A Weird World We Live In

It has been quite a week and although the coronabug vaccine is giving us a little hope for the immediate future, the general tone of life in 2021 is becoming more than a wee bit troubling.

I won’t go into the general uncertainty, the flames of which are being fanned by an ever more inept and bungling government, but let’s take the death of Captain Tom Moore for a start.

Yes, it was sad as any death is sad. He was clearly a lovely man, who captured the heart of the nation at a very difficult time. But his death is not as so many hand-wringing commentators have claimed, in any way a tragedy. He died at a great age, surrounded by his family, having lived a rich and adventurous life. Surely, that is something to celebrate. 

At the same time, a trendy Church of England clergyman. managed to tie himself up in knots on the dreaded Twitter. The Church of England seems to specialise nowadays in sermons seen through the prism of the sanctimonious Left.

But the Reverend Jarel Robinson-Brown outdid himself. ‘The cult of Captain Tom is a cult of White British Nationalism,’ he declared on twitter. ‘I will offer prayers for the repose of this kind and generous soul, but I will not be joining in the National Clap for him.’

Needless to say, the Rev Robinson Brown is black and so another large portion of the Church of England’s flock will have turned their eyes to Heaven, and declared they’d had enough.

If there is one thing the C of E really does not need when it is haemorrhaging churchgoers – down by up to twenty per cent in the past decade – it is clergymen like this buffoon attacking the values everyone else hold dear.

Where does the Church find these people? This man had already made his views clear repeatedly – he had attacked Prime Minister Johnson, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel and other Government ministers as ‘Oppressors.’ 

Yet he was still given the coveted position of curate in the oldest church in the City of London, All Hallows by the Tower. Ok, I am all in favour of him expressing opinions when appropriate, but his declaration on Tom Moore was so loaded with hate-filled anger, it makes a mockery of the Christian doctrine of love.

Clergymen are at the heart of this country’s history. They are figures of tradition and pillars of the community – a bit like Captain Tom in his way.  Posturing curates such as Robinson-Brown ignore this at their peril.

The Diocese of London accepts the comments were ‘unacceptable, insensitive and ill judged.’ They say a review is under way, and that the Rev Robinson-Brown has deleted his tweet. Oh goody but the damage is done. A few more congregants will bid their farewells and another nail has been hammered into the C of E coffin.

And for the record, I did not join in the six o’clock clapping either. Too much of this past twelve months has depended on treating the entire nation like children. Maybe it’s just me but standing in the street and clapping into thin air feels oddly childish and infantilising. At a time when many people feel they are being bullied by an inept government who are unwilling to share an objective exit strategy, I prefer to stop and question any collective demonstrations of emotion. They are rarely completely benign.

Surely I am not the only person blinded by the glare of irony as Boris Johnson clapped on the steps of Number 10 in appreciation of Sir Tom’s huge (£33 million) charity fund when his own incompetence blew an eye-watering £22 billion on a useless Test & Trace system. 

There are few things that I find more stomach-churning than politicians basking in someone else’s reflected glory. Sir Tom Moore went to his grave knowing that he was loved and respected as a symbol of social altruism and as a soldier he fought fascism so that we could live in a ‘free’ country – free to choose how to remember, free to celebrate or commemorate in our own ways. 

So no, unlike our leaders, Bunter and Carrie, the charmer Starmers and many others in both public life and as private citizens, I did not take to the streets to applaud.

There is something about these orchestrated shows of public support that is beginning to chafe. It is no longer enough to care about anything — you have to be seen to be caring.

And again for the record, I will not be signing the petition to give him a state funeral  a rare honour given only to senior members of the Royal Family and occasionally politicians who have actually achieved something – like successfully leading the nation through a war for example..

The last one given to a non-royal was for Sir Winston Churchill in 1965 so can everyone please just calm down and get a grip.

Meanwhile, we are told that government policy over the coronabug has been to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed. The frontline staff are certainly beyond praise but the NHS is a public service which exists to protect our lives, not an established church for God’s sake. To treat its limitations as a reason for suspending our national life is a perversion of its purpose.

It also diverts attention from where responsibility lies. If hospitals are overwhelmed, it is not our fault for getting ill and needing them. The responsibility lies with successive governments which have mismanaged and underfunded the NHS for years. The number of NHS beds has fallen continuously since 2000. Despite years of pandemic planning, the UK has by far the lowest intensive care capacity in Europe. In a bad winter, the NHS is overwhelmed even without the Coronabug.

Meanwhile, the response of Ministers is: ‘We are guided at every step by the science.’

However, scientists are interested only in science. The duty of politicians is much wider. It is to weigh the public health risks of the disease against the economic and social damage done by the countermeasures. Hiding behind scientists is a dereliction of that duty.

A large part of the problem is the personality of Bunter Johnson. The man is a public relations artist, not a policy-maker. He is guided by what he thinks public opinion will want. He is a follower, not a leader.

We have witnessed constant U-turns and lurchings from pillar to post. Eat Out to Help Out was followed by the enforced closure of pubs and restaurants. Schools continued but were then shut. There was the absurdity of tiers being relaxed for Christmas Day, only to be reimposed three days later.

So where are we heading now?

The vaccine is an impressive achievement of science, but, as with the lockdown, it will not eradicate the virus. It took nearly two centuries after the discovery of a vaccine for smallpox to disappear. Coronabug is here to stay I am afraid and we must learn to live with it. Even Government’s scientific advisers are beginning to admit this. Viruses spontaneously mutate all the time, whatever governments do. Some will inevitably evade our defences.

We now have the spectacle of Ministers and their advisers saying that people who have had the jab should not regard it as a reason for mixing with others, just in case they can still spread the disease. We are also being told that those who have already had the disease may not be immune, although the evidence suggests this is nonsense.

Foreign travel is being prohibited, turning us into a hermit island on the basis we cannot know what mutations may be lurking out there. The logic of these policies is that we must be locked down for ever simply because the world is a dangerous place.

This will go on until either Johnson and his team of hand-picked Yes-men pluck up some moral courage or enough people realise the folly and destructiveness of our present course and rebel against government folly. When that happens, we will be astonished we ever tried to suppress risks that are inseparable from life itself. We will look back in shame on the damage wantonly inflicted on our society and our children.

Then, hopefully, we can rebuild a country in which limits are placed on the power of an irresponsible state to direct people’s lives.

And why on earth does Britain so often seek to reform other people’s countries, while making such a mess of our own? Is it because we don’t think very hard about either? 

Ten years ago I watched in despair the applause for the Arab Spring, especially in Cairo, where the ‘freedom demonstrators’ were often nasty anti-semites, and the outcome was bound to be an Islamist regime. This duly followed, as did a savage and gory military coup which in the general hysteria, it is no longer polite to mention.

Now the West likes to despise Russia’s sinister tyrant Vladimir Putin. But who do they think will replace him? Before him, we had Boris Yeltsin, who (everyone now forgets) called up tanks to shell his own ruddy parliament. 

Yeltsin, having come to power on a pretence of hating corruption, was so corrupt it shocked even Russians, who are no strangers to corruption. And now we are supposed to admire the unofficial ‘opposition leader’ Alexei Navalny. Yet the very people who promote Navalny would shy away from any Western figure who had his record of militant nationalism and bigotry. 

He has appeared at rallies next to militant and rebellious skinheads. He once took part in a video where he compared people from the Caucasian regions, often unpopular with ethnic Russians, to cockroaches. 

While cockroaches can be killed with a slipper, he said, for humans he recommended a pistol. His defenders dismiss this a joke. Yeah – perhaps so! 

He has also spoken in favour of Russia’s repossession of the Crimea, saying ‘the reality is that Crimea is now part of Russia… Crimea is ours’ – a view that is possibly reasonable, but which is usually condemned by the BBC and the fawning liberal types who currently laud him to the skies.

I have my own view on Russia’s miseries, which is that you cannot immediately recover from nearly seventy five years of Marxist terror and stupidity, and that the West did little to help when Communism fell. 

But I also think that we rage against poor, weak Russia mainly because we are scared to take on rich, strong China. If President Putin is overthrown by Navalny or someone like him, we may come to wish for the devil we knew.

Bumbling Bullies, Burney and Bog-snorkelling Bingham

Bunter J has blundered his way through this coronabug crisis – but his decision to invest in four different vaccines while ordering over two hundred million doses to protect the nation against the virus was a masterstroke – I wonder if he made it himself. He takes the credit but in reality it must lie eslewhere.

Mind you it won’t cancel out the depressing fact that the UK will probably see up to a hundred and fifty thousand people lose their lives from the bug and many will have died as a direct result of governmental indecision.

Bunter was late on lockdowns, faffed around over tiers and continued to issue contradictory and confusing advice for months on end. Education – in the hands of cretinous Gavin Williamson – has been put on the back burner and care homes are still seeing residents die alone, deprived of human contact and family visits.

For all that,  we cannot ignore the fact that the roll out of the vaccination programme is finally protecting the people who need it most. By yesterday over eight million people – including myself – have received their first dose.

But the story across Europe is very different. Contrast our detailed vaccine plan and steady rollout (even with local hiccups and shortages in supply) with the bumbling bureaucracy within the EU. France – the home of the great micro-biologist Louis Pasteur – has failed to produce a single home-grown vaccine, much to the embarrassment of President Macron.

Across Europe, there is not a single vaccination plan to rival that of the UK, and now the battle for access to supplies is really getting nasty. Threats of litigation and blocking of exports were issued and to give Bunter J his due, he stood up to those threats and it was the EU who backed down – just as they had in the Brexit negotiations and just as bullies usually do.

 Last year, the UK decided not to join the EU procurement scheme. There was a lot of remainer-type tut-tutting at the time – including from Keir Starmer and his deputy – but it turns out to have been possibly the single most effective decision Bunter has made since this crisis began.

Instead he set up the UK Vaccines Taskforce, led by former financier Kate Bingham – of whom more later. Bingham then invested millions in the research and development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaccine and many others, hedging our bets over which would get past the post first.

While the EU dithered, the UK put its money on the table and was the first country to approve a vaccine last December – developed by Pfizer/BioNtech. Since then three more have been tested and approved, with a fourth – Novavax, likely to be approved imminently.

Now, the EU is reduced to squabbling over access to vaccines which the UK has already paid for. Having taken three months longer than the Britain to place an order for their member countries, they find themselves at the back of the queue for supplies.

I had my jab last Friday and will it be less than a hundred per cent proof? Only time will tell. There has already been controversy over the decision to delay the second dose for twelve weeks so that more people could be vaccinated quicker, and hopefully slow down the rate of infection.

In spite of reassurances, some older people will be wondering whether they are getting fobbed off with vaccine that may not offer sufficient protection. But what is the alternative? There isn’t one I am afraid. We must accept that we are luckier than most nations, particularly from that corrupt and inefficient cabal of unelected European chancers that we finally left a few weeks ago.

In this volatile situation, the last thing we need is the Poisoned Dwarf from north of the border exploiting a difficult situation by threatening to publicise the number of doses Scotland receives each week.

Furious that Boris dared to visit ‘her’ country the other day, she has been stung by criticism that only four hundred plus Scots have been lucky enough to secure a jab, when there are rumours that the authorities are sitting on one million doses.

Exploiting a lethal disease for political gain is not good politics at any time and if the English trashed the Scots as much as Ms Sturgeon does the Westminster government, we would be accused of rampant racism.

This fanatical little woman is determined that every decision she makes will reinforce her mantra that an Independent Scotland within the EU would be better for everyone north of the Border than being part of Britain. So does it matter what she tells them? Let her go and join them if that is what her people want.

But according to our ‘Revered Leader,’ revealing how many doses of vaccines are being sent out within the UK each week will only result in extra pressure being put on factories in Europe. Whatever the truth, the European Commissioners are furious they have been blindsided by Bunter and the Brits yet again. The ‘harmony’ and truce declared over Brexit has vanished and there are strident calls across the Union for Ursula Von de Whatever to resign.

As for Wee Burney, at a time when millions of Brits in every part of the Union are desperate to receive a dose of vaccine, playing patriot games to score points with your voters, stinks.

And ordinary Scots voters might reflect that if they were part of the EU, rather than the UK, right now they would be at the back of the queue for jabs along with the hapless French and Germans.

For once I can say thank the Lord for Bunter J and Brexit.

One other person I have ranted about in the past when it seems I was probably wrong is the ‘Vaccines Tzar’ Kate Bingham. It turns out that this good lady was a pioneer of bog snorkelling, the ultimate test of stamina and endurance amid unforgiving Welsh landscapes.

And the lessons Ms Bingham thus learned about triumphing in the face of adversity have helped make her the figurehead of Britain’s internationally envied pursuit of vaccines to tackle the coronabug epidemic.

Ms Bingham’s appointment last year to lead the UK Vaccine Taskforce was initially mired in claims of cronyism and inexperience, but there are now calls for her to be awarded a damehood. Sir John Bell, Oxford University’s regius professor of medicine, said: ‘She was really ruthless and really tough. It’s not a given that the UK would have ended up where it is now without her.’

And a former colleague adds: ‘She’s brilliantly bonkers – she fills all the space in a room.’

Bunter J rang Ms Bingham last April to ask her to take on the unpaid role. Her task, he said, was to ‘stop people from dying.’ There were claims that as a school friend of Mr Johnson’s sister, Rachel, and the wife of Tory MP Jessie Norman, she was part of a ‘chumocracy’ that saw friends of senior Conservatives parachuted into the top jobs. She was also criticised – and I was among the critics – for spending £670,000 on public relations companies, with one Government Minister saying the work could have been done ‘in-house.’ She claimed to be ‘completely shocked’ by the criticism and claimed that it was sexist. I certainly was not being sexist; I was merely appalled by what appeared to be a huge waste of public funds.

A day after accepting the position, offered by Bunter J – which incidentally ended last month – Ms Bingham had assembled a committee of experts from big pharmaceutical companies, science and logistics businesses. Within a fortnight, they had a shortlist of twenty three vaccines from four different vaccine technologies.

Britain has now placed orders for three hundred and sixty seven million doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Valneva and Novavax at an expected cost of almost three billion pounds.

Ms Bingham’s husband, Jessie was an Eton contemporary of Bunter J and has been the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire since 2010. He serves as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the couple spend their weekends in Wales, where Ms Bingham pursues her hobbies – horse riding, mountain biking and bog snorkelling. In 2004, she came nineteenth in the bog snorkelling championships and nine years later, pioneered mountain bike bog snorkelling, which involves riding a lead-filled bike through a water-logged trench.

I love being adventurous but not that much!

I take back my criticism even though I still cannot understand the reasons behind that incredibly expensive PR campaign. This lady really is quite a gal and although the coronabug led to the cancellation of last year’s bog snorkelling championships – with no small thanks to Ms Bingham – there are hopes that it will be back later this year.

You need to bring her back Bunter. She can probably do the combined jobs of at least four of your senior cabinet ministers – and you can bet your life those European desk jockeys will be terrified of her.

The Woke New World and Academia

Last week, I conquered my fear of technology – to an extent – and firstly attended a seminar at Northampton University where the presenter was a friend of mine – who I have never actually met – and the subject was anti-poaching.

The following day two friends – who I know well – took me through the technicalities of delivering a talk through Zoom. They were patient with my obvious ineptitude and by the end of it, I almost felt confident in my own ability to do such a talk, but two or three days later, that confidence is wearing a bit thin. Nevertheless, thank you Simon and Bill for your efforts.

But let’s get back to that seminar. Kate was very lucid and put forward a well thought out and logical pattern for collecting data for her forthcoming thesis, but by the time the session ended, I found myself bewildered by the way both she and her questioners spoke. Is this routine language in the lofty halls of academia I wonder? I mean, what on earth does ‘phenomenology’ mean – and there were many other words that had me scrabbling for a dictionary – yes, I still use one.

My main thought when it was over – and Kate later told me that most of her audience were distinguished academics – is that it is no wonder that universities appear to have lost touch with reality.

Take Leicester University for example. A few years ago it was rated among the top ten institutions of higher learning in this country. Yet they have slipped rapidly down that particular ladder and are now ranked in the very low twenties – twenty-ninth if I remember correctly. But one of the few fields in which Leicester does appear to be excelling is that of political correctness. Here, it is truly world-beating. Indeed, against stiff opposition, one might justifiably declare this humble seat of learning to be Britain’s most ‘woke’ university.

Take, for example, this week’s kerfuffle involving Leicester’s once-esteemed English Literature department. Last Wednesday, staff were abruptly told by their superiors that they want to drop Geoffrey Chaucer and other great medieval writers from the syllabus. Apparently, these titans of English literature are no longer deemed to be worth studying. Instead, management used an email to outline proposals to create a curriculum devoted to ‘diversity.’

The highly controversial plans mean that tutors who specialise in the 14th-century writer, widely known as the ‘father of English poetry,’ now face redundancy, as potentially do colleagues who teach such apparently unfashionable texts as Beowulf, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Sir Gawain And The Green Knight.

The work of John Donne and Christopher Marlowe will also be side-lined and in their place will come a diverse array of modern writers, many of whom cover such modish topics as race relations and feminism.

This will allow Leicester’s new-look English course to cover what the email describes as: ‘a chronological literary history, a selection of modules on race, ethnicity, sexuality and diversity, a decolonised curriculum, and new employability modules.’

This apparently is what today’s young students, who must pay fees of around £10,000 a year to study English at Leicester, ‘expect.’ Do they really? I find that difficult to credit and should the proposals be implemented, around sixty academic staff will lose their jobs.

In a press release, Leicester has named two of the writers who will remain on the curriculum as the African-American novelists Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead. (Unfortunately, the press release managed to mis-spell Mr Whitehead’s first name as ‘Colston’, which just so happens to be the surname of the 17th-century slave trader whose statue was pulled down and thrown into Bristol Harbour last June.)

To critics like me, already chuntering about dumbing-down, that error may be a final straw.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson this week accused the university of ‘absolute madness,’ (For once he has got something right!) while even the ultra-liberal University and College Union dubbed the plans ‘short-sighted and intellectually void.’

Let’s face it, Geoffrey Chaucer may not have shared modern attitudes to race, sexuality, or gender, but his work was highly progressive for its era – the Wife of Bath for example, is often dubbed the first feminist icon.

But this week’s absurd row was not an isolated incident and neither did it occur by accident. Instead, Geoffrey Chaucer appears to represent the first major casualty in an ill-thought-out campaign by Leicester’s £250,000-a-year vice-chancellor, Professor Nishan Canagarajah to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum.’

He arrived in November 2019, and promptly undertook a trendy rebranding exercise in which Leicester adopted a new PR slogan: ‘Citizens of Change.’ The term is now plastered across university literature and social media channels, where it is often used in place of the term ‘students’ to describe undergraduates.

In other words, it repositions Leicester, not as an institution of academic excellence but, instead, as a sort of happy-clappy teaching ground for tub-thumping campaigners, demonstrators and activists.

Last March, this hotbed of liberal change attracted nationwide ridicule for re-branding International Women’s Day as ‘International Womxn’s Day,’ declaring that the term was more friendly to the transgender community.

‘We use the term womxn as a more inclusive spelling of woman that includes any person who identifies as womxn,’ read its newsletter. What?!

Would I sound terribly cynical if I pointed out that a better way for Leicester to demonstrate its commitment to women’s rights might be to actually pay them the same as men. According to the university’s most recent gender pay gap report, its female staff currently earn a paltry eighty two pence for every pound their male colleagues take home. Moreover, it reveals that men who work there are nearly fifty per cent more likely than women employees to get a bonus. And when they do, that bonus tends to be sixty six per cent bigger.

Then, in June, at the height of Black Lives Matter protests, Professor Canagarajah gave a prominent interview to the Press Association in which he declared that universities must do more to ‘diversify’ their workforce and recruit more staff and students from ethnic minorities.

‘When you have a large proportion of ethnic minorities, like in Leicester, we need to make sure they can identify with that curriculum,’ he said. ‘But I think there’s still more work to be done to truly decolonise the curriculum.’

‘Like in Leicester?’ Hardly apt for an English professor!

English is not the only field in which Leicester started to make headline-grabbing contributions to the culture wars, either. On the history front, to cite another topical example and one I ranted about recently, the university took the helm of the National Trust’s highly controversial ‘Colonial Countryside’ programme, which has seen it invite teams of schoolchildren into its properties to lecture staff and visitors about the horrors of the British Empire.

Leicester’s contribution to the programme is led by Professor Corinne Fowler, a Left-wing academic who appears to devote a hefty and perhaps unhealthy portion of her free time to picking arguments on Twitter.

As I wrote in my rant, her attitude to rural Britain is perhaps evident from the title of her recent book, Green Unpleasant Land, which dubs the countryside ‘a terrain of inequalities’ and suggests gardening and botany are racist because, ‘the scientific categorisation of plants has at times engaged in the same hierarchies of ‘race’ that justified empire and slave and slavery.’

Professor Fowler also edited the National Trust’s provocative and error-strewn ‘gazetteer,’ detailing alleged links between its properties and colonialism. Published in September, it named and shamed the former home of William Wordsworth, even though he was a lifelong campaigner against slavery on the grounds that his brother once sailed to the Far East; as well as those of Rudyard Kipling because he wrote about the British Empire and Winston Churchill, whose entry managed to ignore his achievement in saving the world from the Nazi holocaust.

One can only wonder why a major national heritage charity with billions of pounds in assets was entrusting such an important research project not to Oxford or Cambridge, but instead to an establishment whose history department is currently ranked 73rd in the UK, behind the likes of Canterbury Christ Church, Edge Hill and tinpot Greenwich.

In its defence, Leicester says it remains proud of its work for the Trust and with regard to the row over Chaucer said this week: ‘There is absolutely no truth to the suggestion that certain modules are being eliminated for being ‘too white.’

It added: ‘We want to offer courses that match our students’ own interests and enthusiasms, as reflected in their own choices and the feedback we have been hearing.’

Perhaps vice-chancellor Canagarajah thinks his ‘Citizens of Change’ programme will improve the university’s financial fortunes. Maybe he believes Leicester’s ongoing role in the culture wars will persuade a generation of politically correct school leavers to apply to his university and swell the rapidly depleting coffers.

If that is the case, there may be further choppy waters ahead. For as the topical saying goes, people who choose to go ‘woke’ often seem to end up going broke.

Yet while I find this disturbing enough, I am horrified by the BBC and their new online resource programme for teachers.

In a video entitled Identity – Understanding Sexual and Gender Identities, produced as part of this programme, a group of schoolchildren aged between nine and twelve discuss the issue with teachers and it is not easy to watch.

Of course, there is nothing to trouble the woke police here- this is the Beeb after all. ‘What does stereotypes mean, Miss?’ (Answer: they are bad). ‘What’s the difference between sex and gender?’ (Answer: sex is the body parts you are born with; gender is who you feel inside). And more guff in that vein.

‘There are soooo many gender identities,’ gushes one teacher, while her bemused charges nod dutifully. ‘Over a hundred,’ she adds excitedly, as though sexual self-selection were just different flavours at the pick and mix counter in those far off days when shops were open.

Here we have powerful authority figures actively encouraging impressionable youngsters to question their sexual identities – at a stage in their lives when sex is not even – or shouldn’t be – on the agenda. It is a masterclass in indoctrination. At the licence fee payer’s expense too. Before they have even dipped their toe in the world of adult desire, these children are being taught to question their own bodies.

Gender dysphoria – a serious and distressing condition that I wouldn’t wish on anyone – is presented as something really exciting and special, worthy almost of a gold star.

This is not ‘education’ dammit!  It is bordering on ruddy child abuse.

All I could think of as I watched those fresh faces listening with wide-eyed concentration was poor Keira Bell, the young woman who recently won her case against the Tavistock and Portman Trust, the NHS gender reassignment clinic in London. 

Keira bravely came forward to testify that her desire, at the age of sixteen to transition from female to male had been encouraged by adults who seemed less interested in her wellbeing and more focused on pushing an agenda. An evil agenda that ultimately led to her embarking on a course of hormone blockers which she now deeply regrets.

These children in the BBC video are much younger than Keira. How many of them – and how many of those in schools up and down the land who have been taught according to these guidelines – will now find that the worm of self-doubt has been planted in their brains where none previously existed? And how many will grow up to make irreversible changes to their bodies which, like Keira, they may live to regret?

So yes, let us protect so-called ‘trans’ people by all means, but let’s not teach our children to hate the bodies they were born in.

Changing the subject only slightly, this bordering-on-the-collectively-insane government have brought out a new Coronabug advertising campaign – obviously designed to scare us witless. It shows a series of photographs depicting supposedly dying patients in hospital masks and challenges viewers to ‘look him in the eyes and tell him the risk is not real.’

I think they are trying to make those of us who seriously question the efficacy of lockdown, while never for one moment denying that the Coronabug is a serious threat feel like worms for merely having doubts.

Yet they could easily substitute that patient in a mask for a schoolboy and caption it, ‘Look him in the eyes – and tell him that his future does not matter.’

Or for that matter, a cancer patient – ‘look her in the eyes and tell her that her lump is not real.’

Serious it might be, but the Coronabug is not the only thing that is killing people in Britain and no amount of emotional blackmail from Bunter J and his inept bully boys is going to change that.

He Was Not As Bad As He Was Made Out To Be!

It has been a traumatic week throughout the world, what with Donald Trump leaving office, the Coronabug outbreak seeming ever stronger and Britain being racked by more stormy weather.

But it is Trump leaving office that I want to deal with today. Donald Trump is not a nice man by any standards. He is brash, boorish, outspoken, boastful and probably narcissistic, but in that respect, he is surely a typical politician.

Yet in every other aspect, the Trumpet is the very antithesis of a modern politician. Devoid of diplomacy, he was never afraid to offend others and stuck to his guns throughout his four years in office. His main problem and it eventually unseated him was that his brash egotistical manner offended the American establishment as well as the Media Mob and they eventually brought him down.

Indeed, even before he was elected, he was cast in the role of a would-be Hitler. ‘This is how fascism comes to America’, declared neoconservative commentator Robert Kagan immediately before Trump took office.

Yet Donald Trump came to power with what certainly seemed to be a laudable agenda based on sound principles. He never failed to express his pride in the underlying goodness of traditional American values and core beliefs that were based on Christian fundamentals. This infuriated the progressive elites of the metropolitan East and West coasts and that same establishment, which the president liked to refer to as ‘the Swamp’.  He seemed to understand the plight of the American working class and moved to cut taxes. He wanted to secure his country’s borders, cut better trade deals for America, confront China’s expanding global aggression, pressure the presumptuous Europeans to spend more on their own defence and extricate US troops from costly, unwinnable wars in the Middle East and elsewhere.

He rightly pointed out that America was overly indulgent to its enemies and started to withhold aid to countries he considered hostile. Closer to home where I am concerned, he criticised African governments and was rude about the state of some countries and anyone familiar with what is taking place in Africa today will struggle to disagree with his opinions. Through Mike Pompeo, his secretary of state, he did what no other Western politician has dared to do and expressed concern about the safety of South African farmers. Though many of his goals have been frustrated, to a large extent as a consequence of relentless harassment from so many different directions, he achieved much that is positive during his term of office.  He said himself that there is more to do and that opportunity is now denied him. The new administration will move quickly to undo what was done and reverse course.

With the election of Joe Biden, this sad course of events is set to accelerate, not least because his Vice President, Kamala Harris, a racist who hails from the radical left is likely to assume the presidential reins sooner rather than later. Their policy programme looks set to strengthen and consolidate the liberal tyranny that seeks to destroy western democracy as we know it.

Uncontrolled immigration into the US will speed up the process of marginalising and diluting the soon to be white minority. An abrupt move to socialism will increase the burden placed upon the predominantly white, working and middle-class while the number of people wholly dependent on the State for their survival ratchets up. The new administration is likely to be largely bereft of conservative whites who hold dear their country’s history and traditional ideals and culture.

In a way this follows the same path that so many of us went down in Africa and I fear there is little doubt where it will lead. America is on a path to self-destruction and that is not good for any of us in this topsy-turvy world. But for the Chinese and all those who seek the final erasure of all semblances of Western civilisation, it is a bonanza that is not to be sneezed at.

In his twenty minute pre-recorded farewell speech, Trump said that his administration did what it came to do – and more.

I suppose, one can debate the significance of his accomplishments – whether four hundred miles of rebuilt border wall, tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks, confirmed judges, trade wars, and modest Middle East diplomatic agreements amount to much in the way of substantive achievement. He was the first American President in a very long time not to start any wars during his time in office and it is perhaps significant to note that Joe Biden in his eight years as vice president was instrumental with Obama in starting no fewer than seven conflicts. In the course of those little wars, America dropped well over twenty six thousand bombs. Yet the liberal establishment hails this man as a peacemaker?

Donald Trump ran for president in 2016 to shake up the existing political order. He campaigned as an outsider giving voice to those who distrusted the establishment. Opportunistic perhaps but I find it sad that the unrest and resentment that bore the Donald triumphantly to the White House came to a sad and possibly predictable end in the US Capitol two weeks ago.

After four years of shattered norms and traditions, of turning expectations of presidential behaviour on their head, Trump leaves US government changed – fundamentally and hopefully irreversibly.

I am not an admirer of the man for himself but do believe that he had his country’s best interests at heart and did not deserve the vitriol and abuse that has been heaped upon him. For all his faults, Donald Trump was a man who put the welfare of the American people before everything else and that is something that most other politicians in this supposed ‘free world’ would do well to bear in mind. We, the ordinary people want politicians to pay heed to our views and look after us rather than the ruddy ‘Establishment.’

(I seem to have had another disaster with the font on this one but have no idea why it keeps jumping around the way it does. Sorry.)

Is Gardening Racist?

Having run my own little gardening firm for over fifteen years, I cannot say that I enjoy the practice. However, it is a huge comfort to many people, particularly in these stressful times.

In fact, can there be a more harmless, innocent diversion than pottering about in a garden? We are continually told by the ‘experts’ that it is good for body and soul, as well as for our mental health. But I fear that the green-fingered ranks of Britain’s gardeners are in for a shock – according to a new book, by pruning our roses or digging the vegetable patches, we are all somehow perpetuating the evils of racism.

Last week Corinne Fowler, Professor of Post-Colonial Literature (Can that really be a subject for study?) at the University of Leicester published a three hundred and sixteen-page book examining the links between the British countryside, racism, slavery and our colonial past. What new woke madness is this?

This idiotically politically correct academic insists that gardening has its roots in racial injustice.

The title of the book, Green Unpleasant Land, gives us an indication of Professor Fowler’s thoughts on the countryside. One might expect her writings to be consigned to academic obscurity, but no, her views on rural Britain are in fact very influential.

Because this female turnip is at the centre of the ‘culture war’ that has overwhelmed one of Britain’s largest and best-loved charities, the National Trust. I am not a member of the Trust but have thought about joining at times, if only to see some of the magnificent mansions in their care. That though was in the past. I have completely lost interest in the entire organisation, but they do still wield enormous influence.

Professor Fowler is one of the principal authors of a report published in September last year that ‘outed’ many of the properties belonging to the Trust for their links to slavery and Britain’s colonial past. Among them were Buckland Abbey, the Devon seat of Sir Francis Drake, Ham House in West London, Wales’s Powis Castle and, most controversially of all, Chartwell, the family home of Sir Winston Churchill.

The report infuriated not only grand families who had bequeathed their homes to the Trust, but also many of the charity’s five and a half million members who resigned over this ‘woke’ agenda, arguing that the Trust’s role is to preserve our ancient houses and monuments, rather than get involved in what many saw as a highly political witch-hunt.

Such was the anger that the head of the Charities Commission publicly suggested the National Trust should focus on looking after stately homes – not waging ‘broader political struggles.’

Yet the Trust had already ‘doubled-down’ in its determination to exhume the unsavoury history of its properties with another project, which started in 2018 – and Professor ruddy Fowler was in charge of that one too.

She describes the scheme – Colonial Countryside: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted – on the Leicester University website as ‘a child-led history and writing project which seeks to make historic houses’ connections to the East India Company and transatlantic slavery widely known.’

It involves a team of historians working with one hundred primary school children to explore these links at eleven Trust properties. To me it seems somewhat obscene to use children for this, but the Trust received lottery grants amounting to £160,000. Under the scheme, the Trust had been inviting teams of children to lecture staff and volunteers – presumably about the evils of colonialism. Surely that is deeply damaging to all concerned.

Amid criticism of the project last month from MPs – one of whom complained the charity had been ‘overtaken by divisive Black Lives Matters supporters’ – the Trust defended it, saying: ‘We always look for excellence, fairness and balance in the assessment of all aspects of the history at National Trust places, often working with external partners and specialists to help us.’

Primary school children? How can that be justified?

And just how fair and balanced are Professor Fowler and her team of academics? Are they impartial historians – are they hell! There is a viciously biased political agenda behind their interpretations of the past?

Professor Fowler insists that our ‘green and pleasant land,’ as the poet William Blake put it, is anything but. The countryside, she suggests, is a hotbed of oppression, racism and exploitation – and it is time for its dark history to be exposed.

The professor also writes that her parents gave her a love of country walking. She appears to have rambled tirelessly along country lanes finding evidence to prove her central premise – that the British countryside is somehow linked to racism and colonialism.

‘The countryside is a terrain of inequalities,’ she writes in her book, ‘so it should not surprise us that it should be seen as a place of particular hostility to those who are seen as not to belong, principally black and Asian Britons.’

I am sorry and admit that my aged brain is probably not as acute as that of the professor but try as I might, I cannot see the connection.

Yet this silly woman tells us that ‘many great estates were financed by slavery and colonialism, and the origins of gardening were fundamentally elitist. Knowledge about gardens and plants, in particular botany has had deep colonial resonances,’ she says.

‘The scientific categorisation of plants has at times engaged in the same hierarchies of ‘race’ that justified empire and slavery . . .

‘Inevitably, then,’ she adds, ‘gardens are matters of class and privilege.’

Oh God! How much more of this over-zealous cant can we take from these so called academics who have little experience of real life but are sadly responsible for teaching future generations?

Somehow it has to be stopped before mass madness sweeps through the nation even faster than has the Coronabug.

Brexit, Borders and the Bug.

I voted for Brexit – of course I did – but one of the reasons for my vote was the promise that this country would ‘take back control of our borders’ – remember that promise? For five years, we had it trumpeted to us by politicians, day after day.

Yet has it happened now that this country is apparently free of European shackles? Has it hell! Right from the start of the Coronabug pandemic, ministers have been woefully slow to act when it has come to stopping potential carriers of the virus from entering the country.

Last weekend, news of a dangerous new strain of the virus, which could be resistant to the vaccines currently being administered here, emerged from Brazil, yet it was not until yesterday afternoon that the Government got around to banning flights from Brazil and South America.

This is despite the fact that Brazil halted all flights from the UK three weeks ago after the mutant Kent variant was discovered. Faced with government inaction, the airlines were forced to act unilaterally. Back in December, BA took it upon itself to cancel all flights to and from most of South America until the end of February.

That does not stop passengers from Brazil and elsewhere travelling to Britain via third countries in Europe. Thousands of passengers are still arriving every day at British ports and airports, and on Eurostar trains, without any checks on their Covid status.

Only yesterday, travellers from all over the world were swanning through Heathrow with nobody asking them to prove they had tested negative for corona. Despite all those coming from overseas nominally being required to quarantine for ten days, there is little evidence this has been widely enforced.

The overblown team of Yes-men, appointed by Bunter Johnson appear to have no sense of urgency when it comes to policing our borders. 

A law insisting that all international arrivals – including returning British nationals – must produce evidence they had a negative test seventy two hours before they travelled was due to take effect today. But sneaky as ever, this craven government extended that deadline till Monday, ensuring that this was only announced on Twitter by Grant Shapps just after eleven last night.

Why did this pratwinkle not issue a proper ministerial statement dammit? Many of us do not have access – or want access dammit – to twitter. I suppose, doing it properly would have been too straightforward and Shapps even ended his message with a stopwatch emoji – just in case we are all too stupid to understand plain English.

Who knows how many more people infected with the Coronabug might have entered Britain by the time the new deadline expires?

Perhaps if this idiotic clown, Shapps had spent less time since March littering the country with ridiculous cycle lanes and more time concentrating on preventing the importation of the bug, we’d be in a safer place.

Still, his complacency is merely a reflection of this government’s callous indifference in failing properly to address the threat of Covid coming here from overseas. On January 31 last year, the much-maligned President Donald Trump banned all flights from China landing in the U.S.

Yet even when it was obvious that corona posed a clear and present danger, our witless government allowed scheduled services between Britain and China – including Wuhan, where Covid originated – to continue to operate.

Nor were there any enforced flight cancellations from Northern Italy, where Coronabug was rife. Back then, the official line being peddled by the chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance was that, since the virus was here already, closing the borders would not make much difference.

As late as May, Vallance resisted travel bans from individual regions on the grounds that they simply did not work. This is the same gloomy Professor Unbalanced, who has spent the past ten months demanding ever tougher curbs on civil liberties in this country.

So while British citizens can be arrested and fined for sitting on a park bench or refusing to tell a copper where they are going, travellers from all over the world have been free to enter this country without having to declare where they have been in the previous few weeks; whether or not they have tested positive or negative for Covid or whether they are complying with quarantine regulations.

All sorts of strange folk from different and often highly infected countries are allowed to hail taxis at Heathrow or travel on the railways to unknown destinations after sailing unchallenged through immigration.

Meanwhile, joggers and dog walkers going about their lawful business in their local park are being treated like criminals by overbearing coppers and the standing army of so-called Covid marshals.

Throughout this crisis, it has been instructive to compare the sympathetic treatment of foreign nationals with the draconian, knee-jerk restrictions forced on the rest of us on the home front. Even now, at a time when we are told the threat from corona is worse than it has ever been, those arriving from abroad have been given an extended period of grace before they must produce evidence of a negative test.

Contrast Shapps’s generous decision to postpone until Monday morning today’s planned deadline – to give people ‘time to prepare’ – with the knee-jerk order issued a few months ago giving British holidaymakers in Europe just a few hours’ notice to get home.

On August 13th, Shapps – yes, that bloody man again – announced that anyone who wasn’t back in this country by 4am that Saturday morning would have to quarantine for fourteen days or face a fine of £1,000.

Around a hundred and sixty thousand people stranded in France were forced to race through the night to catch ferries. Some even had to hitch rides on fishing boats. It was the biggest and most humiliating British evacuation since Dunkirk. Families who had flown to other newly designated corona hotspots in Europe had no option but to turn around and catch the first flight back. Tens of thousands of other planned holidays were lost.

Maybe Mr Shapps had a special emoji minted for that occasion too? Sometimes it seems as if this country is being governed by a Cabinet of ruddy emojis. Mind you, I had to look up the meaning of ‘emoji’ this morning and it seems the word describes those irritating little cartoon symbols some people attach to emails. Thumbs up, thumbs down, that sort of thing. 

Perhaps the government could scrap their gloomy briefings of an evening and replace it by by emojis for every occasion – Covid cases are down, let’s have smiley face – Covid cases are up, show us a sad face. Instead of Priti Patel hectoring us on occasion, they could just show an angry face!

Yesterday, the Government sent out a Home Office emoji – sorry I could not resist it –  called Victoria Atkins to defend the decision not to close the air corridor between Britain and Brazil earlier. She was asked why it has taken ten months to demand all international travellers produce evidence of negative tests, something other countries have insisted upon for months.

Atkins said that ministers had to balance controlling the virus with ‘not putting too much burden on the economy.’ WHAT? They really do seem to think we are all stupid. That preposterous justification will have been received with incredulity by businessmen and women right across the land. They won’t have known whether to laugh or cry dammit. The economy has always come a very distant second to combating this bug. Countless businesses, many of them household names, have gone to the wall. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost for ever, with many more to come.

High Street shops and hospitality have been devastated by repeated lockdowns. Family-run enterprises are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Cafes and restaurants are surviving on takeaway custom. And how does this Government reward their dogged determination? Yesterday we learned that Bunter’s stormtroopers are planning to put them out of business, too.

Believe it or not, Whitehall is declaring war on takeaway food and drink in an attempt to force people to stay at home. Now they have brought out another pathetic and infuriating advertising slogan that urges us ‘Not to let a coffee cost a life.’

This is pure fear mongering and they seem to have forgotten that as the old song stated, there is an awful lot of coffee in Brazil – as well as an awful lot of the Coronabug. Yet until now, Bunter’s buffoons have not bothered about trying to prevent it spreading in this country.

Any more than they’ve turned away record numbers of illegal immigrants making their away across the Channel from France. Border patrols, who would be better employed carrying out Covid checks at Dover, have been instructed to pick up migrants in the Channel and ferry them ashore.

Do these hapless politicians have any idea whether the Coronabug is rife or not in the camps around Calais? Do they care? Can we be sure that the ‘Kent’ strain was not brought to Britain by dinghy?

Unfortunately, we will never know, any more than we’ll know how many unchecked airline, ferry and Eurostar passengers have helped spread Covid-19 around Britain over the past ten months.

So much for Taking Back Control of our borders.

A Mad, Sad World

As we get further into the year, I can only shake my head in despair at the ineptitude and illogicality of our elected leaders – most of whom I would not trust to lead an under fourteen cricket eleven.

The first two lockdowns did not work and Coronabug continues to spread, so the immediate reaction is to blame the public for not following rules and lock us in again. We are mournfully told by our revered leader that this is only so that all we old folk and vulnerable people can be vaccinated but the initial rolling out of the vaccine has once again been characterised by ineptitude and confusion. Doses are being lost and even when Hapless Hancock visited a surgery this week – complete with photographer – to show us how efficient he is, he was left red faced – he ought to have blushed at any rate – when the promised shots were not delivered.

Thankfully the Army have now been called in to take over distribution of the vaccine so that should speed up the process, but in the meantime and while the NHS still tell us that they are short-staffed and desperately overstretched, many thousands of former health workers who have volunteered to lend a hand are ignored or find themselves confused and angered at the bureaucracy required before they can be called up. In Parliament last week, Bunter J assured Liam Fox – himself a non-practising doctor – that he would instruct the Health Secretary to speed things up, but Hapless Hancock has either chickened out of confronting the unions or is scared of being regarded as politically incorrect because nothing had changed since that parliamentary session.

And you know, I cannot see why these mass vaccinations should be so difficult. Why are things moving so slowly? We have six hundred and fifty constituencies in this country. Thirteen months ago we had a general election. In one single day thirty three million people went and voted in about ten voting centres per constituency. The votes were ready, the booths were ready. They even had the ballots and pencil stubs ready.

We are supposed to have a hundred million Oxford-AstraZeneca shots available. It takes about the same time to give a shot in the arm as to cast a vote. As mentioned, we even have the forty thousand qualified administerers available. So why do we apparently have months to wait? Why a few hundred thousand per day maximum? There is only one answer and that to my simple mind is gross incompetence. We can do it in a day to put Bunter J into Downing Street – so please let someone hurry up and sort this nonsense out.

Meanwhile once again, the police have appointed themselves to be ‘exercise monitors,’ taping up park benches, questioning people daring to walk around in a less than purposeful manner and even stopping people at stations to ask why they are travelling on a train.

The cops say they are adopting a ‘four E’ strategy to ensure that the public follow the rules. Engage with rule-breakers, Explain the restrictions, Encourage us to change our behaviour, and if we decline, Enforcement (penalties) follow. But every force in the UK has interpreted the government guidelines in their own way, some adopting a very heavy-handed approach, which surely is not needed.

So far, over thirty two thousand fines have been issued for breaking restrictions in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Thousands of cases have immediately been chucked out by magistrates who say that police are misinterpreting the law.

Whilst infections are soaring from the latest variant of the bug, the greatest number continue to be focused on the 20-30 year olds. Yes, the generation who were out partying over New Year, the people we saw hanging around streets outsides pubs and bars in the run up to Christmas. These are not the majority of the people dammit! Even as I write, I look out and see people walking across the Moor who are obviously sensible anorak wearers. People with dogs, parents with pushchairs and small children, excitedly carrying their sleds.

Yet now we are back to criminalising walking in the fresh air. Have these uniformed idiots – and I was a cop for almost half my life – nothing better to do? Every day we read stories of innocent walkers being fined in isolated beauty spots by numbers of uniformed coppers – they too claim to be short-handed – and it makes me despair of this modern society and the half-wits controlling our lives .

And as these inept uniform wearers – do they deserve to be classed as coppers any more – get tougher than ever during this lockdown, West Midlands Plod are advertising for a new ‘assistant director of fairness and belonging.’ The post pays £74,000 a year, three times the average wage of a police constable. This from a force that is always pleading poverty and has axed two thousand frontline officers and closed dozen of police stations in recent years. 

The successful candidate will have to ‘deliver a first-class diversity and inclusion function,’ whatever that means.

Meanwhile, presumably in the interests of ‘fairness and belonging,’ the West Midlands Police Commissioner is demanding more Covid-related powers. West Midlands have a woeful crime fighting record yet this turnip wants powers to enter houses without a warrant merely to see if residents are disobeying anti coronabug rules.

Elsewhere, the cops are already throwing their weight around, stopping cars to ask drivers where they are going and demanding to know if their passengers are from the same family.

Derbyshire Police, last seen sending up drones to spy on dog walkers in the Peak District, have declared war on families out sledging, in breach of Tier 4 rules. West Mercia cops feel that throwing snowballs after dark is a criminal offence!

How long before the Derbyshire lot fit machine guns to their drones and introduce a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy I wonder?

I could not help smiling though when I read about the chap who has had coronavirus and responded to the NHS appeal for volunteers to donate plasma. Apparently, the blood of those – particularly men for some weird reason – who have recovered from the bug contains antibodies which can help others infected with it.

He was asked a series of questions over the phone to establish his suitability. After the usual drill – age, sex, ethnicity, etc – the lady on the other end said: ‘I hope you don’t mind, but I have to ask if you’ve had sex with another man during the past 30 days?’

The chap concerned had a sense of humour so he paused and asked the lass: ‘Could you hang on while I consult my diary?’

They both laughed and she apologised again. Not to worry, he reassured her, you are only doing your job.

Then she said: ‘Just one more question. Are you undergoing gender reassignment treatment?’

There’s no answer to that I am afraid, but I suppose there must be reasons why these questions are asked of potential donors.

Still, this chap confessed to being somewhat taken aback by the question. Gender reassignment surgery? You can’t even get a ruddy haircut right now.

We really are living in a mad, sad world and those who are controlling us all do seem to have collectively lost their marbles.

It is still only mid-morning and desperately cold but I feel the need for a stiff gin and tonic – or perhaps a warming sloe gin. Way back in the nineteen fifties, a book was written about the Sicilian bandit Salvatore Giuliani and entitled God Protect Me From My Friends.

All I can say is a variation on that theme – God protect me from my supposed rulers and the appointed officials just beneath them.

A New Year but What Has Changed?

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.

The End of a Shambolic Year

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.

Ineptitude, Confusion and a Chink of Light

It is over forty years ago now, but I still remember the dreadful days when diminutive bishop, Abel Muzorewa and his team of pickpockets governed the short-lived country of Zimbabwe Rhodesia. At the time, I did not think there could ever have been or would be again a more farcical and corrupt governing body of a sovereign nation.

I was wrong though. Bunter J and his own team of turnips are proving every bit as useless and out of touch with the needs of the nation. They seem to care only about themselves.

By failing to make difficult decisions and refusing to set clear guidelines, Bunter himself has offloaded anxiety on to the general population. He models himself on Churchill who was an excellent war time leader but not much good at any other time. Really good leaders make choices for us so as to help our collective lives run more smoothly. In order to do this, they have to be psychologically strong enough to risk the possibility that people will not like it or that something might go wrong. They take the pain of the choice on our behalf. What they definitely do not do is affably pretend to be doing us a favour by shirking responsibility. This does not help a nation to relax over the festive season.

What this government seems to have forgotten is that many of us have become accustomed to the idea that things are a little different at the moment. We won’t throw a complete wobbly if you tell us to spend a bit more time at home. We are all old hands at this Coronabug nonsense damnit. Someone will come up with a silly national game we can all play at midday, and Queenie will do her broadcast and all will be well. An enforced ‘Crappy Christmas’ might even give us back some of the sense of shared purpose we had at the beginning of the pandemic, before our trust was eroded out of existence, fatigue set in, and we started making up our own guidelines in the absence of rules that made sense.

At this point in the pandemic, some clarity would be a welcome relief from having to figure out each social interaction, or even how the queuing system works in your local post office. Contradictory advice is causing people to give up trying altogether. How can you reconcile obediently sending your children to school right up till the end of term, keeping them in a Covid-secure environment for two weeks before a grandparental visit, and doing Christmas on the allocated dates? Of course you can’t! Obeying the rules may be impossible, disobeying them is irresponsible, and even obeying them may be considered morally dubious when Bunter himself seems to be telling us that they are not actually fit for purpose. With such a large-scale celebration on the horizon, it is actually anxiety-provoking to have personal enjoyment given preference over collective safety. After all, we have been fed on predicted doom since this nonsense started If Bunter J wants to be liked, he might achieve this better by being prepared to limit our enjoyment a little, thereby reducing the fear he has spent so many months stoking up.

You cannot curtail freedoms and remain popular Prime Minister, so please stop trying. You are driving us all potty.

And whether they are justified or not, the current rules are being taken in different ways by different people – particularly ‘celebrities’ or those who imagine themselves as being above it all.

I listened to former Foreign Office Minister, Tobias Ellwood being interviewed on Talk Radio the other day and he was piously entreating everyone ‘to obey the rules in order to defeat the pandemic.’

This is the same Tobias Ellwood who last Tuesday attended an event at the Cavalry and Guards Club in London, just hours before the capital moved into tier 3. Only a day earlier in parliament he had called on the government to review its plans to relax restrictions for Christmas to avoid a third wave in the new year.

The dinner, in Piccadilly, was held by the Iraq Britain Business Council and was initially described as a ‘Christmas party’ on its website before the reference was removed. It was also called a Christmas Party on the invitations handed out to the twenty seven attendees.

Ellwood, who is the MP for Bournemouth East, defended his actions, telling the media that it was a business meeting allowed under tier 2 restrictions that applied at the time. “I would not be attending a Christmas party, it was a business meeting,” he told reporters. “I went there to meet business people and that is what it was. The club went to extreme lengths so that as a business function it was absolutely Covid compliant.

‘I appreciate, given the current challenges, some will question the wisdom of my attendance. I am sorry that coverage of my well-intentioned attendance may have muddied the government’s clear message as we head towards Christmas. Whilst the event was fully Covid compliant – perceptions count. Something I will be more conscious of in conducting my portfolio duties during the difficult months ahead.”

What a mealy mouthed hypocrite the man is! Even Priti Patel has condemned his actions although that good lady has added to the general sense of confusion over Christmas. A couple of days ago, she urged us to consider cancelling Christmas plans that involve travelling to visit family or friends. But surely that was Bunter J’s big Christmas gift to the Nation, announced only a short while ago with cheesy enthusiasm and big smiles

The home secretary said that while, under law, people could mix in up to three households for five days over Christmas, people who had made plans to travel long distances should now not do this. “I would urge people to change,” Patel told Radio 4’s Today programme. “I won’t be seeing my parents this Christmas. My parents live in a different part of the country and I will not travel to see them.”

Very commendable Ma’am and we all agree that rules are rules – even though the way they are enforced depends on who you are rather than what you do. For it seems very unfair that Covid rule breakers Dominic Cummings; Tobias Elwood, Kay Burley and even the man who began this nonsense with his prophecies of doom, Neil Ferguson remain at liberty, while the love struck Romeo from Scotland who jet-skied to the Isle of Man to see his girlfriend has been sentenced to four weeks in jail.

Dale McLaughlan was banged up for making a four-and-a-half hour journey to visit his girlfriend – despite having never driven a water scooter before and being unable to swim. No one approves of rule breakers, but it is hard not to be swayed by the daft, drenching romance of it all.

Dale should not be in jail – he should probably be auditioning for the next James Bond film, even though he is neither female nor black. Or perhaps advertising Christmas boxes of Milk Tray at the very least.

Worst of all, his wee Scottish mum did not even know he had gone.

‘He could have killed himself,’ she said. If young Dale – mind you, he is twenty eight so should know better – thought he had problems before, wait until he gets home.

His is a heartening story though. He not only defied the daft Coronabug laws, but he also defied the mass pseudo logic that is being imposed on us all and tells us that we must avoid dying at all costs.

Well done Dale McLaughlin. You have brought a chink of light into some very dark times for this ineptly led nation.