Andrew Warshaw on why he believes the government has lost its grip on the pandemic
The dire situation in Enfield’s care homes, coupled with the government’s failure to deliver on its pledge to provide local authorities with sufficient funding to handle the Covid-19 crisis – issues both highlighted in the Dispatch – has brought home what a shambolic, uncaring and fact-spinning regime Boris Johnson is leading.
The prime minister himself – high on ego-driven, cheerleading bombast, low on actual ability to govern – is arguably the worst culprit of them all. Every day we’re subjected to a stream of phoney rhetoric and platitudes; from Matt Hancock’s laughable assertion the government had “thrown a protective ring” around care homes (tell that to those in Enfield), to utter confusion over schools, to claiming Britain is developing a “world-beating” track and trace system.
In Enfield, our local charities and volunteers should be applauded for so many acts of kindness and generosity. We have our own problems – notably the borough’s social and economic split either side of the A10 – but the powerful and peaceful Black Lives Matter vigils were a credit to our multicultural community and a proud example of how to get the message across.
At a national level, however, our politicians have been cynically changing the script to fit the narrative, whenever they are boxed into a corner, to explain why Britain has been so catastrophically behind the ‘eight ball’. More deaths than anywhere else in Europe is inexcusably scandalous and cannot by glossed over by facile explanations. How many times have you screamed “answer the question!” during those daily briefings, yearning for an honest answer and bemoaning the obfuscation and spin thrown back by whichever mouthpiece is on the podium?
‘Following the science’ is now a tired argument, especially given the scientists and doctors can’t seem to agree among themselves. I’m surely not the only one to notice how, when any experts present evidence the government doesn’t want to hear – like how many deaths could have been avoided if we’d acted faster and more efficiently – they soon disappear.
While other public figures were forced to resign for far less blatant Covid-19 rule-breaking, Dominic Cummings was spared. We know why; because he and Johnson are joined at the hip. Without his most trusted advisor, not even an elected official, the prime minister can’t seem to function. His whole pretence of a strategy is based on self-preservation. What does that tell us about collective leadership?
The brutal truth is that senior ministers were appointed to deal with Brexit. The knock-on effect is that not one of them has enough nous or experience to deal with anything as challenging as a pandemic. To compensate, they bombard us with tub-thumping drivel disguised as jingoistic patriotism and put in place a series of inconsistent measures that are either the right thing at the wrong time; too little, too late; or, when it comes to easing the lockdown, arguably too much, too soon.
Whatever lies ahead, don’t be fooled that Britain is suddenly leading the way. It’s a bit like being five goals down and then being overjoyed at pulling three back. The government must ultimately be held to account for a shameful catalogue of misguided, ill-advised decisions for which no-one has had the guts to apologise.
Whether, in Enfield, you voted left, right or somewhere in the middle at the last election, we need answers to the government’s constant mixed messages and rank incompetence.