There is, after all, light at the end of the tunnel. As statistics pour in, largely confirming we really are past the peak, the glimmers of hope grow brighter. Thanks to a combination of factors, few of which have much to do with the government. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, in one respect Boris Johnson has got what it takes.
He got lucky.
Britain has recorded more coronavirus deaths than any other country in Europe, and continues to have one of the highest Covid death rates in the world.
Much of that is to do with Whitehall’s wavering from cock to cock up. The list is long, tedious and tragic.
But there is an upside, and it’s twofold.
Scientists across the world, including, as good fortune would have it, in Oxford, have performed sensationally.
Truncating the vaccination development process from the usual ten years to something like that number of months.
That’s the private sector, at its awe-inspiring peak.
Then there’s the public sector, in the form of the National Health Service. Achieving something few believed was really possible.
We’re so numbed by endless and often witless promises dribbling out of Downing Street that the rollout razzmatazz was surely just another yerright moment.
Yet, in what seems the twinkling of an eye, more than ten million of us have had Jab One. And come August it seems every adult in UK will have had Jab Two too.
Meaning the plausible promise to a return to something like normality come summer.
Seems scarcely possible after what’s felt a lifetime ‘in carcere et vinculis’, to borrow Oscar Wilde’s take on doing bird.
And the credit where it’s due cannot be overstated.
The NHS was as much a casualty as anything else after Wall Street spivs spat on the world economy.
Would have been worse, mind, but for the efforts of the unsung and largely trashed hero of the hour, Gordon Brown.
In many ways an impossible character, and all too often his own worst enemy, he nonetheless beat sense into unwilling politicos in Washington and Brussels.
This is not socialist propaganda, it’s all there in the history books.
Another dispassionate but salient observation is that the neocon contention ‘private good, public bad’ did not crush our hallowed health service.
Meaning ministers could just leave it to crack on. No outsourcing, no messing. And no thanks to those who’ve tried but failed over the years to chip away at the edges.
Churchill’s finest hour quote can get overused. But it fits the achievement of our valiant doctors and nurses. Perfectly.
Little wonder such homage was paid last week to one of Winnie’s boys, that other national treasure, the late lamented Captain Sir Tom Moore.
And no surprise this one-time tank commander’s efforts, struggling up and down with no more firepower than a Zimmer frame, got everyone going.
What started out, on his own admission as a bit of a joke, ended up raising more than thirty-two million pounds for the health service.
That’s after managing a hundred laps of his far from tiny garden. The bloke was a hundred years old, for god’s sake.
He was even pretty chilled about what was to finally come his way.
‘You have endless chances of dying,’ was how he put it. ‘In the end everyone has a turn, it has to happen some time.’
Was that cool? Or was it cool?
Certainly puts in the shade all manner of petty disputes and idiotic rows that haunt headlines, day in day out.
Take the half-witted half-cock way the government’s setting up new quarantine rules for incomers from high-risk countries.
They’ll have to hole up in hotels, it’s been decreed. Right away. We provide the rooms, they stump up the cash.
Er, what rooms? Don’t you have to book them? Hacks wanted to know.
Oh yes, good point, say ministers. When we say right away we mean, well you know, when we’ve sorted it. The PM’s official spokesman knows how to sock it to ’em.
‘We continue to work through the operational and logistical details of the policy. There are elements of the policy on operational side that need to be completed.’
Still, could be worse.
According to The Times, hotel guards in Australia had sex with people in quarantine, infecting hundreds of people when they went home.
One up on clap for carers that. Or catching it, so to speak.
Back home we’ll settle for a catch-up with chums, when we’re told we’re allowed.
Ministers are mulling when that might be, and trying to balance physical and mental health against the wellbeing of, you guessed it, the economy.
It’ll likely shrink more than four per cent over the next couple of months, but, thanks to the mass jab job, blossom again with the daffs and crocuses.
And restrictions look set to ease sooner than many dared hope too.
Tory Turks who say what’s wrong with yesterday don’t have the heft they once had, as Boris Johnson finally starts to learn his lesson.
But even those telling him all along that lock up lock down lock lock up down is a rubbish dance have a tentative spring in their step now.
It’s thought outdoor sport and socialising will be among the first things to get the go-ahead after schools return. Perhaps even as early as early next month.
Hard not to warm to that, alongside the weather.
And other simple pleasures, that’ve come to feel like the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah? Like going to the shops or down the pub?
It’s thought outside markets will be allowed to open before indoor stores. While al-fresco dining’s likely to come before eating inside eateries.
As for the boozer, there is at least thought being given to tidying the rules about only allowing opening if they’re serving ‘substantial meals’.
Remember the rows about whether a scotch egg counted? Or a bag of crisps? Room for improvement somewhere along that line.
But of course the good news has always to be balanced against the bad.
Britain imported just a little more Ozzie wine last year than usual. Well, forty-three million more litres of it, actually.
Happens we buy more of the stuff from Down Under than anywhere else. And it’s a handy standby when we can’t go out. Less so, logically, if we can.
If sales slump again maybe email them an apology. Maybe with the help of a spot of spinach.
No, this isn’t a joke. Or a rerun of Popeye the Sailor Man.
According to the continental TV channel Euronews, American scientists have discovered there’s more to greens than just eating them up like good children.
They have now managed to engineer spinach plants capable of sending emails.
By some nanotechnological wizardry they’ve magicked them into sensors that get all excited when they spot explosives.
The signals they emit is picked up by infrared cameras, that email the info back to base.
According to the boffin who led the research: ‘This is a novel demonstration of how we have overcome the plant/human communication barrier.’
Lockdown gets you so loopy you talk to the trees? The case rests.
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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