It was no surprise to find #BorisHasFailed trending on Twitter across the UK just before 8pm last night and Not In Scotland trending in Scotland. I watched the Boris Johnson show at 7pm with a mixture of rage and pity.
Rage that this man is able to claim the mantle of UK Prime Minister and secure prime time TV to pontificate on a pandemic he has so spectacularly failed to deal with properly since the start of January this year, and pity that he is so obviously out of his political depth that it would be no surprise if Boris is encouraged to ‘spend more time with his family’ in the coming months as the Tories seek to replace him with someone as brutal but more competent. Kermit from the Muppet Show would surely be a contender on the competency front.
Current No1 trending topic in UK tonight is #BorisHasFailed
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 10, 2020
Johnson has introduced a new slogan to guide the nation. From the clear and unambiguous Stay At Home – Protect The NHS – Save Lives, with the deliberate red for stop border adding to the serious message being conveyed, we have the wholly unclear, imprecise and confusing Stay Alert – Control The Virus – Save Lives, with the green for go border promoting a different tone and imagery. What the hell does it mean? Stay Alert? An empty, nebulous and shallow slogan that will prompt more questions than answers and lead to greater confusion and indecision precisely when certainty and unequivocal messages are required.
Scotland’s Message Remains Clear – Stay Home. Protect NHS. Save Lives
Nicola Sturgeon is Scotland’s First Minister and she spoke with more clarity and authority earlier in the day when she stated categorically that the Stay Home message remains in place and operational in Scotland. Individuals would be permitted to exercise more often than once from now on but only on their own or with family members and while observing the two-metre social distancing rule. It is not what I or millions of others wanted to hear. I hate the social isolation and Stay Home rules. I am desperate to socialise and spend time with family and friends. But there is absolutely nothing more valuable in life than our health and the health of our families. Those of us lucky enough to still have elderly parents and children of our own comply with the Scottish First Minister’s message because it is underpinned by the best health and science advice available.
What Boris Johnson has done is undermine that critical and clear message and in the process risk even more needless loss of life. It is well documented and a matter of fact that Johnson ignored detailed warnings about the UK’s unpreparedness for a health pandemic. He then acted too slow to impose a social isolation lockdown.
He failed to put in place a proper test, track and trace strategy despite clear warnings to do so. He failed to ensure frontline health and care workers had sufficient and essential Personal Protective Equipment to allow them to safely treat Covid19 victims and care for the most at-risk elderly citizens. And now he is playing fast and loose with the health of thousands of others by “actively encouraging” millions of construction and manufacturing workers to return to work from tomorrow when workplaces and building sites are wholly unprepared and unable to ensure a safe environment for those workers.
Workplaces Are Not Safe – PM Letter of Weeks Ago Still Stands
Millions across England are to be “actively encouraged” to get back to work in cars, bikes and by walking but to avoid using public transport. It is madness. More than that, it is irresponsible and criminally negligent. No instructions about face masks. No guarantees that transport workers will be provided with sufficient PPE. Does he not read the death toll statistics breakdown and realise hundreds of transport workers have already died from exposure to passengers on buses and trains who did not know they were Covid19 carriers?
It was only a few weeks ago hours after it was confirmed on 28th March that more than 1,000 people had died across the UK from Covid19 that PM Boris confirmed he would send out more than 30 million personally signed letters to every household in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at a cost of £5.7 million urging everyone to Stay Home – I quote directly from that letter:
“THE PRIME MINISTER
“I understand completely the difficulties this disruption has caused to your lives, businesses and jobs. But the action we have taken is absolutely necessary, for one simple reason.
If too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to cope. This will cost lives. We must slow the spread of the disease, and reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment in order to save as many lives as possible.
That is why we are giving one simple instruction – you must stay at home.”
“Thousands of retired doctors and nurses are returning to the NHS – and hundreds of thousands of citizens are volunteering to help the most vulnerable. It is with that great British spirit that we will beat coronavirus and we will beat it together.”
“That is why, at this moment of national emergency, I urge you, please, to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
The bold emphasis was in the letter. The one simple message was clear. These letters were issued days after the UK Covid19 death total reached 1,019. On the day of Johnson’s new, ambiguous and vague message the UK recorded 268 more deaths, 3,923 more cases and reached a cumulative total of at least 31,855 citizens lost prematurely to Covid19. Many believe this figure is an underestimate but it is the highest total in Europe and data from the World Health Organisation over the seven days 1st – 8th May indicates that per million of population the UK Covid19 death rate is now the highest in the world, surpassing both the United States and Sweden, 3rd and 2nd largest respectively.
After seven weeks of an emotionally difficult and economically costly lockdown which appears to have at least slowed the rate of infection of the deadly virus now is the time to steady the ship and double down on the message. People’s lives are at stake. Providing sustainable incomes for all workers, self-employed citizens and supporting businesses to prevent closures is easily affordable in a society as rich as the UK. Dipping into the £205 billion put aside to guarantee renewal of Trident nuclear weapons is certainly a readily available stream of cash better used for productive than destructive purposes.
What lies behind Johnson’s Statement tonight is the priorities of the big business bosses and billionaires who are so anxious to see ‘normality’ resumed. Their ‘normality’ consists of millions forced to survive on inadequate wages and welfare payments to guarantee their continued and obscene enrichment. The health of ordinary workers and elderly citizens is irrelevant to them. The new slogan would have been more honest if it read: Back To Work – Catch The Virus – Save The Billionaires; or Confuse The Public – Kill 32,000 – Avoid All Responsibility.
Tonight’s announcement by Boris Johnson is the moment the mask slipped and the entire nation saw Tory ideology win the battle versus public health. Confusion and chaos reign and a second wave will be wholly down to an abject failure of leadership by the PM & Government.
— lan Byrne MP (@IanByrneMP) May 10, 2020
Johnson and Trump Vie for Stupid Mayor of Amity Island Title
The stark truth is Boris Johnson, just like his political acolyte Donald Trump, epitomises the stubborn, stupid and selfish Larry Vaughn, Mayor of the fictional Amity Island in the 1975 blockbuster movie Jaws. Never mind the three incidents and two deaths from shark attacks in the previous seven days, including the death of a young boy and girl from the deadly shark, we cannot close the beaches as it would be ‘bad for business’.
The Jaws script is a perfect metaphor for the combined approaches of Johnson and Trump to the current Covid19 threat. Never mind the scientific evidence and real threat to health let us just get everyone back to work as soon as possible. Watch the scene where the Mayor articulates the business community priorities to overrule the police chief and scientific evidence and keep the beaches open regardless of the threat to life:
“We will be open for business. Those beaches will be open for this weekend (July 4th celebrations)”.
Policing Covid 19 has become impossible after today. My colleagues cannot Engage, Explain, Encourage or Enforce such woolly rules. This is now down to the public to Police itself. Please let’s avoid a second spike. @WestYorksPolFed @Cameramal
— Brian Booth (@WYPF_Chairman) May 10, 2020
Trump has ordered States across America to ‘open for business’ despite the evidence of mounting deaths and increased risks from infection and Johnson’s message tonight is in a similar vein. He is rushing to get England out of lockdown in homage to the rich business interests who supported him in his general election fight. It is no accident that the US and UK are top of the Covid19 league table of deaths and incompetent responses to the pandemic. However, the gutter press is Johnson’s natural ally and they will weigh in behind him in the coming days and they will seek to undermine the more cautious and concerned Nicola Sturgeon. Hopefully, the Welsh Assembly will continue to put health first over business concerns, but I fear Northern Ireland will fall into line behind their natural political allies in the Tory party.
Boris Johnson Does Not Speak for Scotland
Boris Johnson did not speak for me tonight and he did not speak for Scotland. He spoke only for England and the narrow section of millionaires and billionaires who back his political philosophy. The fact some within his party are discontented with the pace of relaxing the lockdown and returning to their ‘normal’ is further evidence of the ruthless and callous brutality which pollutes the Tory party. I sincerely hope the people of Scotland stick with the health first message of Nicola Sturgeon and reject the big business priorities of Boris Johnson and his political party.