Leap into fatalities, fatalism and fecundity

February 29th has been a leap of faith day, and faith has proved unwarranted. One month into Brexit, Home Office chief Sir Philip Rutnam has declined the quiet payoff he was offered to get out of the way of our modern-day Cruella DeVille, Priti Patel’s ambitions at the Home Office and has very publicly stood down. In his speech he talks of a concerted and organised brief against him which he believes, although she denies it, comes directly from Ms Patel herself. Sir Philip, it seems, plans to sue the government for constructive dismissal.


Parliament would like to talk to Ms Patel over this, but here’s a woman who is happy spinning the antics of British American Tobacco’s involvement in Burma’s brutal dictatorship and separate child labour scandals; taking over ten times in an hour what BAT pays its Burmese workers a month, she has adroitly applied the whitewash. Of course everyone has to start somewhere and she was only twenty-seven at the time, she might well have seen the error of her ways, but she has since said she would like to bring back capital punishment and she was secretly in cahoots with ministers of the Israeli government, Israeli business and lobbyist when she worked for Mrs May, so probably parliament can whistle. Taking on the civil servants is well up on the government’s agenda, so I think it will be Brownie points at number ten and business as usual.


But business doesn’t seem to be going as well as we might expect for a new government with a huge mandate for change, Prime Minister Johnson is noted for his periodic disappearing tricks and his cowardly and unstatesmanlike responses to the flooding in the north and Wales, and the encroaching Covid 19 pandemic, have been called out widely and loudly from all but his closest sycophants.


Professor Sir Michael Marmot’s 2008 review ‘Fair Society Healthy Lives’ has resurged this week too with the blame for declining outcomes being squarely set on ten years of Tory austerity and reports are demonstrating that hardest hit, deprived areas have borne the greatest brunt. Of course, in some areas, both geographical and political, a certain amount of hardship is still seen as the path to salvation, but as many post-election pledges from an increasingly shifty PM are being seen as the platitudes they probably are, some commentators  are saying that this administration is not long for this world. Not that, presently, the alternative is doing any better with its squabbling and in-fighting, but that’s another story.


Into this sorry tale of bullying, uncaringness and inequality, on this leap day, the Prime Minister throws the deadest cat. It would seem that we are all to be pleased that he, not yet divorced from his estranged wife, is expecting his n-plus-oneth child with his girlfriend who he now plans to marry. Evidently this isn’t new news if you follow these things, and I cannot find it in myself to be churlish about any woman expecting her first baby, but number ten clearly expected the MSM, who were making quite a meal of Sir Philip’s resignation, to drop everything for the spectacle of his up-coming nuptials and baby Johnson, which, I am ashamed to say, they did.


Meanwhile, I would just like to remind you that none of this is normal. I’ve been listening to Timothy Snyder quite a lot recently and he is clear that, in the battle against authoritarianism, which is where this is most likely heading, we must resist fatalism. It is neither normal nor inevitable that ministers should bully out their permanent secretaries, nor is it normal nor inevitable than we should share the riches of our earth so unequally. Our representatives should care that our lives are knee deep in water and we should not be left with the impression that Covid 19 is seen by the government as an opportunity to weed out the weakest, saving in the long-term on the social security budget and lessening the problem of social care, and a bit of a gift if it knocks the economy for six because Brexit’s going to do that anyway and it would be nice to have something else to blame.


Like many before me I will now paraphrase Hubert H. Humphrey: ‘the moral test of government is how that government treats its weakest…’ and my god, ours will be found wanting. But remember this, fatalism is much more fatal to most of us than Covid 19 and this is not normal; don’t persuade yourself it is.





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