Today, a further 359 people were added to the long, grim list of people in our country who have lost their lives to COVID-19. The family and friends of those taken before their time will be heartbroken tonight. The real figure is circa 50,000 but it may be even more than that because the excess deaths over the period of COVID-19 is over 60,000. The highest death rate in Europe, the second highest death rate in the world, by anyone’s reckoning these figures, these personal tragedies shame our nation. If our leaders could not bring themselves to resign for presiding over a catastrophic failure of government, they should apologise. But Boris Johnson doesn’t do apologies, ever. Instead, he says this:
‘I take full responsibility for everything this Government has been doing in tackling coronavirus and I’m very proud of our record.’ It is hard to imagine how anyone could be proud of such a record, so let’s dig deeper.
Some weeks ago, the government decided to drop the slide showing comparisons with other countries from the daily press briefings. Coincidentally, this was at a time when the UK went to the top of the European league of death. Today, the UK clocked up another another unwanted milestone. More people died in the UK yesterday than in the entire EU 27 put together. Our figure of 359 deaths compared with 324 in the EU 27. Not only that, at today’s briefing, the government’s Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance pointed out that there were still around 8000 new infections of COVID-19 every day. With the R rate, the reproductive rate, close to one, it could be that the first wave is not over, never mind the possibility of a second wave occurring. The news remains grim.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson continues with the bluster and bullshit. At PMQs, Johnson ignored Keir Starmer’s actual questions and went instead for angry soundbites. It was Starmer who was undermining faith in the government and not his government which was doing a wonderful job. And he is doing a wonderful job if you are a funeral director.
Starmer was right to call out Johnson at PMQs. I know that in tough times the temptation is to show unqualified loyalty to the government but the sheer scale of Johnson’s failure means this is no longer possible, nor appropriate. The prime minister should not be proud of his government’s record: he should be hanging his head in shame and then getting onto bended knee to apologise to the country.
We are truly the sick man of Europe. Literally.