ALERT! ALERT! STAY ALERT! This is the new message from the British Government today as they try to gradually ease lockdown restrictions and remedy the economy. But there is a danger that this message in itself may cause an internet block as everyone in the UK rushes to begin to try and purchase night-vision goggles, leotards and copious amounts of red bull as they attempt to heed the PM’s instruction. Every neighbour becoming a curtain-twitcher. Chemist supplies of drugs for narcolepsy becoming scarce. And a new wave of confusion breaks over the UK.
We have only learned one thing from the PM’s pre-recorded speech, and that is that many under-privileged, working class people will have to return to work tomorrow. Those that can’t work from home will return to their station a mere 12 hours after Boris made this evening’s broadcast. This is in the form of supposed “active encouragement”, but what does that even mean? Iain Duncan Smith touring the northern parts of England, hanging out of a chopper with a megaphone in hand, “C’MON SLACKERS GET BACK TO WORK! MANCUINIANS, GEORDIES AND LIVERPUDLIANS ALIKE GET OUT OF YOUR SCRATCHERS AND GET OUT THERE AND WORK FOR BRITAIN! ITS ONLY A BLOODY VIRUS!”. Or does it simply mean that if you don’t turn up, you are for the chop.
But Boris cares, no he really does care. He doesn’t want people to get public transport to work, but rather, use their now unlimited amount of exercise to get there. In fact, the labourers, tradesmen and construction workers can at least cycle to AND from work now, rather than cycling to work, chain up the bike, take the tube back in the evening, get up the next morning and take the tube in before unchaining the bike they left there the night before to cycle home again in order to keep within the once a day exercise guidelines. Brilliant and inspiringly thoughtful, particularly for those who must arrive to work with heavy sets of tools.
In order to ensure that the press could listen to his speech and at least report something back, he was sure to slip in a couple of upbeat soundbites regarding schools, shops, the hospitality service and flights but was very careful not to make the same cock up the namesake Han did, “100’000 tests a day”. The boobytrap of actually saying something concrete was given the show and go, all of these promises preceded by “may”, “we hope”, “it is our ambition”. And if the past 12 years of Tory rule have shown us anything, its that the rag-tag Etonian clique of privately educated born to rule elitists rarely keep a promise, “getting a trade deal with the EU will be easy”, “I was never in Israel” and of course, “no more cuts!”.
Moments wherein a PM takes over the national airways incredibly important, poignant even. To me, these messages are being used for politics rather than a strong, essential message being delivered. People will have come away from this evening with more questions than answers. People will begin to doubt even further Boris’s ability to effectively combat COVID-19 after this, even more so than his advisors doubt his ability to deliver a live speech to the British people. I hope that the Tories can come out this week to give what was said this evening substance and meaning. It’s not even a case of “crossing the t’s and dotting the I’s”, it’s a case of writing an entire essay to put meat on the feeble bones of this evening. I hope for the sake of those that live on the British Isles, there is clarity delivered and a genuine cohesion for of all of us. But, regrettably, I doubt it.