Two social media items this week reminded me of how badly wrong the Left gets attacks on the prime minister. The first was an exchange between Dawn Butler and Tory MP Laura Trott about Boris Johnson and whether or not he’s a racist. Butler clearly felt she had won the confrontation as she later posted a clip of it on her own Twitter timeline. But she’s wrong because what Butler and most of the Left do not understand is that the majority of the electorate either don’t believe Boris Johnson is a racist or do not care. This attack line during the general election failed, no matter how many times Labour brought up the watermelon smiles and the letterboxes.
The other was a Tweet by Labour MP Zarah Sultana in which she had a go at Boris, another cabinet member and indeed most of the cabinet for being privately educated. Again, this line of attack flopped at the general election. People just don’t care where our politicians went to school. The Left should understand this because they actually don’t really care either: Jeremy Corbyn, the messiah of their own movement, was privately educated. You can’t hate it that much, really.
The way to have an effective go at Boris Johnson is not to try and paint him as a racist or make a bog deal about the fact that he went to Eton; again, and you have to keep saying it again and again because the Left keep making the same mistake, this line of attack simply does not work. Instead, Labour could try this much more effective critique of Boris: he isn’t very good, isn’t serious, and isn’t the right man for the job. It’s going back to politics 101, but that’s usually effective.
Labour should have been all over the fact that only a few weeks following the general election, Boris had his chancellor walk out on him. Attack the fault lines in the Conservative Party around the economy. Talk about how we’re headed for a no deal Brexit, possibly by accident because of the incompetence of the government. Attack him for having put Priti Patel back in the cabinet after she had to be removed for indiscretion once already in the hardly distant past. It’s all there to be poked at. Instead, Labour are trying to convince us all that Johnson is a racist who went to Eton (which is clearly bad) again.
Perhaps Keir Starmer can inject some sense into all of this. The Left had better hope he can.