Why I Am Praying for Boris

“I came under some fire when I encouraged friends to pray for Boris Johnson as his health declined last week.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 13/04/2020 [Online] Available: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/ewan-gurr-mrs-t-and-boris-are-similar-in-approach-to-leadership/  [Accessed: 2020, Apr 14] 

I came under fire when I encouraged friends to pray for Boris Johnson as his health declined at St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster last week. Respondents to my call included a stay-at-home mum with experience of Conservative social security policies confirming she would not participate, an atheist nationalist who had theological and political reasons for not taking part and a domestic abuse-surviving single mum who stated emphatically she would “not be praying for that wretched man.”

Last week was a milestone in UK political history as it marked the first time a Prime Minister was unexpectedly admitted to intensive care but it was also significant for another reason as it marked seven years since the untimely passing of former Conservative leader and UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. A similar sentiment, as that alluded to above, was expressed at the time of her death when 200 protesters danced at George Square in Glasgow and that polarisation of perspective remains.

My father, for instance, benefited from Mrs Thatcher’s privatisation of British Gas, leading to several salary increases and tax breaks and, although he never voted for the Conservatives during Mrs Thatcher’s tenure, he has done so in recent years. By contrast, his twin brother – my uncle – lost his job as an engineer due to the closure of steel companies by Mrs Thatcher. He ended up in the dole queue with five years’ worth of training he would never be able to use and has never voted Conservative.

Last week, I spoke to former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore, who was Boris Johnson’s boss for four years and also the authorised biographer for the late Mrs Thatcher, completing his third and final edition on her life in 2019. Mr Moore, who refers affectionately to the late Prime Minister as Mrs T, told me: “The first thing to say about her is that she was successful. Success in politics is measured by winning elections and she did so on three occasions and by leading the country for 11 years.”

Mr Moore, who is still a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, stated that the political styles of Mrs Thatcher and Mr Johnson are very different but there are similarities in their approach to leadership. He said: “Good leaders possess a special quality. There is a clear agenda for change and the ability to cut through and be transformational.” On the ill health of Mr Johnson, he added: “Obviously Boris did not mean to get ill, but it amounts to a good political move because he was suffering with the people.”

While I have never voted Conservative and am opposed to aspects of their agenda, I cannot talk about equality unless the equality I endorse extends to those with whom I disagree. For that reason, I am pleased that Boris Johnson has been released from hospital and I will continue to pray for his full recovery.