Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series. The second part will be published tomorrow.
Half-way through January and most of the pretty lights and this year’s “must-have” illuminated willow reindeers have disappeared from the gardens in St. Mary on the Wold. In some ways, that’s a shame, as at least they brought a little cheer to the place in all this dismal wet and foggy weather we have had since the New Year.
The residents of Audi Avenue were obviously planning to follow Dishy Richi’s instructions and spend some of their furlough payment savings in an effort, as he said, to help “kick start” the economy. But as we all witnessed, the economy was designed to take another harder blow as “lockdown three”, as the media calls it, was imposed on seemingly a largely agreeable nation.
The fact that hundreds of thousands of people are now facing financial hardship, losing their livelihoods, businesses and health is of little interest to those comfortably off working from home. Furloughed, or able to claim various grants or loans to keep the wolf from the door, it seems that those who shout loudest get just what they want to the detriment of others; particularly if they are blessed with being a member of the new “all in it together party” which, as we keep being told by various commentators and pollsters, has a huge following in ‘the country’ – so much so that any person eyeing up the opportunity of standing for office under that banner at the forthcoming elections will most likely win with a landslide.
But many a slip between cup and lip, as the saying goes. It’s noticeable that our political and media class have cottoned on to their usage in the last few weeks. Possibly it’s the influence of all that media training in the Downing Street studio that has brought it on. Who knows? Well, you may ask, as most of these people seem to me at least to believe in some sort of universe where nobody ever left school and need either cartoons or advertisements with childish sounding narrations. Women often perform such narration with some kind of affectation copied from movies where it has been the fashion for some aspiring actresses to speak as if they have some sort of speech defect or throat infection for some years now. Or for politicians to talk in catchphrases like some sort of third-rate management consultant blathering on about blue-sky thinking, new paradigms, and going the extra mile as if it were 1995 when such ‘isms’ were commonplace, or should I say de-rigueur.
Apparently, a new face was to have taken the daily covid news briefing, but it was decided at the last minute that it would be better if the Prime Minister along with officials continued – as it was thought that the public might prefer – or goodness me, expect – that this not being the U.S.A – that the Prime Minister or Minister responsible for whatever diktat they were going to announce should, actually be there in person and do it. Not that it seems many people are now watching what our new breed of celebrity experts say, let alone what ministers have to say at these briefings. Look at the numbers watching the live show now and see how the figures have declined over the last few months. With some podcasters now having audiences of over 200,000 subscribers operating without the benefit of fancy studios, researchers, producers, directors, and so on… a lesson for the mainstream media (broadcast and print) to take on board if ever there was one.
I don’t often watch these ministerial advertisements these days, but the one on Friday featuring Boris Johnson took the biscuit with its folksy “Hi folks, Boris Johnson here.” As the kids are apt to say these days: are you joking me? Can you just imagine Margaret Thatcher beginning a Prime Ministerial broadcast with ‘Hi Folks’ or, for that matter, Gordon Brown or Tony? Not that the Home Secretary’s latest one was much better, arriving at the podium like a headteacher about to take an assembly for year ten, flanked by two more ‘important colleagues’ from the Police and N.H.S. How many more of these people are going to be given an airing, for goodness sake. They lectured and droned on as if the public were some naughty year group who needed to be kept in after school for some heinous crime. Obviously, Shaz and Tray and Connor and Damion were sniggering in the back because Boris later had to get involved and tell everyone they would be expected not to go out at the weekend, so there!
“Hi Boris, Norm here”. Are you able to explain to an incredulous fishing industry why that colleague of yours, the Defra Minister, didn’t bother to read that Brexit document you were about to sign? You know, the one that took years to negotiate because getting the deal wrong would have a profound effect yet again on our decimated fishing industry and could be a deal-breaker? Yes, Bo, that one.
Odd then that this colleague of yours was out organising a nativity trail rather than reading important documents that have affected a whole industry. Was she one of the thousands of public sector employees – along with elected members of parliament – who were ‘working from home’ and didn’t get the memo that pointed out that the Brexit Deal was quite an import document? Surely it couldn’t be that as a person who, apparently (according to reports) voted Remain? As the cafe owner from Cornwall once said on one of his many outings courtesy of the B.B.C., she perhaps thinks that “nobody around here eats it anyway”. But who knows.
The effects of your signing are now beginning to become apparent. What a pity, Oh, dear, never mind. Why bother about the detail and importance of an international agreement when it’s Christmas Eve and one of your Ministers is rather busy organising a local nativity trail and didn’t have time to read it,
Sorry to be a bother, Boris. You do remember that Shaz and Tracy and Connor and Damion were asked to curtail their activities local or otherwise and not to visit their grandparents or anyone else over the holiday period because it could well mean their deaths?
In the meantime, much of the mainstream media continues to report trivia and demonstrates that it spends all its time reporting about things that don’t matter, rather than deliberately, it now seems, not reporting things that do. We’ve heard a lot about selective reporting in the press during the lockdown as various police forces have been allowed by the Home Secretary, the Policing Minister, and Police and Crime Commissioners to do pretty well what they want without any comment or censure. This suggests that all of them are quite content to see public trust and satisfaction nosedive because of poor management and poor training by senior police ranks who, it seems, are more and more following a political agenda.
When eventually our cancelled elections are reinstated, which at the moment seems unlikely as further ‘postponements’ are being mooted, one could reasonably expect that police commissioners (now unelected as their terms of office have expired) will be held to account by voters either for their collective silence or demands that ‘their police service’ be given even more draconian powers to deal with their interpretation of Covid regulation transgressors.
One could also have hoped that Chief Constables – who supposedly retain sole operational independence – would have made some comment. Although the actions and appearance of officers at all levels of what passes for most of our police service, does not inspire confidence, dressing and acting like some uniformed thuggish rabble at one level, while appearing at another level to be divisions of social workers displaying their commitment to wokeness, equality, and diversity.
Surely some sort of commission into the British Police Service is long overdue? Even their most senior officers for the most part engender no confidence either in their utterances, manner, or bearing.