Maybe it wasn’t such a bad election to have lost after all. Just think what the Tory press would have made of all this state dirigisme if it had been ordered by that commie Jeremy Corbyn, instead of by the cuddly Boris – now making the ultimate sacrifice for his people by dying (or probably not) in hospital. Dulce et decorum est… That may be his lasting claim to fame, if he snuffs it now. Otherwise he’ll go down in history as the upper-class liar and cheat who couldn’t be relied upon for anything, and simply wasn’t fitted to see the country through this unprecedented crisis, which requires judgment and intelligence, rather than the blind optimism, public school jokeyness and mere cleverness which have always been the trademarks of our new ‘world king’.
Of course none of us non-experts can say whether the government’s strategy for combatting the coronavirus was or is the right one. We’ll have to await the dreadful denouement, and the count of each country’s bodies, before we can begin to tell. The provisional judgment, however, seems to be that the British government was at least late to do the things that the WHO recommended from the beginning: ‘test, test, test’; and may even have been wrong-footed by Demonic Cummings’s Malthusian advice to let the disease rage through us – ‘take it on the chin’, in Boris’s own words – so weeding out the old, weak and useless in the population while letting the young and fit recover and gain immunity in order to keep the economy going. Boris is also coming under criticism for boasting of ‘shaking hands’ with what he believed to be coronavirus patients in a hospital, directly against his own government’s advice. That’s how he may have caught it. (His dad didn’t help by insisting that he would be going to the pub whatever the medics said.) Whatever the public’s instinct may be to get behind any government in a time of national crisis, this lot will be unlikely to come out of all this well.
But of course no-one in the government foresaw this (though they might have been expected to do so, in general terms), or was chosen or elected for his or her competence in a crisis situation. They were elected, and then appointed to the cabinet, on the basis of their loyalty to Boris and to the cause of Brexit, which of course has been the only political issue over the past three years, and one which – it has to be said – now appears depressingly trivial in the light of recent experience. ‘Deckchairs on the Titanic’ come to mind.
It’s because all ministers are aware of these criticisms, and might even accept them underneath, that the Government’s daily televised press conferences are so toe-curlingly defensive these days. ‘We’re working like blazes – are following the scientific advice – have tested a few – are ordering PPEs even if they haven’t arrived yet – are doing as well as any other country – can’t be blamed for running down the NHS because nations with better NHSs are getting infected too – just trust us…’; all of which comes over as a pitiful attempt to protect their political reputations, whatever the truth may be. It’s a bit like Trump’s line in America, albeit not quite so brazen as his. Let’s hope Trump gets it too. He after all claimed the coronavirus was fake news at first – a Democratic trick to get him impeached. (‘Me, me, me’, all the time.) So if he got it, it wouldn’t be undeserved. Not too seriously, though; it would be better if he felt really nasty but then recovered, to go down to an ignominious defeat in the November polls. The same goes for our Boris. Get well, you bastard.
“We’ll have to await the dreadful denouement, and the count of each country’s bodies, before we can begin to tell.”
This statement, optimistic in its way, is based on the assumption that the coronavirus will be defeated or fade away in due course, and historians will be able to look back and deliberate on past events. However, science is not necessarily able to solve all humanity’s problems, and if one reflects on the common cold or the different strains of influenza, they remain a permanent feature of the ill-health landscape, despite the presence of vaccines for the latter.
Just as climate change has set in motion a series of changes which are already starting to radically undermine our environment and way of life on the ‘external front’, so Covid-19 could loom as a permanent threat to the human organism on a barely defensible ‘internal front’.
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That’s my fear too.