Some new year’s resolutions for Boris Johnson and Donald Trump – to make 2021 better for all of us

The two leaders need to take a long, hard look at themselves. The same goes for some of a number of those  in the prime minister’s government

Jess Phillips
Monday 04 January 2021 17:12
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Every year I have the same new year’s resolutions. Write more, eat less, moisturise more (or at all) and drink less. To be healthy, witty, loquacious all with baby soft skin.

The moisturising lasts until approximately 6 January each year, the eating less is always going to start on a tomorrow that never comes and the pressure to write more usually makes me want a glass of wine.  

This year I fear that new year’s resolutions have been furloughed, filed away as pointless while we can only chuckle with pathos at all of the plans we failed to realise in 2020. The average person should without question give themselves a year off unrealistic self-betterment, you’re cracking just as you are.  

However, there are a few people who should look back at last year and frankly be having a very stern word with themselves. Here are some stern words I have helpfully provided for them to jump-start their new year's resolutions for the first week of January.  

Donald Trump should tweet less, talk less, learn more and perhaps take a lesson in counting. I hope that with the closure of the Trump political chapter in 2021 we can start to sweep away some of the man-baby, chest-out bull**** that has dogged our politics and cost so many lives and livelihoods.

I don’t expect Trump to actually reflect on his time in office, because that would be the triumph of hope over experience. He just doesn't appear capable. However, we can, because if we think that the disease of populism – so often laced with hatred and lies – will be swept away with Trump's departure from the White House we are fooling ourselves. It is on us, the people, to realise that they can only use fear rather than hope to control us if we let them.  

Gavin Williamson is a man in need of daily resolution so I am not sure the annual event will quite cut it. I cannot believe that I find myself in the situation where the fate of my 15-year-old son – who is in Year 11 – lies in the hands of Williamson. 

I would not put him in charge of a potato and yet here I am with him in charge of the future of someone precious to me. Williamson famously swore on his own children’s lives that he didn’t leak the nation’s intelligence secrets, but was sacked over the issue. So while he might want to be cavalier with his own kids I’m not sure the nation’s parents want to join him.

I will only give him two little resolutions in order that he might manage it. If you are going to make any massive sweeping changes in every school in the land, maybe mention it to them before someone tells the papers.

I had an email from my kids’ school on the Friday they broke up for Christmas that said: “We are taking a high volume of calls regarding the news of school closures in January. We have not been notified of anything by the Department for Education or the local authority. Until then, I think we are all due back on the 4th of January.” The school did not open today.

In 2021 Williamson and his department need to plan better – or at all, which would be an improvement – as well as being more honest, and communicating with the very people who have had the misfortune to be reliant on them.

Priti Patel, currently you make out that you are a tough home secretary and yet violent crime rises on your watch and I keep ending up holding the hands of bereaved mothers whose sons have been stabbed in the park or bereaved fathers whose daughters have been killed by their boyfriends. Maybe in 2021 just be nicer to the people who work for you and perhaps you could together make a better fist of reducing violent crime. Just a thought, home secretary.  

And finally, to Boris Johnson, our bedraggled prime minister. I can barely even muster the effort to bother trying to express how his performance in 2020 was simply not good enough. Tough gig for sure, but it was tough everywhere in the world. We closed 2020 with the spread of  Covid-19 worsening and a near-useless yet expensive test and trace system.

We ended the year with charities having to feed miles of jammed up truckers stuck at the borders, while parents across the country had to wait for news of when their children could return to school. Meanwhile, business owners desperate for clarity and certainty had an unsteady Christmas. In 2021, prime minister, think less about the contracts for your mates, less about looking tough or pleasing the crowd – and simply be better at your job. 

Jess Phillips is the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley and shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding

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