A Fair-Weather Prime Minister in a Storm

The truth is inescapable. No matter how you massage the statistics, one hundred thousand people have died from Covid in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, because of a national desire to self-harm, we have alienated ourselves from a generally cooperative neighbour that surrounds us on three sides, and we have done almost nothing in the way of adapting to the changes that that has necessitated.

As Boris Johnson takes to the Downing Street lectern, once again in a suit ill-fitting and with hair unbrushed, to say “sorry” for all the dying that has been going on, the party that he leads is still riding high in the opinion polls.

If you kill a person, you can reasonably expect to be sent to jail. If you kill one hundred thousand people, you can go on national TV, look sad for a bit, claim you did your best, and then get your message reiterated for you by an uncritical media. Then likely get re-elected into your high paying job with the promise of decades of after-dinner speaking engagements at £20,000 per night plus a lucrative book deal.

There is a 90% chance that every single person in the UK knows someone who has died of Covid

One hundred thousand people are now dead. Out of 66.7 million people. According to an article in the New York Times, people generally know about 600 other people. One hundred thousand dead people, each of whom would know 600 other people. This means that there is a 90% chance that every single person in the UK knows someone who has died of Covid.

The Westminster government thinks it “did the best it could do.” The only way that this could possibly be argued is if one chooses to believe that the government’s Covid response needed to be a blend of pandemic management and economic management. This is a challenge, because if everyone’s dead, there really isn’t going to be an economy. Not that there would be anyone around to worry about that, of course.

The government’s response can be typified as “too little, too late.” Simplistic soundbites, the three-word hook lines, only got us so far. Exhortations to “follow the science” were all fine until the science unequivocally said to shut everything down and stop person-person contact. Then the government prevaricated, delaying the inevitable lockdown by three weeks or more. Eventually, embarrassed by proactive decision-making in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the UK government capitulated. A national lockdown commenced, although not before being dangerously vague with regard to how the hospitality industry could manage the situation.

Not an international one, though. While island nations around the world closed their borders, the Brexit-loving xenophobia cult in the UK government kept international flights operating. Perhaps the chairman of British Airways is a Tory donor?

Renowned competence-vacuum Matt Hancock gave loads of money to his mates, instead of people who could actually deliver a Test & Trace service. The devolved nations were, once again, weeks ahead of the lumbering English.

“Eat out to help out” commenced. It is not even hindsight which damned this scheme as incredibly vacuous.

Lockdown ended, and “Eat out to help out” commenced. It is not even hindsight which damned this scheme as incredibly vacuous. In a climate where social distancing was still the only viable strategy, giving people vouchers to go out to lunch was so counterintuitive that it could only have been conceived by someone who needed to make money in hospitality, public casualties be damned. It could be construed as cynical to mention at this time that the Chief Executive of the Wetherspoons pub chain is a Tory donor.

Support for people impacted by Covid has been consistent in its lack of consistency, efficacy or actual supportiveness. This has directly led to people being unable to afford to self-isolate because their job is too unstable or too lowly-paid to afford the time off. Those people, knowingly unwell, have to go to work so as not to go bankrupt. A bankrupt state indeed that forces someone to choose between not infecting others, and personal insolvency.

As numbers began to ramp up in the autumn, commensurate with massively increased transmission risks caused by the scarcely-credible decision to send schools and universities back into session, we were faced with a tiering system. The tiers seemed geographically arbitrary and weredifficult to translate into actionable behaviours. Northern Ireland and Wales went back into Lockdown. Scotland designed 5 tiers but only really used 2 of them.

Our suited scarecrow announced that we could all get together at Christmas

And then the death toll continued to rise, and the government talked of easing restrictions for a “Great British Christmas.” Unbelievably, this actually happened. Even choosing to ignore how discriminatory this was in the face of all non-Christian religious festivals having been steamrollered earlier in the year, this was a spectacularly unwise policy. You could see the Chief Medical Officer wishing he would be swallowed whole by the ground while our suited scarecrow announced that we could all get together at Christmas.

Vaccination programmes have been aimed at reducing the headline figures of personal mortality. As a result, wide sections of the community are being vaccinated despite posing a lower overall risk to society than other sectors. Health workers, teachers, transport operators and retail workers all come into contact with huge numbers of people through their daily lives, yet we concentrate on vaccinating the elderly in care homes.

And in this treatise, we’ve hardly mentioned Brexit. The Westminster government has two massive nation-scale crises on its hands. One is entirely self-made. They have vacillated between each, yet made no progress in managing either. “We’ve done the best we could,” is the most abject lie you will hear from this government.


It seems certain that Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Priti Patel, Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson et al, spent their formative years imagining being in power. Johnson particularly, heading inexorably towards government, dreaming of being Prime Minister on the day when the England cricket team wins the Ashes and Tim Henman wins Wimbledon. A man who cannot even manage to be in control of his own appearance, in charge of a country. But it would be a fine English summer, and all would be well.

Instead, it is not a fine English summer. We cannot confine this disaster to a single season. We have the worst Prime Minister in living memory, during a time of abject national crisis. He has surrounded himself with people who make him look vaguely competent, not through managing things for him, but by demonstrating that being even less competent is actually possible. A man whose self-entitlement is matched only by his laziness and ineptitude. Perhaps he is doing the best he could? A man who boasts about not respecting contagion protocols before inevitably catching the contagious disesase? Should he be left in charge of, well, anything?

It’s been a long time since Westminster could really be regarded as being in service of the electorate. But to be actually, quantifiably toxic to the electorate on this scale? It’s a travesty.

But the fact that the population are probably going to vote for these incompetent fools again is the thing that really defies belief in this whole sorry tale.