As we all know, Boris Johnson is an opportunist, a shyster, a huckster, a bullshitter and above all a liar. These are not just his qualities: they represent who and what he is. And yesterday, we discovered a disturbing new side of Johnson. Having presided over one of the highest COVID death tolls on the planet and then undeservedly regained startling levels of popularity due to the remarkable success of the vaccination programme, he changed tone yesterday and started gaslighting us.
In a startling admission, Johnson said this: “The reduction in numbers… has not been achieved by the vaccination programme… the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown”. There was more. He added that there will be more deaths as rules ease, urging the public to be cautious. By Johnson’s standards, this was almost truthful. We are lifting the lockdown, irreversibly, and as we do so more people will get sick and die. In urging the public to be cautious, he was saying, essentially, that this was the deal and if you weren’t cautious, you might die and it would be your fault.
Now I know that sooner or later we will need to accept the presence of COVID for the rest of our lives. I was just surprised, given the still high levels of infection in the country that here was the prime minister of Britain telling us that whatever happened to us next, it would be all our fault. The strategy is this: ‘Roadmap continues.Inevitably more infection, hospitalisations and deaths, but we will continue to open up.’
In the real world, lockdown is over and to an extent social distancing and mask-wearing is over. Johnson has already led the country to believe normality is set to resume and now he all but admits nothing’s gonna stop us now
What does Johnson really know? In parts of the country, mass testing continues and in some areas the infection rate remains worryingly high. Is there a bigger issue of variants than we are being told about? He doesn’t say.
Maybe Johnson, thanks to the ‘focus groups’ operated by the Tory party spinners, really has read the mood of the country and simply followed it. For many people, particularly those who are not old or have underlying health conditions and don’t work on the front line of our low paid gig economy, they are happy to accept the risk from the virus, not least because they know it probable won’t kill them.
Whatever is happening, it’s a big change. Dominic Cummings said early in the pandemic that if some pensioners had to die in order to protect the economy, then so be it. Now, it appears to be official government policy. We’re setting you free now. But if you die, don’t blame me, guv.