Judging from a few of the Sunday newspapers, Britain is about to turn the corner, escape from darkness and face a very rosy future. Others are not so optimistic. Chancellor Rishi Sunak tells us in one tabloid that we will be free from all restrictions by February because the new Oxford vaccine is due to be approved on Monday and will quickly be doled out to all we vulnerable folk.
How does he know it will be approved, I ask myself. He is not part of the panel issuing the approvals. I have never been a believer in conspiracy theories but a great deal of what has happened over the past few months is very difficult to explain without them and let’s face it, some people stand to make an enormous amount of money from the Nation’s collective panic.
No I will amend that. I should have said the government’s collective panic. They remind me of freshly caught fish on a sea front, all with their mouths open and tails flapping as they wonder how to escape the mess in which they find themselves.
Again in some papers, Bunter J is lauded as a bold innovative politician who stood up to the European dragon and slayed it with his trusty sword. Other are bitterly critical and tell us that he has betrayed large sectors of the economy. Meanwhile the politicians of the EU are also claiming victory so who on earth is right and how can an ordinary scribbler like myself make head or tail of the Sunday news?
After all, we have heard feigned optimism and wild claims of success from this government over the past nine months on many occasions and on each occasion, they have ham-fistedly managed to bungle things so that we end up far worse off than we were. From procurement failures with PPE to a test and trace system, large parts of which were contracted out – at huge expense – to corporations with track records of shambolic failure. A test and trace system that has proved completely unfit for purpose damnit! The government has also made it financially impossible for people on low incomes to self-isolate when required to do so.
Most of us can justifiably claim to have kept our side of the bargain. We have faithfully followed difficult and painful rules that have kept us away from loved ones and friends for months on end, but we have been let down by a government that has placed too much emphasis on making bombastic and reckless guarantees and too little on taking the action required to halt the spread of the Coronabug.
I loved Aesop’s Fables when I was a boy and am reminded sadly of the story of the prince who had longed to be King of the World since boyhood and finally ascends to the throne. He finds his royal duties surprisingly dull until one day, a courtier rushes in to say,
‘Panic Sire; the leaves are falling from the trees. Something must be done.’
And so the King orders his soldiers out into the forests to glue the leaves back on to the trees from which they fell.
Advisers who grumble that the fall of the leaves is a normal event called Autumn are shouted down, dismissed and accused of being callous and cruel to leaves. The King spends all the money in the country on glue, ladders and soldiers’ pay.
And after he has made his kingdom bankrupt and autumn takes place as usual, he says: ‘We should have acted sooner.’
It sounds depressingly familiar and reminds me of another boy who wanted to be King of The World and having almost attained his goal is making a complete hash of it.
And you know, I get so tired of reading in the Bunter-supporting newspapers (of which there are pitifully few) that the man is a ‘libertarian’ who hates shutting the country down and cancelling Christmas. If he hated it, he ruddy well would not do it, as there is plenty of evidence that lockdowns are futile as well as being pathetically nasty. Rather than any sort of a libertarian’ Bunter J is an Etonian Napoleon. His politics are those of the Corleone family as depicted in The Godfather. Total loyalty is greatly rewarded, as his latest handout of a peerage to a totally unsuitable donor and crony shows. The body who supervise nomination to the Upper House advised against the appointment of Peter Cruddas but in his wisdom, Bunter J overruled them.
Mind you, the faintest hint of dissent or independence is fiercely punished. That is why he has surrounded himself with craven politicians who will not express disagreement with their leader and will do only what they are told.
It leaves the rest of us suffering and despite the cheer and hope for the New Year expressed in some of the tabloids this morning, I am not daring to hope as yet.
After all, we have been here many times before and my pub is still closed. I suppose I should convince myself that things can only get better from this deep in the swamp, but the events of the past nine months leave little scope for optimism.
There won’t be too many New Year celebrations this year but as Rhodesia’s pioneer author Hylda Richards entitled her best-selling autobiographical book, Next Year Will Be Better.
We can but hope and pray.