Okaaaaaaay. So Boris Johnson has delivered his broadcast to “the nation”, and we’re all still none the wiser. Does anyone have a scooby what Boris Johnson expects us to do? Because Boris Johnson doesn’t. That was fifteen minutes of absolutely nothing. Like many in Scotland I watched that speech with extremely low expectations to begin with, and Boris Johnson still managed to disappoint. He’d have done a lot better if he’d just sat there with one of those placards from his election video in December last year, saying “You’re all going to die.” Still, it made for a neat TV schedule on the BBC. Killing Eve at 9.15 pm and Killing the UK at 7.
What actually came out of Boris Johnson’s lying mouth was work from home or go sit on a bench or go back to work but don’t take the bus while limiting contact with other people as you sit in a park because the invisible mugger might get you if you don’t stay alert. Great British spirit! Um. Eh. Ah. Fnaugh. Hurrah! You probably need one of those Eton educations in order to understand it properly. Oh and he did add that fines will be increased if you break the regulations that he’s now made about as clear as a blackout curtain during the Blitz. Because it’s not just British nationalists that get to shoehorn in WW2 references.
He told us that people who can’t work from home should go back to work tomorrow, only not to take public transport to get there. And all with just a few hours notice and absolutely no clarity about how people are supposed to keep themselves safe. This is an epic mess. It’s not merely unfair, it’s irresponsible, foolish, and dangerous. And it is exactly as predicted – the UK is coming out of lockdown in the exact same way that it entered it. In a confused and confusing way, at the wrong time, without anything that approaches a clearly thought out plan, and putting the interests of business ahead of saving lives.
The only certainty that it was possible to take from that broadcast was that it’s obvious why the Prime Minister didn’t want to do a live speech and instead palmed us all off with a pre-recorded speech. That way he didn’t have to compound his embarrassment by answering questions from the British press. Which isn’t exactly up there with the Spanish Inquisition, not even the Monty Python version with the comfy chairs and cake. It also meant that he could put his feet up, down a half a bottle of wine, spill the other half of it on Carrie Symonds’ sofa, and watch Antiques Roadshow which as I type this is actually showing an authentic WW2 potty. But most importantly of all it meant that thanks to the wonders of video recording technology he was able to miss his own speech. Result!
For those of you who like Boris Johnson decided that the wisest course of action was to miss the speech, the full contents went – I paraphrase here for the sake of sanity – fnaugh fnaugh wibble wibble um eh British waugh spirit. Or words to that effect. Somewhere amongst the waffle, the ums ahs and ehs, he did manage to tell us that thanks to his captaincy of the British ship of state we had managed to avoid catastrophe. Or in other words be grateful that only 55,000 of you plebs have died, get back to me with complaints when the death toll exceeds half a million. The highest death toll in Europe, but the UK has avoided catastrophe. By which he meant that Jacob Rees Mogg’s financial interests haven’t been too badly affected.
There was a helpful graph, with what looked suspiciously like a bike on a water slide. No I’m not sure what that was all about either. Although it’s probably a safe to say that plunging like a bike on a water slide is the new metaphor for the British state’s management of the current crisis. This is not unrelated to the fact that we get confusing messaging from the Prime Minister, who on the one hand tells us that the main priority is to avoid a second peak in infections, and then immediately goes on to tell everyone that they need to get back to work as soon as possible. But since he also told us that public transport is going to have a very limited capacity, he also told the working classes to walk. This is a new spin on Norman Tebbit’s infamous on-your-bike speech.
So there you go, the Great British communicator was only capable of fifteen minutes of bullshit and confusion. There were the obligatory references to the great UK union, but this is a Prime Minister who has done exactly nothing to inform, never mind consult with, the governments of Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. They found out about what his plans were like everyone else, via unattributable briefings given by “sources in Number 10” to their pals in the right wing British nationalist media. Boris Johnson doesn’t really want a union, he demands that the little people and their little Celtic countries slavishly follow him.
Nowhere amongst the word and um salad that he delivered in a very posh accent in order to disguise its fundamental idiocy did he point out that the changes that he may or may not have made to lockdown regulations would only apply to England. That’s because Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have devolved governments which are behaving considerably more like grown ups and which are responsible for ending lockdown in their respective nations. All of which have distanced themselves from the confused collection of posh hesitation phenomena which pass for a Boris Johnson speech. Yes, that’s where we are now. It has come to pass that even Arlene Foster and the DUP speak more sense than the leader of the UK. You know, that party where some of them think that the epidemic is God’s punishment for gay marriage and abortion. And you thought that 2020 couldn’t possibly get any more insane. Be afraid, be very afraid.
The safest advice if you value your health and your wellbeing is to ignore Boris Johnson. This is the greatest public health communication shambles in Europe. Listen to Nicola Sturgeon instead.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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