Boris Johnson is a proven truth-twister. We can’t trust him with our elections
Straight out of University, Boris Johnson was dismissed from The Times for making up quotes, but far from a schoolboy error, lying became his modus operandi.
By 1999 he was editing the Spectator, a role he accepted on the condition he would not become an MP, so naturally he stood for election in 2001. By 2004 he’d been dismissed as a shadow minister for lying about an extra-marital affair. Then came the £350 million a week for the NHS, misleading the Queen, wallpapergate, lobbygate and now partygate.
I’ve missed a few, but you get the gist. He has proven that he has little regard for the rule of law, honesty or accountability, and the public knows it too: last weekend new polling found the most common word used to describe him was “liar”. Not only is he the first prime minister to have broken the law in office, he’s a bonafide truth-twister.
So what happens when that lying lawbreaker is also the lawmaker, and that lawmaker is pushing through a piece of legislation so frighteningly authoritarian it would uproot the foundations of British democracy? It sounds hyperbolic, but the government is currently trying to undermine free and fair elections in the UK.
It feels like we’re on the slippery slope towards authoritarianism
If unamended, the Elections Bill would give ministers unprecedented powers to cripple opponents, silence critics, and destroy the few remaining avenues of accountability. Since the Bill appeared last summer, changes to Voter ID have been grabbing the headlines, and while the government has made changes, following successful campaigning from Best for Britain, it remains deeply concerning for any right thinking democrat.
The most menacing aspect of this Bill is the proposed changes to the currently independent Electoral Commission. Under their proposals, ministers could set the agenda of the Commission, allowing them to decide which campaigners are investigated and, according to the Commission themselves, “shape how electoral law is applied to them and their political competitors”. Like partygate, where the lawmakers effectively decided which laws they felt they could break, this Bill would allow them to decide whether election law has been justly applied to themselves.
Let's call this what it is: a blatant attempt to destroy impartiality at election time and rig elections in favour of the government of the day. Alongside the other undemocratic bills the government is trying to push through, it feels like we’re on the slippery slope towards authoritarianism.
The Policing Bill would prevent you from protesting, the Borders Bill can remove your citizenship without telling you, and the Official Secrets Act targets our free press. All this brought to you by the inveterate liar in No. 10.
If we can’t trust him to be truthful to his boss, his former wife, or Parliament, how can we trust him with our elections without an independent regulator? The answer is simple: we can’t. But there is hope.
Today peers will vote on amendments to the Elections Bill, backed by Best for Britain, which would protect the integrity of future elections by ensuring the Electoral Commission remains fully independent. It has never been more important for the Lords to support an amendment. If they can hold the line on these changes until the Queen's speech on 10 May, then it’s game over for the entire stinking Bill.
And the public are on our side. New polling by Opinium on behalf of Best for Britain found that only 8 per cent of people think the Electoral Commission should not be fully independent from the government.
This power grab can and must be stopped because although we’re near the bottom of the barrel, there’s always further to drop. We may see an even more deceitful, untrustworthy, and authoritarian leader in the future. And if that person is in control of our elections, then what?
Naomi Smith is CEO of Best for Britain.
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