Liberation versus surrender: Toby Neal on two versions of Freedom Day

In true Boris Johnson fashion, here's a retrovision made up of two parts.

Boris Johnson - freeing the nation or throwing it all away?
Boris Johnson - freeing the nation or throwing it all away?

There, I told you I was right all along about lifting the Covid restrictions.

For your benefit, I have prepared a cut-out-and-keep extract of my wisdom to be dug out and read around four months from now, but if you can't be bothered to keep it that long, don't worry because when the appropriate time comes I'll refer back to my prescience words of today as I crow "I told you so."

In true Boris Johnson fashion, I have prepared this exercise in 20/20 retrovision in two parts, with one part to be discarded as necessary depending on prevailing circumstances. I'll issue simple instructions about which one in four months' time.

Version one

You plonker Boris! Are you out of your tiny mind?

Lifting coronavirus restrictions at a time when the number of infections is surging is total madness.

I know social distancing makes it difficult for Cabinet ministers to kiss their mistresses – or masteresses if male (this is an equal opportunity column) - but wouldn't it be simpler and safer for them to do it away from the cameras so nobody knows?

This is a surrender which threatens to yield a victory to this deadly disease just at a time when the vaccination programme, one of the few successes of this awful affair, looks like it could turn the tide.

Putting everything from now on down to personal responsibility is ridiculous as if, for instance, you make a personal choice not to wear a face mask it is not you personally that is primarily at risk as a result, but the people around you.

This is the biggest mistake in the Boris Johnson history of pandemic handling, which is saying something. It is an end to even pretending to be guided by the science, and is a case of being misguided by political convenience and an irresponsible desire to be optimistic and crowd-pleasing.

There needs to be an immediate full judge-led public inquiry to hold people to account and find them guilty.

We have come too far and sacrificed too much to throw it all away now.

Version two

At last! A much needed dose of hope. Thank you Boris.

We have all been through so much, sacrificed so much. And now that much-anticipated reward. We can all kiss our mistresses (and masteresses - come on, pay attention, I've been through this once) again without fear.

We can all mingle together at the pub to enjoy a relaxing pint once more, just like we did before the pandemic, but if that's true why have so many pubs closed over the past 20 years, but then I admit I'm straying off the point a bit here.

Businesses have suffered terribly and been crying out for a relaxation and need to get back into the swing of things once their workers are back off furlough, those that they don't now make redundant, that is.

It is admittedly a difficult judgment, a balance to be struck between public health and public health, by which I mean that coronavirus is still out there, but that the restrictions have been turning everybody stir crazy, and so affecting mental health, and hospitals have seen a backlog build up in treating various non-Covid ailments, creating a ticking health timebomb.

Face masks have increased social isolation by cutting people off from each other and have encouraged mumbling.

And we all need the tonic of a cheap holiday abroad in some place like Mustique, because Bournemouth beach gets so crowded, doesn't it?

So it can't come soon enough. Freedom is in the air!

(Of the two alternative versions above, I think that the one to destroy will be the second optimistic version, as in Britain there is always more kudos to be had when your doom-laden predictions come true, and nobody is really interested when you predict things will be fine and they actually turn out that way).

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