Tis a pity we had such a ruinously inept and ideologically driven bunch in charge when Covid struck. This, and years of public health neglect, (disastrous meddling, with a fragmented and rundown NHS being readied for privatized decay), meant that the UK was ill equipt to cope with the pandemic when it arrived. April was the cruellest month piling countless bodies on the pyre of a criminally self-confident belief in British exceptionalism and the idea we could muddle through. The locked-in privileges of cronies with fast-track-access to public money; the privatized gravy chain and the £100 companies with multi-million-pound deals; the ignoring of local authority expertise in the handing of Track & Trace; of contracts given to commercial profiteers with farcical results; of non-existent PPE, or equipment not fit for purpose; of scientific advise not headed and delays in locking down; of borders kept open and diversionary ‘culture wars’ fought.
And through all of this the only thing the Govt appeared to get right – by appointing someone not beholden to it, and with a certain degree of professional experience – was the vaccination programme; a combination of city ruthlessness, collaborative science, allied to the operational expertise and the organizational resource of the NHS.
It begs the question – why wasn’t this done in the first place?
Brexit will happen. On my birthday, January 31st, we will officially have left the EU. With the majority the Government now has there is a real danger that a no-deal Brexit will happen at the end of the year. Of course, the Brexit process will still not be finished; the pain and division will go on for years.
That this has been allowed to happen must – in part – be laid at the door of the opposition, not least for having a leader and policies that were so toxic to the electorate. This was compounded by an SNP and Liberal party leadership voting – self interestedly – for an election under the mistaken belief that they could actually win or in some way gain leverage from it. The Liberal Party’s culpability in this was darkly laughable. The hubris in thinking that it could just revoke/cancel a democratically arrived at decision, with a leader who from the start appeared to have a Walter Mitty like belief in her own leadership qualities and destiny. In voting for an early election, they denied Parliament the possibility of holding any deal that Johnson brings before it to proper scrutiny. With an 80 seat majority, and an opposition riven by factional infighting, this will now not happen. As for the SNP, they are now locked into a union with the UK for the foreseeable future and locked out of the EU. Furthermore, their continued hegemony in Scotland is nowhere near assured.
And the real tragedy of all of this is that at a time when the nation was crying out for an acceptable alternative, what it had was a Labour leader wreaking of antisemitism, with a shadow cabinet bereft of people with stature and intelligence, argueing for policies that hearkened back to the worst municipal excesses of Militant Merseyside and Leninist Lambeth. The electoral performance of 2017 was a misnomer; then Corbyn, McDonnel and Momentum, held in check by moderates within the NEC and the MPs at Westminster, had had only a year in the limelight. This time they were in control and very, very visible, with ownership of the party manifesto that appeared to get more ridiculous with each hourly addition of a new socialist utopian announcement. It didn’t take long for large swathes of the electorate to realise that what they were being offered was an unrealistic, unreconstructed picture of what the hard left had been calling for in the 70s and early 80s – and it repelled them. Add to that a leader who appears to be quite at ease with having antisemitic friends, has issues regarding simple patriotism, lauds questionable works of art and honours the torturers and murderers of Jewish Olympic athletes and the outcome to anyone, other than the diahard Corbynistas, was utterly predictable. It beggars belief that this could be done in the name of an organization that should be the personification of liberal social democratic values.
Zadie Smith is excellent here on the travails of ‘cultural appropriation’ and claims to cultural authenticity. This is typically Zadie Smith, with intelligence and sensitivity underlying a fiercely intimate and individual approach to reading. Categorize your reader at your peril.
Yes, the sequel is well underway, 40,000 words and counting. All chapters have been mapped and I do believe that I have an ending. Fingers crossed. Should be ready to send to the publisher next year.
You might be interested in something I’ve written for Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog about some of the creative forces that were at work during the writing of Pariche, along with some tips I have for aspiring writers. The post will appear here:
Pariche will be promoted at the Frankfurt Bookfair, the world’s largest, in October: