Much of the text simply leaps off the page: “contrary to the official line, Britain was in a poor state of readiness for a pandemic. Emergency stockpiles of PPE had severely dwindled and gone out of date after becoming a low priority in the years of austerity cuts. The training to prepare key workers for a pandemic had been put on hold for two years while contingency planning was diverted to deal with a possible no-deal Brexit”.
There was more. “This made it doubly important that the government hit the ground running in late January and early February … Scientists said the threat from the coming storm was clear … It was a message repeated throughout February but the warnings appear to have fallen on deaf ears”. One NHS insider’s testimony is worrying.
“We missed the boat on testing and PPE . . . I remember being called into some of the meetings about this in February and thinking, ‘Well it’s a good thing this isn’t the big one.’ I had watched Wuhan but I assumed we must have not been worried because we did nothing. We just watched”. And what did Johnson do?
He missed the first Cobra meeting on the virus. And “Johnson went on to miss four further Cobra meetings on the virus … It would not be until March 2 - another five weeks - that Johnson would attend a Cobra meeting about the coronavirus. But by then it was almost certainly too late … Last week, a senior adviser to Downing Street broke ranks and blamed the weeks of complacency on a failure of leadership in cabinet. In particular, the prime minister was singled out”. Johnson wasn’t there when he should have been.
Added to the front page almost as an afterthought
And the conclusion? “One day there will inevitably be an inquiry into the lack of preparations during those ‘lost’ five weeks from January 24 … Among the key points likely to be explored will be why it took so long to recognise an urgent need for a massive boost in supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers; ventilators to treat acute respiratory symptoms; and tests to detect the infection”.
Tory ministers and their hangers-on are now frantically spinning against this narrative, which only shows how accurate it is. Michael “Oiky” Gove was particularly animated during an appearance on The Andy Marr Show™, complaining about journalists doing, well, journalism, which is a little rich considering his background. But the points within that article are pertinently made: the PM was absent elsewhere for five whole weeks.
And that is where, perhaps, the most damage will be done: the Government will take a reputational hit, sure, but it would take that sooner or later anyway. It is the craven, courtier, client stenographers of our free and fearless press who will be exposed as preening, shameless, selfish and unprincipled propagandists.
Boris Johnson couldn’t get off his arse when he needed to. He spent more time chasing after Carrie Symonds than doing the job he was elected to do. And as a result he went on a killing spree, as sure as if he’d emptied an Uzi into all those poor souls.
Some of us knew he was worse than useless. This knowledge is slowly, but surely, spreading to others. If only it was as contagious as the Coronavirus.