Part 1 of Outside the Bubble may be read here
Not the actions of a political party supposedly led by a libertarian and intellectual Prime Minister who has been in office less than one year, lost the goodwill of millions of people, allowed them to become demoralised and fearful, said nothing while cabinet ministers and senior staff brief against each other and mislead the public, and have created confusion on such ‘minor’ matters as the EU trade deal, defence, security, HS2, illegal immigration, Covid epidemic management, the reform of the House of Lords, BBC bias and the licence fee, the omni-shambles of education examination results and selective policing, and made no coherent statement or lead on the attempted trashing of our culture and cultural icons by people intent on realising their own political ideologies and agenda.
One disastrous policy announcement after another, badly thought-through and often with more ‘U’ turns than ice skaters practising on one of those ice-rinks earmarked by the government for storing up to 4000 bodies a day, which was, in all seriousness, mooted by the death knell duo at yet another discredited press conference presided over by the Prime Minister.
No wonder that ‘lockdown two’, the latest test or tier guidance, is being ignored by people who, contrary to the obvious annoyance of the minister of this or that, have finally tumbled to what is going on and are making their own decisions, or maybe they have seen that when this epidemic subsides, they will be the ones paying for it.
Just how many ministers, secretaries of state, chief of this and that are we actually paying for and who will eventually ride off into the sunset clutching their severance pay and gold-plated pensions as the rest of the population face a future of unemployment, mortgage and financial difficulties, educational qualifications devalued and food banks, while the elderly face imprisonment for months on end in care homes and forbidden contact with their loved ones.
Meanwhile the NHS that we were all asked to clap for, that had billions of pounds worth of debt written off, billions more allocated to deal with the crisis, fails to treat health needs even at a primary care level where many have found that it is now almost impossible to secure a face to face appointment with a GP or obtain regular dental care.
Another of our institutions long thought of as being the very backbone of our country, the ‘police service’ and the National Health Service, were both seemingly failing us in our time of need.
So, with all this going on, what does the media cover? The exploits of the latest Downing Street, Boris, Carrie and Dominic saga. Maybe I’ve missed something here, but I don’t believe I was asked at any time to vote for Carrie or her friends and policies, none of which were in the Conservative manifesto at the last election.
The print media seems to have forgotten its mission to investigate and inform and now appears to be written by columnists long past their sell-by date, living still in some world where everything was just fine when they were in their prime, or 30-something journalists or opinion writers, spending their time misrepresenting opinion as fact, reporting on rumours and conversations with sources in the know that, to me, are usually proved to be wrong and which, in the cold hard light of day, read like the musings of people at a dinner table after the fourth glass of wine.
At the last election, which seems so long ago, millions of voters, aghast at the alternative, put their trust in Boris and the Conservative Party, often holding their noses as they did so, and gave Boris an 80-seat majority – a result which has been squandered by poor leadership, indecisiveness and policy decisions bounced on him by dubious statistics, ‘leaks’ and ‘personality’ issues at the highest level. We are now breathlessly informed, as if it were not obvious already, that Boris does not like confrontation (oh dear, what a shame, never mind) and that Carrie would apparently like a more collegiate form of government driven by kinder and green policies.
What we have witnessed in the last year is the worst failure of leadership, communication and management by both the political class and ministers since the Dunkirk retreat and debacle and the fall of Hong Kong and Singapore during World War II.
Even during that threat to the British way of life and the dangers that the whole nation and its armed forces faced, the press and the man from Whitehall never failed to try to keep the public motivated, never showed, even if the writers had grave doubts, that the way forward would be even more costly in lives and material and financial terms, always showing the positive side, as they used to say to ‘keep spirits up’.
Not once did they succumb to the dreary, doom-laden narrative that we have been subjected to – over the past five years if we are honest – by our defeatist left-leaning national broadcasters, the so-called informed quality press and the red tops, deliberately intensified apparently by applied psychology boffins of government communications departments in the last year who decreed that the way to control the public was to demoralise and cause untold fear.
A new communications chief is apparently going to be the face of government and appear at press conferences.
Sounds like another disaster in the making to me, but if Boris and the new ‘chief of staff’ want to create a British version of the American TV serial ‘The West Wing’, why not? This political class have been acting like the cast in a soap opera for years; perhaps they will employ an ex-coffee salesman or somebody to be the acceptable face and ‘front person’ for green issues, who knows?
Why are long retired ex-Prime Ministers and Ministers given maximum coverage in the ‘not the news’ media? This week we’ve had the spectacle of Sir John Major again giving us the benefit of his personal hell of doom and gloom.
Goodness knows how that happened. Perhaps some main-stream leader writer, not even born when the grey man was Prime Minister, found a dusty old phone, pressed the speed dial button and found to their surprise that the ‘cones hotline’ was still in operation and the person answering was the man himself who, forgetting about black Wednesday, the Maastricht treaty, alleged government sleaze, personal difficulties following a liaison with Edwina Curry and an election defeat, gave us the Blair years.
If that was not enough, readers and viewers were given another dose of Blair, Clarke and Heseltine, all of whom it would seem remain oblivious of their leading parts in the dystopian country we now find ourselves living in, but all of the arrogant belief that as far as the future of this country is concerned they, and only they, have all the answers. If they do it certainly has not been that evident over the last 30 years.
Still if you don’t find the musing and conspiracies of the ruling caste to your taste, you can always take heart in the other main occupation of the media. The ongoing saga of Harry (formally known as Prince) and his wife. Apparently they, too, have employed a communication or press relations guru to shield them from the gaze of the paparazzi and protect their privacy.
Which is why one assumes they made a ‘private’ visit to lay a poppy-less wreath at a graveyard in the US this week on our Remembrance Day. I have no idea what that was about except to secure a photo opportunity that was reminiscent of the opening scenes of the Saving of Private Ryan. Whatever it was it seems not to have gone down too well this side of the pond with his family and much of the general public, who it seems have had more than enough of the ‘When Harry met Megan’ saga, another example if we needed one of mountains of goodwill being squandered.
Many people are using the phrase the ‘new normal’ or the ‘great reset’ but older readers may well prefer older phrases now no longer in vogue or particularly PC. This one though may echo the thoughts of many as the latest ‘Carrie’-on saga unfolds. “If we do meet again, we may all smile.”