This blogpost gives you two perspectives on the pandemic in the UK in 2020:
- the view from the inside of No.10, courtesy of Dominic Cummings who was the PM's special advisor until November last year
- the view from concerned journalists expressed in newspaper articles from June to September and collected by me at the time.
|They were in it together - Cummings is in the know - the dirt he dishes is really true.|
First, the dirt from Cummings on Johnson in that BBC interview (my thanks to Koser Saeed of Spotlight News for this summary):
- Johnson was not taking the threat from the coronavirus seriously until late March when he ordered the first lockdown. He had expected business to continue as normal, cabinet ministers were still meeting face to face, and Johnson still expected to see the Queen in person each week.
- Plan A for 'handling' the COVID outbreak was to pursue a herd immunity agenda. Johnson did not want the country to go into the first lockdown and he said so repeatedly at various meetings.
- Then, after the first wave had passed and Johnson returned to work - having recovered from COVID himself - he seemed at first convinced that it had been a good idea to lockdown. But it did not take long for him to change his tune again, after the Telegraph and various parts of the media and the Tory party 'started screaming'. He now decided it was better to run with the herd immunity strategy and let COVID 'wash through the country' rather than handicap the economy.
- By September, despite Vallance and Whitty now arguing for some restrictions, Johnson remained adamant. He had a number of Tory MP's demanding he reject another lockdown and the Telegraph - 'his real boss' - was taking a similar line.
- Even by October, Johnson was saying 'It's all nonsense and lockdowns don't work anyway'. His attitude was 'Well, this is all terrible but the people who are dying are essentially all over 80 and we can't kill the economy just because of people dying over 80'. Cummings is clear: Johnson 'put his own political interests ahead of people's lives'.
|Thanks to the cartoonist for this brilliant take on Johnson's political ambition and contempt for the people.|
And now the voices of some journalists who managed to break through the filters of media collusion with this misgovernment of our country:
Ian Birrell in the 'i' - 1 June 2020 - is reporting on the PM's appearance before the Commons Liaison committee:
'Alarmingly, Johnson ... ended up showing he lacks many skills demanded of a top politician - from verbal dexterity, beyond mumbling and bumbling, through to a firm grasp of detail and policy ... For all his showboating success in winning elections, Johnson has a poor record in office ... as London Mayor, as foreign secretary ... and as prime minister he seems to have no driving cause beyond a hollow brand of patriotism and self-preservation. But a pandemic is raging. People are dying. Flaws in society lie brutally exposed. We face a savage economic downturn ... The spotlight on the person in charge of our country does not present a reassuring image.'
|Thanks to Riddell for this telling cartoon|
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the 'i' - 9 June 2020 - launches a full-scale attack on the collusion between the most senior scientific advisors and 10 Downing Street:
'Whitty looks like a man suffering from severe constipation; Sir Patrick Vallance and Jenny Harries appear ever more diminished, Johnson et al deliver messages few now really believe. Recently, Whitty pathetically said they wouldn't "get pulled into politics". They're in it already, up to their necks, in the rotting swamp. Richard Horton, the maverick editor-in-chief of The Lancet, denounces them unequivocally in an opinion piece for The Guardian. Rather than being led by the science, the Government is misappropriating science with the consent of ingratiating experts: "What is at stake here is not the fate of one political adviser or even of a government in crisis. It is the independence and credibility of science and medicine". ... Britain has the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in Europe, surpassing Italy and Spain in early May. Every policy - from flip-flopping on masks, to lockdown to opening up, to tests and trace - has been shambolic and a danger to the public.'
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the 'i' - 1 July 2020 - demands an annual day of mourning for the virus victims:
'The best Johnson can do to respond to all that anguish is to mutter how hard it is and will be, because "many lives will sadly be lost". Compare that with Germany's Angela Merkel: "We are a community in which each life and each person counts". Or Canada's Justin Trudeau: "Let me take a minute to convey my condolences to all people who are mourning and grieving. all Canadians share your sadness and they are with you during this terrible ordeal". Now find me a Johnson statement that comes close to them'.
|This wonderful cartoon was highly relevant in May 2020 - and according to yesterday's The Observer Johnson's popularity is at last in decline again|
Andrew Grice in the 'i' - 20 August 2020 - expresses his view that Johnson always blames the 'experts' in order to divert attention from his government's failings:
'Ministers and their aides have been sniping at Public Health England (PHE) since May - last weekend it was 'reformed'. ... It is very odd to make structural changes to health bodies in the middle of a pandemic .... the move was to protect ministers at the inquiry. They can argue that they have already learnt lessons by reforming PHE. The subtext: PHE messed up at the start, but we have already sorted it. Yet PHE was not the only guilty party: the decision to end community testing and the lack of capacity also involved the NHS, the Department of health, ministers and their other advisers'.
And yet most of the British people still didn't realize they were being misgoverned in the most awful and deadly way. A survey reported in the 'i' on 5 September found that 45% favoured Boris Johnson as the best Prime Minister for the UK; 33% went for Sir Keir Starmer; and 22% didn't know. Butcher Johnson was getting away with it.
Ian Birrell in the 'i' - 21 September 2020 provides a viewpoint which is headed "Out of his depth and out of ideas":
'Now he has discovered the hideous cruelty of politics as some friends and fellow travellers who enabled his populist takeover of the Tory party and our country turn on him, having seen his ineptitude exposed so sharply by this terrifying crisis. ... Britain is led by a man of no fixed beliefs other than in his own right to rule - and the country must suffer the catastrophic consequences of being led by the court jester who was placed on the throne by his court of fools'.
But still Johnson survived.
|A COVID cartoon to mark Freedom Day in July 2021, bringing the story up-to-date - It aint over yet - not for us - nor for him.|
Come Sunday 1 November 2020, The Observer headline reads: "Johnson's U-turn puts country under tough new lockdown". The prime minister is reported as saying that the virus "is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst case scenario of our scientific advisors".
As the New Year dawned, the mixed messaging over Christmas easing of restrictions was leading to yet another exponential rise in infections and deaths.
And still the monster in No.10 survived - and with the roll-out of the vaccine even prospered.
I will continue to spread the message that this man's time in the highest office of the realm has been a deadly disaster - please share the insights and widen their circulation.