boris johnson is an utter & absolute prick

Welcome to Johnson’s alternative reality, where care home workers get the blame
Marina Hyde, Groan, Jul 7 2020

Boris Johnson at a construction site in Goole, East Yorks, Jul 6 2020.

Can it really be three months ago that Matt Hancock responded to the government’s failure to provide care home workers with adequate PPE by announcing what he called “a new brand”? This, you might dimly recall, was a small lapel badge for care home workers. Its prophylactic properties were unclear, though it was certainly intended to throw a ring of steel around Hancock, who at least managed to get his hands on one. Unfortunately, owing to a second supply problem, the government promptly struggled to even provide care workers with the badge. Despite all this, plenty of people dismissed critics of the badge-based response as sneerers. We must hope to hear from them again now the government is officially blaming care home workers for the deaths of people in care homes, and presumably blaming care home workers for the deaths of care home workers themselves. According to Boris Johnson, a COBRA-dodging handshake-nut who was blamelessly “mugged” by the virus himself, “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have.” Oof. This is quite the blame-game from a government that operated a formal procedure of discharging more than 25k people from hospitals into care homes without testing them for coronavirus. You could say that care home residents are still living with the consequences of that decision, were it not for the fact that so many of them ended up dying from it. Either way, the prime minister’s shithousery led to a veritable explosion from Mark Adams, the chief executive of leading social care charity Community Integrated Care, who said this morning:

We’re almost entering an alternative reality where the government set the rules, we follow them and they don’t like the results and they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best.

A statement with which my only cavil is: enterING? I fear we have been plunged into this alternative reality for some time now. If you’re looking for “a new brand,” call it the Mattrix. Needless to say the government’s next weaselling out of responsibility has been to say that Johnson didn’t mean what people are saying he meant, even though those were literally the words he said. Perhaps they’ll get away with it. In fairness, the prime minister’s oratorical style increasingly provokes questions. Namely: can you feel your arm? Does your vision seem affected? Can you name the current prime minister? (I’m going to shock us all: it’s actually you.)

So yes: we are where we are. And yet: need we be? Is it too much to want to live in a country where the government doesn’t describe its own pandemic response as whack-a-mole? I mean, guys … Go to the fairground. No one wins whack-a-mole. Only people who’ve had 12 pints of scrumpy believe they can execute a precise and targeted approach to emerging outbreaks of mole. That’s how the circus folk have set it up: you’re never going to win the giant teddy, yes? You’re going to flame out below the threshold for a tiny teddy, shake your head, think about asking the carnival operator for your money back, have a look at him, think better of it, then make the same mistake all over again trying to shoot some ducks through a gun barrel with a 20-degree bend in it. Whack-a-mole? You might as well describe your contact-tracing strategy as Find the Lady.

Speaking of which, no sooner have the pubs opened than the first few are forced to close again, after punters tested positive for coronavirus. A number of pubs are now beginning the process of contacting people who spent “Independence Day” with them. Please take a moment to enjoy the bathos. A few months ago, government ministers were honking daily that we were going to invent our own world-beating test-and-trace app, a state-of-the-art public health strategy that has now been delegated to the manager of the Fox and Hounds in Batley. Still, it was interesting to see how enthusiastically the British government promoted last Saturday as “Independence Day,” considering that what is traditionally celebrated on Independence Day is the pleasure of no longer being ruled by the British government. If only the British ruling class of 1776 had thought of it, they could have placated the 13 American colonies with a haircut and some Jägerbombs.

Ultimately, it will stand as a lasting tribute to Johnson’s priorities that he opened the pubs before the schools. Perhaps the government’s hope is that if you ban education for long enough, you drive it underground and make it someone else’s problem to administer. Perhaps even now, pubs are beginning to operate illegal education stills. To gain access to the old speakeasies, customers in the know would often pass a book across a decoy store counter. Our best hope now is that children are entering pubs and ordering a pint of snakebite, which is the signal for the bar staff to furtively slide back the spirit optics to reveal a door to a hidden cellar classroom where illicit learning is being dispensed. The alternative reality is that the future of an increasingly lost generation of schoolchildren is still in the hands of Gavin Williamson and Boris Johnson. What an intensely sobering thought. You can see why this is an administration that reflexively understands theirs is a governing style best enjoyed very drunk indeed.

Boris Johnson Refuses To Apologise To Care Home Owners Over Covid Remarks
Paul Waugh, HuffPost UK, Jul 7 2020

Boris Johnson has refused to apologise to care home owners left furious by his apparent attempt to blame them for deaths during the coronavirus pandemic. Downing Street sidestepped repeated questions on whether the prime minister regretted his remark that “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have.” The National Care Association called on Johnson to formally retract his comments and one care home chief launched a withering attack on his “cowardly” “travesty of leadership” over the Covid crisis. Almost 20k care home residents in England and Wales have died with coronavirus, the majority dying in their care home, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said. Covid-19 accounted for 29% of the deaths of care home residents between Mar 2 and Jun 12, and a fifth of all deaths of care home residents this year. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, told MPs today:

We have been learning about this virus from the start and improving procedures all the way through. I pay tribute to the care homes in this country who have done so much to care for the most vulnerable throughout the crisis.

Nadra Ahmed, the chairman of the NCA, said:

Johnson’s remarks are a huge insult. To think they have stood clapping for the NHS and social care and then use the same hands to slap the faces of social carer is absolutely appalling. When you think of some of the mistakes that have been made, I am absolutely stunned that he has made those comments and he should retract them.

Mark Adams, chief executive of charity Community Integrated Care, said the prime minister’s comments were “hugely frustrating.” He told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Tuesday morning:

I think we’re almost entering an alternative reality where the government set the rules, we follow them and they don’t like the results and they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best. I think this at best was clumsy and cowardly. I think what we’re getting is history re-written in front of us, when you could list pages and pages of government failure which the system has had to cope with. And to get a throwaway comment, almost glibly blaming the social care system and not holding your hand up for starting too late, doing the wrong things, making mistake after mistake, is just frankly unacceptable.

Here is the full exchange between Lobby journalists and the PM’s official spox:

Q: The PM seems to have upset lots of people on his visit to Yorkshire yesterday when he talked about care homes. What did he mean when he said too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures?
A: Throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances. The prime minister was pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time. We have put in place a comprehensive action plan to protect care homes, including rigorous testing, and additional funding.
Q: The implication of what he said is they’ve done something wrong. Is he not suggesting they did anything wrong?
A: As I just said throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances. What he was pointing out was that nobody knew the correct procedures to put in place were at the time, because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known. We’re learning about this virus all the time. This is a novel virus and the medical and scientific understanding of it grows as the days and weeks pass by.
Q: So why didn’t he say that?
A: I don’t think there’s any more I can add on this. I am just setting out what the PM was pointing out.
Q: Does the PM regret his choice of words?
A: As I say, what the PM was doing was pointing out that nobody knew all the correct procedures were because we didn’t know the extent of asymptomatic transmission at the time. We know that care providers across the country, and have been doing their utmost to keep those they look after safe in the most challenging circumstances. And it remains the case that almost 60% of care have not had an outbreak at all.
Q: He’s accused huge offence in the care sector, would he like to retract or apologise for those comments?
A: As I’ve just set out, the PM thinks that throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.
Q: The National Care Association is asking for a formal retraction, is the PM open to that?
A: It’s not something I’ve discussed with him, but as I’ve just said to you the PM thinks that throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.
Q: People are viewing this as an insult. Wouldn’t it be helpful for the PM to go out and clarify what he meant? Because the clear implication of what he said was that care homes were somehow to blame, there were procedures they should have followed, they didn’t and that’s why it’s all gone so badly wrong.
A: Again, the PM was pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time.
Q: What do you say to people he’s just passing the buck here?
A: The PM’s view is that throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.
Q: So no apology to care homes today at all? He said what he’s said and everyone has just misunderstood it?
A: I think, I have been very clear that the PM thinks that throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under what have been very difficult circumstances.

Groon adds:

The Downing Street attempt to draw a line under the row about Boris Johnson’s care homes criticism by trying to redefine what he actually said does not seem to be working very well, at least on the basis of what one care home owner told BBC News earlier this afternoon. This is what David Crabtree from Crabtree Care Homes in Yorkshire said about the PM’s comment yesterday:

He’s wrong, and it’s an appalling statement to make. This is an intelligent, articulate man, the prime minister, who should not be throwing off-the-cuff remarks that are so hurtful and derogatory to our staff. These staff, throughout the nation, have fought valiantly for these people. These are residents who we’ve cared for for many years. And now we’re told ‘it was our fault’. This is absolutely ridiculous. He may well have misinterpreted himself. But surely by now, as an adult, I beseech you, Boris Johnson, for the nation’s carers and home care workers, please apologise. That’s my message to you.

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