Silly Daddy Pig

Peppa: “What’s an attic?”
Grandpa Pig: “It’s where we keep all our old things.”
Peppa: “Like YOU Grandpa?”

There’s a common recurring nightmare amongst the sort of people who have to stand up in front of an audience and speak. It’s the sort of nightmare that has you sitting bolt upright in bed, cold sweat trickling down your back at the terrifying thought of being seen to be standing in front of an important audience when you have no idea what you are supposed to be saying to them.

Bad enough in your dreams, Bad enough should it happen in front of customers or a school speech day. But in front of business leaders who you are hoping to impress with your grasp of business and your plans for the country? Truly the stuff of nightmares.

Are we just seeing the effects of the last 18months finally being felt in our Prime Minister? Is it the mid-term blues, or the same ennui that affects schoolchildren as they struggle with cold after cold in the long term before the Christmas holidays, fed up with getting up in the dark and getting home in the dark?

Or will history look back at this moment, at the November 22 speech to the CBI and decree that this was the moment when the UK saw their Prime Minister start to lose the plot? Are we seeing the point at which it became obvious to all and sundry that Boris Johnson has over-stretched his capabilities? Or was it a carefully calculated move, designed to take the public focus off the Health & Social Care Bill and the accusations of Government sleaze? Could be either to be honest.

It wasn’t even a great speech, never mind the fact that he lost his place halfway through and had to resort to talking about ‘what I did on my holidays’ to pad out the embarrassing silence. The fact that the changes to the social care bill went through the House of Commons on a slashed majority for the Government show that the gloss has come off. Bumbling buffoonery will only get you so far, it appears.

Social care does need to be re-thought it’s true. We have an aging population and medical advances mean that – Covid and stuff like that aside – we are generally living longer, but living longer in poorer health. The chances of any one of us living long enough to require either full or part-time care, are far higher than they were for our antecedents. However, Johnson should have paid attention to the debacle that Teresa May had to deal with when she tried something similar. The dementia tax was nothing of the sort but it made for a good tabloid headline and was one of the things that did for Mrs May’s Premiership.

Bringing in a system for social care funding that will suck up all the assets of people in poorer parts of the country, whilst leaving the better-off with more of theirs was never going to be popular. It may ne Economics 101 that, if A earns more than B, yet both pay the same price for a loaf of bread, then A will have more disposable income leftover, but it doesn’t sit well falling from the lips of the Government that has been banging on about ‘levelling up’ for months. Setting it up on a percentage of assets is another option, but that would lead to accusations that anyone with a clever accountant would be able to get around it.

There is no easy fix for this, there just isn’t and whatever way it pans out will be painful for someone.

More painful for more people perhaps, than those agonising 20 or so seconds when the Prime Minister realised, he had no idea what he needed to say next and the only thing in his head was that ruddy pig.

Di-di-di-didi, didi didi di, Di-di-di-didi, didi didi di,

Go-on, admit it. That’s going to be in your head now isn’t it? All day. All day long. #sorrynotsorry



About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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