So, it would appear that Boris Johnson may have finally got his moment to be compared to Churchill. As the withdrawal from Afghanistan resembles Dunkirk without boats, the PM had to face an emergency session in Parliament, where he was roasted by Theresa May for his shambolic reaction to events. Phrases like ‘make a sentence out of the words: kettle, black and calling’ and ‘savaged by a dead sheep’ spring to mind.
Of course, it wasn’t only the PM whose balls were on the slate. The Foreign Secretary was doing the job he thought he was employed to do, namely, being abroad. The only problem was that he was not abroad on work but on holiday.
And therein lies the major difference between Johnson and Churchill. Churchill was a pathological liar and a deeply unlikeable sociopath who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people. The comparisons with Johnson end there. Churchill had a Cabinet of political big-hitters who knew what they were doing, unlike the current crop of faceless non-entities who owe their portfolios to pro-Brexit zealotry.
I don’t trust politicians who don’t look like politicians. Dominic Raab does not resemble a Foreign Secretary. He looks like he should be managing a branch of Carphone Warehouse in Slough. Grant Shapps, a man whose name sounds like a very unpleasant bowel disorder, doesn’t look like a member of the Government. He looks more like a used-car salesman who is also a leader in the Boy Scouts and who still ‘hasn’t found time’ to fill in his Disclosure form.
I am writing this in the middle of the Edinburgh Fringe. A festival that no-one was sure would happen. An event that, mid-pandemic, has attracted thousands of people from throughout the UK to gather together in Scotland’s capital city in badly-ventilated small rooms to laugh in close proximity to one another. What’s the worst that can happen? Hopefully you read this column before you read my obituary.
No-one was sure how busy this year’s festival would be, but we all hoped that English tourists would know how to behave in Scotland. By and large, they have been OK. But would the pandemic not have been a marvellous opportunity for Edinburgh City Council to deny a licence for the Silent Disco?
As we know, Boris Johnson announced that 19 July would be ‘Freedom Day’, when all restrictions on face masks and distancing in England came to an end. We have all become too familiar with this Orwellian turn of phrase from the Prime Minister. The people of England were not liberated from the Covid that day. They were set free from the measures put in place to protect them from catching the virus. Effectively, they were free not to give a flying fuck about anybody else.
Many health experts had warned the PM not to move too fast. Which is sound medical advice, given his physical condition. Any sudden movement could bring on a coronary. When challenged on the timing of the move, Health Secretary Sajid Javid replied ‘if not now, when?’ He then promptly tested positive for Coronavirus, thereby, answering his own question.
Johnson and Rishi Sunak were identified as close contacts, so all three were forced to self-isolate. This left us with the glorious irony of the very people who proclaimed ‘Freedom Day’ being locked up in the house on the day in question.
Transport for London and almost every major supermarket chain responded to a campaign from unions, and insisted that masks should still be worn on the tube and in stores, to protect the staff who worked there. We truly are living in some bizarre parallel universe when Tesco care more about public health than the Prime Minister does. But then we have already witnessed the England football team exhibiting a more accurate moral compass than the government of the UK on issues such as racism and child poverty.
From July, what were previously laws in England are now merely ‘guidelines’, and it is up to the public’s ‘common sense’ and ‘judgement’ whether or not to follow them – common sense and judgement being values which have of course seen to be in very short supply in government, as well as in the public in general.
Will this soon be rolled out to other areas of life currently covered by legislation, such as speed limits? If so, I now have a clean driving licence. When I totted up those nine points that I currently hold, I was using my common sense to do eighty-nine miles an hour on the M8, as if not I would risk being late for a gig in Greenock. That’s common sense and judgement in action. Breaking the law to get to Greenock on time. I rest my case, M’lud.