Sometime, in some distant future, we will get the findings of an inquiry into how COVID-19 was handled in the UK, and whatever the finding of that inquiry, no one but no one will be held responsible. What we will get are the well-worn platitudes “Lessons will be learned” and from the Scottish First Minister, all the recommendations of the inquiry will be implemented.
The more I read Blinded by Corona by John Ashton the more I believe that Boris Johnston and Nicola Sturgeon, should be dragged into court and charged with, mass murder, on the grounds of incompetence.
Although the First Minister of Scotland already has her get out of jail free card, ‘I was only doing what I was told, by Westminster, working together for the good of all’, Aye right.
In Boris case, in his defence, the lawyer will tell you that Johnston had much on his plate at the time. He had recently left his second wife, Marina Wheeler, for another woman, Carrie Simmons, with the loose ends of another relationship still swirling around. And along with this his new girlfriend was expecting their first child. To his credit had won a general election and ‘Got Brexit Done’ So going off on an extended Christmas holiday to the private Caribbean island of Mustique, was well deserved. It was during this time that Britain was hit by severe flooding, but there were to be no COBR meetings.
Although the first reports of Coronavirus had reached the WHO on 31 December. No need to rush home. And when Boris did it was to take a break in his grace-and-favour mansion of Chevening in Kent, Chequers the sixteenth-century country house in Buckinghamshire.
His response to the rise in COVID-19 showed the same contempt. Although this emergency warranted a COBR meeting on the 24th of January, Johnston failed to appear. And if the report in the Sunday Times was anything to go by our leader missed four more meetings before chairing the first on 2nd March.
Here the people of the UK were facing what would turn out to be the biggest threat to life and limb and the economy in a century and all Johnston managed was a speech on the 11th of February, about constructing a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland,
What I want to know is why ‘the men in white coats did not remove him for his and our safety at this point. It must have been clear to everyone at this stage that the PM was not the man for the job and was totally incompetent.
As February became March coronavirus had spread rapidly around the world 88,000 cases globally with infections on every continent except Antarctica, the first case reported in the UK was on the 5th March, a 70-year-old woman. With a timeline of between 5-14 days incubation period, cases that were potentially linked to the half-term skiers.
I personally know, that during that half-term you could not move in the western highlands of Scotland for motor homes, campervans and caravans all bearing English registration plates.
Finally, having missed the first five meetings of COBR on COVID-19, Prime Minister Johnston attended and chaired his first on Monday 2 March. The virus was already rampant throughout the country. The following day he appeared on television from 10 Downing Street, flanked by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty and the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, and two very large union flags, he looked shaken from what he must have heard at that meeting.
This was the first of what would become almost daily press conferences; Boris Johnston launched his Coronavirus Action Plan. Essentially, it was a repeat of Whitty’s four strands of ‘contain, delay, research and mitigate’. He went on to reassure us all (without any clinical proof) that,
“For the overwhelming majority of people who contract the virus, this will be a mild disease from which they will speedily and fully recover.”
There was no plan either, just statements pinned to qualifiers such as ‘fabulous’ and ‘well- prepared’. ‘Let’s not forget, the prime minister said,
“We already have a fantastic NHS, fantastic testing systems and fantastic surveillance of the spread of disease… Our country remains extremely well-prepared as it has been since the outbreak began in Wuhan, several (wasted as it turned out) months ago.”
In an almost throw-away line, Johnston added,
“Crucially we must not forget what we can all do to fight this virus, which is to wash our hands…with soap and water… wash our hands with soap and hot water for the length of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday twice’. It was a leaf from the same sloppy imprecise script that we heard the Public Health England; give to the good people of Salisbury in 2018 over laundry and Novichok.
What amazes me, that with all this nonsense going on, no one but no one called out the government on this, we even had the main television channels showing children being taught in school how to wash their hands whilst singing ‘Happy birthday – twice.
Hear in Scotland we had the First Minster’s grandstanding at her daily press conference, reading out the daily figures and telling us ‘Yes, you guessed it’ to wash your hands’ although she did refrain from telling us to do it whilst singing ‘Happy birthday, twice’.
Both north and south of the border, it all went downhill from here, whist well-prepared, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, New Zealand and Bahrain, countries that took this pandemic seriously from the start come out of it faster and with less collateral damage to their economies. The UK on the other hand has still to get a handle on the virus and is still deep in the coronavirus mire. And I will not even mention a death toll that was mostly due to the incompetence, of Johnston and Sturgeon.
Bahrain set up a Task Force under the Crown Prince that was so successful that they were praised by the WHO as an example to the world. Whist we sang ‘happy birthday’ and Johnston and Sturgeon, wash their hands of any responsibility.