On 2 November 1952, Derek Bentley was convicted as a party to murder, by the English law principle of common purpose, or joint enterprise. The jury at the trial found Bentley guilty based on the prosecution’s interpretation of the ambiguous phrase ‘Let him have it’.
Today, I believe that Boris Johnson is guilty by the same principle of joint enterprise in the murder of the British and Northern Irish body politic. David Cameron and Theresa May may have fired the bullets which impoverished our education services, enfeebled our health service, crippled our local government, depopulated our police forces, decimated our judicial system of magistrate courts, legal aid and prisons, and, for the pièce de résistance, introduced the unfair and hopelessly organised (projected finish date 2017, but now expected not be completed before 2023), and expensive (forecast implementation cost £2bn now expected £12bn) Universal Credit system, but Johnson was there in the background saying little, but voting for each measure.
He seems to think he was nothing to do with all the failures, but, in effect, in the sense of joint enterprise, he said ‘Let him have it’ when he voted time and time again for Tory budget after budget which also heaped misery on us all and the poor especially. Living standards fell, food banks soared and homelessness increased by record amounts.
This country is becoming increasingly divided on lines of class and income and Johnson will do nothing to reverse the trend.
It’s not only him.
We have an election of lies and half truths from the Conservatives with their Alice in Wonderland accounting – 30,000 new nurses is 50,000 nurses? – Stephen Crabbe in a recent hustings to an audience of farmers assured them that methane (from cows among other sources) was not a problem for the environment.
Then there’s Boris’ so claimed 34 new hospitals. But on probing he revealed that ‘seed money’ for plans is the same as new hospitals. What happened to his mayoral folly the Garden Bridge in London? Despite £53 million of ‘seed money’, the project never got off the drawing board and London taxpayers lost £43 million of public money that should have gone to policing or education or hospitals. Will the same happen to these 34 New hospitals? And what about the two major new hospital schemes, in Birmingham and Liverpool handed to the now bankrupt Carillion. After lying abandoned for months, work is at last restarting on site, but both are now years behind schedule.
Can we trust Johnson and his hard-right cabinet? Priti Patel (Home Secretary, not some junior minion) seems to believe that government is not to blame when asked about 4 in 10 children living in poverty in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, whilst Jacob Rees-Mogg (former Leader of the House) thinks dismissively of the inhabitants of Grenfell tower. ‘The more one’s read over the weekend,’ he said, ‘about the report and about the chances of people surviving, if you just ignore what you’re told and leave you are so much safer.’
The more I hear of the Tories, the safer I would feel if I could just ignore them, but like the fire swirling up the tower and engulfing it and our country, I can’t.