Sales of Christmas lights have quadrupled this festive season. A message is being sent to Johnson and his coterie of doom-laden cohorts.
We are a happy, positive people, and we will not allow you to depress our spirits for another Christmas. We will illuminate the darkness with our message of hope and optimism. We are content to shield behind the ramparts of our brilliant scientists who, with their vaccines, have done what you are not doing: give us hope and inspiration to see this through.
Between 1939 and 1945, one went to prison for “spreading alarm and despondency” – exactly what our current leaders have been doing for almost two years now. Such activity was regarded as one step short of treason. Imagine if Churchill had gone on air predicting hundreds of thousands of deaths due to Nazi bombs, as he might very have done had he been lily-livered and flanked by the likes of Messrs Whitty, Vallance and the boffins of Sage. Instead, he raised the spirit of the nation into a can-do crusade.
I only give the prime minister credit by default for the ordering of massive doses of the Covid vaccines then under development. His mantra for all things is to spend, spend and spend again. Remember the Thames estuary Airport, the bridge to Ireland, the new Royal yacht, the long-forgotten water cannons to control protesters when he was mayor of London? These he had failed to clear with the Home Secretary, so had to be sold at a loss when she declared their use to be un-British.
The massive vaccine order was one project in which his normal financial incontinence and recklessness actually paid off. The truth of the matter is that the real heroes were the scientists and the woman put in charge of the rollout, Kate Bingham.
For almost two years now, we have been assailed and bludgeoned into a mindset of misery and despair and the nation has had enough. Hence the nationwide illuminations; a finger up to the doom-mongers if ever I saw one.
The trail of carnage which the handling of the pandemic has left ranges from suicides and child and domestic abuse to fatally late diagnoses of cancers, mental breakdowns and lost businesses. It is beyond quantifying and we will never know its full extent. Books will be written, but the collateral damage – and let’s not forget the horrifying debts we have incurred – may turn out to be worse than the disease itself. It has reached into every corner of life.
And this accounts for our brilliantly lit cities. It is a message of defiance and the belief that better times are coming. In the light of the spectacularly wrong stream of forecasts of deaths, you would have thought that the government would have shown a degree of caution about the latest 75k forecast and hold back from moving to fresh restrictions until firm evidence emerged to justify it. But, true to form, ministers panicked once again and lost their nerve. Not only did they move us to so-called Plan B, but they started leaking about a Plan C.
All the while, we are finding that all the evidence is pointing in the opposite direction and that the latest, more infectious variant in fact makes you much less ill and in the great majority of cases can be handled at home. Where hospitalisation is required, oxygen is rarely needed and patients are released much quicker. Much more is understood now about the disease and more effective treatments are being delivered.
In the end, this new variant may be doing us a favour by being more transmissible as it may quickly achieve that long-sought-after end, herd immunity, without killing us in the process or even making us seriously ill like the Alpha and Delta strains before it.
Basically, all we needed to do is protect the vulnerable, which we now have the means to do, and life can resume a more normal pattern. Of course, the truth is that the virus never did have an interest in killing us. It was only keen to spread as since killing its host defeats that end.
So where are we now? The government is getting ready to ruin another Christmas by moving to Plan C – which it has hurriedly cobble together – but lo, the angel of the Lord has intervened in the form of the ninety-nine MPs who said no. By their rebellion in the Commons, they have sent the most alarming of shots across the prime minister’s bows. They have made it virtually impossible for him to move beyond the restrictions he has already imposed. Those ninety-nine MPs who put principle before their careers are the true heroes of recent events.
Not only have they said thus far but no farther, but they have extracted a promise that no further measures will be enacted without parliament’s approval. Johnson knows that although he has got his panicky way yet again, it has only been achieved with the embarrassing support of the official opposition. Such a rebellion has made it next to impossible for him to pull off such a stunt again. If he got a bloody nose from his own side this time, he would receive a knockout uppercut if he tried it again. Those fifty-four disgruntled MPs needed to trigger a vote of no confidence in his leadership would become an avalanche.
Pity the new incumbent of Number 10 who would have to live with Carrie’s choice of bizarre furnishings and wallpaper. We might even forgive him or her in spending yet more money in reinstating John Lewis.