Unpredictable

It would have been great to be able to say that the result of today’s questioning of Boris Johnson by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee today was unpredictable, but sadly it all went exactly as expected.

Boris still insists that everything dodgy that happened in Downing Street during the Covid lock-downs (causing over 100 fixed penalty notices for breaches of Covid regulations to be served by police on No 10 staff, including himself and the current PM) was completely acceptable and met all the guidelines, because of two oft-repeated reasons.

One, all the rules and guidelines at the time stated clearly that social distancing should be followed at work ‘wherever possible’ and in Downing Street due to the age of the building and general working practices it was not possible, therefore didn’t always happen but that was OK, so he was quite right to say to Parliament that all rules and guidance had been followed.

And two, non-socially-distant farewell drinks for staff leaving their posts were absolutely permissible larger group events as (according to Boris) they came under the the remit of a ‘necessary work event’, so again he was perfectly correct in reassuring Parliament that all Covid rules and guidance had been followed.

Also, Boris had repeatedly assured Parliament that he himself had been assured repeatedly that all was above board and nothing dodgy had gone on, but when asked exactly who had given this assurance it turned out not to be well-informed lawyers or even senior civil servants as one might expect, but his own personally appointed political aides.

Hmmm…The gentleman doth protest too much, methinksā€¦

Boris certainly came across as rattled, belligerent almost to the point of rudeness to the committee, and was supremely arrogant in his attitude. He still doesn’t understand why he was given a fixed penalty notice in the first place, so he’s sticking to his ‘how-dare-you/ hard-done-by’ story and as far as he’s concerned he’s totally innocent and that’s that…

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Unpredictable

Advertisement

Striking the Wrong Note

I’m currently watching Prime Minister’s Questions live on TV, and yet again I find myself shouting at the TV as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak yet again comments disparagingly on what he sees as the problematic power of the Trade Unions.

He talks about the Trade Unions (and their individual members currently striking across many different professions) in direct opposition to the members of the public, effectively ‘othering’ a huge sub-section of people and undermining their right to fight for a financially manageable existence.

And yet who actually uses these striking public services daily – currently NHS nurses, ambulance drivers, train drivers, state school teachers? Oh, that’s right – NHS workers, public transport workers, and teachers, all of whom are genuine members of the public being disadvantaged by the strikes.

But who is not affected by these strikes? People with private healthcare, who send their children to private schools, who drive cars (or have cars driven for them). People like many MPs, especially people like our very rich Prime Minister. So inevitably I end up screaming angrily at the TV:

‘Trade Union members are members of the public too, you privileged idiot!’

One Liner Wednesday

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

So tomorrow we find out who will be the new Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, replacing Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

The selection process has been carried out over the last few months, first by Tory MPs deciding on which two candidates they preferred to go forward, and then all registered members of the Tory party voting for whichever of those two remaining candidates they wish to take over the job.

Sadly the rest of the electorate have no say in the matter.

I’m delighted that Boris will no longer be Prime Minister but I’m not too keen on either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, so it doesn’t really make too much difference to me who wins – it’s still going to be another Tory, not my party of choice regardless of who the leader may be.

One way or another I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place… Roll on the next General Election…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Selection

Send in the Clown…

If I can use some artistic licence with Stephen Sondheim’s song lyrics from ‘A Little Night Music’ I feel that today’s resignation news of the UK’s Prime Minister is a clear case of ‘Send in the clown… Don’t bother, he’s here…’

In his resignation speech to the nation, instead of acknowledging and accepting that he was caught lying to parliament and the people once too often, Boris Johnson instead blamed the herd instincts of Conservative MPs for forcing him out of office. Not once did this arrogant delusional man waver from that stance in any way, maintaining his absolute insistence that the situation he finds himself in is the fault of everyone but himself.

However much Boris seems to want to style himself on Trump, we do not have a Presidential but a first-part-the-post Parliamentary democracy here in the UK. The ruling party, via an accumulation of individual constituency MPs gaining seats, is voted in to power during a General Election. The chosen leader of that party automatically becomes Prime Minister, and no one single person is ever indispensable. The party leader can be changed within the term of that Parliament without triggering a new General Election.

The self-styled Wannabe World King has finally been deposed, cornered in a check-mate style move by his former supporters, and not before time. But unlike most of his Prime Ministerial predecessors who found themselves in similar situations in the past, Boris seems unable to understand why this has happened on his watch, and so seems unable to behave with the dignity and integrity the position deserves.

In my opinion he’s become an embarrassing liability to our political landscape, and he needs to be gone from Downing Street now, not in the autumn, to prevent this ridiculous circus act currently playing out in and around the House of Commons from continuing any longer.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Waver

Word of the Day: Clown

Big Dog Boris

Big Dog Boris reminds me of Trump
One more arrogant deluded chump
Caught in too many lies
Time to say his goodbyes
Will he wait to be pushed? Will he jump?

PMQs: Tories Hit the Blues

Today in the House of Commons the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer stood at the dispatch box and questioned the ever-growing number of Tory Government resignations since yesterday, asking ‘Isn’t this the first recorded case of sinking ships leaving the rat?’.

He then went on to refer to the hurriedly re-shuffled Cabinet as ‘The charge of the light-weight brigade‘ which even had a few front-bench Tories smirking…

One Liner Wednesday

Today in (Melt)Downing Street…

If it was a soap opera people would be dismissive, saying the ongoing story-line was too far-fetched and that this could never happen in real life… Except the whole sorry saga that has been dubbed ‘Party-gate’ by the British media is unfortunately all too real. And the more Conservative MPs who stand there in the lobby outside the House of Commons telling us ‘Move along please, nothing to see here’ the more I feel this Tory party doth protest too much…

I mean, there is a current police investigation into several potentially illegal social gatherings (whether or not they were full-blown ‘parties’ is a bit of a red herring) held in Government premises over lock-down, including some attended by the Prime Minister himself, who clearly stated at the House of Commons dispatch box that no parties had ever taken place… Then he stated he had been assured if parties had taken place all Covid restrictions were followed… Then he stated he hadn’t realised the social gathering he attended had actually been a party… Oh well, I guess that’s OK then!

And his latest mumbled defence in a live TV interview was that no-one had told him what the rules were… yet these were HIS rules, that HIS government had set… Even the Prime Minister’s Conservative predecessor Theresa May publicly questioned his stance on the whole debacle – was it that the PM didn’t understand the rules and restrictions regarding social gatherings, she asked from the back benches, or that he thought he was above the law and therefore exempt? I’m paraphrasing here, of course, but that was the main substance of her barbed question.

The promised investigation and report compiled by a senior civil servant, hailed by some Tories as proof of no wrong-doing, had already been forced pre-publication (through police request) to become little more than a pointless paperwork exercise, reduced from being a potential fireworks display to being a bit of a damp squib. Hopefully some day we’ll eventually have sight of the full report, unadulterated and unredacted. Probably only after the police investigation has concluded, with whatever consequences follow on from that, if any. And maybe then there will be enough distrust and disquiet within the Tory party to foster a flurry of letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister to the 1922 committee? Or maybe not?

Even five backroom resignations from Downing Street advisors yesterday and today are being played down, interpreted as an integral part of Boris Johnson’s great reshuffle rather than rats leaving a sinking ship… Honestly, Boris, as the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer so aptly put in Parliament last week, ‘the party’s over’ – you may have spent your childhood dreaming of being World King but right now you’re looking more like the class clown. And as the SNP leader in Westminster Ian Blackford commented on the same day, ‘Operation Red Meat’ (the current Tory plan to turn around Boris Johnson’s failing political fortunes) looks more like ‘Operation Dog’s Dinner’ – and presumably he didn’t mean Winalot!

As a parting comment on this rambling political rant, I was watching Levelling-Up Minister Michael Gove being interviewed on TV by Channel 4’s Cathy Newman the other day outside on Westminster Green, and there was the usual stalwart protestor standing behind, moving around to keep in shot while holding up two red placards. One read ‘Tory lies cost lives’ and the other read ‘Get your Johnson out of our democracy’ – what a clever play on words, referring to the slang term for… um… shall we say a not-so-honourable member (cough, cough)!

PS The title for my post comes courtesy of my husband, who used the term (Melt)Downing Street this morning after listening to the latest news on the radio over breakfast – I really couldn’t let that one pass unrecorded for posterity, could I? šŸ™‚

Who Indeed…

Who remembers the poor bloke from Hove who went on a sales conference in Singapore last January 2020, then went on a short ski-ing trip with his family in France, then flew home to the UK in early February and went to the pub, as you do, all before realising that while at the conference he had been in contact with a delegate from Wuhan, China…? So for two weeks he had just been getting on with his life, totally oblivious to the fact that he had been infected with Covid 19 and was inadvertently passing it on to others through his normal everyday social contact.

Remember this was all pre-lock-down, pre-pandemic – in fact pre- pretty much any understanding of the significance of the devastation this particular deadly coronavirus would have on the world. The papers all jumped on the story at the time and rather cruelly named him a ‘Super Spreader’ due to his asymptomatic status. I mean, it was cruel because the poor bloke did nothing wrong other than be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was the first Briton to be diagnosed with Covid. In February 2020. And remember he was asymptomatic, and unwittingly passed it on to several others.

So how come the UK Government claim that the reason they were (and still remain) so adamant in creating a national test and trace system that ONLY tests people with at least one of three main symptoms is that THEY WERE UNAWARE OF THE PREVALENCE OF ASYMPTOMATIC TRANSMISSION! Seriously guys, you’re the bloody Government! All you had to do was pick up a copy of any red-top tabloid back in February 2020 and they would have told you that there was clear evidence of under-the-radar transmission of the virus right from the very beginning – it was the very first case, widely reported in the usual sensational style.

But even now, one year on, if you go online to try to book a Covid test here in the UK it asks if you have at least one of three symptoms – fever, new continuous cough, and a change to your taste or smell. That’s it. If not that specific narrow selection of symptoms, or no symptoms at all, forget about it. Self-isolate if you think you’ve maybe been exposed, but officially we’re not interested in you. At all. No symptoms, no test. Yet when I caught Covid at the beginning of the year I’d already been feeling decidedly unwell for a few days before my strange sense of taste developed.

Headache, dizziness, ear-ache, sore throat – that’s how it started for me. I thought I might be coming down with flu. It was only around the fourth day when I had a strange metallic sensation in the back of my throat and developed a bit more of a cough than usual that I took a test. Things got a bit worse later on but I never did develop a fever. And had it not been for the lock-down imposed after Christmas I’d probably have been at work for those first few crucial days, so even with a mask and sanitiser and social distancing who knows how many people I might potentially have infected?

This virus has a two-week incubation period. Not everyone gets the same symptoms, and some people do not get any symptoms at all. Whether pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, if you don’t test the entire population to see how the land lies, you can’t possibly begin to control transmission. Lock-downs alone are not the answer, not without adequate testing and tracing too. Restrictions have to be there for a reason, to tackle the problem head on not just kick it down the road to be dealt with at a later date… Grrr…!

OK, enough of a corona-rant for today – and sorry for shouting, but really, at times Boris and his gang are the absolute limit! šŸ™‚

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Who

An Arse of a Farce

I’m feeling quite put out that my first serious participation in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections since moving from England back to Scotland 18 months ago has been effectively hijacked by ridicule and revenge, like a Monty Python sketch gone hideously wrong. The Scottish Government is run on Proportional Representation although for many years the SNP have pretty much been in charge, and the current First Minister of Scotland is SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon.

There was already a bit too much of a ‘People’s Front of Judea’ versus ‘Judean People’s Front’-style bickering and back-biting feud evident at the top of the Scottish National Party for my liking. And with the cringe-worthy news this week of previous ego-meister Party Leader Alex Salmond newly breaking away from the SNP in some sad little splinter faction, basically adding his brand new ‘Popular People’s Front’-esque ‘Alba Party’ to the indy-mix all on his lonesome, it’s become even more of an arse of a farce…

The question of Scottish Independence has been on the go up here for as far back as I can remember politically, from the 1970s and the indomitable Winnie Ewing who in her time has since served as a Westminster MP, a European Parliament MP, and also a Member of the Scottish Parliament. In fact, her son Fergus Ewing is currently serving as the cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism in the Scottish Government and is to be on the ballot paper again in our area for this next election. I might even give him my vote this time around, but I haven’t decided yet.

The thing is, I’m not a one-dimensional one-trick pony when it comes to my voting habits. I have no specific party allegiance and in my lifetime have voted for different parties, depending on the particular political landscape of the time, where I was living, and the personal bona fides of the candidates in question. Over the last forty years I’ve variously voted SNP, Liberal Democrat, Labour, and even Green Party on occasion. Never Conservative though, it’s never been a party that has spoken to me or for me, and I can’t imagine a time when it ever will.

I’d been so looking forward to the opportunity to have the choice of voting SNP again, but now it’s here I’m not so sure which way I’ll go. The dual economic threats of Covid and Brexit have together created a climate of need for political togetherness moving forward, a time of healing and soothing across the world, and right now I’m not sure what the best way forward for Scotland may be. So one way or another there’s lots for me to figure out in the next few weeks before finally making my mind up on May 6th…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Figure