As we await the coming tsunami of Covid-19 cases, followed by the inevitable deluge of job losses, our Prime Minister is looking increasingly like Hans Brinker, the little Dutchboy who put his finger in the dam. Except Boris’s sausage finger isn’t big enough and the whole in the dam is the size of a London bus.
The story of Hans Brinker is a parable about taking action at the right time. So perhaps Boris is nothing like him after all if the following checklist is anything to go by.
March 2020: Cases rising. Infection spreading. Testing can’t cope. Government talks about “common sense”. Government hesitates to lock down.
September 2020: Cases rising. Infection spreading. Testing can’t cope. Government talks about “common sense”. Government hesitates to lock down.
It’s not that the Government is deserving of criticism for every aspect of Covid-19. It isn’t. It didn’t tell the bat that ate the pangolin that was sold at the wet market that infected the person who infected the person who flew around the world – or however this virus came about – to spread Covid-19.
It did, however, this week introduce a curfew that has had exactly the opposite effect desired. The streets of London, the tubes and other city centres are now busier at 10pm then they’ve been all year as people roll out of pubs and restaurants to mingle in confined spaces on public transport. I guess they didn’t think it through.
Still, the app is here. I know, six months later than planned, but it’s there nonetheless. And while the Government says 240,000 tests a day are available, 80,000 actually are.
We had a choice, as a country, to do better – to mitigate against Covid-19 by being decisive, sensible and forward-thinking. It’s what such nations as New Zealand, Germany, South Korea and others have done.
Rishi Sunak has the unenviable task of shoring up an economy that’s shot and that soon will suffer the double whammy of Brexit.
While Matt Hancock flounders and Boris flip-flops and fails, the Chancellor is the one grown-up in the room who has demonstrable competence and speaks with authority.
But back to Noddy Holder. Christmas is apparently coming early as we treat such commodities as dolls and jewellery the way we treat toilet roll at the start of a pandemic. Ho Ho Panic Buying Ho.