Make it stop

Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.

Much as it pains me, as a journalist with a heartier than average appetite for news, to say this, but I am seriously considering switching off from all forms of news media. Apart from this one, of course.

I’m just so bored of it all now. Every time you switch on the BBC, ITN or Sky, there’s someone else, either waxing lyrical about how this has to be the time that Boris finally gets his come-uppance, or, depending on political persuasion, desperately trying to find some way of showing support for their boss, without being seen as a patsy. Rishi Sunak has this off pat, Dominic Raab, alas for him, does not. If you’ve seen their respective interviews, you’ll know what I mean.

Who knows what might have happened had the Prime Minster, right at the outset said something along the lines of: “I now know it was an error of judgement. We shouldn’t have done it and we’re sorry that it has upset people. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to do something nice for the people in Downing Street, who had been working so hard, like everyone else had been. It was such lovely weather and it seemed a shame not to use the garden which is really very nice. But, still, sorry.” And then offered to pay the £10,000 fine to charity. Actually, that wouldn’t work as we all know from WallpaperGate that Boris never seems to have any money, so he would have had to get someone else to pay for it. Maybe, had he said all that, stood up in Parliament and announced the cancellation of some of those fines that were doled out to normal people around the time, it might have blown over a bit.

He didn’t. It hasn’t and every time I turn on the news, there’s more about the party culture of Downing Street. Which does sound rather like the advertising industry in the 1970s, with booze fridges under the desk and sofas upon which to doze off one’s hangover. The “I didn’t know it was against the rules” excuse is wearing paper-thin. The worst-case scenario is that he’s lying, the best-case scenario is that he’s an idiot. Or maybe just had so much on his plate that he didn’t think about it. None of which actually fill one with confidence about his continuing ability to run a bath, let alone the country. Is that too harsh? Possibly. Let’s not forget that the man nearly died, he lost his mother, no-one runs for the office of Prime Minister  expecting there to be a pandemic to manage, life with two very small children can be really hard going on the most chilled of us, and his every move and word is poured over by the media. But still. He is, I will concede, a superb campaigner, a tub-thumper extraordinaire. Less good, alas, at actually running the country.

Perhaps the plan is to draw this whole party-investigation process out for so long that we all get bored with it and turn ourattention to something else, whether that be the vandalism that Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries (do you know a what contradiction in terms is, boys and girls? I do) plans to wreak on the BBC, or whether Novak Djokovic will get over himself enough to do what he needs to do to play tennis in the French Open.

Or, any number of the really quite massive issues that are lurking around the corner. The tax rises that will kick in in April, the Packaging Waste tax, which will hit merchants, at the end of the supply chain, the hardest, the change in legislation which will see the end of red diesel used for forklift trucks and a huge increase in costs for merchants. Never mind the post-Brexit paperwork headaches that are finally going to kick in. The, of course, there’s the soaring cost of energy that is going to hit homes and businesses very, very hard.

The pandemic may be weakening, but that doesn’t mean that all our problems are over.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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