Missed Strain

A new virulent danger to the national well-being is no real revelation – we’ve been under the cosh of an insidious mutant strain of lying for some time. It started off as a plethora of playful political porkies, transcended schoolboy pranking into wild whoppers, and finally morphed into monstrous mendacity.

So detached are our prevalent discourses from hard facts, our collective psyche has in effect flipped into a parallel universe. Reality has trundled on, but all associated commentary, opinion, and what passes for action have their arms tightly around a tissue of emotively charged dreams.

As for the new strain of COVID, it was first discovered in Kent on 20 September. In an instant, that upward curve makes sense, and several million fingered teenagers have been largely vindicated.

Faced with the likelihood of a further layer of complexity being trowelled onto the building bricks of peaking COVID and an impending Brexit cliff-edge, we might wonder why the Government chose to bung this into King Shyster’s sombre address to the nation at this point, knowing precisely that continental Europe would elect to wind up the drawbridge? After all, any sensible administration would do so, as indeed EU countries had done across Schengen earlier in the year when infection rates had exploded into unmanageable surges.

It could be that this is another salient chess move from a prescient strategist, designed to crank up some populist indignation that smooths the way for a potentially controversial outcome to negotiations. I would however edge more towards the Charlatan-in-Chief fessing up in order to beat some disgruntled whistleblower to the punch.

Of course, for the recent bug burst to be concentrated around Kent, you would have to think that it had edged into that discrete past of the UK from the continent on the first place. That is not a finger-point, but a certain geographical logic. Either way, how cheeky of the French, Dutch, and Belgians to ‘take back control’? While EU membership for the UK was about negotiating opt-outs, and Brexit was about leaving but thrashing out opt-ins, we are now fuming about having achieved the pinnacle of closed borders. It’s a funny old world.

As it stands, we may now need to commandeer some of those ramshackle rafts and desperate dinghies and load them up with baked beans or whatever crusty wares we are currently offloading into the single market. Two birds with one stone, so to speak. You can almost hear Priti Poor smirking that one across the Cabinet table.

At least Raab now fully understands the significance of the Dover to Calais crossing, but it rather shines a light on our shoddy preparedness for Brexit if a meeting of the Cobra Kai has been scrambled in response to a 48-hour freight delay. Ho-ho-hold my mulled wine while I breathe heartily into a glittery paper bag. What a shame that the hurt will be felt not by the shyster cronyist cabal of Cabinet but by hauliers who will be left seeking a hard shoulder to cry on.

Pointedly, this is the gang who cancelled Christmas but not Brexit – or would not consider at least momentarily setting down the baggage in order to firmly grip the fire hose to prevent the structure of our supply chains being razed to the ground. Not a chance of that because saving personal face trumps the nation’s interests.

Incomprehensively, the sleepwalk to a grim demise remains unopposed. Sir Keith, after being strongly pushed by his own party for at least a steer one way or another, bemused his own party with his belated insistence that there should be no further extension to the transition. He insists that the Government should stop ‘dithering’ on Brexit, which is tad rich from somebody who previously orchestrated moves to block an earlier departure at every turn and has since sculpted dithering into an abstentionist art form.

In an era of unprecedented government incompetence, Labour may look back on these squandered opportunities to bang home their credentials as a missed train to higher stations.

I’m old enough to remember 2015 when we opted for David Cameron over ‘chaos with Ed Miliband’. That has not aged very well at all, and now similar choices are not even on the table.

Roll on 2021, or more aptly, 2022.

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