On the 23rd of March, Boris Johnson announced that the UK was to go into lockdown. Thus was an entire nation condemned to an unspecified period of bad haircuts and boredom. At the time, I was pleased the government announced a lockdown; it made me think they might not be as useless as I thought. However, I quickly reached the conclusion that Boris Johnson locked down nothing that wasn’t already three quarters of the way shut, and in a time of genuine crisis he and his chums have proved to be the incompetent liars I long suspected they were.
By the 23rd of March, millions of people had already stopped sending their children to school, offices had closed, public services were falling apart because a high percentage of the workforce were staying away from work rather than risk the lives of their loved ones. If Johnson hadn’t announced the government was in charge of what was already happening, we would have carried on shutting down regardless. The government would have looked weak and incompetent if it lagged behind the unstoppable actions of the people, so Boris, after proudly boasting that he was shaking the hands of COVID patients and spreading the disease like a plague carrier, stepped up like a leader and we got to wait a little longer to see the emperor had no clothes.
Boris shut nothing. If he announced the reopening of pubs and restaurants, and a big festival to celebrate the end of lockdown, we’d ignore him. No sane people will go to a pub, or a restaurant, or a festival, and those that might do represent a self-eliminating segment of society. When the government announced lockdown, people were grateful to have the burden of responsibility for their actions shifted onto larger, more powerful shoulders. So, we looked on, and we waited for government to ‘do its stuff’, forgetting that the Tories, with their policy of austerity, had slaughtered administrative government and replaced it with a bunch of do-nothing-know-nothing advisers and politicians.
We waited for these Tim-Nice-But-Dim clones to set up the health service to manage the onslaught and to produce a plan to end the mess the country finds itself in. We’re still waiting, because they can’t. They lack the knowledge, the humility to admit to mistakes, the humanity to see that inequality creates different problems for different people. Only a Tory minister would think people could drive to a test centre. It wouldn’t occur to the minister that hourly paid people might not be able to afford to take the time off work, might not be able to afford the cost of travel. It’s like Marie Antoinette all over again – ‘they can pop into the centre after they’ve dropped the kids at school; it’s a drive through wide enough for a Range Rover y’know.’
Foolish us. This government can’t even build a website to manage a volume of traffic that is a fraction of what you’d get if tickets were on sale for a Bruce Springsteen concert. Never mind that the website is for a critical service and its failure to operate seamlessly 24 x 7 WILL result in people dying. This is the 5th richest country in the world, and its government can’t organize PPE for frontline staff. Rather than fess up to mistakes and get on with fixing them, some twerp thought it would be a clever idea to count individual masks and gowns.
Picture the scene:
Hancock: The press is putting the heat on. We’ve only got one lorry load of gloves coming through.
Cummings: How long will that last before we run out?
Hancock scratches head. He’s
got no idea.
Civil Servant: About a day.
Cummings: Right, there are 100 pairs of gloves in a box and 100 boxes. So, you can say there’s 20,000 pieces of PPE.
Civil Servant: Surely that’s wrong. 100 times 100 is 10,000.
Cummings: STFU! We’re counting each f***ing glove. Now get out there Hancock and go deliver that lie. Soon we can say we’ve done a million, then a billion. Joe public is a moron, a number like that’ll blow people’s minds. They’ll think we’re awesome.
We don’t think they're awesome. We know they're awful. A government that tells its people night after night how many PIECES of PPE it’s shipped is a government that is trapped by its own ineptitude into parroting a lie long after disbelief has set in. I’ve seen ministers go on TV to talk about the crisis, who didn’t even know how many of their own employees had died from this disease, or how many are infected. Yet instead of admitting that politicians aren’t the right people to lead us out of this kind of crisis, and professional administrators are, the government persists in its foolishness by letting its marketing muppet decide policy and action on the hoof.
Dominic Cummings can’t message a way out of this crisis, and the more he tries the stupider the messengers look. Frankly, I find Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove and Pritti Patel, barely more credible than Donald ‘Bleach Infusion’ Trump. What is Dominic Cummings doing anywhere near a SAGE meeting anyway? Does he think he’s a scientist? This is a time for transparency and ruthless administrative competence. There are no partisan views in this scenario. I’d be far more impressed if Matt Hancock stood at the lectern and said - ‘sorry guys, we fucked up, we did A, B and C, but we’re going to do X, Y and Z now to get it right.’ Instead, he stands there like a rabbit in the headlights trying to shove optimistic bullshit down our throats. It’s insulting to the general populace. Matt, every time you and your daft cohort open your mouths, WE THINK YOU ARE LYING!
Someone needs to remind Dominic (and his lackey, Boris) that they didn’t put us into lockdown; no matter how hard they might pretend they did. And because they have displayed such blinding incompetence, we’re not going to trust them to tell us when lockdown ends. We’ll go to the park, then we’ll go to work, then we’ll do wtf we bloody like, and if the police try to stop us, we shall tell them to p**s off. When the insurrection starts, and it will, a government spokesperson will appear to tell us that restrictions are being eased, like they control whether we listen to their nonsense now we know how useless they are.
Imagine the government announces schools are to open on Monday. Would you send your children to school knowing they might catch coronavirus and die, or kill you, or kill grandma? If you let your kids go to school, can you take them round to someone else’s house? What if someone in the house you visit gets COVID-19 and dies? You know they’ll always blame you, even if you and your kids are asymptomatic. Imagine the stigma – YOU killed Fred’s mum and dad, and left the poor boy an orphan.
Imagine the lawsuits against companies that force people to work when the company is unable to enforce social distancing? How many people can you get in a lift in the Lloyds building without breaching the two-metre rule? The answer is 1. So what’s going to happen when you try to get the thousands of people who work in that building to walk up the stairs, two metres apart? Social distancing at work in the UK is as much a pile of nonsense as it is in Nigeria, where Millions of people are in poverty and 6 people sleeping in one room doesn’t represent some wild outlier.
The idea that this government can end Lockdown is as fanciful as the notion that it started it. What’s far more likely is some twerp who’s a guru at social media marketing, but knows sweet sod all about health pandemics, will tell Boris he needs to stand at a lectern and announce a relaxing of rules WE ARE ALREADY IGNORING.
Me, I’ll be doing exactly what I think I should do, whenever I want to do it and I’ve concluded it’s not going to put me, my family, or friends in danger. If you’re honest, so are you.