It’s the new normal. This is the UK, where the British Government says something and it turns out to be a lie. On Friday the Health Minister Matt Spineless Hancock proudly announced that the British Government had met its target of 100,000 tests for Covid-19 per day. Matt Hancock announced that 122,347 tests had been done. Target met. Get test it done.
Only it quickly transpired that the British Government had done no such thing. The British Government, being deceptive and misleading I hear you say with gasped breath and shocked expressions. Why, that’s about as plausible as Reporting Scotland deciding that the real news priority of the people of Scotland was a story a wee cute kitten getting murrdurred while playing fitba, especially if the blame could be pinned on Thatessempee.
There have been 82,000 tests done, and a further 40,000 have been mailed out or sent to satellite centres but the samples have yet to be taken. These are tests which haven’t yet been used, and indeed might never actually be used. The real number of people tested, according to the BBC, is even less than 82,000. It was 73,191. That’s a long way short of 100,000 but in Torycount it counts as 122,347. Some people have had to be tested twice for clinical reasons, but most of the additional tests have not actually not been done, they’ve not been sent back to the lab, they’ve not produced any results. Most of them will not even have reached their intended recipients. They’ve just been mailed out. This is not an easy test to self-administer, and it’s likely that a proportion of the test kits sent out will not be administered correctly.
Just kick a ball in the general direction of the goalposts and you’re a winner baby! It’s called doing a Hancock. As with the PPE so with the testing. If you asked Matt Hancock if his real name was Matt Hancock he would deny it if he thought that the denial could benefit him politically and ingratiate him further with Boris Johnson. This is the guy who before Boris Johnson became leader of the Conservatives told us that under no circumstances would he serve in a Johnson cabinet and said that he thought a no-deal Brexit was madness. Calling Matt Hancock spineless is an insult to invertebrates. A lot of them have exoskeletons, which is a damn sight more strength of character than anything Matt possesses.
This month I got a notification from HMRC that my tax return is due. I could write them out a cheque. It’s the mere fact of writing the cheque that counts as paying your taxes. You don’t need to make sure it actually gets to HMRC. This is established British government practice, judging by the standards they’re using to count their covid-19 tests. What Matt Hancock is doing is a bit like claiming that you’re a millionaire because you’ve sent out 100,000 spam emails asking each recipient to send you a tenner. That’s how this works with this government, they’re spamming us.
It is an insult to our intelligence to spin the numbers of tests that have been done in order to make it appear that an arbitrary target has been met. But what’s even more insulting is to fail to test, in the first place. That’s an insult to our health, our well-being, and our very lives. It’s insulting that the Government pissed about for weeks and failed to address the issue of testing. The UK is an international embarrassment. They’re taking us all to the top of the league table for deaths due to this virus, but then they probably think that makes us winners.
This is a government which shamelessly changes the criteria midway through in order to look at though it’s winning. They did the exact same trick with their announcement of the amount of PPE that they’d distributed. A hugely impressive large number was announced, and then it turned out that each glove had been counted individually, and items like paper tissues and cleaning products which aren’t usually considered to be PPE had been added to the totals in order to inflate them artificially and make this inept bunch of incompetents seem like they were doing some good.
But then the Conservatives have a problem with numbers. And with truth, transparency, and honesty. We had the promise of an extra 40,000 nurses who turned out not to be extra after all. We had the promise of 20,000 extra police who turned out not to be extra at all. And let’s not even get started on Priti Patel’s promise of three hundred thousand and thirty four nine hundred and seventy four thousand tests. But whether it’s tests completed, PPE delivered, or the total number of deaths, you must ‘be a patriot’, ‘get behind Boris’, remember that ‘we’re all in this together, cheer for Captain Tom, and clap for the NHS, but most importantly of all you must question nothing.
The surprise isn’t that the Scottish Government wildly exceeds the UK Government in terms of the percentage of people who trust in the information that it provides. 70% of respondents in Scotland say that they trust the information given to them by the Scottish Government. The really surprising thing is that 54% of people in the UK still trust the British Government. But then you see the headlines in the news telling you that the UK Government has met its target, and the gushing stories about Boris’s wean, and you understand why.
The first instinct of this Conservative government is to lie and deceive. Rather than tell the truth and admit that although it had made a great effort, and had come close to meeting a self-imposed target which was always pretty meaningless, the Conservatives felt the need to lie and cheat. It’s one thing for Scotland to endure Conservative governments that it didn’t vote for and which the people of Scotland cannot hold to account when that government is halfway competent, honest, and transparent in the information that it gives to the public. It’s quite another when that government has a well deserved reputation for lying, cheating, and deception. All the more so when it’s lying to cover its arse because its incompetence and arrogance has caused the UK to become one of the worst affected states in Europe and tens of thousands of people are dying.
People in Scotland will draw their own conclusions, and judging by the opinion poll published on Friday about voting intentions in the next Holyrood elections, the conclusion that they are drawing is to vote SNP. Pro-independence parties are on course to achieve a substantial majority in the next Scottish Parliament. Once this epidemic has run its course, the people of Scotland will be holding the British state to account in another independence referendum. The fear and panic of the Conservatives and their British nationalist allies about the prospect of another referendum is palpable. About that at least, they’re not capable of deceiving us.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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