Today sees the launch of step three of the government’s roadmap to get us out of lockdown. Today, I can go to a sauna (yeah..no), have a meal inside a pub (blessèd relief, it was snowing here last week) or stay overnight with my in-laws (I’m more likely to go for that sauna, to be honest). It all sounds wonderful. Our region has been in one sort of lockdown or another almost continually since November last year, bar a brief and lethal giddy spell over Christmas. It’s been hard but it’s worked – by the end of April, new cases, hospital numbers and deaths were all down, down, down.
In the early stages of the pandemic, excuses centred around its unexpected nature. The government was ‘doing its best’. Fast forward to the peak of lockdown one, suddenly making excuses was much harder than it had been. An enormous death toll, failure after failure, it was proving more difficult to defend the government’s actions, or rather, inactions.
Since last summer Boris Johnson has established himself as a committed culture warrior. With his union jacks, his imperial nostalgia, his right wing appointments to media bodies and his denunciations of radical protest, he is clearly imposing an authoritarian nationalist agenda on the country. In effect he is recruiting the machinery of the state to shift Britain’s cultural centre of gravity to the right.
The stark change to the lives of the UK’s musicians and actors is heartbreaking. Prior to 31 December 2020, lockdown aside, a musician could jump onto Eurostar, pass speedily into France or Belgium and carry their instrument without paperwork, tariffs or red tape to their venue. Maybe for a week, maybe for a whole season. Post-Brexit, only 90 days is permissible.
Carrie Antoinette’s position at Conservative Campaign HQ (CCHQ) improved when, after eight weeks of cohabitation, she started having children. She became increasingly unpopular among the people, however, with the Liberal elite accusing her of being profligate and harbouring sympathies for England’s perceived enemies—particularly her Friends in Russia.
A blog post by a UK Government adviser, arguing there are ‘no reasons’ to believe an independent Scotland wouldn’t be economically successful, was deleted shortly after its publication on the LSE website on 30th March.
So do you know your Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson from your Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus?
The members of the House of Lords now number more than 830. This is ridiculous. It’s supposed to be 600. Boris Johnson has been Prime Minister for twelve months and has appointed 52 new peers.
Brexit has tested to destruction the limitations of devolution. It could and should have been different. Scots will rightly ask why the special arrangements accorded to Northern Ireland cannot be granted to Scotland which also overwhelmingly voted to remain part of the EU.
Events have changed everything and, in the words of one of your predecessors, ‘events dear boys’ shape politics above all else. Now is your opportunity to be our Churchill, to bring the country back from the brink at the eleventh hour.
The long-overdue departure of Dominic Cummings from Downing Street is to be welcomed. So too is that of his acolyte Lee Cain.