How we can all help Boris Johnson rebuild Britain – Bernard Ingham

FORGET New Year resolutions. This is confession time. A year ago I resolved always to look on the bright side – and then look what happened.

Bernard Ingham says there are still reasons to be optimistic despite Boris Johnson having to announce another national lockown.
Bernard Ingham says there are still reasons to be optimistic despite Boris Johnson having to announce another national lockown.

Not wishing to make a double chump of myself, I am reduced this year to offering guidelines for a responsibly optimistic life in 2021.

They are: common sense, patience, determination, unremitting effort and a certain humility.

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I give pride of place to common sense which the majority of citizens are still demonstrating as, we trust, the pandemic is vaccinated out of contagion.

This was Boris Johnson celebrating his Brexit deal with the EU.

It begins with a stone-cold sober assessment of our assets and liabilities.

Our main assets are Brexit and a vaccine against Covid-19 coupled with a recognition that both stem from British resolution and scientific skill.

Not much else can excite our national pride and self-satisfaction apart from low inflation.

Our economy is shattered along with our high streets, our debts monumental, our public services rickety and the world in the most dangerous state since the 1962 Cuba crisis.

This was Boris Johnson announcing another Covid lockown on Monday night.

But there is one other thing on the plus side: we have a Prime Minister in Boris Johnson who has observed my guidelines in achieving what was thought impossible: an orderly Brexit.

He has even resisted the temptation to crow about it.

Instead, he has recognised that the free world’s interest is best served by 
co-operation with our European neighbours.

It follows from this sober assessment that, for all the loose talk about an economic bounce back, we cannot expect miracles.

Like Rome, a new land fit for our heroes – from frontline staff in the NHS and essential services to round-the-clock scientists – to live in will not be built this year, let alone this month.

Patience is the order of the day.

The important thing is that we are generally seen to be going in the right direction.

This poses a challenge to Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, who will only garner votes if he is constructively critical.

His claim that he would have negotiated a better Brexit is risible, bearing in mind his history of Europhilia.

I expect only nonsense from the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists.

They have long forfeited any respect with their illogical approach to the English and Brussels.

It follows from all this we shall get nowhere without true grit.

A national determination to sort things out and build a fairer and more prosperous society is crucial.

That is the only way to get people back to work and “level up” the nation – i.e. to bring a better economic balance to the country.

Lord Kitchener’s “Your country needs you” comes to mind.

It does not need public sector unions striking at the drop of a hat or executives making a mint out of the local or national taxpayer.

This brings me to unremitting effort.

Those who show they are only in it for themselves will do a disservice to the rest of us.

We all need to be working to the same end – an economically and defensively sound nation playing a principled and constructive role in world affairs.

It sounds easy put like that. But the reality is that Britain faces its greatest post-war challenge by miles.

This is where a certain humility comes in.

All of us from time to time – and some all the time – think they could do better than the elected government.

It would do the know-alls, if not the rest, a lot of good if they were occasionally given the reins.

We are not going to get anywhere 
this year if all we hear are Remainers blaming Brexit for our trials and politicians bent on destructive 
criticism instead of offering constructive ideas.

My best advice to all politicos is to stifle every flash of hindsight and instead make practical suggestions.

They will be surprised what it does for their image – and their party.

So, given a general observance of my proposed guidelines, where do I want us to be in a year’s time?

The answer is simple: vaccines for the pandemic being distributed; the economy growing; unemployment falling, inflation still low, our high streets looking up, our schools making up for lost time, a programme to improve public services and especially the NHS, a plan for good relations with Europe and the USA and the defence of our interests against the Communist states.

That would be just what the doctor ordered: a year in which we lay the foundations for future advancement.

No New Year resolutions; just toil, tears and sweat without, I trust, Winston Churchill’s blood.

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