Happy New Year! I don’t know about you but seeing the New Year in was a very low key affair round here. I was dozing off by 10.30 and the telly wasn’t helping. The choice was an old Bond, Graham Norton making me confused about what day it was because he is usually on the telly on Fridays or Jools Holland. Jools Holland was particularly depressing because of the lack of an audience and, although that meant that we were spared the spectacle of boozed-up newsreaders dancing to “Baggy Trousers”, it did mean that the party atmosphere was less impressive than it could have been. So, we watched a film on Netflix, opened a bottle of fizz and dozed off a bit. All very appropriate in the circumstances I think.
Here in the Uk, we are all very excited by the appearance of a vaccine and it is this appearance that is helping us all to ignore the overwhelming DEVASTATION that Coronavirus is wreaking here at the moment. I am sorry but I am going to a be a bit (a) political and (b) old fashioned in this blog and so, if you are not happy with that, you can leave but please come back next week when I will be looking at my favourite books of 2020.
I read something about Boris Johnson this week that gave me more pause for thought than maybe it should have, Someone who works on the floor of a TV studio said that when Boris Johnson arrived, he looked smart and every hair was in place. However, before he went on camera – he looked in a mirror and deliberately messed his hair up. And I wondered what it is that he thinks he is selling to the British people. A mate? Someone you can have a laugh with? A buffoon? And really, I think we would rather have a leader. If I was going to define a leader in this case, it would be someone who was better than me. Someone I looked up to. And, I have some problems with our current government in that area.
If Christmas had been in March this year (bear with me – it gets clearer) I don’t think that there would have been the huge discussions around whether people were going to stick to the rules or not. In the main, people would have stayed with it I think until the Barnard Castle event. If, when the Prime Minister’s special advisor was found cheating the rules, he had sacked him or at least told him off – I think we would have gone with it but all we were met with was silence and a shrug. Polls show that, since that moment, we have maybe thought that this government does not have our best interests at heart. This was followed by incidents with Pritti Patel (Breaking the Ministerial Code and bullying) Gavin Williamson (Incompetence) and Robert Jenrick (Building up a long list of people who have financially benefitted from his decisions). In the olden days, these people would have been dismissed – because what has been done just isn’t right. Now, I’m not foolish enough to say that previous governments were whiter than white but, in the main, when you got caught out, you put your hands up and said – it’s a fair cop and someone had to go. Not anymore. The trouble is, when you are seen to side with bullies or dishonesty or even incompetence, then people start to ask themselves what it is what you DO stand for exactly and can they trust you to make the big decisions about them and their families. Polls are showing that support for the government and Johnson, in particular, is falling sharply. In the olden days, that would be neither here not there. Governments come and go. But tomorrow parents are being asked to trust this government and send their children to school – even though – no-one can provide them with any convincing evidence that it is safe – for pupils, teachers or their families.
So far, the government’s reaction to this has been to try and paint teachers as workshy, troublemakers who fancy a few more weeks off. In fact, everyone with even slightly functional eyes in their heads knows that teachers are at the toughest forefront of all tough forefronts possible at the moment and we are not being fooled by that. The other way to deal with the schools’ problem appears to be to do last-minute handbrake turns in policy that do not encourage faith in The Plan. No-one is saying this is an easy time. No-one is expecting faultless government. What we have a right to expect though is a level of integrity or failing that, a teeny tiny bit of integrity.
I think, if I had children, I might not be sending them to school tomorrow because I am not convinced it is safe – for children, teachers or the population at large. Basically, it’s because I don’t believe them and that’s a shame