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Boris is ecstatic, delivering a vaccine victory Fxxk EU just days after the UK tops the 100,000 death toll! Now that you have had the entire month of January to get to grips with your withdrawal vomiting, here’s a dollop of sick humour to add to your misery, from Otto English in a Byline Times Article cynically entitled, “Helluva Year! Boris Johnson’s 2020 Review.” Satirically he claims, “The Prime Minister has an ‘Australian Style’ litany of successes to celebrate in his first full year,” really? “What ho folks! Boris here, to wish you all a happy New Year, wow you all with some classical references and win you back much as Jack Black steals the heart of Kate Winslet in that wonderful festive film The Holiday. In January, I predicted that 2020 was going to be a fantastic year for Britain and how right I was. One began the year much like Sisyphus, condemned to push the rock of Brexit up and down Whitehall for all eternity, but we have ended it in the manner of Hercules, overcoming the Labours and slaying the nine-headed Hydra of Brussels.”
English’s Boris-shit continues, “Our successes are legion. In industry and healthcare, our toilet paper, plane-painting, funeral, face mask and conspiracy theory sectors have all witnessed unprecedented growth in 2020 and more folks than ever are using our fantastic NHS. In transport, we have increased capacity, with considerably more space on our buses and trains. In education, enormous strides have been made. After decades of lefty teachers indoctrinating ‘kids’ with stuff about how ghastly the Empire was, more children now grasp important stuff like basic measurements up to a distance of two metres, while history students have enjoyed a year-long immersive ‘Blitz Spirit’ experience, with more to come in 2021!” I have noted a proliferation of sentimental WWII programing on the BBC to help us prepare for the hardship, deprivation and rationing while we’re made to believe that all of the coming misery is the fault of foreigners and the EU, but none of the self-inflicted pain can be blamed on the Tory Government.
Of our evil Tory Home Secretary English writes, “On Priti Patel’s watch, free movement has been ended and we have managed to extend it to include YOU!! Yes folks, in future you won’t have to waste needless hours travelling to Spain or Venice or eating ghastly French food and supping their wine. Instead, you will be able to enjoy beach holidays on the Costa Del North Sea or soak up the sights of the great canals of Watford while enjoying a glass of generic own brand cider from Lidl. People sometimes ask me ‘was Brexit actually worth it?’ To which the answer is “yes of course, I’m Prime Minister!” But that’s not the only win. Thanks to our fantastic deal, in five to 10 years’ time, our brave fishermen will be able to catch 2.3% more fish in foreign-owned boats and sell them back to the French.” The fishermen are just discovering how badly they have been sold down the channel and out into the mid Atlantic; stranded, unable to sell their catch without gobs of onerous paperwork: dead fish in the back of a lorry can’t wait!
‘Global Britain’ trade deals English ‘Boris-shits’, “The Remoaning naysayers also failed to take into account Liz Truss, the greatest International Trade Secretary of this decade! So far. Liz’s many successes include free trade agreements with Liechtenstein, Kosovo, the mighty Faroe Islands and the ‘Palestinian Authority’ that will all add literally pounds to some of our exports. Liz has also secured major wins for Vietnamese fishermen who can finally purchase a Bentley, tariff-free, without some Frenchman getting in the way. Our next move is to join the Trans Pacific Partnership Free Trade Area meaning an end to the menace of hundreds of billions of pounds of frictionless free trade with our neighbours, in favour of tiny deals with countries seven thousand miles away that will do nothing for our GDP!” London to Glasgow for the weekly shop why not? Sod the massively increased carbon footprint of all that long-distance shipping our ‘world beating’ astronomers are busy searching the galaxy for earth’s celestial twin ‘planet B’.
English’s Boris blather continues, “Of course, the year has brought some challenges in the shape of the dreaded C word. Yes, I was deeply saddened to see Jeremy Corbyn go after everything he has done for us, only to be replaced by that ghastly man who asks a lot of questions.” I diverge from this take, as I believe the PM is greatly relieved to see Trojan horse Starmer destroying the progressive Socialist Labour Party to leave no opposition. Boris rants, “There was also the ghastliness with the whole dreadful ‘flu’ business. The constant fear of how the Sun‘s Harry Cole would spin it in our favour this time has been a challenge and even Harry couldn’t save the Domster, which was a very personal tragedy. As with millions of ordinary families we too have had our financial concerns. I took a massive pay cut to become PM and getting by on a working man’s salary of £158,000 has left us all worrying about how we will pay for Wilf’s Eton fees and indeed those of any other children who come popping out of the woodwork.”
Beach party Boris tossed out a bomarang… Posing as the PM, English quips, “In an effort to cheer everyone up, my adviser Chloe Westley suggested early on in the year that we rebrand everything ‘Australian’. ‘People in the UK love Kylie, Home and Away and Dame Edna’, she reasoned, and just the mention of the word seems to make them stop thinking about deprivation and death and start dreaming of warm beaches and Mick Dundee wrestling crocodiles instead. Initial roll-out was hugely effective at pulling the corked hats over people’s eyes and so in future everything will be Australian. The coming ‘Australian-style recession’, ‘Australian-style social depravation’ and ‘Australian-style mass unemployment’ will give us all a warm and fuzzy feeling. I know too that the Home Secretary is keen on the idea of an ‘Australian-style death penalty’ that will rid us of our worst offenders, but like all the best soaps we’ll have to sit on the edge of our seats to see if she manages it! Throw another innocent patsy on the barbie, Priti!”
English’s satirical pitch was sounding too much like the weekly PR spin at PMQ, nausiating… “Leaving the EU has given us other opportunities, not least, the chance to take back control of our democracy and, to that end, my Government has taken huge strides. No more are we to be ruled by unelected and unaccountable foreign politicians! Instead, I have appointed People’s Peers including Lady Claire Fox of Hypocrisy, Lady Kate of Hoey, Lord Botham of Beefy, Lord Daniel Hannan of Walter Mitty on the walk, Lord Evgeny Lebvedev of Moscow and Lord Jo Johnson of Nepotism to lead us back to greatness. Once I’ve found my filofax expect thousands more in the new year! Well, that’s all folks. As my New Year’s missive drags to its end, I would like to express my surprise and gratitude that you have all bought in! A wise man once said that you ‘can fool all the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time’. That chump clearly didn’t have the press barons on his side! Buller! Buller! Buller! Boris.”
Sick joking aside, Boris Johnson’s PR spin machine has been cranked up into high gear as he surfs the relief wave of vaccination roll-out in an effort to overtake the tsunami of Covid deaths in the UK. We wouldn’t be in such a frantically desperate scramble to accomplish this task if the PM’s shambolic handling of the Covid 19 crisis and chronic ‘too little too late’ decision making had not wiped out between 100,000 and 120,000 unfortunate individuals unnecessarily. Like New Zealand, who have kept Covid fatalities below 25, as an island we could have tightened border restrictions and implemented a strict quarantine, enhanced our local NHS Track and Trace capacity and canceled mass gatherings early-on. We had ample warning from China, Italy and WHO, but Boris-shit bravado Johnson defied WHO advice to “Test, Test, Test;” shake on that! No, plucky Brits didn’t need to wear masks, then we shut down Test and Trace to boldly “take it in the chin,” relying of the eugenics psudo-science of zero action “Herd Immunity!”
An opinion piece posed a question in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Article asking: “Have we reached ‘peak neoliberalism’ in the UK’s covid-19 response? With government–backed furlough schemes in use, and additional funds flowing to the NHS like no time since 2010, it might not initially seem as though the past year represents the height of neoliberalism in the United Kingdom. Instead, the intervening hand of Westminster has been harvesting the magic money tree for NHS funding. Government prime-time news conferences on epidemiology, infection prevention, and vaccination might seem to be a vindication of the importance of public health, and a recognition of the primacy of the NHS. However, how the government has reacted to covid-19, the decisions taken on privatisation and outsourcing, build on previous defunding and reorganisation of public health and local councils, and represent an acceleration of the involvement of market forces and neoliberalism in the health service, and in social care.”
The BMJ ask, “What is neoliberalism in health?” BMJ say, “Neoliberalism’ has been used as a catch-all term by people at all points on the political spectrum. But its actual definition is contested. Bell and Green broadly define it as a “post-welfare state model of social order that celebrates unhindered markets as the most effective means of achieving economic growth and public welfare,” and give two examples, Thatcherism and Reaganism, as ideologies that met this definition. In health policy scholarship, a neoliberal policy is one that tries to take actors that traditionally lie outside the market, the NHS, for example, or laboratories, and either bring them into its fold by introducing market forces, such as competition and privatisation, or dismantle them. The process can require wide-scale and substantial government intervention, in order to restructure services and processes.”
According to the BMJ, “Although some point to government involvement in covid-19 as a sign that neoliberalism is waning, this is ignoring the fact that the implementation of neoliberal processes in fact requires government intervention and regulation to favour market solutions. Its proponents say that neoliberalism reduces inefficiencies and allows for ‘innovation’, and in the UK NHS this has meant marketisation, ‘creeping privatisation’, and underfunding for over a decade, under austerity policies in the wake of the global financial crisis. Neoliberal ideologies also align with government subsidies; for example, the Moderna covid-19 vaccine received $1 billion in US government funding for research and development. Without question, an effective vaccine will have a role in the covid-19 response; but it is also true that alternative models of financing vaccines exist that protect the taxpayer. Calls for public-sector-led development of pharmaceutical research and development have largely gone unanswered.”
The BMJ report that, “Neoliberal health policies have previously been associated with an increased burden of non-communicable diseases, increased inequities, worsening public health, and less funding for primary care services and systems, among others. This has perhaps, until covid-19, been seen most clearly in responses to non-communicable diseases and the unhealthy commodities industries that propel them, such as the policy debates surrounding taxation or regulation of alcohol, sugar, and processed foods. Since the covid-19 response, these factors, well known to those who work in public health or health promotion, have manifested across the entire spectrum of the UK’s covid-19 response.”
The BMJ highlight, “Outsourcing,” as a major culprit with regard to serious problems in the Covid-19 response. The BMJ say that, “Large swathes of the UK’s response measures to covid-19 have been outsourced at great expense, and with little evidence of any subsequent efficiencies as neoliberalism’s proponents claim should follow. Many of these contracting debacles have hit the front pages, including Deloitte’s contracts for managing drive-in testing centres and laboratory services; Serco’s role in the underperforming ‘NHS test and trace’ service, including reports of 500,000 leaking, contaminated vials; DHL, Unipart, and Movianto for various contracts, delayed, partially unfulfilled, and involving a complex web of disjointed subcontracts, related to the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE). The consequences of these outsourcing processes include inefficiency, waste, lack of oversight, poor lines of accountability, and failure to generate and consolidate timely and useful information.”
The BMJ cite a prime example, “in June it became clear that Lighthouse laboratories, a company contracted to provide covid-19 tests, was turning around test results in three days, when the NHS labs were doing the same tests, and turning around results in as little as six hours. Moreover the BMA asserts that the Lighthouse lab tests were of inferior quality to the NHS standards. There were also serious contracting woes in Deloitte laboratories, which did not have to share relevant data with Public Health England or local partners. These are serious and expensive failings. Many of these companies, with links to cabinet ministers, their spouses and friends, and Tory party donors, have benefited from bypassing the traditional tendering processes. The onslaught of conflicting interests, cronyism, and the appearance of pandemic, private-sector profiteering in the government response to the covid-19 pandemic has been described elsewhere.”
The BMJ ask, “So what if it is ‘peak neoliberalism’?” The BMJ stress that, “It’s not effective as a pandemic plan.” The BMJ point out that, “Most governments are bulk-purchasing diagnostics speculatively, driven by the fear that their populations (and, crucially, electorates) will be left out in the cold when eventually a successful therapy or test is developed. The same was the case with the vaccines that are now being rolled out. The problem is that putting the economy on the opposing side to public health seemingly leads to less effective decision-making for both. For example, one additional week without a lockdown in March 2020 is estimated to have resulted in an additional 20,000 covid-19 deaths and longer spent in lockdown in May and June.” The BMJ warn that, “It means that austerity may return. It may seem as though this conservative government is in fact moving away from neoliberal tenets in the short term. However, in the longer term, we have ample reason for concern.” I think, under the Tories, austerity is inevitable!
The BMJ say, “There were warning signs, just before the second lockdown, that the government’s willingness to pay is dwindling. Although the furlough scheme was renewed on the strength of the epidemiological evidence that led to a national lockdown, the showdown between the regions, in particular Greater Manchester, and the Treasury was a warning sign of things to come.” The BMJ point out that, “Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned public sector employees of pay squeezes. Also, we can consult precedent. In a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats after the 2008-09 global financial crisis, the Tories implemented austerity policies that we now know had severe health impacts on the poorest in society, reversing the trend towards increased life expectancy and plunging families into poverty.”
“Many, including the BMA, argue that the position of the underfunded NHS entering the covid-19 crisis has contributed to the explanation of why the UK has been particularly hard hit compared with its peers in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The perils of underinvestment in public health infrastructure, and the perils of underinvestment in the health of a country’s inhabitants, have come to the fore in the pandemic.” The BMJ rightly point to how, “The USA has served as a cautionary tale. With fragmented, privatised, and underfunded public health services, the country was not protected by its wealth; if anything, the neoliberal ideologies that have led to tens of millions in the world’s wealthiest country to live in a state of insecure access to largely employment-tied healthcare options meant that covid-19 has incurred catastrophic expenses, both economy-related and health-related, for millions across the country.”
The BMJ trustingly report that, “A spokesperson for Boris Johnson in June ruled out a return to austerity to pay for the pandemic response, but this was before the second wave. Moreover, the other fiscal and monetary measures that could be implemented to pay for covid-19 borrowing, wealth taxes, rises in income taxes, printing more money, or in fact borrowing more while it remains inexpensive to do so, in order to spend our way out of the coming recession, are unlikely to be popular with the current British administration.” The problem here is that despite a lengthy track record of over-promising and under-delivering, deliberate false pledges and renouncing allocation of funds that never actually materialize, the BMJ should be a lot more skeptical regarding the PM’s commitment to end austerity. No one should be fooled by the ‘lev…up’ lie because in reality money will be hovered up from the working poor to stuff the pockets of the filthy rich, just as is always the case the second a Tory Government gets into power.
Authors, “Rebecca E Glover of the Faculty of Public Health Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Nason Maani of the Boston University School of Public Health, say, “Looking ahead, we are approaching a year into the UK pandemic, and we are in the middle of a third UK lockdown.” The note that, “It is not inconceivable that we might have been in a different place had the government built on our public sector capacity in contact tracing and public health when this pandemic began. But,” they generously advise, “instead of wallowing in counterfactuals, we make three recommendations for the way forward. Firstly, it is not too late for public sector capacity to be strengthened in lieu of neoliberal outsourcing. Secondly, effective and accountable contracting and tendering processes should not be circumvented in favour of cronyism. Thirdly, a transparent communication style, the hallmark of trustworthy public institutions, could be embraced by this administration.” None of this is likely under the Tories.
So before you wet yourself with excitement over the speed of a panicked vaccine roll-out that has the UK singled out as the only nation to experiment with extending the time period between the required first dose and the booster shot, just think about why this Tory Government thought such a ‘Russian roulette’ decision was necessary. Not because we are short of supplies, as we are in a far better position than most other countries; no, it is all about the numbers and giving a false impression of accomplishment. This is the exact same con as counting one left glove and one right glove as two pieces of PPE: the PM relied on a deliberately deceptive false impression to brag about his amazing accomplishment while Oxford AstroZenica scale back supplies of vaccine to the EU. It is yet another cheap shot that could put lives at risk as there’s scant data to support the efficacy of the delay which could potentially facilitate a new, more infectious or deadly mutation of Covid 19: the expendable UK public are trapped in the Tory PM’s petri dish!
Other countries are cautiously awaiting the results of the UK experiment, but do not expect honesty or transparency from this Tory Government or end to their highly selective Crony Capitalism, relentlessly squandering of public funds to support dysfunctional projects and obscene profiteering. We all know who will be forced to pay for their folly and corruption, but you can’t get blood out of a stone: the British working poor represent vast beaches littered with bone dry stones! We need to smarten up, protest, resist and challenge them when they rant about getting the economy back on track, but are purely focused on their profits at the expense of our survival. A tough crack-down on procurement and contract awards, plus a Robust Investigation into how this corrupt cabal came to power in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election are both urgently needed or many more will die under this Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. DO NOT MOVE ON!