Scotland's council elections are a chance to send a message to both Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon about priorities – Ian Murray MP

There comes a moment when most political leaders lose touch with reality. Surrounded by those keen to please and detached from everyday life, it’s perhaps inevitable.

Thursday, 21st April 2022, 4:55 am

For Boris Johnson, of course, his grip on reality was always tenuous at best. A serial liar who always thought it was one rule for him and another for everyone else – and now a criminal to boot.

But he still doesn’t get it. If there was perhaps a moment when he should have realised the error of his ways, it’s a good bet that it was in the Commons on Tuesday when Keir Starmer told the heartbreaking story of John Robinson.

When his wife died of Covid, John and his family obeyed Johnson’s rules – he didn’t see her in hospital or hold her hand as she died.

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Johnson nodded slowly. Remorseful? I doubt it. It’s simply not in his nature. But maybe, right then, there was a moment when he finally realised the pain and hurt he has caused.

His premiership is forever tainted, and the question now is how much longer he will continue to demean the office of Prime Minister.

He’s unlikely to go on his own accord – that’s not in his nature either. Prior to the next General Election, it’s a decision for Tory MPs.

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Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson are both out of touch with ordinary people's main priorities (Picture: Duncan McGlynn/Getty Images)

In the Commons vote today, they can decide whether Johnson is investigated by the Common’s Privileges Committee.

Incredibly, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has already decided this issue is not important enough for him to vote. So what will other Scottish Tory MPs do? Will they act in the interest of their personal ambitions or the country?

Johnson wouldn’t hesitate before throwing every one of them under a bus. He doesn’t deserve their support. But perhaps they have also lost touch with reality?

The reality is that we currently have a cost-of-living crisis, with soaring energy bills and food prices, which is pushing hundreds of thousands into poverty.

But we are saddled with a Tory government failing to take the action necessary to address this emergency.

Far from acting, they’re now pedalling a policy on asylum so toxic that Priti Patel had to issue a rare ‘ministerial direction’ to push through plans to send asylum seekers to offshore detention centres in Rwanda against civil service advice.

It’s an extortionate and desperate policy designed to distract from the government's sleaze and illegality rather than safeguard those fleeing persecution.

And then in Scotland we have another political leader, Nicola Sturgeon, who has also lost touch with reality too.

Rather than focussing on the challenges facing Scots, she has been holding talks with civil servants about how to divide Scotland and hold another independence referendum.

She even insisted at the weekend that a referendum should be held next year. How out-of-touch can you get when most are worried about spiralling bills?

When political leaders lose their grip on reality, it’s time for change.

For voters, the first opportunity to remind the Tories and SNP about what they should really be focused on comes in next month’s local elections.

Labour candidates and councils will always prioritise improving local services, bringing communities together, and building a brighter future. That’s the reality of what our politics should be about.

Ian Murray is Scottish Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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