First Larne Presbyterian Church

First Larne Presbyterian Church

Is Boris Toast?


Political commentators have often claimed that if a bad situation dominates the news headlines for over a week, the person at the centre of the situation is toast.

Maybe. I guess it depends on the circumstances. Time will tell. Because the government and the Prime Minister have been in hot water for over two weeks now. It began when news leaked of a party in Downing Street on 18 December 2020 — when London was under Tier 3 restrictions, and shortly before the announcement of a national lockdown. An investigation launched by the Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case, currently focuses on four gatherings.

What’s to be done? There is, of course, the legal question. Was the law broken by any of these gatherings? If that’s the case, those responsible should resign and be subject to due legal process. The idea of political equality – that those who govern should be subject to the same laws as those who are governed – has its roots in Scripture (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20). It might seem obviously right to us, but it has been far from obvious to numerous dictators.

In the case of the Christmas parties, it’s possible there’s a legal loophole. But that still leaves open the moral question. We rightly expect our leaders to act not only legally but morally. We want them to act wisely and govern justly. If gatherings took place while the rest of the country was forbidden from seeing their loved ones, the charge of hypocrisy rightly arises.

The really significant question though is not whether Boris is toast but whether we have the quality of leaders (political and otherwise) to address the major challenges of our time, including the global pandemic, migration, and the climate and ecological crisis.

In speeches that shocked America and Britain in 1975 and 1976, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn argued that the West was drifting towards moral and social bankruptcy. In light of this, he asserted that: ‘There is but one choice: to rise to the task of the age. Very soon, only too soon, your country will stand in need of not just exceptional men [and women] but of great men [and women]. Find them in your souls. Find them in your hearts. Find them in the depths of your country.’

Solzhenitsyn remains a prophet. It’s imperative that we hold leaders to account. But, if we are after great leaders, we must also find them, support them, and pray for them

Paul Woolley