Thursday 6 January 2022

Defining futility


Some Tory backbenchers, including ex-PM Theresa May, were being very hard on the PM yesterday, demanding that he set out his plans for dealing with any future variants of Covid. What possessed them to believe that any plan put forward by Johnson would be worth the paper it was written on is one of life’s little mysteries – they know him well enough to know that nothing he says can or should ever be taken at face value anyway. Besides, we can already work out what his plan will be based on his actions to date, and there are three parts to it.

Part 1 will be to deny that there can ever be another variant at all. Deaths will continue at roughly the present rate, and Tory MP’s will politely applaud the PM’s announcement that no new measures are needed.

Part 2 will be to declare that the variant is harmless. It’s not based on data or science (why would we expect that it would be?), but additional deaths will only be in the hundreds or low thousands, and Tory MP’s will shout and wave their order papers at the PM’s announcement that no new measures are needed.

Part 3 will come into effect when mere facts show that the variant might indeed be more infectious than any we’ve seen to date, but the PM will declare that the NHS can and will simply ride the wave. Thousands, or even tens of thousands will die, hundreds of thousands will be hospitalised, parts of the NHS will collapse under the strain – and Tory MPs will cheer the PM to the rafters when he announces that no new measures are needed.

The strategy, if one might dignify it with such nomenclature, has only two elements in reality. The first is that, regardless of what happens, no new measures will be required, and the second is that the announcement of no new measures will please the majority of Tory MPs, with their degree of pleasure increasing in direct proportion to the seriousness of the situation. Given that the second part of that, with its concomitant that the crazies who have taken over the Conservative Party might allow the world king to stay in office a little longer, is now the only driver of pandemic policy, asking for a detailed plan is an entirely futile exercise. A bit like being an ex-PM sitting on the backbenches, I suppose.

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