Saturday, January 28

Boris Johnson may be going. But the need to hold power to account is as urgent as ever | Katharine Vine


In the post-election, pre-pandemic days of December 2019, when Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won a large majority, I wrote a letter to Guardian supporters.

“Lies, cynicism and self-interest are multiplying,” I wrote. “The response must be calm, determined, responsible reporting that pinpoints the truth, seeks answers, exposes wrongdoing and dishonesty and tells the story of people challenging the status quo.”

Three years later, and it looks like calm, determined, accurate reporting has finally won the day over deceit, bluster and obfuscation. In the end, Johnson was not undone by Covid, war, inequality or inflation, but by yet another lie.

For three years, the Guardian and our colleagues at other media organizations have relentlessly scrutinized the shortcomings of Johnson and his government, determined not to let off the hook the people who told us that Brexit would bring in £350m a week for the NHS, or that we’d had enough of experts.

We exposed the officials and ministers who traveled – or parted – when it was against the rules they set. We uncovered the so-called “chumocracy” – Conservative allies enjoying a fast-track lane to secure plum Covid contracts. We investigated blunders – with lockdowns, care homes and protective kit. We uncovered sleaze, incompetence and folly.

Despite the enthusiastic support Johnson got from some parts of the UK media, the Guardian and the Observer were skeptical about the prime minister from the start. Even before he took over, we published a series of pieces on his past history and his character of him. We were never persuaded by his buffoon act from him.

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We believe we have an important role to play in testing governments’ honesty, competence and values. Whoever takes over will find us similarly resolute. Johnson may have gone, but the problems he leaves behind have not.

Politics will dominate the next few weeks, as the Conservative party selects a new leader, a new prime minister. But for millions of people in the UK, as in many other countries around the world, domestic politics can feel like a sideshow, delivering depressingly few ideas about what really matters: how to tackle the cost of living crisis, the climate emergency, the scandal of inequality, the war in Ukraine and other wars across the globe, the manifest unfairness of life today.

So as well as scrutinizing Johnson’s successor, we will survey the landscape they inherit and the problems they must fix. Our reporters will spend as much time talking to people about their lives, livelihoods and living conditions as they do talking to the powerful. We will get underneath the issues that really matter, and demand the ideas and policies to match.

This is the Guardian’s mission. If it resonates with you, if you recognize our value in keeping the powerful honest and the honest powerful, then support us today.

Help us keep power honest. Support the Guardian


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