Boris Johnson is a weak man. He is a person who needs to be liked, who has aspired to greatness his whole life and who does not care how he gets there.
His lack of morality is second only to his weakness and when you put the two together you get a devastating combination.
His weakness caused Dominic Cummings to be hired and to become the architect of Brexit. It has created an environment where he cannot sack any of his ministers because of his own behaviour, and now it is heading to creating a situation that could undo all of the work the population has put in to getting us over the initial stages of this pandemic.
Matt Hancock had to resign, everyone called for that to happen, but I am sat here today wishing that he was still in position.
Within 90 minutes of his resignation being announced Sajid Javid was unveiled as the new Secretary of State for Health. This is a bit like asking a fox to look after a chicken coup (as the Labour Party noted) or employing a peadophile to be the head of a primary school.
He was one of the people behind the devastating cuts over the past decade that left the NHS in a position where it could barely cope with annual flu let alone a pandemic, he is an outspoken critic of lockdowns and he was a banker before becoming Chancellor for a short period of time.
In what universe would you look to someone with that CV to head up the NHS in a pandemic?
It goes back to Johnson’ weakness. Above all else he wants loyalty, people who will follow along with his bizarre way of running the country and any sense of competency is not a requirement. But in this case it is a very dangerous game and it could all come falling down quickly.
I do not know how much influence Javid will have over the scientists and ultimately over Johnson, but it is another voice that will potentially ignore the science and who may put the economy above health. Remember, he was a banker and that is the entirety of his qualifications.
Too many people are just desperate to move on with their lives and I understand that, but step back a moment and think about where we are; hospital admissions rising (slowly), deaths rising (slowly) and infections rising (quickly). The key work there is rising and while there is a big part of me that feels we need to try unlocking to see how things go, we can’t live like this forever, I am wary of a Johnson / Javid combination at the top of all of this.
Look at Australia which is now experiencing outbreaks of the Delta variant, a country who has vaccinated under 5% of its population. New Zealand has vaccinated just 8% of its population. This is not over for either of them, but we can be confident that their leaders will find a way to deal with what is in front of them in the best way possible.
What happens if the numbers continue to rise in the UK and the NHS struggles badly again (it is already struggling today)? I fear that the approach will be completely different and that we will at best repeat the errors from before. At worst I fear that we will see 10,000’s of our people dying again.
The only bright point for Johnson, and it is possibly the most important part of all for him, is that all of this covers up the effect Brexit is having on the UK and which is likely about to become quite serious. If he can fool people into believing that everything that has gone wrong is because of Covid he, in his mind, will have succeeded. It sounds fanciful, but he managed to persuade the majority that foreigners were the root of all evil 5 years ago and he is now head of the country.
What a country we are.