The 101 damnations: Johnson’s ‘principles’ of government

Photo by Alex Motoc on Unsplash

To mark the final day in office of a unique prime minister, here are my definitive, expanded, 101 Johnson principles of government.

1 Accept responsibility for nothing.

2 Blame others for things that are your fault.

3 Take credit for things that aren’t your doing.

4 Preach unity and sow division.

5 Always speak with at least two faces.

6 Act like you’re in opposition.

7 Act like the opposition are in government.

8 Treat scrutiny as insolence.

9 Treat opposition as undemocratic.

10 Treat criticism as unpatriotic.

11 Stand in front of flags.

12 Use public money as if it’s your own (or the Conservative party’s).

13 Use donors’ money as if it’s nobody else’s business.

14 Where gravitas is advisable, use levity.

15 Where gravitas is essential, use levity.

16 Make the important seem trivial.

17 Make the trivial seem important.

18 Get people angry about things that don’t matter, so they ignore the things that do.

19 When the polls are looking bad, escalate the culture war.

20 Feign contrition then smear your political opponents without pausing for breath.

21 Act superficially profound while remaining profoundly superficial.

22 Normalise immorality and inhumanity

23 Portray compassion and compromise as wokery and weakness.

24 Treat asylum seekers as commodities, not people.

25 Spin state cruelty as kindness

26 Cite our proud history of welcoming refugees while doing all you can to tarnish it.

27 Treat human rights as an outrageous imposition.

28 Encourage the belief that being expected to display good manners, diplomacy and respect for others’ views is an intolerable infringement of your freedom of speech.

29 Praise the UK’s values of tolerance, freedom and rule of law while displaying intolerance, restricting freedoms and attacking the rule of law.

30 Cite the sacredness of our sovereign parliament while granting yourself presidential powers.

31 Deliver serious messages of global import with a glint in your eye, to show your supporters it’s all a bit of a joke.

32 When put on the spot, look from side to side in mock exasperation, punch the air, and impugn your interviewer.

33 If that doesn’t work, hide in a fridge.

34 Extol the virtues of the Union while doing all you can to undermine it.

35 Destabilise Northern Ireland in the name of patriotism.

36 Spread corruption like a virus.

37 Grant honours for favours

38 Ennoble your family

39 Hand out peerages as compensation for electoral defeat.

40 If your MPs break the rules, undermine the inquiry and smear those responsible for it.

41 Watch ethics adviser after ethics adviser resign.

42 Butter up your MPs if they show signs of having principles.

43 Threaten or bribe your MPs if those principles are proving hard to shift.

44 Make your ministers demean themselves for you.

45 Let your ministers insult peaceful protesters

46 Allow your ministers to bully their officials with impunity

47 Belittle your civil servants, knowing they can’t answer back.

48 Declare pandemics over when they’re becoming a nuisance.

49 Make vaccines the answer to every question.

50 Claim you’re a world leader at everything you do.

51 Get angrier about statues than poverty.

52 Break your own laws.

53 Argue that ignorance of your own laws makes you innocent.

54 Never apologise.

55 If pressed, say you’ve apologised even though you haven’t.

56 Make it seem as if an apology will do instead of a resignation.

57 If that still isn’t enough, order an inquiry.

58 If the inquiry findings don't suit you, say it's time to move on.

59 Set no limits to how low you will go

60 Destroy voters’ moral compasses.

61 Pick on minorities.

62 Carry a dog whistle at all times.

63 Mock MPs who tell you your language is getting them death threats.

64 Use sexual predators to enforce party discipline.

65 Put lawyers’ lives at risk.

66 Be as offensive as you can, but reserve the right to say you were
taken out of context.

67 Use the cloak of humour to voice the unacceptable.

68 If joking about the dead will get you a response, joke about the dead.

69 Act as though you and your government are above the law.

70 But use lawyers to cast doubt on parliamentary inquiries which have no legal relevance.

71 Break international law for electoral gain

72 Appoint an Attorney General who’ll tell you that’s just fine.

73 Make words lose all meaning.

74 Speak in three-word slogans.

75 Use verbosity in place of substance.

76 Make shamelessness seem like charming irreverence.

77 Make commitments you’ll never honour in the knowledge you’ll never be held to account.

78 Don uniform to blur the lines between government and police

79 When you can’t wear uniform, wear high-viz jackets.

80 Hail free trade while making free trade impossible.

81 Gaslight your electorate with Australian chocolate.

82 Close down Parliament if you don’t like what Parliament is doing.

83 Lie to the Queen.

84 Party while your monarch mourns.

85 Destroy people’s lives by failing to read your brief.

86 Recite colonial-era poetry when visiting former colonies.

87 Shake off your security so you can party freely with Russians

88 Suppress inconvenient reports

89 Attribute good things to Brexit when they’re nothing to do with Brexit.

90 Attribute bad things to anything but Brexit when they’re everything to do with Brexit.

91 Say the EU forced us do things it didn’t.

92 Liken European leaders to Nazi prison camp guards, but always call them “our friends”.

93 Devise a foreign policy for a world in which Europe doesn’t exist.

94 When war breaks out, adjust your foreign policy for a world in which the EU doesn’t exist.

95 Compare Brexit to the Ukrainians’ war of self-defence.

96 Assume Churchill delusions.

97 If in trouble at home, fly to Kyiv.

98 Ride in RAF jets and play at being soldiers while your country sinks into mass food and energy poverty.

99 Tell the world your presence is essential, then holiday all summer long.

100 Make adversaries of our allies.

101 If in doubt, lie. Then lie again. And again. And again. And again.

If you've got this far, here is my father's poem about Johnson, written just before he became prime minister. He can spot a wrong 'un, my father. @WCountryVoices