What’s surprising about the latest momentous developments is how unsurprising they are. Trump was always going to stop at nothing to cling to office. Equally, UK’s lockdown has long been a racing certainty. As our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, The PM could no more remain in denial than The Donald.
Ministers got the collywobbles. As in the 1986 horror film The Fly, it was time to be afraid. Be very afraid.
Stats stacking up horribly. In September there were fewer than five hundred corona cases being treated in hospital. Last week the figure was thirty thousand.
Sparking very real fears the health service could soon go under.
Bad news. Normally, governments like to bury that sort of thing, now they’re desperate to get it out. To make people stay home.
But they’ve been up against an old media dictum – if it bleeds it leads.
Hence the collective mouth-frothing about the combover king’s preposterous coup attempt.
An echo of a failed uprising against Good Queen Bess by the Earl of Essex.
It garnered so little support in the city streets he had to trot off home and have lunch.
Probably didn’t enjoy it much. Or getting beheaded for his pains little over a fortnight later.
Trump may also feel cut down to size if, as is a possibility, the Senate eventually votes to ban him from ever running for office again.
That’s the rationale behind the impeachment process the Democrats are working on now.
A cumbersome procedure, but American lawmakers are mightily aggrieved Trump’s ugly rhetoric caused chaos in their own sanctum.
Another historical analogy. The Great Stink of 1858.
The overwhelming poo pungency wafting off the Thames did worse than spread killer diseases. It inconvenienced MP’s.
Which is what it took to finally get sensible sewers built.
The only remarkable thing about the crazies cavorting around Congress last week was how easily they got in.
They’d have had a tougher job in the Palace of Westminster, with its protective barriers and machine gun toting guards.
Odd that, when you consider America is the land of the free – to buy a shooter over the counter just about anywhere.
Whatevs, there are still Republicans around who think Donald Trump is a Good Thing.
Great legacy. Leaving his own party smashed to smithereens.
An eclectic bunch. Including the QAnon folk who’ve long argued sex-trafficking Satanist paedophiles are plotting against their guy.
Why stop there? Why not genetically modified pterodactyls, created on the moon by the ghost of Josef Mengele? Or giant earwigs, beamed in from Mars by seriously smelly Morris dancers?
As the old Cole Porter song goes: ‘ In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking. But now, God knows, Anything goes.’
One thing that definitely went was the Republicans’ stranglehold on the levers of American power.
The trashing and crashing in the Capitol pushed a more significant long-term development off the front pages.
Two runoff elections in Georgia were won by Democrats. Handing Joe Biden both bits of Congress. As well as the White House.
Meaning he can rule. While Trump rots. In the sidelines, or worse.
Some will argue that, like Shakespeare’s plucky Thane of Cawdor, ‘nothing in his life became him like the leaving it.’
Though it can hardly be said the departing president lived by George Washington’s motto: ‘Hold power lightly and surrender it gracefully.’
Handy thought, surely. And hints can be worth taking.
Boris Johnson certainly did when it emerged the UK’s new Covid-19 strain was getting on for twice as catching as the original.
The supposed ‘inhumanity’ of curtailing Christmas went first. But schools were safe. Until they weren’t. The list limped on.
Last to go was jolly Boris Wooster. In his place a mop-headed Big Brother practically calling for two minutes’ hate.
And the timeframe keeps stretching.
Lockdown reviewed in February. All over by March. Well, maybe April. God knows, anything goes …?
Not that Johnson had any choice, when it’s estimated one in fifty of us have it. In London it’s one in thirty.
Things got so bad on Friday that Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a ‘major incident’, with corona cases liable to swamp hospitals.
‘The threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point,’ he warned.
Everyone else could see all this coming, judging by a snap poll carried out straight after the new lockdown was announced.
The Savanta ComRes survey showed four out of five English adults supported it.
While getting on for two-thirds of us felt the government should have acted sooner.
Or, as actresses tend not to say to bishops, what took you so long?
But ministers are trying not to get the needle about their progress in with the jab.
Every day Big Bro Bojo bangs on about how many people have been, are being and will be inoculated.
He wants fifteen million of the most vulnerable to get protection by mid February. Via a network of GP-led sites, hospital and community pharmacy venues and giant mass vaccination centres.
Bound to pan out better than our ‘world-beating’ and ‘moonshot’ testing and tracing wheezes. Ahem.
But on Friday Britain did give the green light to the American Moderna vaccine. Raising the tally to three.
Trials show it’s ninety-four per cent effective, and the government’s ordered seventeen million doses.
Plus, another nice shot in the arm, a fourth vaccine should get the go-ahead in time to start rolling out next month.
And this one’s special.
Developed by the drugs giant Johnson & Johnson and working in much the same way as the Oxford version, it’s a one-shot job. A first.
Ministers have already bagged thirty million doses. That in itself would do for getting on for half of us.
Meantime, doctors have got better at treating corona patients.
They’ve discovered some rheumatoid arthritis drugs also help fight the new virus.
A lot, as it turns out. Reducing risk of death by a quarter.
While for the worried well, bored to death by having to stay home, there could be a consolation of a kind in prospect.
Some people love cramming into overcrowded trains and buses and writing off a couple of hours a day getting to and from the office.
But those who don’t may be cheered by a survey carried out by the professional services network Deloitte.
Turns out virtually every chief finance officer in British companies expects more flexible and home working in the future.
With around a quarter of employees clocking in from their spare room or kitchen table for good.
A five-fold increase, btw, on the 2019 total.
Bad news, obvs, for fast food outlets at city centre train terminals, and for rail services in general.
But good news, potentially, for the planet, if lots of us spend a lot less time charging around the place.
Also, could be nice for local eateries if people just saunter up the road for a spot of nosh.
Certainly looking good already for a certain sort of footwear maker.
Sales of sheepskin slippers have shot up by sixty per cent, with the Telegraph reporting John Lewis has sold out of its slip-on version.
And the online retailer Sheepland says demand’s up threefold. Because, it reckons, ‘people want toasty toes’.
Which is rather sweet.
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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