It’s turning into a habit.
Parliament was recalled last week to accept the EU trade agreement. It was recalled this week in order to retroactively bless the government’s third national freeze. So you might say that, until the last minute, the government either puts off major legislation or doesn’t even have an idea what it’s going to do from one day to the next.
And neither of you will be wrong: a reminder indicates high drama. The fact was just the opposite.
Before the hearings reached the conclusion that everyone knew was unavoidable, a general feeling of existential boredom.
But it is important to follow parliamentary formalities, and so the day started with Boris Johnson making a statement in which he effectively cut and pasted paragraphs from the televised speech on Monday night along with a few paragraphs from the Downing Street press conference on Tuesday. The latest coronavirus variant had put him on the spot, he began.
Although a little later than many scientists would have preferred, because for weeks he had known about the variant.
So until at least Feb. 22, he intended to hold the nation on lockdown, while laws gave him leeway to keep the U.K. Until the end of March, no one wanted to close the schools, he added, before maintaining that even though he closed them, the schools would still be safe. On both benches, this caused astonishment. We were now in Schrödinger’s domain of colleges.
Secure as well as vulnerable. Only the students and teachers in them are not, unless he meant to say that the schools themselves are safe.
But don’t worry, because we had a way out of the pandemic this time, with 14 million doses of the vaccine given by mid-February to those most at-risk. He was a little short on the logistics specifics.
Keir Starmer expressed only disappointment in his reaction that the government had not acted earlier, as he had himself suggested. Captain Hindsight has morphed into Captain Foresight, as the Prime Minister used to term the Labour leader.
But to be honest, when it comes to when more restrictions are required, most of the country is consistently ahead of the government. Over the past 10 months, Keir went through a quick list of government setbacks, but still he sounded like he was on an autopilot, with the voice of someone who knew he was simply speaking to himself. While the opposition benches were almost bare, the Tory benches were almost full of MPs who had made an additional trip to Westminster to tell how risky these trips had become, and while they regretted the steps and wanted daily votes to keep the restrictions in place between now and March, at the moment they acknowledged the need for them. The sole dissenter was Desmond Swayne, who called “petty malice” the lack of democracy – someone needs to let him know that for the first time since April the number of regular Covid deaths has just passed 1,000 – but Boris dealt with him easily.
In the end, Johnson also looked like a pretty chipper.
So much so that, once again, he started to over-promise, basically assuring the House that in the next month, schools would reopen and life would be more natural.
After a few days in prison, Boris was back, the favorite of the public. Still, compared to what came next, that comment was the highlight of the day – a clarification by the hapless Secretary of Education Gavin Williamson as to why there was no inconsistency when he said last week that tests would still be conducted and schools would remain open, and revealed the reverse this week. “Clumsy, careless, tribalism”: calls for Gavin Williamson to goRead moreIt was all a far cry from the heady days of 2006 when at St Albans Travelodge he won Fireside Salesman of the Year.
He was someone back then.
A guy that’s making it big. He’s just a third-rate politician now, in a position he can’t be dismissed from because he fucked it up so badly that because of the repercussions of Gav’s failure, his replacement will eventually have to quit as well.
So, with each day making a terrible situation worse, he can do nothing but muddle through. His misfortune is that he realizes, deep down, that he is worthless. His faith in himself is broken, his self-esteem at the bottom of a rock. Just the few traces remain of his ego. He is destined to be the worst minister of education ever.