Boris Johnson doesn’t need to be told to follow the Trump playbook. He’s been doing it for years

It’s easy to mock the newsletter circulated by the Wellingborough Conservative Association – but maybe the joke’s on us

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Wednesday 16 December 2020 19:30
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Boris Johnson has asked for people to keep Christmas celebrations small

We are, I think, meant to be shocked that some resident brainiac a third of the way up the food chain at the Wellingborough Conservative Association has been writing strategic briefing notes telling Northamptonshire-based Tories that they must “learn the lessons” from Donald Trump.

“A lie can go around the world before the truth can get its boots on,” our anonymous newsletter writer claims, who shall be hereafter known as the Banbury Steve Bannon.

“If you make enough dubious claims, fast enough, honest speakers are overwhelmed. If someone tweets 10 dubious claims per day and it takes you a week to disprove each one, then you are doomed.”

It’s easy to mock, and that’s absolutely no reason not to, but maybe the joke’s on us.

If it seems far-fetched that there really can be anyone at all involved in the current Conservative Party that can think they’ve come with a brilliant new idea, which is to lie absolutely all the time about everything, then maybe it is.

How better to convince someone you were telling the truth before, than by secreting out your secret plan to start lying as a means of political strategy?

There can, after all, hardly be any doubt that the plan is already in full swing. It is, you may be aware, Christmas next week, and Boris Johnson is under some pressure to tweak his already ludicrous plan for a five-day Covid Christmas amnesty, in light of soaring infection rates all around the country.

After much deliberation, we would learn at lunchtime on Wednesday, that the four nations of the UK had “unanimously” agreed not to change the rules regarding meeting at Christmas. And within seconds, we would also learn that Wales will be changing its guidance from allowing three households to meet, down to two, and Scotland’s guidance will now urge (but not demand) no overnight stays.

Don’t forget, if you make enough dubious claims, fast enough, honest speakers are overwhelmed, and here I am, typing this stuff out, about how, you know this big unanimous agreement between four people has been publicly disowned by two of them, but before I can get to the end of the paragraph, what do you know?

Now it’s Prime Minister’s Questions, and here’s Keir Starmer patiently explaining that, at the last PMQs of the year, the UK has suffered one of the highest coronavirus death tolls per capita in the world, and suffered the most severe economic hit of any developed nation too.

In response, Johnson tells him that he has “followed the science at all times”, and, consequently it falls to me to type out the fact that his scientific advisers told him to lock down in October and he thought better of it, bringing in this tier system of his own invention which clearly doesn’t work, before, inevitably, introducing the national lockdown he thought better of in the first place.

We return, at this point, to the rousing conclusion offered by Banbury Steve:

“You say the first thing that comes into your head. It’ll probably be nonsense, but it knocks your opponent out of his stride and takes away his headline.

“You may get a bad headline saying that you spoke something silly, but you can live that down. Meanwhile your opponent is knocked off the newsfeed.

“Sometimes, it is better to give the WRONG answer at the RIGHT time, than the RIGHT answer at the WRONG time.”

And we’re meant to believe they’ve only just come up with this? Yeah, right.

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