I’ve not done one of these for a few weeks for two reasons (well, three if you count “can’t be bothered”).
Firstly, I strongly suspected that the next round of Covid-restrictions being lifted on June 21st probably wasn’t going to happen, and I didn’t want to be the miserable, gloomy sod explaining I thought it to be the case, like one of those beard and sandals nutters you see in disaster movies, wearing a sandwich-board with “The End is Nigh!” written on it, laughed at by the main character just moments before a meteor crashes into The White House.
And secondly, probably – no, definitely (note the spelling) – because I would have to write the following words: I agree with something the Conservative Government have done.
I know, right? Who do I think I am, Sir Kier Starmer?
A few months ago, the Government set out their plan, their roadmap if you must, to coming out of lockdown, where a number of dates were signposted as being significant, when certain restrictions would be lifted. And this plan came with a caveat, which many people chose to ignore: that plans were subject to change if the data indicated it might be sensible to delay matters.
Which, with that mid-June date getting ever nearer, so the rumbling reminders have emanated from Downing Street, when they’re not having weddings or using £50.00 notes to wallpaper the guest room, that is.
I’m writing this on Friday night and whilst a continuation of current restrictions has not yet been announced, I think it’s in offing, what with our new enemy the Delta variant coughing it’s way across the country. Daily cases are up 2,056 on last week, whilst daily deaths are at 11. Nowhere near where the figures have been, thankfully, but still on the increase. So, I think it’s sensible that we approach June 21st with caution and understanding that perhaps the time is not yet right for us to get back to normal (or, that hated phrase, “the new normal”).
See, what we don’t want a repeat of is what happened at Christmas. You remember what happened then, right? When the Government promised us it would be fine for us all to go home and spend Christmas with our families, before having to announce that what they actually meant was that you could pop home for a day, not stay overnight (so no getting drunk, which is the only purpose of Christmas in my book) and on the proviso that you ensured any older, more vulnerable members of your family spent the entire time sitting next to an open window.
Were the restrictions to remain, then the usual bunch of anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and anti-common-sensers will doubtless be up in arms. Some people still don’t seem to have got the fact that a return to normal is not going to be an overnight operation, it has to be a gradual, step-by-step process. And those people will wail about restrictions being an infringement of their civil liberties (yes, they are – that’s the fucking point of them) and how they want everything back to how it was before Covid, but for it to have happened, like, yesterday.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want the restrictions to be kept in place, but faced with the choice of that or another six months under tighter lockdown restrictions – like we had to previously when we tried to come out of lockdown too quickly – then I’m afraid I go with erring on the side of caution every time.
Of course, an extension or tightening of restrictions became more likely when the Government reacted with all the speed of a cargo ship trying to turn in the Suez Canal when the news of the new variant arriving here began to become a concern. For just as the with the last times this happened, there was indecision, prevarication and a reluctance to shut down travel between the source of the new variant, and us.
If you’ve always thought that PM Johnson’s style of leadership was based on ex-President Trump, then I’ve got news for you. It’s not that bad. He clearly takes a leaf out of this numb-nut’s book:
I mean, this shouldn’t be difficult, should it? I mean – and I hate to sound like a broken record – but wasn’t control of our borders one of the main things that Brexit was about? So what exactly is the issue with shutting down travel from locations where the virus is more prevalent than it is here?
What we have got, of course, is the Government’s excellent and not at all open to mis-interpretation traffic light scheme, telling us which countries we can and cannot travel to. That seems quite a binary set of options we have there, right? And it would be, were it not for a third, sort of in between, neither one nor the other, option.
So to clarify matters, here’s what
Michael Green Grant Shapps MP said in a written statement to Parliament, the full details of which you can read here: “As the virus is still spreading in many parts of the world, people should not be travelling to amber or red countries…Countries on the green list pose the lowest risk, therefore passengers who have only visited or transited through a green list country will not be required to quarantine on arrival in England.”
Which doesn’t exactly make it terribly clear what the difference between the red and amber lists are, does it?
We all understand what the traffic lights mean in their natural habitat, in the context of when we’re driving: red = stop, green = go, amber = (broadly) the lights are changing from one to the other so don’t do anything stupid. Unless you live in London, of course, where all three mean go, just at varying speeds (Green = at the speed you were already travelling at, amber = a bit faster, red = pedal to the metal).
But in this context of international travel, this seems to imply there is no difference between red and amber in which case….what’s the point of the amber list?
Add to this the fact that our lists do not take into consideration what restrictions other countries were placing on us. So, when international travel resumed on May 17th, we were given the following giddy list of places we could travel to:
- Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira)
- Israel and Jerusalem (oh, yeh, that seems a dream holiday destination right now…)
- Iceland (not the scummy shop)
- Brunei Darussalam
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- New Zealand
- Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (wasn’t he one of Prince Archie’s godparents….?)
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
I can’t confess to have looked into all of these, but New Zealand’s borders remain closed to almost all travellers, while only Australian citizens and returning permanent residents and their immediate family members are permitted to enter Australia without an exemption until further notice. I mean, under normal circumstances these guys won’t let you in if you have dirt on your shoes, so this is hardly unexpected. So, we can fly there, get refused admission, and come home again. What a holiday!
Our traffic light list is, obviously, subject to change, and so it was that yesterday it was announced that Portugal was moving from green to amber list. Cue those that had booked two weeks on the Algarve throwing their arms up in the air and their toys out of the pram. Whilst I get they are disappointed, surely they knew this was a possibility?
It did, of course, lead to perhaps the most distressing headline of the week. Brace yourself:
Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this difficult time.
1 – if you can’t go on holiday to your choice of destination, that is not a disaster.
2 – After her appearance delivering the UK Judging panel’s scores on Eurovision the other week – saying hello in English and then in “forren”, before going on to claim she didn’t understand or even know which language she had just spoken – then frankly Holden gets everything she deserves. Sure, by that time of the night every other nation had already decided they weren’t going to give us any points, but c’mon….they hate us enough already, without some talentless airhead giggling vaguely xenophobic tropes at them to reinforce their opinion.
3 – Um, who exactly is Jacqueline Jossa?
Meanwhile Liz Truss is busy doing what she does best, striking up new trade deals to replace all of those that we lost when we left the EU:
And this week, the wonderful news that deals had been struck with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which included – for the first time – the introduction of caps on the charges mobile operators are allowed to charge each other (and, ultimately, pass on to us, the consumer) for international roaming, keeping costs low for holiday makers and business travellers. (When I say “for the first time”, I mean as part of a trade deal, and when I say “introduction” I actually mean “re-introduction”, because we already enjoyed these benefits when we were part of the EU).
But I don’t wish to seem ungrateful. Thanks Liz! At least this time you don’t appear to have killed off the UK’s lamb farming industry like you did with the deal you recently struck with Australia and New Zealand.
And now, we can all wait with baited breath for that day when we can all once again travel to that internationally renowned holiday destination for your average Brit in search of sun, sea and sangria: Liechtenstein.
Since I’ve mentioned Brexit, a story in five parts, starring the Worzel Gummidge of Brexiteers, Wetherspoons‘ boss Tim Martin:
The penny’s surely going to drop at some point, isn’t readers?
“Psst! Tim! Tim! We already had the power to control our borders when we were in the EU, we just couldn’t be bothered to finance or implement it properly.”
You asked for this, so suck it up.
And your pubs are shit.
And finally, one of these rants wouldn’t be complete without the mention of everyone’s least favourite smirking bully, Priti Patel.
On Thursday, she tweeted this:
There are three things to note about this tweet:
1 – a tweet can have a maximum of 280 characters, so the omission of the word “I’m” from the start of the tweet rather implies that Ms Patel is not really that pleased, she’s practically disowning it from the very start;
2 – “published” is not the same as “co-authored”
3 – this just happened to coincide with some more revelations about cronyism and corruption within the Conservative Party.
The release of the Electoral Commissions report on donations showed that in the quarter since October 2020 more than £600,000 has been donated to the Conservative Party by firms and individuals who have been awarded around £400 million in public contracts since the pandemic started.
First up, Oluwole Kolade, who has donated £884,342 to the Tories since 2011, £10,000 of which was to Secretary for Health Matt Hancock; Kolade is the managing partner of Livingbridge, a private equity firm which held a controlling stake in Efficio (which sounds like a team name on the Italian version of The Apprentice), and which has received £11 million from the Government since the Coronavirus kicked in. Kolade is a colleague of ‘Test and Trace’ boss Baroness Dido Harding. Just a coincidence, of course.
Then there’s Baron John Nash, who recently donated £90,000, and who is linked to IT Consultancy Softcat PLC, who, again coincidentally I’m sure, have been awarded contracts worth £16.2 million since February 2020.
Not forgetting Lord James Wharton, the sole director of GBMW Ltd, a consultancy firm he established after losing his seat of Stockton South in the 2017 General Election. Wharton/GBMW claimed up to £10,000 a month under the furlough scheme between from December 2020 to March 2021. But bless him, he donated £8000.00 of that back to the Conservative Party. Nothing to see here, of course.
And finally, thankfully, one which doesn’t relate to the award of Covid-related contracts: Peter Cruddas resigned as Conservative Party co-treasurer in 2012 after offering undercover reporters access to then Prime Minister David Cameron in exchange for £250,000 in donations. He was subsequently nominated for a peerage by Boris Johnson despite the advice of the House of Lords Appointments Commission. He is now Lord Peter Cruddas and he has donated more than £500,000 to the Tory party since he was elevated to his lofty position. Has this guy never heard of moonpig.com?
Seriously, if this doesn’t make you angry, then frankly you’re part of the problem.