Boris’ political Ponzi scheme

Do you remember Bernie Madoff, who executed the largest Ponzi Scheme in history?  He had an extraordinary ability to persuade people to part with their cash.

Madoff was asked how he could guarantee such consistently high returns.  “I’m not giving away my trade secrets” he’d say, followed by some flim-flam. 

If anyone wanted their money back, he’d write them a cheque.  Money back, plus all the profits they were promised.  Word spread that the payouts were real.  He’d show investors charts and statistics showing how well things were going. 

It went on for years.  People said the normal rules didn’t apply to him.  He was some kind of genius. 

The thing was, he’d done absolutely sod all with the money.  He just stuck it in Chase-Manhatten Bank, and lived the high life.  Expensive homes in New York, Florida and France.  A big yacht. 

How did he make the payouts?  He took it from the cash pile.  As long as ever more people invested, he could keep up the lie.  Failure was inevitable.  When the scheme collapsed in 2008, investors lost a whopping $64.8 billion. 

Last week’s no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the sound of a political Ponzi scheme collapsing under the weight of its broken promises. 

He lied about Partygate, of course.  More promises and bigger lies, to cover up the other lies.  He got caught because, well, he was actually guilty.  So now they claim “He got the big calls right”. 

But did he? 

Remember “oven ready” Brexit?  That the UK could leave the European Single Market without jeopardising the Good Friday Agreement?  Now they’re talking about breaking the treaty they negotiated, risking a trade war with the EU.  Not to mention the queues at ports and airports.

Remember “levelling up”?  We were promised Northern Powerhouse Rail.  In writing.  Instead we’ve got rail chaos, driver shortages, and signal failures.  And a national rail strike because budgets have been slashed and wages frozen. 

He ignored the first five COBRA meetings, locked down late, causing an estimated 20,000 extra deaths.  Remember the failed test and trace system that cost £37 billion?  That an inquiry described as “an eye watering waste of money”. 

Remember the dodgy deals for PPE?  Ministers’ friends getting multi-million pound contracts for equipment that couldn’t be used.  Over £4 billion worth of useless PPE has literally been burned. 

We keep being told the vaccine rollout was better in Britain.  Check the facts.  I just have.  As of 1st June, Our World in Data, from Oxford University, lists the percentage of population fully vaccinated.  In Europe, the UK is behind Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Iceland, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Greece. 

School exam chaos.  Petrol has topped £100 per tank full.  Foodbank use topped 2 million people a year.  Fuel bills at a record high.  Inflation passing 10%.  National Insurance hikes for working people.

What sickens me most is him flying to Kyiv in a cynical attempt to save his own job.  Yet he rewarded Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs with special favours like a seat in the House of Lords. 

The morning after the no-confidence vote, I was interviewed by LBC’s Nick Ferrari. He was expecting me to put the boot in.  No point, his own party are doing that anyway.  And people need hope. 

Mr Johnson became PM two months after I became Mayor. 

We’re ten years ahead of the government target in our devolution deal.  4,586 good quality jobs in the pipeline, all underpinned by our Good Work Pledge. 

Despite the pandemic, we’ve funded more training courses.  Over 25,000, from HGV driving to computer coding, giving our young people a chance to earn a good living.  We’ve built houses with our Brownfield Housing Fund.  And we work directly with communities, funding projects like community food gardens from Hexham to Heaton, and beach wheelchairs in Cullercoats. 

Economic competence is possible.  Compassionate policies are deliverable.  But not if you run government like a Ponzi scheme.  Like Bernie Madoff, Boris Johnson made promises people wanted to believe.  When he couldn’t deliver them, he made more promises, and told more lies. 

With energy prices so high, all this gaslighting must be costing him a fortune. 

*Originally printed in the Journal and Evening Chronicle 13 June 22