Politicians may turn to platitudes about heroes or battlers or victories, but they can’t disguise Britain’s grim current reality
The language of war is baked in to most of us, to one degree or other. Our new daily discourse runs deep with talk of field hospitals, frontlines, the battles against an invisible enemy. The shock of the news that prime minister Boris Johnson lies seriously ill in intensive care drew a tide of messages and well-wishes from world leaders and other politicians, many of which invoked a kind of martial courage. “You are a fighter and we need you back.” “He is a fighter and will beat this virus.” Together, “we will be able to win this battle”. “You fight for a swift recovery.” “You are a fighter, and you will overcome this challenge.” I truly hope he does.
For his part, Dominic Raab – who will deputise for Johnson – was described as looking “shell-shocked” last night, before this morning chairing the “war cabinet”. According to the breakfast interview inquiries thrown at Michael Gove, it seems that one of the primary questions is whether Raab is now technically in charge of the UK’s response to a notional nuclear attack. I suppose we have to treat this as a matter of vital pertinence, though like many people living through this 100-year deadly pandemic, I’d have just three words for any nuclear power contemplating an imminent first strike at the UK: not now, mate.
Related: Boris Johnson’s illness is a message to us all about the horror of coronavirus | Martin Kettle
With classic plague literature now fairly thoroughly mined for instructive similarities with our current predicament – official cover-ups, forced isolation, mad clerics, makeshift burials, heavy-handed policing etc – perhaps it is time to turn to some of the differences.
‘The virus does not discriminate,” suggested Michael Gove after both Boris Johnson and the health secretary, Matt Hancock, were struck down by Covid-19. But societies do. And in so doing, they ensure that the devastation wreaked by the virus is not equally shared.
When I first heard about the Windrush Scandal I was saddened. Like many black Brits of Caribbean and African descent, the idea that our grandparents and parents were now being classified as illegal immigrants was difficult to comprehend.
International experts take a look at the science surrounding Covid-19
In this week’s shifting blame game, health secretary Matt Hancock has kicked Premier League footballers into touch
One of the great rules of British public life is that sooner or later, everything ends up being blamed on footballers. No matter how alien our new world looked at the start of the coronavirus shutdown, you could say one thing for sure: eventually, this will be the fault of Raheem Sterling.
I know that so-called experts will rewind through the testing failures, to the herd immunity row, to the 250,000-strong Cheltenham Festival, to the shifting epicentre of the pandemic, to Spain, to Italy, to South Korea, to air travel, to Wuhan, to patient zero, to the bat in the Chinese wet market. But in a very real sense – perhaps the realest – this whole thing traces way back beyond all that. Back, in fact, to UK humankind’s oldest enemy: young men who play in the Premier League.
It’s actually quite thoughtful of the government to have only 30 out of the required 30,000; it makes the calculations easy. This way, hospitals staff can tell patients: “You’ll need to share one between each thousand”
Read in the Independent
The president was aware of the danger from the coronavirus – but a lack of leadership has created an emergency of epic proportions by and Tom McCarthy in New York When the definitive history of the coronavirus pandemic is written, the date 20 January 2020 is certain to feature prominently.
Mexicans are “rapists”. Muslims should be “banned” from entering America. Black and Hispanic members of Congress should “go back” to where they came from. Immigrants hail from “shithole countries”. White supremacist groups contain some “very fine people”.
What are the chances? All those ‘technology lessons’ in that flat with the pole dancing pole in, and still the urgent email from the EU about buying cheap ventilators ends up in Boris Johnson’s spam folder.