Boris Johnson’s conference speech: the lies, the bluster and the ridicule

This man knew, for one: Andrew Marr called out Boris Johnson on his false claims on the morning the Conservative conference began. In response, it seems Johnson doubled down, determined to dupe us with even more falsehoods than ever.

Did you watch Boris Johnson’s speech to the Tory conference last week? I didn’t.

I knew I would be able to get the gist from other sources later. And the satirical alternatives are so much more fun. For example:

For a more factual analysis, we may turn to the ever-reliable Peter Stefanovic:

With the benefit of fact checking, it’s now possible to go into Johnson’s false claims in more depth – if you have the stomach for it!

Let’s start with his misleading claim that the rollout of a vaccine for Covid-19 was only possible due to the greedy capitalist system, and to Brexit:

So his claims about the vaccines were lies. Happy? We’ll move on.

Let’s look at that analysis, starting with “We now have the fastest growth in the G7“.

The G7 is a group of big economies. If you compare GDP between April and June 2021 with the last three months of 2019, before the pandemic hit, the UK had the joint-fifth best growth in the G7, equal with Germany, and with only Italy doing worse.

So: not true.

How about “48 new hospitals, 50,000 more nurses“?

So far, construction has begun at six sites. One is a new cancer centre on an existing hospital site in Bath. The other five were hospital builds planned under pre-existing schemes (over the last decade) and include building work that stopped after the collapse of the construction firm Carillion.

Another lie, then.

The Conservatives promised 50,000 more nurses for England by March 2025. The latest figures show there were 310,251 full-time equivalent NHS nurses and health visitors in June 2021. While that is up 14,158 since December 2019, it still leaves 35,842 full-time equivalent posts to fill over the next three-and-a-half years.

Not going to make it, are they?

Let’s move on to “We have done 68 free trade deals, and that great free trade deal with our friends in the EU“.

Nearly all of these deals – 63 of them in fact – are “rollover” deals. That means they copied the terms of deals the UK already had when it was an EU member, rather than creating any new benefits.

So the actual number of new trade deals is five. And all of those apart from the one with Australia are only slightly changed from the EU deals they replaced.

By far the most important agreement – the one with the EU itself – creates additional barriers to trade which were not there when the UK was part of the EU single market, particularly for services. And the big Brexit hope of an early free trade deal with the United States has not been fulfilled.

Nor is it likely to be, while one of the additional barriers – connected with Northern Ireland – continues to threaten peace in the province. Johnson is doing nothing about that.

There was a ‘wild card’ attack on the Labour Party: “What’s Labour’s answer [to drug dealing] by the way? To decriminalise hard drugs apparently – to let the dealers off with a caution.

Was it true? No.

The suggestion that Labour has a policy to decriminalise hard drugs is not true. The party has confirmed that it does not support this.

Finally, the big lie that Johnson keeps harping on about: “Wages are going up faster than before the pandemic began.”

They aren’t:

Since average salaries dipped in the first few months of the pandemic, comparing this July with last July looks like a record rise – but more because of lows back then than highs right now.

And rising inflation, meaning the cost of pretty much everything is increasing at a rate that outstrips Johnson’s claims about wage rises, mean that his talk is even more nonsense jabbering than usual; every day we are becoming less able to pay for the services we need.

The claims about wages struck a nerve in the general public, many of whom remember the contempt with which Johnson responded to NHS workers’ requests for a pay rise, after expressing such fake-heartfelt gratitude to them for their work fighting Covid-19:

But it didn’t stop there. Here’s a good question for every employee in the UK:

And now let’s have some facts. First this:

And now this:

One final note on the speech: He said he would “unleash the spirit of Britain” – a claim that was too rich for our wits to let lie:

And yes – he deserved both of those barbs.

The speech encouraged one commenter, Richard Haviland, to describe a series of “defining principles” of Johnson’s governing technique. Here they are:

Okay, I added a couple of comments on his list because I consider them insightful.

Speech? Johnson’s oration was a pack of lies from beginning to end!

The good news is we may soon see movements to curb Johnson’s insistence on lying to Parliament – and an end to the lies spoken by his ministers there as well – in spite of the reluctance of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to rock the boat:

At the very least, such a debate will throw a spotlight on many of the hundreds of lies (according to respected right-wing journalist Peter Oborne) spoken by Johnson to Parliament since he became prime minister in mid-2019 – in line with Hoyle’s demand that such claims be part of a dedicated debate.

He may then face pressure to enforce existing conventions on Parliamentary liars – or to devise new penalties. And then we’ll get to watch Johnson falling foul of them every Wednesday lunchtime.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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