The prime minister’s address went long on gags but short on how to deal with the crises confronting the country
Boris Johnson’s speech to the Conservative party conference was marked by the two traits that have allowed him to dominate recent British politics: ruthlessness and truthlessness. His 45-minute address mercilessly lampooned political opponents while claiming his own chaotic rule left the country facing not multiple crises but a historic opportunity to make the “big generational changes shirked by previous governments”. The party faithful lapped it up. But for all Mr Johnson’s tall claims, the rhetoric of “levelling up” Britain remains a political attitude rather than a policy prescription.
The only proposal that came out of the slogan was a smaller version of a previously scrapped policy on school funding. A decade of austerity under Tory governments and a disastrous, hard Brexit have been a bad deal for this country. The prime minister’s humorous speech offered little more than pledges of a better tomorrow. In demonstrating his own star power he reminded voters that he has no plan to deal with the country’s many problems beyond lower migration.