If you turned on your telly this Tuesday morning to watch ITV’s breakfast show, you’d have been given a reminder of why you’d be much better off staying in your kip and not watching breakfast television. Today on This Morning we were regaled by the sight of Vanessa Feltz and Boris Johnson’s dad Stanley giving us advice on the coronavirus. The British government thinks that it has been clear in its advice but judging from his appearance on the TV, the Prime Minister’s own father doesn’t seem to understand what his son’s government has been telling us. If this is what the British media thinks is a sensible and informative response to the epidemic, then we’re all doomed. This is quite literally a matter of life and death here, and the British media still can’t stop indulging itself in its addiction to click bait, controversy, and ‘colourful characters’. We’re all doomed.
The 79 year old Stanley Johnson remarked that if he has to go to the pub, of course he’ll go to the pub. In Stanley’s universe going to the pub is a necessity, along with telling the peasants to get orf his land and having no sympathy for homeless people. But then we shouldn’t really have been surprised by his performance, as the 79 year old Stanley Johnson thinks that the government’s advice to people over the age of 70 to reduce social interactions to the absolute essential minimum really means that he should go into a TV studio where dozens of people are working, in a building where hundreds of people are working. We’re all doomed.
More plausibly it’s just that Stanley thinks that official advice doesn’t apply to him, because he’s a special one by virtue of his class and wealth. And to be fair his son’s government does perform a sterling job at bolstering that impression. His son tells people not to go to pubs or restaurants, but doesn’t order pubs and restaurants to close, because then they’d be able to make insurance claims and that would damage the wealthy financial interests who support the Conservative party. Then Richard Branson asks for a bail out of £7.5 billion for the airline industry while he lays off 80% of his airline’s staff without pay so that he doesn’t have to sell off his private island. We’re all doomed.
You’d think that any advice given to Stanley Johnson should include telling him to stay away from the airwaves, and to shut the feck up – just in general. Stanley Johnson showed himself up to be an absolute rager, an entitled, pompous, irresponsible buffon who has never known hardship and who is seemingly incapable of putting himself in the shoes of another and who is oblivious to the harm he leaves in his wake. This remember, is the guy who said that the British public was too stupid to be able to spell Pinocchio. Still, at least we now know where his son gets it from. Fresh from giving us Nigel Farage as an expert on epidemiology, now the British media gives us Stanley Johnson as the man to listen to for advice on self-isolation. We’re all doomed.
Then after allowing Stanley Johnson to tell people that the government’s advice shouldn’t apply to them if they don’t feel like it, Philip Schofield bemoaned the amount of misinformation that’s going about. Have I mentioned that we’re all doomed?
The big problem that the British government has during this health crisis is that it is led by a man who is most famous for lying. Boris Johnson has never knowingly told the truth when he’s able to get away with a self-serving lie. Indeed much of the time he doesn’t even care if people know he’s lying, because he knows that there’s nothing much anyone can do about it. Yet now he needs us to trust him. It’s hardly surprising that people are taking things into their own hands and are adopting social isolation measures irrespective of what the British government tells them. Except for Stanley Johnson of course.
This emergency has already started to have a serious impact on everyone’s life. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, yet already we’ve seen a breakdown in trust between the government and the media on one hand, and the public on the other. When that happens, it’s the responsibility of the government and the media to restore trust.
This crisis is a generational event. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s going to change everything. The world will never be the same as it was, our behaviour may have to change permanently, and that in turn will have an effect on our attitudes to government and to the British state. It will show that in a time of crisis, the absolute worst people to deal with it are shallow populists of the ilk of Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, or Boris Johnson. This is a time when we need experts, we need hard facts and solid information.
We don’t need lies, spin, and the self-interest of an unaccountable political class who will seek to use this crisis to enrich themselves and entrench their power. We don’t need a media which peddles shlock and gossip, which pumps our TV screens and newspapers full of vacuous celebrities who have nothing to contribute beyond their ability to stock up controversy. We don’t need a BBC that tells us that the UK’s government’s advice has changed because “the science has changed” when in fact what’s happened is that the UK government has belatedly realised that its modelling was wrong. We don’t need a Foreign Secretary who doesn’t know where Lima is, who tells us that he can’t organise flights to repatriate UK citizens stranded abroad because of the expense, while his own government cheerfully bails out banks and rewards the wealthy with tax breaks. We don’t need multi-billion pound funding for businesses while doing nothing about outlawing evictions or mortgage foreclosures for the duration of this crisis, or giving local authorities the power to take take over empty homes so that we can get homeless people off the streets.
This crisis will teach us that in this global age it’s more important than ever that our political class can be held to account. It’s more important than ever that we have a media which has public information as its prime priority and which doesn’t seek a false balance by giving equal time to charlatans as it does to fact. That’s precisely what’s not possible within the sclerotic structures of a creaking British state which is incapable of reforming itself.
This may not be the time for actively campaigning for independence, but this is most certainly the time during which the seeds are being sown for the campaign which is to come. It’s a campaign that will be fought so that we can assert that the country belongs to the people, and the government is our servant. It’s a campaign that will be fought on the vital importance of ensuring that the banks help to bail out the people after the people have bailed out the banks. It’s a campaign that will be fought on the vital importance of ensuring that the people are protected before the financial interests of the rich and the powerful. It’s a campaign that will be fought on the vital importance of Scotland being able to have a government that the people of this country can hold to account.
You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address email@example.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send the necessary information.
Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.
Gaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.
My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.
You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to email@example.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email firstname.lastname@example.org