writes John Rentoul

Sunday 26 July 2020 09:30
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The PM copied the idea from Jacinda Ardern
The PM copied the idea from Jacinda Ardern

The prime minister has made another video. In it, he lists the achievements of his first year in office at speed, trying (and failing) to get through them all in two minutes.

It is effective propaganda, even if we can see the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. We know he is reading a script off the autocue; that it is pepped up with fancy graphics; and that the format is copied from Jacinda Ardern, the trendsetting prime minister of New Zealand. But it is a good way of conveying energy and a sense that the government is keeping the promises it made at the election, despite the coronavirus crisis.

It is certainly more effective than the halting efforts of the New Labour government to convince people that it was “delivering the people’s priorities” – a phrase that Boris Johnson has shamelessly stolen. Tony Blair was ridiculed for holding a news conference in the Downing Street garden in May 1998 to unveil his government’s first “annual report” – a compendium of achievements that journalists enjoyed finding fault with.

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