Thursday, September 23

Saved by the bell, Boris Johnson’s government kicks off its flip-flops for the summer | Polly toynbee

ORn the last day of the legislature, there is a bad tradition of governments scurrying away from a series of unwanted reports and decisions that they hope to hide amid the great summer getaway from Westminster. Not this time. Instead, in a week of fiasco for the government, all we can hear is the deafening roar of huge cans being kicked down the road. Recess comes with everything Boris Johnson should have done without doing. The prime minister’s fatal indecision is final.

Newspaper front pages scream about the empty shelves left by pinging workers, while a million children in England miss their last week of school, and many sectors fear being overwhelmed by pings. This week’s promised list of crucial workers who will be exempt from Covid’s test-and-trace isolation finally emerged last night, covering a number of industries, including emergency services, local government, food, and medical supplies. While all sectors were crying out for help, another hapless minister, Kwasi Kwarteng at the BBC breakfast on Thursday, was sent to the top to say nothing at all: yes, there would be a list, just “quite limited”, but no, it was not. ready right now. Why the hell did it take so long?

Pings and masks are both a “warning” and a “rule”, according to the hostage minister who is forced to know the news, and cause friction everywhere, like some who cannot afford to isolate delete your NHS test and trace app to avoid getting pinged. It’s easy to see why, as 2 million workers are deemed not earning enough throughout the pandemic to claim a pitiful £ 95.85 weekly sick pay, the lowest in the OECD as a share of earnings. . Meanwhile, the 6 million who earn enough to claim sick pay cannot live on it. It should come as no surprise that the UK has had such high rates of Covid infection and death, demanding an impossible sacrifice from those most likely to become infected at work.

It’s a humiliating hell to be Johnson’s minister. Look at the unfortunate housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, posted on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning to defend the prime minister and chancellor, who were seeking to avoid isolation after Sajid Javid tested positive for the virus. In an hour they had changed their senses. Too bad the miserable Deputy Health Minister Helen Whately, sent naked to the House of Commons on Wednesday for not announcing the promised 3% pay increase for nurses, much to the President’s fury later, after the ad aired not in the Chamber but in a video. Message from the self-isolating secretary of health. Big government players were still arguing with Zoom about how to pay and, outrageously, whether the 1.5% should be just a one-time bonus. What will the 8% rise in triple-lock retirees now look like as teachers, police and others suffer even more inflation-ravaged pay freezes? Indecision reigns.

Welfare plans have been rejected again, amid the back stairs – no answer Johnson can bear, as it requires steep tax increases. The Brexit trade deal threatens to unravel again as Johnson’s bully David Frost raises the hairs on the Northern Ireland protocol between businesses in the UK, while stoking feud across the EU and the White House, all because “sovereignty” comes before agreement. EU food standards. In its rush to agree to post-Brexit trade deals, the government could cut them regardless of what the public thinks. When we finally see Johnson really make up his mind, it’s a hit to the head to put his foot on the Brexit accelerator and hit a brick wall.

Home Secretary Priti Patel continues to pretend she has simple answers to the problem of the English Channel ships carrying migrants: inflate expectations and then stoke anger at their inevitable failures, while offering only solutions deemed “cruel. and impractical “. Meanwhile, their border guards give up even checking the Covid status of arrivals, even though variant infections are a far greater danger to our way of life than migrants crossing the English Channel.

The vital government-organized international climate summit Cop26 is approaching – lovely goals, no map on how to reach them. “Leveling up” is just a phrase. Our army flees Afghanistan shamefully, without choice or honor after 20 years of prideful nation-building pretense; the aftermath will embarrass us and kill many innocents.

Johnson’s culture war, which serves as a useful distraction from all his painful indecision, is wearing thin. He was embarrassed by his bluster in European football as he refused to condemn the boos from England’s kneeling team, who later proved themselves to be national heroes. Trying to poke fun at the old trope of the enemies of the people, Justice Minister Robert Buckland, this week launched its assault on judicial review to curb the power of individuals who appeal to judges when the government violates its own laws. Embarrassing, but his anti-alarm fire is dying out.

A year ago, on questions from the last prime minister before the July 2020 recess, Johnson made a weak joke about Keir Starmer adopting “more sandals than Bournemouth beach.” Not true – and Starmer stopped with a sharp answer about the “former columnist who writes two versions of each article.” But the flip-flops are all the prime minister has to show for the following year. That has been fatal to many senior citizens and fatal to their country in this pandemic.

An insightful Eton 1982 End-of-Term Report about a young Johnson it rings truer than ever: “Boris sometimes seems offended when criticized for what amounts to a serious lack of responsibility … I think he honestly thinks it’s rude of us not to regard him as an exception, someone who should be free from the web of obligations that binds everyone else. ” This letter was sent to his father, they undoubtedly laughed together.

The only question during the summer, and in the fall, when you finally have to make some defining economic decisions, is how many voters will come close to the opinion of your former director?

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