Yesterday should have been a great day all round. It was the start of a brand new year, Britain was nominally at least, a sovereign nation again and there were two vaccines for the coronabug available to use.
Not only that, but it had snowed on Dartmoor overnight and the sun was shining – a perfect day to take the children out and give them a breath of fresh air to start off 2021 – or so one would have thought.
Unfortunately though, not much seems to have changed. We had more last minute U turns from our hapless government who then compounded the ineptitude of the Education Secretary by blaming the drug companies in advance for the logistical disaster they face in dishing out the vaccine. That seemed particularly daft when today, both the relevant drug companies vehemently denied that there was any blame at their end and they can bring out two million doses a week without a problem.
So it would seem that the government were trying to shift the blame in advance for the logistical debacle that they know is almost certain to take place – again.
With hospitals becoming overcrowded and the much vaunted Nightingale units not being used, the NHS are pleading lack of staff, yet of the forty thousand former health workers who have volunteered to come back – unpaid if necessary – less than five thousand have had their offers accepted. Others have been put off by the fact that to be brought back into the fold, one has to produce twenty one different qualifications, including the fact that a diversity course has been completed.
And at the helm of this nonsense, we have our ‘revered leader,’ Bunter Johnson. I find myself amazed that in the midst of what is a pretty serious crisis, Bunter’s first thought always seems to be for his own emotions, rather than the poor folk, he is trying to frighten half to death. How often have we heard a preamble to yet another daft decision like this?
“I hate having to take these decisions …”, “I deeply regret having to do this …”, “I do this with a heavy heart …” Once you have noticed this nonsense, you can’t stop hearing it. I cannot remember any Bunter J podium address lately that wasn’t riven with subconscious invitations to consider the real victim in all this – himself. No matter what you might been through personally, please do take time to consider the heartaches and bellyaches visited upon a man who simply wanted to be world king, but would settle for being the kind of prime minister who smiled and drove diggers through polystyrene walls while wearing a high viz jacket and hard hat – yet now has to deal with all this covid nonsense in his in-tray instead.
Of course, there is the odd bright spark. Johnson would have enjoyed being told by Bill Cash during Wednesday’s trade deal debate that he was like both Alexander the Great and Churchill. Even if that is like being told you make a lot of sense by the Vicar of Dibley or Donald Duck.
It seems that hardly a day passes that we the suffering public are not subjected to self dramatising speeches about the latest anti virus measures he so hates imposing on us. They make me want to remind the prat that he is the prime minister and it is his job. The people listening to his woffle are the ones he supposed to lead, not his ruddy psychotherapist.
Was this the way with the PM’s noted idol and supposed political lodestar, Winston Churchill? Somehow, I doubt it. I think we can all be sure that Churchill did not feel the need to deliver all his wartime announcements laced with frequent expressions of how he was handling the whole thing of having to deliver all these wartime announcements. Imagine it if you can.
“I hate having to be the one who suggests we shall fight them on the beaches … I deeply regret having to indicate we may be required to fight them on the landing grounds … Nobody likes being the one whose job it is to announce we shall never surrender …”
No it just does not ring true. It is fair to say that Churchill was not unburdened by self-regard, yet he seems to have realised that what the people really needed to hear in their hour of need was not how it was all making HIM feel.
Inevitably, the prime minister’s needy vacillation has proved highly transmissible among his ministers. Gavin Williamson has spent much of this week explaining his chaotic and belated actions on schools with the words “no one wants to be making these decisions.” And yet, I bet there are people who would quite want to be secretary of state for education, and to make those requisite decisions, so should hapless Gavin stand aside for them? Perhaps Bunter J will eventually steel himself to tell Williamson – with deep regret and a heavy heart, no doubt – that he is being moved on from a department he has turned into a full-spectrum disaster for a year now. Until then, the self-dramatisation continues. As you may know, Williamson prominently displays a bull whip on his desk. Does this mean he pictures himself as some sort of macho screen hero as he presides over the destruction of the educational prospects of an entire generation of children.
Speaking of touches of affectation, when the prime minister comes through the No 10 doors to announce close to a thousand deaths, as he has twice this week, it can be seen that this 56-year-old man has nonetheless still taken the trouble to mess up his hair just before. What felt mildly excruciating in pre-corona times seems truly grotesque when persisted with today. The podium turns themselves betray even more weirdly skewed priorities. A couple of weeks ago, a shielding and frightened member of the public asked a question in which she said she had already lost two loved ones to Covid. Clearly incapable of feeling compassion for anyone other than himself, Bunter J declined to express any, and handed the question over to Chris Whitty.
The reason all this is particularly important is because it tells us so much of why our pandemic story has unfolded the way it has. Time and again, Bunter Johnson has so deeply regretted even the prospect of having to do difficult things that he has not done them at all, meaning he has had to do even more regrettable things later. He seems most comfortable casting himself as forever the passive victim of events as opposed to someone who should be out in front of them, shaping them as decisively as possible. A fascinating article by a chap called James Johnson this week charted the PM’s descent in public esteem over the course of the past year. “As yet another inevitable decision was finally made,” he reported, “people came to think more and more that the man who was meant to lead them was following them instead.”
Come on Bunter – show us a bit of actual leadership for a change. Stop reacting to things that happen and bring a little bit of life back to those folk you have condemned to going this way, then that way then back again with their lives. You are not the most important person in this crisis. You are merely the one who was elected to lead people out of it and you are not doing your job as it should be done.
Right, that is my first explosion of frustrated feeling for 2021 and the sun continues to shine on remnants of moorland snow, so I feel the need to get outside for a while. Happy New Year to you all.