Prime minister Boris Johnson has faced criticism over the past few weeks after a series of scandals have questioned his honesty, integrity and even morality. With Boris Johnson’s PR approach to this personal reputation crisis being to simply deny. This blog post asks has Boris Johnson done too much damage to his reputation?
The prime minister receives an annual public grant of £30,000 to spend on his living quarters. But there’s been speculation the final bill actually came to as £200,000. The PM’s former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, has claimed that Boris Johnson had a “possibly illegal” plan for donors to pay the refurbishment.
Too make matters entirely worse media outlets have been claiming that sources multiple sources overheard Boris Johnson made the shocking comment that he would rather “see bodies pile high in their thousands” than order a third lockdown.
Of course, Boris has denied both these allegations of illegality and immorality. Still, it cannot be denied that these claims create questions about his overall character and threaten his reputation.
Scholars Carpenter and Krause have defined reputation in terms of public administration using four main catergories.
•Performative reputation—Can the agency do the job competently?
• Moral reputation—Is the agency compassionate, flexible, and honest?
• Procedural reputation—Does the agency follow normally accepted rules and norms,
however good or bad its decisions?
• Technical reputation—Does the agency have the capacity and skill required for
dealing in complex environments?
(Carpenter and Krause, 2012)
Boris Johnson’s moral reputation has certainly been affected by these scandals, and his lack of real explanation means he is not effectively making use of crisis communications. Perhaps also if the allegations about his comment regarding coronavirus are true, I would argue that his technical reputation is also damaged. Surely to make such a insensitive and immoral comment in the context of the time, shows he does not have the skill-set required for dealing complex environments.
BBC Journalist Laura Kuenssberg wrote in a piece on Boris’s untrustworthiness that we “don’t expect our politicians to be angels. But outright lying, in my experience, is relatively rare. It is too easily found out”. I would suggest that there is a systematic problem within our democracy if we expect our politicians to bend the truth.
Honesty must become the norm for our politicians and PR must strive to encourage this style of transparent communication. Perhaps Boris Johnson has done too much damage to his reputation, but perhaps this would be different if he told the truth to his publics.