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Friday 29 May 2020

Press Briefing - Bozo Channels Kim

After a week where his chief polecat Dominic Cummings had stolen the headlines, alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson must have been hoping to move the agenda on by imparting good news in the form of a further easing of the lockdown. Instead, the daily Downing Street briefing descended into farce as the Polecat once more dominated proceedings, and exposed Bozo’s authoritarian streak.
Johnson was flanked by his Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance. Pundits wanted to ask them for their view on the Polecat’s jolly to Barnard Castle. Was there a risk to public health? It was a scientific as well as a political matter, surely? Bozo was having none of it. And the media was not happy.
Proper free speech you have in the UK, right?

Indeed, there was a united front, with Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News noting “Boris Johnson stops Vallance and Whitty answering question of what they think of Cummings behaviour. And denies [Laura Kuenssberg] a follow up question to challenge that”. Owen Gibson added “Johnson blocking questions to Whitty and Vallance on Cummings on the basis that it’s a political matter. Surely a scientific and medical one too?
They tried again. And, as Rowena Mason observed, “Johnson refuses a second time to let Whitty and Vallance answer - you can only reasonably conclude that they won't back him up that Cummings' actions were fine”. Paul Waugh asked “Why don't the medics actually say something? Their independence is being totally flamed by the PM”.
Where this was leading was pointed out by John Crace: “Boris effectively silencing Whitty and Vallance. Unbelievable. This really is banana republic stuff. The CMO and CSO should be embarrassed”. Former prosecutor Nazir Afzal was on the same page. “You would think Chief Medical Officer & Chief Scientific Officer might have some medical & scientific view of Cummings’ breaching the Lockdown. After all we follow the Science. But Boris Johnson stops them answering … Transparency & Independence trashed”.
And the idea that the CSO and CMO didn’t want to get involved in politics received short shrift, with Tim Shipman responding “Strange that Whitty and Vallance have only just noticed that they are up to their necks in politics” and James O’Brien saying what many on the right do not want to hear: “All those alt-right 'free speech' advocates are going to have a fit now, right?” Ah, but some speech is more deserving of freedom than the rest.
As to those broadcasters that Bozo and his team have tried to cultivate, Ms Kuenssberg was by now slightly sceptical: “PM repeated his defence of his adviser and didn't take 2nd question, so I couldn't ask if he still believes Cummings acted 'entirely legally' as he had said, when police say they would have sent him home if they had stopped him in Barnard Castle”. But the issue, as Paul Waugh spelled out, was clear.
Whitty and Vallance make clear they are civil servants and don't want to get 'dragged into politics'. But Cummings' conduct is not a matter of politics, it's a matter of public health - as other members of Sage have made clear”. And Bozo’s censorship is not good enough.

Had this episode occurred in China, North Korea, or any other totalitarian state, the UK’s pundit establishment would be laughing at them. They’re not laughing this morning.
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AndyC said...

As difficult as the situation they find themselves in is, Whitty and Vallance should have both either have said, 'No, Prime Minister, we would like to answer.' or walked off. They would then be able to cling to some shred of dignity and credibility.

Anonymous said...

Another example of how deeply widespread is our cultural corruption. It infests all of our institutions at every level. Whitty and Vallance are far from the first and certainly won't be the last to lose their professional honour and human courage.