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Wind-Up? Or is Lockdown Winding Down?

Wind-Up? Or is Lockdown Winding Down?

Holidaymakers on beach

Both, actually. Just as lockdown restrictions start to ease significantly, the nation’s most annoying man is looking reasonably safe in his job. As our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, some suspect a connection between the two.

‘Hold your hand out you’re a naughty boy. Hold your hand out such a naughty naughty boy. Last night, out there, ‘neath the pale moonlight I saw you, I saw you, everybody saw you…’

That hit song from the time of World War One will strike a chord with what pretty much everyone’s been saying about Bojo’s Rasputin.

And that includes dozens of Tory MPs. The numbers swelling each day, like the millions raised for the NHS by Captain Sir Tom Moore.

Except that one is a National Treasure and the other’s the man everyone loves to hate.

Some Conservative dissidents, possibly mindful of promotion prospects, not to mention services rendered in delivering Brexit, have been nuanced. Another Great War song springs to mind.

‘Oh! we don’t want to lose you but we think you ought to go…We shall cheer you, thank you, kiss you When you come back again.’

Cue the final insult. There are reports that the stinky brute is considering going anyway in a few months’ time, entirely of his own free will.

To all those who think he should be crucified, that surely justifies the even worse punishment Saint Peter went for. Getting nailed to a cross upside down. Nasty. Very nasty.

A brief recap for all those marooned for a week on a desert island, or deep underground prospecting for badgers.

When Dominic Cummings and his wife developed Covid-19 symptoms they drove hundreds of miles to his parents’ home to seek help looking after their young son. Logical?

It outraged millions. As Boris Johnson’s chief aide, he did much to devise the lockdown rules. Yet he’d flagrantly breached, if not, er, quite of the letter of the law, certainly its spirit.

One YouGov poll summed up the backlash. Some seventy per cent of voters thought it would ‘make it harder for the government to communicate future lockdown messages to the public’.

And yet, and yet…

Are we a nation of little children who don’t munch deadly nightshade plants because mummy says not? Or are we grownups who’ve got an old-fashioned and natural desire to stay alive?

Much as so many people would love to see dodgy Dom hammered into his coffin, not a lot of us would care to join him.

So the story’s dying a slow and putrefying death, as the nation moves on. Hopefully, to better times ahead.

After what seems a lifetime stuck in our homes, hardly seeing anyone, we can now do a spot of socialising. Go back to work, more of us, and, yay, soon discover most shops are open.

All this leaves some commentators convinced the government’s purposely brought this easing forward, to distract from its own internal problems.

Could be they’re right. However, the new rules do coincide with the launch of a so-called test-and-trace system that’s been many painstaking weeks in the making.

About twenty-five thousand people have been recruited to ask confirmed cases about their recent contacts.

The Health Secretary says they’ll act like detectives, phoning all these unlucky folk and telling them to self-isolate for a fortnight.

It’s much like NHS England’s contact tracing for naughty stuff. And should work ok, as it’s less embarrassing to admit you might have passed on coronavirus than given people crabs. Ahem.

Surprise, surprise, it got off to rather a stuttering start as the computer kept saying no. But Bojo’s praying it will eventually be world-beating, fantastic and generally whack-a-mole, as promised.

Certainly, it all dovetails with the Chancellor’s announcement that from August bosses will have to shell out for more of their temporarily laid off staff’s wages.

As for how close we really are to being out of the woods, that has to remain one of Donald Rumsfeld’s famous known unknowns.

The number of corona-linked deaths in UK fell last week to its lowest in getting on for two months.

But the rate at which those who’ve got it pass it on to others still teeters worryingly close to one for one.

And the first nationwide survey last week showed more than two-thirds of people who tested positive for the virus had no symptoms at all.

So how widespread actually is it? God alone knows.

According to Professor Karol Sikora, formerly of the World Health Organisation, Britain could be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August.

Though he’s a self-confessed optimist, he points out that his prediction in March that we’d start easing out of lockdown about now was spot-on.

But if he is right there’s an ironical twist to the tale.

The Oxford University scientists who’ve been beavering away at a vaccine have now lowered their expectations of success from eighty to fifty per cent – because of dwindling numbers of people to try it on.

Professor Adrian Hill says it’s a race both against time, and the virus disappearing.

‘We’re in the bizarre position of wanting COVID to stay, at least for a little while,’ he admits.

And he’s not alone.

The Chinese scientists who remain ninety-nine per cent sure their stuff, which works on monkeys, are also running short of the humans needed for clinical trials.

Not that there any lack of cases in India, alas. Or monkeys, in Delhi, where a gang of them mistook a batch of coronavirus blood test samples for a tasty snack, and nicked them from a lab assistant.

In the event they couldn’t open the packets. Luckily for all concerned.

Funny old thing, life. Even charity shops are fretting about things getting better.

Yes, they should be back in business again soon. And yes, people will have been busy clearing out their cupboards. But, oh no, where will they put all this stuff?

Some good news stories, however, really do have no downside.

There’s more from across The Pond than the rioting after a white policeman was filmed crushing the life out of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis.

He was being arrested for allegedly using a fake banknote, an offence that doesn’t normally carry a death sentence.

But in total contrast to that grisly tale, Idaho resident Raquel Pearson tells of an Amazon delivery driver also caught on camera.

She’d left a sign on her door thanking people for bringing things, because her tiny child had special medical needs.

And the footage shows the (female) driver dropping off the parcel, then stepping back, quietly bowing her head for a few moments, then making the sign of the cross before hurrying back to her van.

Mrs Pearson said she was so touched that she burst into tears. So did her husband.

And, closer to home, another mother tells tales of her offspring.

Northumberland nurse Sarah Balsdon devised the perfect solution to her kids’ endless grumbling, both about doing their home schooling and the sugary snacks they were always after.

She bought a second-hand vending machine and filled it with all the junk food they really wanted.

Next, she started paying the kids for their work, told them they could have as many healthy snacks as they wanted, but would have to shell out for the sweeties.

‘At first I didn’t like it, nine-year-old Shannon announced. ‘But now I do, because I get pop.’


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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