The British black comedy of Covid

gottogo

On Wednesday we had the first Prime Minister’s Questions since Boris Johnson returned from his bout of illness. He returned to a quiet House of Commons, with empty benches as MPs observed social distancing measures. He must be wishing he was still in bed binge watching Netflix and demanding that his girlfriend make him soup, because stripped of the baying backbenches of sycophantic Tory MPs, the fnaughing one was clueless and utterly outmatched by Labour’s new leader Keir Stormdrain. He kept turning around, looking for a catcall of encouragement from his posse, but his posse was viewing the scene remotely and unable to drown out Johnson’s opponents with a sound wall of derision. The bully was without his gang, and the immature and needy little boy who lurks just underneath Boris Johnson’s very thin skin was on full display. If you’ve ever seen those videos on Youtube where someone plays a music video without the actual music and you’re left laughing at how ridiculous and risible the actions of the performers would be in real life, that’s Boris Johnson performing in the Commons without his backup singers on the back benches.

PMQs was on the same day as the official death toll in the UK exceeded the 30,000 barrier and rose to 30,076. This is the number of those who have died and who had tested positive for the virus, but given the low rates of testing for the virus in the UK many will have passed away without ever having been tested and will not be included in the official statistics. The true number of those who have died of Covid-19 in the UK is considerably higher than the number admitted to by the British Government. By Tuesday the Financial Times had put the estimate of those who have died from the virus in the UK at 53,800. See: https://www.ft.com/content/e32ddbf7-0826-4cf7-9a73-18611eb29c23

Of course Boris Johnson didn’t bother to present the daily press briefing himself in order to tell the UK that his government’s negligence had allowed its own count of the death toll to exceed 30,000. Two gigs in one day is too much for our part time Prime Minister. He left delivering the bad news to Robert Jenrick. Yeah. I’d never heard of him either. He’s the housing secretary, and he’s precisely the kind of middle management nonentity who’s going to cop the blame for this whole disaster once the inevitable public enquiry gets underway, allowing the Boris Johnsons and Michael Goves of this world to skip away without consequences to their careers or their bank balances.

Johnson doesn’t want us to compare the UK with other countries around the world. This is not unrelated to the fact that the UK is performing so poorly. You can bet your last piece of PPE that if the UK was performing a lot better then Boris Johnson would be the first to cite international comparisons. So instead let’s look at what other places are saying about the UK’s handling of this crisis. What you will look for in vain is anyone remarking how well the British Government is doing, how compassionate it is, how competent British ministers are.

Across the world, British exceptionalism is being held up as a dismal example of what not to do. The Guardian has compiled its own list of criticisms of the British Government in newspapers in other countries which are looking askance at the UK.  There is no shortage of examples. An Australian commentator told the Sydney Morning Herald that the British Government had “handled the earliest stages negligently”, producing “a shambles of mixed messaging, poor organisation and a complacent attitude that what was happening in Italy wouldn’t happen here”. The paper reported that the UK is experiencing “the biggest failure in a generation”. See: https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/biggest-failure-in-a-generation-where-did-britain-go-wrong-20200428-p54o2d.html

The conservative Uruguayan daily El Observador tells its readers that the British Government is guilty of three crucial errors which have left the UK the worst affected state in Europe and the second worst affected in the world. The first is that Boris Johnson underestimated the seriousness of the epidemic in the early stages and failed to respond to it quickly. The second is that the British Government attempted to introduce a failed strategy – so-called herd immunity – and only introduced lockdown after the virus had been spreading in the population for over a month. Thirdly there have been issues with testing and the supply of equipment. See (in Spanish): https://www.elobservador.com.uy/nota/coronavirus-3-errores-que-llevaron-a-reino-unido-a-convertirse-en-el-pais-de-europa-con-mas-muertos-por-coronavirus-y-el-segundo-del-mundo–20205621159

The Portuguese daily Jornal de Noticías agrees that the crucial error of the British Government was to pursue the herd immunity strategy.  However it considers worse still the attitude of a British Government which was more concerned with its battles with the EU.  It says that even though the British Government officially denies that herd immunity was its policy, this was indeed the policy which the UK put into practice.  The venerable Portuguese newspaper describes this as “the error which put a country in the worst ranking for Covid-19”.  See (in Portuguese): https://www.jn.pt/mundo/o-erro-que-pos-um-pais-no-pior-dos-rankings-da-covid-19-12135387.html

Meanwhile Spain’s El Confidencial describes the UK’s response to the coronavirus epidemic as a “British black comedy of covid” which the paper blames on the Prime Minister failing to introduce restrictions until everyone else in Europe had already done so. See (in Spanish): https://www.elconfidencial.com/mundo/europa/2020-05-06/boris-johnson-neil-ferguson-reino-unido_2582247/

In North America, the US digital publication The Intercept tells its readers that Boris Johnson’s lies are killing Britons. See: https://theintercept.com/2020/04/30/boris-johnsons-coronavirus-lies/ The UK is not the beacon that the rest of the world is looking to that Boris Johnson would have us believe it is. It’s being held up as a dire warning of what happens when a charlatan is allowed power.

It’s a pretty desperate state of affairs when you have to look at foreign media in order to find out just how shite your own government is. You’d almost imagine that the British media isn’t as great as it keeps telling us it is.  It has failed to hold the British Government to account, and failed to inform the British public of the true extent of Boris Johnson’s mishandling of this crisis.  Instead what we get is the insulting jingoism of the BBC giving us Sophie Raworth invoking the spirit of the Blitz.

Tens of thousands of lives have been lost due to the negligence of this British Government. It has failed to implement testing, tracing, and isolating and even now at this late stage the government is nowhere near meeting its targets for testing. It was slow to introduce lockdown measures and squandered the valuable lead that the UK had early on in the outbreak. It has failed to ensure that PPE is supplied to all those key workers who need it. It has politicised its scientific advice by including political appointees on its scientific panel and then compounded the error by refusing to reveal the “science” it claims to be following. The entirely predictable result is that the UK now has the highest death toll of anywhere in Europe, even when based upon the partial figures of the UK Government itself.

In trying to fend off criticism of the British Government’s appalling mishandling of this crisis, Yvonne Doyle, the Medical Director of Public Health England said at the briefing on Wednesday, “There are many different ways of looking at death.” And this is true. There’s looking at a dead body on a mortuary slab. There’s weeping as your loved one’s coffin is sent to a crematorium and you can’t attend due to lockdown. There’s dying alone and afraid in a care home because your family aren’t allowed to sit by your bedside.

We need an apology and government resignations. Not merely the resignations of minor ministers, we need the heads the British Government on a plate. Boris Johnson must go. He was unfortunate in suffering a severe reaction when he was infected and became seriously ill, but even before that he was missing in action. This is a Prime Minister who was far more interested in his complex personal life and in playing to the gallery of British exceptionalism than he was in doing his bloody job. There are 54,000 and rising reasons why Boris Johnson needs to go. The only thing that the British are exceptional for is the amount of pity and sorrow that they elicit from other countries as they gaze in horror at the British black comedy of covid. It’s almost as if they don’t accept any inherent British superiority.  Some pow’r has indeed gien us the gift to see ourselves as ithers see us, and it’s nothing that you’re going to see on the BBC.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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43 comments on “The British black comedy of Covid

  1. marconatrix says:

    Your opening here sums up Boris to a tee. Well said, but so tragic 😦

  2. darthtimon says:

    I can see Johnson being like Trump -a stubborn refusal to do the honourable thing and go. Unfortunately, even if he goes, we’ll still be stuck with the Tories as a whole.

  3. The Gillies says:

    The lunatics are well in charge now! When in god’s name will all of this come to an orderly end.I have just watched a tv programme on health workers. Get some of our so called leaders down there to see what the NHS are really up against.

  4. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Mr Jenrick is the Minister who moved with his family, from one of his residences in London to his estate in Herefordshire, which he said was his first home, despite the fact that his Facebook page stated that his home was in his constituency in Nottinghamshire. While he was at Hereford, he drove around 30 miles to deliver food to his elderly parents. All of these things were contrary to the guidelines set out . This was the week after Dr Calderwood had resigned after the media disclosed that she had made two visits to her holiday home. Mr Jenrick brushed aside any questions and the media simply left him alone. Yesterday, Professor Williamson resigned from SAGE because he had been visited twice at his home by a woman with whom he was having an affair.

    Yes, we are all in this together, are we not???????

  5. Chicmac says:

    And not just European opinion.

    https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/biggest-failure-in-a-generation-where-did-britain-go-wrong-20200428-p54o2d.html?fbclid=IwAR2wrqTNqScZpD_xAJLaaVN54OK2wDM0mhOYO2Up_NMkUU0xbGVffsnQuAg

    The only thing I would disagree with in your article is that it is not an apology which is required
    but an international tribunal.

  6. Legerwood says:

    Even in the midst of all of this the UK Gov still pursues its privatisation plans for NHS England. Contracts for Covid-19 testing and other related matters are handed out to non-NHS companies.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/may/04/uk-government-using-crisis-to-transfer-nhs-duties-to-private-sector

  7. Millsy says:

    The British Establishment will already be preparing the ground for the inevitable Public inquiry into all things Covid -19 .
    A preliminary list of possible chairpersons has been requested from Downing Street with several anonymous peers of the realm high on the bookies list of favourites to sign-off on the expected whitewash .
    A possible date for the Inquiry to begin has been pencilled in for 2027 with its final report due around 2035 !

  8. David Agnew says:

    They pursued herd immunity despite the projected death toll possibly being 20k+ plus because it was the cheapest option. This informed their decision to not buy in equipment. It informed their decision to not take advantage of a EU scheme they were signatories of. They reason they backed down, is that Boris fell ill. That put the fear into them. Seems a virus doesn’t care about snake oil bollocks like herd immunity, but it also doesn’t give a fuck how much money you have in the bank.

    They still tried to short change the NHS, because in the end a Tory is gonna Tory. They fobbed it off with wee badges instead of buying PPE equipment. New Zealand had 9 million face masks available, the UK is running short and folk are reduced to using snoods or paper towels. The British media should curl up and die in shame for the worthless cowards they are. While all this was happening they ran a vicious little hate campaign against the SNP. Andrew Neil had a frothing temper tantrum and talked a load of old cobblers about “national” unity. The US and the UK account for 50% of all the deaths this virus has caused and our media have spent more time gushing about Johnson and his new kid, than his many and grievous failings as PM. He and his worthless little band of crooks are to blame for every death that could have been avoided with proper planning.

    Don’t get me started about the UK Continuity Party in Scotland. You know the one, it pretends to be three separate parties, but they all worship at the altar of Boris. They have spent their time, demanding that we all kiss Boris Johnson’s arse like they have. All I can say is I hope they got at least a breath mint for all the ass kissing they have been doing, but knowing them, they probably did it for free.

    The UK was among the last in Europe to get hit. Despite ample warnings and time we had. Despite all our advantages in money, resources and infrastructure, we got hit hard. There are no mitigating factors that anyone can point to, that does not point right back at the UK government.

    We have been failed by that charlatan government in Westminster and we have been failed by the media who should have been calling them out, instead of giving them a free pass because of “national unity”.

    Its braw being “British” isn’t it?

  9. Macart says:

    That needed saying.

    Well said.

  10. Bob Lamont says:

    Indeed a timely piece, “..to see ourselves as ithers see us” has been AWOL the UK for some time, the “reality” conveyed by UK media has been diverging from the rest of the world for over 30 years, the Johnson circus merely amplified it of late.
    The clearest manifestation of “British exceptionalism” (beyond the obvious shambles) has been the ease with which “truth” has been manipulated for British public consumption. When the “message” is all that matters, “trust” is down a cul-de-sac with no space to turn, and more lies piling in behind as that is all the manipulators know.
    While England comes to terms with it’s cul-de-sac reality, once wavering Scots are finally seeing the by-pass ahead with increasing clarity.

  11. Tatu3 says:

    Still no word from Petra? Hope she is ok

  12. Welsh Sion says:

    Hope you don’t mind a re-post but this is probably more relevant here. Thanks, WGD.

    Devastating video compares everything Jacinda Ardern got right with what Boris Johnson got wrong

    https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/devastating-video-compares-everything-jacinda-ardern-got-right-with-what-boris-johnson-got-wrong/ar-BB13GrdD?ocid=spartanntp

    Go the Kiwis!

  13. jim says:

    And just to add to the comedy of errors of this incompetent government.
    The much hailed mountain of PPE from Turkey is useless.
    They’re now looking for a refund whilst hospitals will be out of PPE in days.

    • Legerwood says:

      Did they ever get the full amount? I know one plane load eventually arrived but did not hear anything about the other 3 plane loads that should have been dispatched to make up the full order – or what was claimed to be the full order.

    • Welsh Sion says:

      On top of that, as if to rub salt in the wound, I’d guess that the EU PPE that they refused would have satisfied UK standards.

      Black comedy re-written as farce and tragedy.

      And the hypocrites will be out tonight, once more, ‘clapping our heroes’.

      To use the Scots vernacular, it really does make you boak.

  14. Dr Jim says:

    Where there is discord may we bring even more of it

    That seems to be the motto of the British and certainly the Scottish media as they wotk frantically this week to drive the thick end of the wedge between the UK and Scottish governments only to give themselves their next phase of reporting which is how dare they be the same or indeed how dare they be different from each other, and if they are why are they, because we the media in Scotland have been working our little cotton socks off so we can get the Nicola Sturgeon is only being different for political reasons OR Nicola Sturgeon is the poodle of Boris Johnson story out there to sew confusion to the enemy, which is us, the thick punter electorate who for the most part don’t even buy their newspapers anymore anyway for this very reason, but that’ll never stop them trying

    Either way the media both North and South of our Tory non existent border must be fed after they’ve created a food shortage, of *news* that is, and the trouble with the way the news media operates in England is that number Ten Downing Street uses the media as its information transmitter before it discusses anything with the other governments in the UK but the Scottish government doesn’t do that, so in Scotland the media is forced to invent two stories, one in favour and one against so that when either becomes fact they can complain about the other not being fact, or implemented, or promised, or scrapped, or u-turned on, all phrases in daily use by our stalwarts and scribblers of the media in Scotland

    Every day the BBC in Scotland surround the FMs daily briefing on the Corona virus Pandemic with adverts by the failing BBC channel 9s presenters urging us to tune in to *even more of our *journalism* in a desperate attempt to convince us that this *new* Scottish channel is more betterer than the other BBC Scotlandy channel is because it’s more Scottishy, and you know, see if it really was more wonderfuller and truthier than the normal BBC Scotland news one questions what was wrong with the original BBC Scotland that a new channel had to be invented to have to be as they say it is, (was the other one lying to us) and by doing that aren’t they admitting that they were shite in the first place so why on earth should they be any different now when their presenters,( the same people btw) their stories and the way they report them are so similar you couldn’t wedge a bank card in between them

    May we bring a total lack of harmony should be the other half of the media’s motto

  15. Julia Gibb says:

    ..and yet he is still very popular in England! He remains a hero to the Brexit voters of the South.

    Why…….??

  16. Wee Chid says:

    Even the critical press keeps defending this govt by stating that this is incompetence. It’s not – it’s deliberate culling of the vulnerable in order to reduce the welfare budget. It’s ironic that so many of his supporters will be out on Friday, with their wee butcher’s aprons, celbrating the deafeat of a genocidal, mass murdering dictator.

  17. One thing that PMQs has shown is how unfit for purpose the HofC is. The shouting, braying, cat calling etc. that goes on in that chamber is embarrassing for a legislature. Compare its proceedings to those of the SG if you want to see how adults behave.

  18. bringiton says:

    The London treasury announces that the cost of supporting out of work people is now the same as England’s NHS.
    Johnson then announces that people must be allowed to go back to work.
    Should Scotland not follow his orders,the London treasury will cut off our money.
    That’s how democracy works in Britain.

    • Robert Harrison says:

      Trying to paint democracy as tyranny execpt no less from England best thing we can do is go independent and wacth them sink as the supremacists down there tear there nation apart once Westminster blows there heads of with the truth that they needed Scotland all along

      • Robert Harrison says:

        Sorry got tyranny and democracy the wrong way around there supposed to say painting tyranny as democracy.

  19. Hamish100 says:

    To the poor construction worker raising concerns on BBC Call Kaye this morning over safety on construction sites down south where distancing rules are being flouted, cramped social welfare facilities are in use you have my sympathy.

    The lady on after you stated that Yorkshire and Scotland are the same ( they are not of course, even down to R numbers) and we should do as we are told by Johnson’s mob. The classic comment was that he was probably a “ Scottish Nationalist”! You could almost hear the condescension as you spoke those words. The lady appeared to be elderly and awfully polite (despite her venom).

    Don’t wish her any harm but if she ends up in hospital maybe she should sign a disclosure that she does not want to be treated by a “Scottish Nationalist “ type of person. No doubt she would add other types of person not to treat her.

    Does prove that the glory days of education last century missed out prejudice and the Scottish cringe.

  20. Dr Jim says:

    Unfortunately we have people in Scotland who don’t seem to understand that Scotland’s where they live, we hear this morning on the phone in Call Kaye programme on the BBC Radio Scotland that those people are have and will be be ignoring the Scottish government advice because Boris Johnson hints through the use of his newspapers that he wants to do something dofferent and ease up the lockdown in a more dramatic fashion than here in Scotland even though in public he says the opposite

    We all understand the political situation in Scotland, it’s us and them, but the problem for the *us* part of that is that *them* are and have caused the problem by being thunderously stupid in equating their and our possible deaths or someone in our family over which political belief or who you vote for

    When you go out and catch Corona virus and either die or you infect others so that they die, the politics of one country or another or who you support don’t count anymore because you’ll be dead or you’ll kill someone else over a favourite politician who lives in another country far away and makes decisions based on that country and its voting potential to vote him back into office next time round

    No UK political party depends on Scotlands votes to get elected, the last time Scotlands votes counted in such elections was 1955 and even that was a fluke

    There isn’t a Union and there never has been, what we have is ownership of our country by another and whether the Unionists believe it or like it not it’s because Scotland is wealthy and we have the situation of being strategically useful for the military convenience of Englands desire to extend its own invented power

    They don’t love us the people and they don’t need us the people, they need our land and sea and the wealth it contains, if half of Scotlands population drop dead tomorrow afternoon it’ll make no difference whatsoever to who’s elected to the English houses of parliament in England, because that’s how it works

    For goodness sake Unionists Boris Johnson nor any English politician in the history of the world gives a shit about you, the need for your existence is only in your own imagination

    There are probably more people in England who don’t even know where Scotland is and couldn’t care less if they did, than there are Scots in Scotland

    Ask the families of those who have lost loved ones what they think should be done and you’ll have your answer, or just do what the hell you like and come back to us when it happens to you or your family

    Which of course will be too late because you might’ve killed me as well by then

  21. seorsa70 says:

    It says a lot when the foreign media can see the truth, they can report the facts, yet our own media hide their heads in the sand. They have failed the people to report the actual failings of the Shitish government, and the complacency of Boris the butcher and his incompetent ministers.

    This article highlights the truths from around the globe, how the outside world perceives an inept and irresponsible government. It proves that the CONservatives are incapable of running this country, that lies and greed are the main focus of it’s party policy.

    Scotland must decide, and decide soon if it is to leave this comedy of a union, and distance itself from a government hell bent on destruction.

    I know what I want for my country, but how many others will finally open their eyes to the truth ? see the light, and acknowledge that Independence IS the only true alternative to this crumbling union ?

  22. Welsh Sion says:

    I often follow David Packman on YouTube who broadcasts and writes in similar fashion to WGD from an American perspective. I’d highly recommend anyone else ‘here’ to listen to his commentaries, too.

    Yesterday, David produced a graphic in relation to coronavirus testing per capital.

    2nd place went to Iceland – 150 465 tests per 1 000 000
    […]
    41st place went to USA – 23,347 tests per 1 000 000
    […]
    43rd place went to UK – 20 385 tests per 1 000 000

    WTF? We’re even worse than the b—-y Americans! (Apologies for the ‘we’ by association – but ain’t ‘we’ all in this together?)

    The Prime Minister is mooting some sort of easing of the lockdown, cheered on by a baying mob of MSM lackeys and sychophants, and he hails the ‘success’ of Government policy. And he intends this, as Legerwood has pointed out, and Blackford and (possibly) Drakeford have intimated, without spelling it out – without any discussion with the elected representatives and First Ministers of the other countries within this Disunited Kingdumb.

    The Packman clip is here:

    with the graphic @ 4.35.

    Excuse me while I have another boak.

  23. Margaret McAuslan says:

    the dancing in the street video was brilliant, I laughed out loud. Job done Paul, fair cheered me up. Thank you.

  24. Dr Jim says:

    The Department of Trade and Industry has been instructed by the UK government not to assist Scotland in its search for the procurement of PPE abroad

    Jeanne Freeman has just announced this and has requested explanations from the UK Guv as to why Scotland is being obstructed in this matter

    Lots of things to say about that and you all know what they are

    • Dave tewart says:

      Over to the so called media we can trust.
      EBC,nothing butt ba will resume flying to holiday destinations.the doris says.
      Sky,picnics and runs out to the beach.
      You just get the feeling that london’s ok so the rest will ust have to accept the doris is in charge.
      He’s won the European cup for killing off the elderly,now in the World Cup final against the USA.

  25. Arthur Thomson says:

    In fifteen minutes Nicola will be back in the bear pit. I hope she can feel that she has the support of me and many thousands of other Scots.

    Hold our ground Nicola.

  26. Arthur Thomson says:

    The FM was on the ball again. Firm but diplomatic in dealing with countless questions along the lines of “what are you going to do when Westminster overrules you ..haha?”

    Storm clouds overhead in the good old yookay.

    • Bob Lamont says:

      Agreed – Noted the Sir Hugh Pennington card being played again also, a 70+ year old die-hard unionist and bacteriologist contradicting not just the advisers to the FM over a “second-wave” but almost every epidemiologist and virologist on the planet…
      It must be bad enough having to answer repeat questions from the usual suspects, but having to play this stupid game being orchestrated by #10 via press leaks must be truly sickening…

      • Fable says:

        I have very real reason to dislike doctor death due to a family death.. terrible man with no thought to others or the heartbreak he caused .. I for one know he never probably gives a thought about the trouble his so called statements cause

  27. Mark Russell says:

    Criminal negligence laid bare.

  28. Dr Jim says:

    Gordon Brown declares Independence for Scotland on SKY news as he talks about Nicola Sturgeons responsibilities to tackle Covid 19 in Scotland and Boris Johnsons responsibilities as he tackles the virus in the UK , he didn’t say the rest of, just the UK, nice of him though

    Ex Prime Monister Brown must be a doctor as well because he thinks once everybody everywhere is tested they can all go back to work the next day, clunky old Gordon hasn’t quite grasped the issue or he didn’t read all the bits of paper somebody researched for him to read out on SKY news

    Or perhaps he’s only appeared because he’s launched a new think tank into constitutional politics
    Gosh I bet nobody would’ve thought he might have an ulterior motive for wading in again

  29. Patty says:

    Unexpectedly delighted to see you quoting El Observador Uruguay with reference to the mismanagement of Coronavirus in UK. Uruguay has had a seemingly successful response to containing Covid19. A business woman arrived in Montevideo from Italy (at the height of the Italian crisis), to attend a wedding. She wasn’t feeling too good, but it was a high society wedding and she had a new frock to show off, so she went to the Wedding, and as you do in Uruguay, you kiss everyone. 5 people were infected with Coronavirus from that event alone. With 5 cases, LLPou’s government decided that the integrated and public health systems could not cope with a crisis, so they locked down, shielded the vulnerable, shut every non essential service down, closed the borders, stopped international flights and now, so many months in, can report 19 deaths. And that is in spite of mad neighbours like Bolsonaro, and a very wobbly Argentina. Its’ been a very tough start to LLP’s term in office, and he is subject to much criticism from the outgoing Frente Amplio. I think the jury is out for him, but so far, I know where I would rather be. Oh that the Tory Government in this country were to have just a bit of their humility. I am so proud of my country, and feel honoured that you were able to find good things to say about El Observador reporting. Gracias.

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