OPINION: Is Boris Johnson the biggest villain on display?
Boris Johnson looks exhausted as he leaves PMQs: Dan Kitwood/GettyImages

There is a video doing the rounds of Boris Johnson prancing around a dancefloor like a gorilla. "I'm not sure I can tweet any of this," the excitedly reporting spectator told his friend. Straight away, we are already thinking: oh, this was during the lockdown, wasn't it? 

The trust has gone between the government and the public. If Johnson's dad-dancing video was filmed before the pandemic, it wouldn't really matter at this point. Minds are starting to fix and his popularity is starting to disintegrate. 

Labour felt similar struggles when they went toe-to-toe with Johnson in the 2019 General Election. Why wouldn't the working-class vote for Jeremy Corbyn? Because – if you asked those on the doors – they'd tell you he was a terrorist sympathiser and a Marxist. He had lost the battle even before Labour's unpopular flip-flop position on Brexit

Corbyn was far from perfect but he was up against Boris Johnson: a man who answered every question in that election campaign with the "Get Brexit Done" slogan. That's hardly a figure of convincing competency! But large sections of the media didn't like the radical thinking of Corbyn and – if big swathes of the media don't like you – you're unelectable. The media runs the country.

Johnson, himself, reportedly told his former aid Dominic Cummings that the Daily Telegraph is his real boss. People's perceptions are controlled about what they see on the news and what they read in the newspaper so, if you please the right people, it will certainly help you in the polls! 

In the middle of June, the Conservatives were polling at 45 – higher than they polled during their resounding election victory – and Johnson was on a path to victory. He had patched together some kind of Brexit deal, stumbled through the pandemic, and he was soon to announce an end to restrictions. The showman was delivering. 

Despite the sketchy response to the coronavirus, people were willing to give Johnson the benefit of the doubt. After all, there wasn't a single nation that nailed every step of the response. A whole cluster of revelations in recent months have poured scorn on the government's efforts over the past couple of years, however, this knowledge has only arrived because somebody in-the-know has upset the apple cart. 

A little bit late!

We are now hearing about scandal, after scandal, after scandal, and the recent garden party revelations come from an event that happened in May 2020 – in the middle of the first lockdown! Attendees should hang their heads in shame but what about the leakers?

People went to that party, compiled evidence, and sneaked off into the night. They were delighted to attend, enjoy themselves, and sit on these stories until the time was right. 

Such sleaze and corruption is deeply disturbing and it stretches far beyond the Prime Minister

Allegra Stratton – former BBC and ITV political broadcaster– then linked-up to work for the government, before her embarrassing gaffe in December helped to open a can of worms on last month's party scandals. She is married to James Forsyth, who is an editor in The Spectator and a columnist in The Times.

Allegra Stratton talks to an audience at COP26, before her recent dismissal from the government: Adrian Dennis - Pool/GettyImages

James Slack has worked for Theresa May and Boris Johnson, and he is now the Deputy Political Editor for The Sun after a stint with the Daily Mail. 

Journalists are allowed to get on with politicians but they shouldn't be cushy and close-knit because that's an obvious conflict on interest. The British public rely on people to deliver the news – not to cover it up or turn a blind eye to rumours.  

It is quite clear that some journalists attended these parties and even those that didn't will have had an idea of the events that were unfolding. Likewise, many Tory MPs – who are happy to feed quotes out to the media now – were happy to milk Johnson's lawless secret-order while the rest of Britain was tangled in restrictions. They also fell deafeningly silent during Prime Minister's recent mauling at PMQs

Johnson will get the bulk of the criticism. He is the Prime Minister so the buck stops with him. But where were the voices of reason telling him to respect the rules that he helped to put into place? Some MPs and senior journalists have seriously let themselves down. 

Worrying outlook

Essentially, Johnson was right in his assertion to Cummings: he should prioritise the mood of the media over the mood of the public. Because, if he has the right people in the media on-side, the people will follow suit.

Johnson and his cronies have been laughing at the public since the very start of the pandemic and only now are they facing the music. People have been playing politics with the nation and we should be as angry at them as we are at the beleaguered and bewildered Etonian.