As the Covid lock-down restrictions continue unabated; with Government promises regarding easing of restrictions broken and no certainty as to whether the Government will actually ease these restrictions in July, small wonder that many members of the public and staunch Conservative Party members are re-assessing their commitment to the Party.
Although not written on ‘tablets of stone,’ the public quite rightly expected Covid restrictions to be lifted in England on 21st June, 2021 instead of which they have been delayed by another four weeks; taking us into the middle of July.
Not only has this severely impacted upon the millions of people who had planned to travel abroad for their summer holidays; with ludicrous quarantine restrictions (unenforceable practically) suddenly imposed upon tourists returning from Portugal (meanwhile, it was this Government that allowed Indian citizens to travel to India and then return into the UK totally unchecked – some already infected with the Indian strain of the Covid virus – totally free to mix within the community), but anyone reading the financial pages of a newspaper will be in no doubt as to the financial impact on businesses, and the national economy, of this postponement of the easing of Covid restrictions.
We have an airline industry which is close to total collapse and a live entertainment sector near to extinction. Cafes and restaurants (thousands of which have already been forced to close) were just beginning to re-open and their summer trade is now in disarray as the current restrictions are basically more than halving the number of customers they may accommodate on their premises. The list goes on and on: with sporting events affected; outside festivals; weddings (many now contemplating further postponements), church services severely restricted…
Meanwhile, divorced from economic reality, we have a Chancellor whom it would appear, has his own personal printing press allowing him to throw money in every direction – many people on furlough haven’t worked for nearly eighteen months – some even saying they don’t want to return to work – I suppose you wouldn’t if you have become accustomed to a life of leisure and loafing around meanwhile the state is paying you to enjoy this lifestyle.
The economic state of this country’s finances in relation to Covid was highlighted graphically by Mr. Mark Littlewood the Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs when appearing on GB News TV channel.
Mr. Littlewood, who has previously been a guest speaker at a Monday Club Dinner, highlighted the fact that the British Government last had a monetary surplus in 2002. Since then, the annual deficit has been racketing up by trillions of pounds. The impact of this being that if a government has a surplus; it can possibly cope with the extreme financial pressure caused by Covid. Unfortunately, this government does not enjoy that luxury borrowing money with the result that only severely increasing taxes will go any way towards reducing this debt.
Not only is the country under severe financial strain in respect of provision of current and future public services, e.g. three million patients still unable to receive treatment for cancer cases and other injuries, but many have become depressed and unable to see any return to ‘normal life.’
It is significant that the daily viewing figures for prime-time television news broadcasts have fallen dramatically. Initially, when Covid restrictions were imposed, the population watched television and were warned in no uncertain terms by the Prime Minister and chief medical advisors of the dangers of the transmission of the Covid virus and the stringent precautions that must be adhered to. The vast majority of the population, being warned that hundreds of thousands of subjects would perish, complied. They were bombarded by a mass Government orchestrated advertising campaign, again warning of the dire consequences of failure to adhere to the rules.
Eighteen months later, if you bother to watch the evening news on television, the same mantra is displayed in the form of warnings regarding social distancing and the difference between the rules relating to Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland – despite the fact that we have a very successful vaccine programme. The same presenter or one of the Chief Medical Officers will refer the viewers to a graph which is only discernible if you are in the studio as the text is too small and after thirty seconds of monotone recital by the presenter is incomprehensible. That of course, is for any viewers who have not already switched the television set off.
It would be fair to say, that a large majority of the population are at breaking point – can you blame them. They have had Government promises broken; holidays cancelled, their own Conservative Members of Parliament openly defying the Party by voting against them in the Commons; as 60 of them did on 16th June, 2021, when the motion to delay easing of lockdown for another four weeks was debated.
One of many Conservative dissidents, Sir Edward Leigh MP (Gainsborough), decreed the Governments’ behaviour (Re. the delay) as “…a moral threat to the future of the Conservatives. There’s been too much shifting of the goal posts. There’s real danger that the public will increasingly ignore this. The Government will be government of the emperor without clothes.”
He was joined by Mr Tim Loughton MP (East Worthing & Shoreham). He stood and said, “I’m done with making excuses to my constituents for when their lives might just get back to some degree of normality.”
Mr Richard Drax MP (South Dorset), joined in the onslaught, saying, “What on earth is happening to our country? Muzzled, acquiescent and fearful.
Personally, I’m not surprised the nation has been beaten into submission, when day after day, hour after hour, we’re deluged with dire warnings of doom and gloom by Government advisors of one kind or another.”
One such former senior Government advisor – Mr Dominic Cummings; The Prime Minister’s former henchman or ‘Thomas Cromwell II,’ in his latest blog when he attacked the Prime Minister alleged, “Unlike other PM’s he does not want to go on and on in power. He has a clear plan to leave, at the latest two years after the next election – he wants to make money and have fun, not go on and on.”
I well remember, just after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, a very well respected member of the Conservative Monday Club saying to me that The Prime Minister doesn’t want to do the job. He merely wanted to prove that he could become Prime Minster – get Brexit done and leave.
What I believe is certain is that his handling of the Covid crisis or as the Americans would put it, his ability as the Commander in Chief, has gradually become shambolic. Many people struggle to trust anything that he says and their patience is wearing very thin to say the least.
If, for whatever reason, the Government reneges on the proposed next lifting of lock- down restrictions in July, then they only have themselves to blame if certain sectors of the population turn to civil disobedience (not in any way advocating this but it may be inevitable).
One only has to observe the scenes at Brighton and Bournemouth beaches during the last period of hot weather. There was absolutely no social distancing – it was impossible anyway, as the people on the beaches were packed together like sardines. They had been cooped up for long enough and this may well be a foretaste for the remainder of the summer.
This was highlighted by a photograph in the Daily Mail on 16th June, 2021 which depicts members attending Royal Ascot without wearing masks.
As Lord Digby Jones, former CBI Director General and Trade Minister expressed it so well when writing in the same publication on 17/06/2021, “We have to learn to live with Covid. So called Zero Covid is simply not an option. New variants will continue to reach our shores, for a long to time to come, maybe forever.
As a boy I would ask mum, who was 96 when she died, how she got through the bombing in Birmingham during the Blitz. She said: “We just got on with it, dear.”
“That is what we have to do today. Because if we do not, we are doomed to a fearful future in an inward looking society without the prospect of prosperity or joy.”
Hands, Face, Disgrace
For the past fifteen months the now former Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has made appeals to the public to adhere to Covid regulations which so deeply impacted upon their lives that they were, in many cases unable to visit dying relatives; see loved ones in care homes and numerous other unprecedented social restrictions never before imposed upon a nation during peacetime.
Meanwhile, as has now been widely publicised, the same Health Secretary was conducting an illicit affair with one of his female assistants, who was also an old girlfriend – this behaviour was supposedly unknown to the Prime Minister but apparently common knowledge to many within Whitehall. He also broke the Covid regulations that he had imposed upon the nation; one rule for me, and another for the rest of us.
After this affair and the Health Secretary’s total disregard for the Covid regulations had appeared in the national press, his boss, the Prime Minister, said at 1.00pm on Friday 25th June, 2021; “I have full confidence in Mr Hancock.” He had accepted an apology given by the Health Secretary and “…considers the matter closed.”
A snap opinion poll showed that a majority of the nation believed that the Health Secretary should have been dismissed from his post. It now transpires that some members of the Cabinet had stated that they would be unable to publicly support Mr Hancock and this was also expressed by Conservative Associations throughout the country.
Only the next day (Saturday 26th June), Mr Hancock resigned. Watching him interviewed on Sky TV was more a political speech about the ‘great work’ that he had done for the nation than any form of sincere apology.
After receiving Mr Hancock’s letter of resignation, the Prime Minister continued to lord the glorious work done by Mr Hancock saying; “That he was sorry to receive his resignation and that he (the Health Secretary) can be immensely proud of his record…his contribution to public service is far from over.”
The sorry Watergate style cover up continued unabated when on Monday 28th June, the Prime Minister was asked whether Mr Hancock’s conduct risked undermining confidence in lockdown rules, he replied; “That’s right. And that’s why, when I saw the story on Friday, we had a new Secretary of State on Saturday.”
Yet, as we know, on Friday, after Mr Hancock had supposedly apologised, the Prime Minister said that the matter was closed and he had every confidence in his Health Secretary.
As Richard Littlejohn wrote in the Daily Mail on 29th June, if ministers won’t respect the rules, why should anyone else?
He further questioned that if the Prime Minister had allegedly known about Mr Hancock’s affair for months, the truth will come out and that his own position will start to look untenable.
As I wrote earlier in this article, there are parts of the electorate which now have very little confidence in the Conservative Party. During the Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon Administration in America, one press caption with a picture of the President questioned?, “Would you buy a second hand car from this man?”
Nixon also made a television address to the nation when he stared at the camera and said, “I am not a crook.’ He was eventually forced to resign to prevent him being impeached by Congress.
As Richard Littlejohn wrote about the Prime Minister, “Playing the fool is one thing, taking the rest of us for fools quite another. Was this the weekend he started to run out of road.”