Opinion piece: On the fence of the apocalypse

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a media briefing in Downing Street, London (Credit: PA Images).

“I think he’s doing a pretty bang up job if I’m honest” writes one moron on Facebook of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. At a time of national uncertainty, it seems we’ve thrown away any sense of political leaning to rally round a man who once said that people should be charged to use the NHS so they “value it more.” Yes, the man with all the subtlety and professionalism of having a clown smack you round the head with a paving stone is currently leading our country through its greatest modern crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic is something I’ve written about already, but what I failed to mention in that article is how somewhat competent leadership in the face of adversity has since snowballed into public love and adoration for a contingency plan that, judging by the traffic on the roads near my house, nobody is following. 

Johnson must be loving this, especially since he gets to play dress up as his favourite political leader, Winston Churchill. It must be a tad weird for Queen Elizabeth II though, seeing a man dressed up as a wartime leader she stood by over 70 years ago must be how Christopher Eccleston feels when he does Comic Con press panels and sees people dressed up as various Doctor Who aliens. This is Johnson’s dream, the mere thought of leading the country through a time of need makes his eyes light up like a fairground. His brain flickering between nostalgia vision, huddled in a bunker with his closest colleagues, an old map on the table as he pushes around plastic toy soldiers with a poker cue, before realising that he has to knock that off and face the reality of the situation.  

I’ve analysed Johnson’s disgusting lack of connection with reality before, how his words are gangly and he comes across as a buffoon to win over the votes of people who think politics should be a farcical affair, but deep down he has a stony heart and contempt for anyone that has even the slightest whiff of a working-class background. Again, I’ve already analysed his language and attitude towards those that aren’t members of the Bullingdon elite before. But this time round, it’s far more interesting to pick apart the actions of him and the corporations he looks to defend (especially since he voted for reducing an already startlingly low tax for big businesses). Corporations are no stranger to hating their employees, and two cases recently have come to light.  

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin is not only defying government advice and insisting that pubs are the “safest place to be” but he’s also blocked the pay of 40,000 staff members. Martin, who looks like Doc Brown from Back to the Future but instead of building time machines constructs factories of misery inhabited by the over 50s and students, has denied that he has “abandoned” his members of staff in the midst of a nationwide closure. Even with the government budget offering to pay up 80% of the wages employees will lose out on, Martin instead told his employees to “work for Tesco” in a recent video reported by The Independent. An attitude that to me seems to be that if you don’t like it, you can work for some other faceless corporation. A very accurate depiction of how millionaires look down on their wage slaves.

Mike Ashely too, of Sports Direct and Newcastle United fame, insisted that Sports Direct should hold its place on the keyworker list. Yes, because in times of crisis, I like to buy novelty pens and flimsy prints of Man City shirts. Sneering disappointment of a man he is, Ashley is one of the many to capitalise on the pandemic, ramping up prices of home gym equipment by up to 50%. Imagine if supermarkets doubled the price of bread or eggs or whatever else plebs eat. If I can’t buy an Adidas tracksuit in these trying times then I’d struggle to find the will to go on. Since this announcement, Ashley has made a U-turn on the grounds that selling shin pads and coffee cups with the Sports Direct logo plastered onto them is not an essential service to the general population. 

Martin and Ashley represent the profit driven mind that Johnson looks to protect. The idea that capital and currency should come before compassion and care. Johnson making the decision to throw money at the problem until it sorts itself out really begs the question as to where he got it all from. Perhaps there’s a magic money tree involved, which, as far as I can recall, was an nonexistent concept when Corbyn brought it up all those years ago.  

Perhaps the next government contingency plan will be for Boris Johnson to punch the coronavirus out of existence. (Credit: PA Images)

The sudden surge of funding into the NHS, small and medium level businesses and public infrastructure beckons a number of questions. Has the government been sitting on a pile of money, actively telling the public we didn’t have enough to fund the NHS in the first place? Where did the money come from? But none of this matters, because the public either don’t care, or those that do are shot down as if they’re complaining about the money going into the NHS. My complaint isn’t of where the money goes, but where it comes from, and if the government have this money, then why wasn’t it invested sooner? Political points scoring because, for the first time in a decade, the Conservative party have thrown a few pennies toward the NHS.

Just remember, all the infrastructure issues and problems that are being brought up because of this pandemic are the fault of the Conservatives and the Conservatives alone. The NHS being on its knees, cripplingly underfunded? That’s the fault of the Conservative government, who have refused to put proper funding into the service, while at the same time are attempting to privatise it, presumably as a memorial policy for Margaret Thatcher. The money sent toward the NHS is still far from ideal, but since the Conservative manifesto promised 40 new hospitals, I’m sure we’ll be seeing those crop up soon. Right? 

Those of you that are sharing this or that on Facebook about how Johnson is doing a “pretty slap up” job of handling the Coronavirus pandemic, let me drop a few knowledge bombs on you. People are fickle things, and it seems everyone forgot that, up until last week, we were still in a period of business as usual. As the virus spread through the streets at a rate similar to Italy, Spain and Germany, our government did nothing. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, along with world leaders from the WHO, NATO and neighbouring countries in the European Union all pleaded with the Conservative government before it was too late. They acted, and it was too late.  

Not only that, but pandemic or not, Johnson still has the ideals of his party at heart. Traditionalism is a volatile and frankly useless term. A return to the good old days? By the looks of this, traditionalism for the Conservative party means a return to the 1920s when Spanish Flu was making the rounds. Traditionalism is the antithesis of progress, and it is progress that we should be making. Currently, we’re stagnating in the middle, we’re on the fence, teetering toward the apocalypse.  

The ideals of Britain and “keeping calm and carrying on” is a toxic representation of how this country responds to times of crisis. Roll over, turn the cheek, don’t worry about it, they’re doing their best. Let the guys at the top keep running the world, as a rather fitting Jarvis Cocker song once proclaimed. At this rate, we might be wiped out by the end of July, just in time to have a few pints in Tim Martin’s tomb of sadness. 

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