Written by Tom Trust
Lions led by donkeys. That phrase, coined by some commentators just after the Great War, the 1st World War, the 14-18 War, is unfortunately appropriate today. The British people are particularly headstrong and stubborn and history has proved that we need strong leadership. Sadly, years, decades, of relative opulence and limp-wristed government have reduced our nation to a state of materialistic decadence, not helped by the “no such thing as society”, “Loads o’ money” yuppie culture of the eighties. The youth of those days are the parents of today. A grim thought.
Boris was clearly the man to get Brexit done. Hopefully it will be a proper Brexit because we will need every penny of our own to haul ourselves out of the post-corona recession that faces the world. We need to have to pay millions into the EU’s coffers like we need a hole in the head.
Yet Boris has proved to be sadly inadequate in the face of this pesky virus. His assembly of senior cabinet ministers have proved themselves to be, well, not up to the job. Maybe Rishi Sunak is an exception to that. His introduction of blatantly socialist measures to offset the consequences of lockdown, school and business closure and the rest were what was needed. It remains to be seen how a Tory Government will implement the normally ruinous application of socialist measures and, more to the point, how it will navigate the UK out of the inevitable financial melt-down. A socialist (small “s”) myself, I have to admit that it is preferable for there to be a Tory administration to see us through, like they did post 2008.
However, as far as leading us through the covid-19 crisis is concerned they are displaying all the characteristics of a chocolate teapot. Very few nations globally have allowed inbound international flights to continue and those that do have imposed strict quarantine measures on the arrivals. Not us. Oh, soon we will because (believe it or not) they constitute some sort of risk! Glad they spotted that! Many nations, including many not particularly respected Third World nations, have insisted on some sort of face protection for those out and about. Not us. Our Leaders don’t lead at this time of need; they “advise”; they “ask”; they “recommend”. It is so very British, isn’t it. “I say, old chap, I don’t suppose you’d mind wearing a face mask? I mean, by all means, if you don’t want to….”
Sorry, but with a recalcitrant child used to getting its own way, a firm hand is needed. So it is with the UK public. In these circumstances I expect our leaders to tell us what to do. I expect detractors to be punished: fined on the spot. I expect my Government to protect me. That means inbound and internal flights should have been stopped straight away. Passengers on flights bringing British nationals home should have been tested and/or quarantined. Not politely asked, please would you quarantine yourself at home? No, put into quarantine for two weeks, then allowed out subject to a negative test result. To protect me I would have expected contingency plans to have been put in place after that Pandemic exercise in 2016; plans to swing PPE and ventilator manufacture into production if and when necessary: the only logical course of action after such an exercise. Except, not if you are a senior politician or civil servant, obviously.
Sending covid-19 positive patients back into care homes was an unforgivable act. It must be possible for bereaved relatives of victims who died in an outbreak in a care home to trace the identity of the individual who was returned to the care home in question, and thereby to trace the reason back to its source – likely to have been a civil servant or NHS bureaucrat – although the buck obviously stops with Matt Hancock who throughout this has been appallingly inadequate. Yes, he has been trying his best, working all the hours, etc., but that is the point. His best isn’t good enough.
And so we have suffered the second-highest death toll in the world and even that official figure is far lower than the true figure. We have allowed people into the country – legally and illegally – bringing some infection with them. We haven’t made people afford themselves a modicum of protection by making the wearing of a face mask outside obligatory. We have scandalously let the NHS front line staff down with a shortage of PPE.
We have failed to mobilise a testing regime of anything like the numbers it should be at. All around we hear of supreme efforts being made by individuals like Captain Tom – one of the Lions – and countless other people and businesses, all striving without encouragement or co-ordination to help out. At least the “little boats” of Dunkirk were organised. It will take years for the UK to get back to anything like normal – all because we Lions are being led by donkeys.