I’m supposed to be on a Twitter break this summer; but every weekend I check to see what the big stories are and I am constantly surprised by how relentless the sheer incompetence, gob-smacking corruption and cavalier wrongdoing of our government is. ‘Flooding the zone’ (with bullsh*t) is a well-known Trumpian tactic to wear down the decent elements of society and distract us, by forcing us to fight fires on all fronts while politicians use the chaos to commit sackable, even criminal offences. This week has left me reeling. How are there still people out there who cannot see that Boris Johnson is the worst thing that has ever happened to this country?
Jun 27: Top Secret files at a Kent bus stop
With the celebration of Armed Forces Week barely disappearing from our social media timelines, news broke that 50 pages of top-secret documents about British naval movements in Ukrainian waters – and the anticipated Russian response – had been found at a bus stop in Kent. Hard not to make a quip about buses and the entire country being thrown under a red one by our hapless prime minister. This stuff almost writes itself.
The Ministry of Defence was aware of the loss, since the staff member responsible had reported it. Having been rained on, the papers were a soggy mess, but apparently still legible. It all feels part of a pattern of carelessness highlighted in the Russia Report. Prepared in March 2019, its release was delayed by Boris Johnson until July 2020 and its recommendations still not implemented almost a year on.
Jun 28: Breath-taking hypocrisy
It is terribly sad for our country that it was a sex scandal that led to Hancock’s downfall in the end. He had to go because he was deemed to have broken social distancing rules by conducting an affair with his aide, rather than because he used taxpayer funds to hire her to be near him, or because he bunged members of her family and his own lucrative PPE contracts, or indeed for mismanagement of Covid-19 that led to excess deaths, particularly in care homes.
We will not have heard the last of Matt Hancock, because the Tories intend to make of him a scapegoat on which to pin all the government’s failings in handling the pandemic, and more besides. They are already blaming him for losing the Batley and Spen by-election, which they thought was assured, thanks to carpet-bagger George Galloway stealing some of Labour’s votes with his outrageous lies and false promises.
At this point in time, however, what stands out is Johnson’s staggering hypocrisy. The day before Hancock resigned the PM told the world that his Health Minister had his full confidence, and as far as he was concerned, the case was closed. Only those in the Westminster Bubble were interested, he claimed. By Monday he was boasting about how quickly he had replaced Hancock and suggesting he had fired him.
He should have done, but he did not, just as he failed to sack Jenrick for corruption, Williamson for incompetence and Patel for her ever-lengthening rap-sheet — breaking the ministerial code, bullying, losing 400,000 criminal records, interfering in awards of PPE contracts, abusing her powers in policing protests, the Napier Barracks scandal and failing to close our borders in a pandemic.
Jun 29: Refusing to extend the EUSS deadline
By the end of the day, everyone who had been fighting for an extension to the deadline for EU citizens to apply for Settled Status — including this publication — knew that they had lost, and 30 June would mark the end of the scheme. It was another Windrush Scandal in the making.
To take just two examples, Germany and France have extended their respective deadlines. All our government ministers had to say for themselves was that 5.6 million people had already applied. Yes, you numpties! That’s because you made the scheme applicable to ALL citizens of what are now EU countries, even if they arrived before Freedom of Movement came into force in the 1990s, and even before the EU and its ancestral institutions were set up. The government’s nauseating awareness campaign was too little, too late. Future generations will look back on making this an application rather than a registration process, and then being inflexible about deadlines, as a shameful episode.
It tends to be the highly vulnerable who have not yet applied. Octogenarians who have lived here, loved here, worked here, built businesses and nurtured generations of their families here, may think it does not apply to them, especially after Vote Leave’s promises. What government would make you apply to stay in your own home? Parents who have settled status mistakenly think it does not apply their children. What government would make children under the age of 18 apply for a legal status? As to children in care, that has been a known weakness in the system for years, but the government has failed to properly address the issue, or to show an iota of compassion.
Jun 30: Forever blowing the Westminster bubble
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Keir Starmer went in hard on the PM’s hypocrisy regarding Hancock. Had he resigned, or had he been fired? If he had been fired, why had the likes of Jenrick, Cummings and Patel not been fired? (Starmer forgot to add Williamson to that list.) Starmer told the story of Ollie Bibby who died of leukaemia a day before Hancock was caught on camera in that clinch. He begged to be able to see his family, but under covid restrictions visiting rights were severely limited. Imagine his family’s disgust seeing that video after they had followed the rules to the letter. Angry doesn’t even come close.
What comforting words did Johnson have for this grieving family?
It was just a Westminster bubble story, he said, giving voice to the Comms department’s wishful thinking. You could hear the f-bomb being dropped in sheer amazement in offices, cafés and living rooms all over the country as he let slip that particular piece of insensitivity. ‘Westminster bubble’ is his favourite excuse of late, but it is wearing thin with the public.
Never fear, ‘The Saj’ is here. Just as Javid ‘fixed’ the Windrush scandal by making victims sign non-disclosure agreements so that their stories stayed out of the papers, so he has sorted the video leak by removing the camera. It has served its purpose. I wonder if Michael Gove is having a snifter as he waits to see what choice piece of video footage Rupert Murdoch will release to humiliate him?
July 1: Cosplay at Nissan
The PM does like to dress up, doesn’t he? He looks an absolute prat most of the time, but ritual humiliation appears to be part of the fun for Johnson. This week he had a go at pretending to be a Nissan engineer. It only cost the taxpayer £120 million. What a bargain! The way these Tories throw our money around, no Tory MP should ever be able to criticise any MP from any other party on that score ever again — but they will, because so many of them are hypocrites.
Nissan is, of course, being plugged as a Brexit success story. See! They stayed, despite all the inconveniences of the barriers to trade, tariffs and what-not. OK, so we had to bribe them with that £120 million. Employees of Honda in Swindon and Ford in Bridgend haven’t been quite so lucky, and it looks like that pro-Brexit Minford fellow was right when he said Brexit would mostly destroy British manufacturing, but that’s no reason to be a ‘glass is half empty’ sort of person. What? What’s that you say? Why wasn’t Johnson willing to spend that much to save our steel industry? Let me talk to you about our successful vaccine programme…
July 2: Division of Germany
How many heads thumped tables, desks or walls when Boris Johnson asked Angela Merkel to imagine Germany being divided? The crassness of the man. To ask a woman born in East Germany to imagine her now united country divided, with all the pain she witnessed when East and West Germany were two separate states. It would be unbelievable in the script for a comedy about political impostor. How is it that Johnson constantly manages to behave in a way that is stranger and infinitely more excruciating than anything we might come across in fiction?
It is as if he is blissfully unaware that his hero, Winston Churchill, had anything at all to do with dividing Germany after the second world war. He seems also to have missed one of the greatest moments in living memory when the Berlin Wall came down. How much longer must we suffer this malevolent version of Forrest Gump as our prime minister?
July 3 Pretending to like Football
For a man who professes not to like gesture politics, Boris Johnson certainly pulls a lot of stunts. This week’s offering was standing on a massive St George’s flag — courtesy of Nationwide Building Society — outside N°10 Downing Street, pretending to like football. And (some) people lapped it up!
Always prepared to bask in the glory of others (see the NHS and the vaccine roll-out), Boris Johnson will be insufferable if England go on to win the European Championship. Such open partiality to one home nation will hardly further the cause of unionism. The Electoral Commission (EC) has said it would consider a request from the Scottish Government to hold a referendum, even if the Westminster government were to refuse to approve one.
Johnson has already announced plans to enfeeble the EC after it dared to investigate improper donations to finance Carrie-Antoinette’s exorbitant tastes in interior design. Seeing as he is capable of bearing epic grudges, it won’t be long before the PM dismantles the EC altogether.
Look out! Falling into dictatorship will be the ultimate humiliation for the UK, yet it seems that this is Johnson’s objective. Think I’m crazy? Read the signs…