RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Heir to Churchill? No, Boris Johnson is the Second Coming of Warden Hodges


Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Johnson? Just after 4pm on Wednesday, Boris’s carefully cultivated reputation as a Churchillian champion of British liberty crumbled like stale Stilton cheese.

‘We will boost the local enforcement capacity of local authorities by introducing Covid-secure marshals to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres, and by setting up a register of environmental health officers that local authorities can draw upon for support,’ he announced.

It didn’t even sound like the jolly old Boris we voted back into Downing Street with an apparently unassailable 80-seat majority. Where was the rhetorical flourish, the optimism, the Tiggerish bounce? Where were the trademark classical quotations? Where was the defiance that had delivered Brexit against the odds?

He resembled a ventriloquist’s dummy, mouthing words written for him by the ‘science’. Gottle of geer.

It was as if he had been carried into the press conference by his two sidekicks, like Albert R.N. 

Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Johnson? Just after 4pm on Wednesday, Boris’s carefully cultivated reputation as a Churchillian champion of British liberty crumbled like stale Stilton cheese

The great orator had been reduced to spouting bureaucratic gobbledygook, as he unleashed a Dad’s Army of Warden Hodges wannabes to enforce his draconian new restrictions on individual freedom.

Recently retired council jobsworths are being recruited to patrol parks, shopping centres and railway stations, ready to pounce on anyone flouting Boris’s Lockdown Lite. Under the latest anti-Covid rules people meeting in groups of more than six can be reported to the police, fined £100 and even arrested.

You can’t say I didn’t warn you. Back at the beginning of June, I predicted that the New Normal would be ten times worse than the lockdown.

‘It’s going to be a hi-viz heaven, a jobsworth’s paradise. More road closures, wider pavements, extensive pedestrianisation, street marshals to enforce social distancing, exclusion zones . . .’

That column was illustrated by one of Gary’s fabulous cartoons featuring Warden Hodges haranguing pedestrians through a loudhailer. Needless to say, the clampdown has been welcomed enthusiastically by the Local Government Association.

The chairman of the association’s ‘Safer and Stronger Communities Board’ said: ‘We are pleased the Government has acted on the LGA’s calls for councils to have powers to take action when rules are flouted.’ I bet they are.

The great orator had been reduced to spouting bureaucratic gobbledygook, as he unleashed a Dad's Army of Warden Hodges wannabes to enforce his draconian new restrictions on individual freedom

The great orator had been reduced to spouting bureaucratic gobbledygook, as he unleashed a Dad’s Army of Warden Hodges wannabes to enforce his draconian new restrictions on individual freedom

There’s nothing these Toytown tyrants like more than new powers. And, as I keep telling you, whenever you give anyone a modicum of power, they will always, always, always abuse it.

Boris has handed over enforcement of the ‘Rule of Six’ to the very same people who have exploited the emergency ‘safer streets’ powers, granted temporarily because of Covid, to prosecute a deranged anti-car agenda.

At a time when Britain needs desperately to get back to work, roads are gridlocked as a direct result of ‘green’ fanatics slashing space for cars in favour of largely deserted bike and bus lanes — just as I warned.

Town Halls are going to have a field day cracking down on those who have the temerity to defy the rules. That’s if anyone can understand what they are. From what I can gather, six is the maximum number of people who can assemble anywhere at any one time.

You’re not even allowed to have more than half a dozen members of your immediate family in your own home. So a couple with three kids won’t be able to invite the grandparents for a socially distanced Sunday lunch.

Dishi Rishi spent £500 million encouraging everyone to Eat Out To Help Out, by packing into restaurants with dozens of others. But if you’re caught with more than six people round your own dining table, you risk having your collar felt.

Office workers are being urged to return to their desks, with no limits on numbers, provided social distancing is observed. Yet if they go to the pub in groups of more than six after work they can be fined £100 a head.

Pubs and restaurants face £1,000 fines unless they collect and store for a month details of all their customers, no doubt including blood type and inside leg measurement.Just what the hospitality trade needs, as it struggles to recover from months of lost takings.

Expect the mounting numbers of restaurant closures and redundancies to accelerate exponentially.

How is any of this going to be enforced? Will they rely on curtain-twitching informers? Will undercover jobsworths lurk in the laburnum, keeping an eye out for excess dinner party guests?

Probably. I counted them all in and I counted them all out again.

There will be exceptions, presumably for Extinction Rebellion protests and paramilitary marches by Black Lives Matter.

Cross-Channel migrants will still be welcomed, provided there are no more than six to a dinghy.

And if the panto season can be salvaged, stand by for Snow White and the Five Dwarfs.

As the Mail said yesterday, these new restrictions are a monstrous over-reaction and couldn’t come at a worse time, just as the fledgling economic recovery is showing its first green shoots. How can the Government possibly justify exhorting people to return to work, to go shopping, to eat out, to spend, spend, spend, when at the same time they are telling us if we mix with more than five other people YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!

This may be Lockdown Lite, but it’s lockdown all the same. And it’s utterly unnecessary, except in a few metropolitan areas where infection rates have risen.

Even then, infection doesn’t mean certain death. Or even any symptoms in the case of the increasing number of young people testing positive, most of whom shrug it off. Outside the big cities, the number of new cases is negligible. But you just know it is the provinces that will bear the brunt of the enforcement.

During lockdown proper, it was the smaller police forces who pursued alleged transgressors with the most aggressive zeal. Who can forget Derbyshire sending up drones to spy on walkers in the Peak District?

Avon and Somerset nicked people innocently having a barbecue, yet stood back and watched, without making a single arrest, as rowdy BLM protesters toppled a statue of Edward Colston and chucked it into Bristol harbour.

Most disturbing is the way in which all of this emergency legislation has been nodded through without any public consultation or any debate in Parliament.

Even though MPs are nominally back at Westminster, the Commons chamber is practically deserted and the temporary powers granted at the start of the Covid pandemic won’t be reviewed until the end of September.

Laws are made by ministerial decree. Most of us went to bed on Tuesday night oblivious to the fact that we were soon to be banned from meeting up with more than five other people — even in our own homes.

This outrageous infringement of individual freedom was smuggled out under cover of darkness by schoolboy authoritarian Matt Hancock, our self-styled ‘world-beating’ Health Secretary.

Thank goodness Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle gave Hancock six of the best. Mr Speaker should now order all MPs back to the green benches, pronto, and restore our democracy.

It’s time Parliament set the country an example and took back control, to use a well-known phrase or saying. Who would have thought a Conservative Government would exploit a manageable health crisis to introduce the most sustained peacetime assault on civil liberties?

Unemployment is about to go through the stratosphere when furlough ends next month. Yet, even though deaths are at a record low, ministers are stoking fear and scaring people into staying at home. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister remains in thrall to unaccountable, unelected scientists and ‘experts’, who are relying on flawed computer models to unleash months more misery, through Christmas and into the spring.

Boris seems a husk of his former self, shorn of all confidence, terrified of doing the wrong thing. He must raise his game, face down the doomsayers and start showing some bold, fearless leadership.

If he doesn’t, he won’t be remembered as the Heir to Churchill, or even the Lion of Brexit.

He’ll be destined to go down in history as the Second Coming of Warden Hodges.

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