In the run up to the four week limited lockdown reluctantly implemented by the Conservative government last November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson blurted out bitterly, “No more f***ing lockdowns, let the bodies pile high in their thousands!”
The Daily Mail reported, “He [Johnson] agreed to fresh restrictions but his frustration is said to have boiled over after the crucial meeting at No 10 in October.” The meeting was held on October 30, 2020.
The revelation is one of a series of leaks during ongoing factional warfare within the Tory Party. It provides an unvarnished glimpse into the discussions behind closed doors during the pandemic within this gang of murderous criminals.
Johnson’s outburst confirms what he really thought all along, behind the cynical public pose of concern. The Tory advocates of herd immunity, with Johnson in the forefront, never wanted the first lockdown, let alone a second. But with cases and deaths shooting up following the end of the first lockdown in July/August—fuelled by sending millions of pupils back to school in September—there were fears that not doing so would provoke social and political unrest.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove was identified by the Daily Mail as playing a key role in shifting Johnson to backing a lockdown at the meeting. As told to the newspaper by a “source close to Mr Gove”:
“Michael said that if he [Johnson] didn’t impose a second lockdown there would be a catastrophe… Hospitals would be over-run, people would be turned away from [accident & emergency] and people would be dying in hospital corridors and hospital car parks… He [Gove] told the [prime minister] he would have to send soldiers into hospitals to keep people out… TV film of that would be beamed around the globe. Was that the image of his post-Brexit Britain he wanted the world to see? It was devastating. The PM had no answer.”
On Monday, Johnson denied making the attributed comments, but the BBC cited “sources familiar with the conversation” confirming that he had. ITV’s political editor, Robert Peston, wrote that he had been told by two witnesses who said they did not brief the Mail that they had also heard Johnson say it.
Moreover, while Johnson agreed to the November lockdown the perspective he blurted out, “no more f***ing lockdowns, let the bodies pile high in their thousands,” is now being implemented as official government policy.
The November lockdown ended on December 3. Following a surge of COVID-19 cases, due to the relaxation of rules to allow a pre-Christmas shopping spree, on January 5, Johnson was forced to implement a third significantly less restrictive lockdown. But from then on, he and his government have insisted this would be the “last lockdown.”
In February, despite the spread of new variants of COVID-19, including the more infectious and more deadly Kent variant that has become the dominant strain globally, Johnson announced that restrictions would be loosened from March, with the entire economy to be reopened by June 21.
Johnson has repeatedly stated, albeit in somewhat less crude language, that thousands will die from coronavirus, as did his former advisor Dominic Cummings, who is now in the frame as orchestrating the leaks against his former boss.
- At the end of February 2020, as the pandemic hit Britain, Cummings, according to the Times, said at a closed door event of the UK’s coronavirus policy, “herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.”
- On March 12, 2020, Johnson said, “I must level with the British public: many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” This wasn’t candour, but policy, with Johnson and his Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, advocating a herd immunity agenda of mass infection and a stated plan to see tens of millions exposed to coronavirus. At the time of Johnson’s statement there had been less than 11 deaths due to Covid-19 in the UK. Thirteen months on, there have been more than 150,000.
- On September 18, 2020, Johnson said, “We are now seeing a second wave coming in. We’ve seen it in France, in Spain, across Europe. It’s been absolutely inevitable, I’m afraid, that we would see it in this country.”
- On February 22, 2021, Johnson announced the end of the national lockdown by declaring, “We’ve got to be realistic and accept that there will be more infections, more hospitalisations and therefore, sadly, more deaths…”
- On March 10, 2021, Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph, “We can see the signs of a surge of Covid among some of our European friends, and we remember how we in the UK have tended to follow that upwards curve, if a few weeks later… Monday’s successful return to school will inevitably add to the budget of risk.”
- On April 20, 2021, Johnson declared, “There will be another wave of covid at some stage this year… We must—as far as possible—learn to live with this disease, as we live with other diseases.”
Aside from Johnson’s crudity, ending all lockdowns and letting “the bodies pile high” is the position of capitalist governments the world over. The latest and most horrific consequences are being witnessed in India, with around 2 million more people infected in the last week alone and thousands dying every day.
Even in reporting Johnson’s homicidal comments, the Mail ran an accompanying comment by Andrew Pierce headlined, “Lonely losing battle of PM who’d resisted the clamour for lockdowns: Yes, his outburst was shocking. But libertarian Boris knew it wasn’t just Covid lives at stake.”
The prime minister should have everyone’s sympathy, opined Pierce. He bemoaned how poor Boris, “who once said the real hero of the film Jaws was the mayor of Amity who kept the beaches open despite the presence of a killer shark—was devastated that he had lost the battle.” “Boris," wrote Pierce, “true to his libertarian instincts, was opposed to once more shutting shopping malls, pubs and restaurants.”
Everything that has happened since the first day of the pandemic confirms that the working class is up against a gang of political criminals responsible for social murder on a vast scale.
The fight to end the pandemic must proceed on the understanding that what is a required is a determined political struggle, not only against the Johnson government but all those who seek to derail such a fight—above all the Labour Party and trade unions bureaucracy.
For more than a year, in the name of “national unity,” Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has pledged only “constructive criticism” of Johnson, while the trade unions have ensured that the Tories’ back to work/reopen the economy herd immunity agenda is enforced.
Any prime minister exposed for advocating the mass death of British citizens in any previous era would have faced calls to stand down from the main opposition party and demands for an immediate general election. Not so Johnson. The Scottish National Party said as politely as possible that “Boris Johnson has a duty to resign” for the comments, “if they are true.” Starmer merely responded that he was “astonished” by the reports, adding that “if he did say those things, he’s got to explain it.”
The Socialist Equality Party calls for the working class to form rank-and-file safety committees, independent of the trade unions and the Labour Party—based on the fight for a socialist programme and a workers’ government. The SEP stands fully behind the call by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) for the formation of the International Workers Alliance of Rank-and-File Committees (IWA-RFC). We urge attendance at the ICFI’s annual Online May Day Rally to be held May 1 to discuss these critical issues and to organise the global fightback by the working class.
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