Historical Role-Playing Games and Myths of the Furlough

I’m liking the PM’s new parlour game for the lockdown. It’s called “Which Historical Character Shall I Be Today?”. Early days Johnson tried out “Jesus” with ink spilt by scribes on how he had a miraculous recovery, faced adversity, became a new man, and had a cathartic experience, a covid epiphany. The code was clear enough. If we had previously thought of Boris Johnson as a lying racist sack of shit with all the scruples of a hyena, we should now reconsider him as a more exulted character, a kindly leader, risen again.

Next up Boris tried “Churchill”, which worked a bit better, both being racist Tories he and his spinners had at least some common denominators to play with. The redoubtable Boris defending the White Cliffs of Dover against the Bosch, or something. This was worked on for a few weeks as the death-toll mounted, now, today, the switch was to Franklin D Roosevelt, architect of the New Deal in the crisis of America’s depression.

Predictably the farce of the Prime Ministers latest cosplay quickly unraveled under the slightest scrutiny.

The SNP said: “On Monday the Scottish Government proposed the UK needs £80 billion of investment to meet the challenge of #COVID economic recovery. That would’ve been 4% of UK GDP – in line with Germany’s plan. Boris Johnson’s “New Deal” is £5 billion of repackaged Tory plans – 0.2% of GDP.”

Others pointed out that the £5 billion New Deal announced by Boris Johnson is the equivalent of 14 weeks worth of the £350m a week we were promised for our NHS in 2016.

Marina Hyde quickly destroyed him in a quickly-penned piece here.

Even the BBC – whose Political and Economic Editors had been fluffing Johnson’s announcement on Radio Scotland’s Lunchtime Live show – had a fact-checking service that quietly destroyed his ridiculous announcements.

British political commentators, those on the inside track anyway have developed ways of describing Johnson’s announcements with colorful euphemism. This collage of lies and disinformation was described as “broad-brush”.

There was little for Scotland other than some over-reached hyperbole about the furlough. The PM blathered that the Union remains an “incredible partnership” that has “more than shown its worth” during the coronavirus crisis, a claim that defies any sentient understanding of what’s unfolding. The furlough (and wider handling of the crisis) of comparable countries – like Denmark, Ireland or New Zealand is well worth comparison, but it contradicts the vainglorious assumptions of morbid unionism.

The Prime Minister said it was the “might of the United Kingdom Treasury” which had saved jobs and businesses through the furlough scheme before announcing a study of “cross-sea links” around the four nations, a sly reference to the ridiculous bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland that gets sporadically wheeled out on a three month rotation.

The claims about the great stability the UK represents through the covid experience are further undermined by breaking news from the FT’s intrepid John Burn-Murdoch that the “The UK government’s published numbers of new cases at local authority level only include pillar 1 and *not* pillar 2 cases, meaning as many as 90% of new cases are missing from the data.”

What does this mean?

Public Health England publishes a weekly breakdown of the two categories: tests from hospitals, known as Pillar 1, and tests from commercial labs that process at-home and drive-through tests, known as Pillar 2. Pillar 2 is, unsurprisingly more comprehensive.

Burn-Murdoch and colleagues explain: “According to published data for Leicester, the city recorded just 80 new positive tests between June 13-26. But health secretary Matt Hancock revealed that there were in fact 944 as he announced the decision to tighten the lockdown in Leicester, closing non-essential shops and ordering schools to shut to all non-key worker pupils by Thursday.”


Who knows if the information about this unfolding public health disaster is mismanaged deliberately to sugar-coat the scale of death for political gain, or whether they are just so incompetent they just don’t know their R rate from their elbow?

It looks increasingly likely that the UK government is deliberately concealing as many as 90% of new coronavirus cases in England, and that that decision was taken at ministerial level.

In this context, and with the good news that we are now in the fourth day in a row with no confirmed COVID deaths registered in Scotland, it’s imperative that the Scottish Government control the border and monitor incoming flights into Scotland. Even if there’s a political price to pay for this it is the morally right thing to do given the information we have.

So who should Boris play next at “Which Historical Character Shall I Be Today?”.


Comments (17)

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  1. Bill says:

    How about William Joyce aka Lord Haw Haw. Most of the crap coming from Boris, Dom, Mikey, Matty and the corrupt Robbie is at that level


  2. Richard Easson says:

    Boris Notgudanov.

  3. Richard Easson says:

    Boris Notgodunov.

    1. Richard Easson says:

      my spelling is not good enough, sorry.

  4. Denis says:

    Thatcher (because she is dead).

  5. Squigglypen says:

    This ungainly, untidy, untrustworthy immoral wretch who represents us at a global level is a total embarrassment to Scotland. I couldn’t care less if he lives or dies and ignore all his ‘pranks’.
    Independence quick before they think we voted him in….or worse that he’s Scottish…
    When I was in Peru a number of years ago people I spoke to thought Scotland was a city in England…think on that next time you vote…

    1. John O'Dowd says:

      In the US a few years ago, I was asked what my accent was, and where I came from.

      When I said “Scotland”, I was asked – “Oh – is that near Manchester?”

      Laugh or cry?

      1. Wul says:

        Aye, you have to wonder how a country which gave the world the pedal bicycle, television, antibiotics, pneumatic tyres, tarmac and even John Bull himself can be so unrecognised globally?

  6. Wul says:

    Who should Boris be next?

    I feel it should be a kind of cross-dressing “Carry on” era Barbara Windsor type character. A blousy, salty, seaside-postcard vibe with smutty, boozy innuendo to take our minds off the horror and remind us that the summer hols are here and the pubs are open. Hurrah!

    I have a weird feeling this might come true.

  7. James Mills says:

    Who should Boris Johnson be next ? That body we were promised in a ditch !

  8. SleepingDog says:

    I believe that Roman Emperor Caligula had some bridge-building form, and a special way with funding public works, if the histories be reliable.

    1. Rich says:

      Inspired by ‘historical role-play’ and the mention of Caligula … I would not be surprised to see Boris as Julius Caesar fairly soon… you know – the famous knife-crime victim.

      How much longer can his coterie afford him ? Since his COVID he has become even less plausible than before . What is more worrying than watching this now-pathetic puppet be passed off as ‘our leader’ is not knowing the follow-on .

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Rich, Boris Johnson certainly has little boots to fill. Julius Caesar needed the combination of aristocracy, military and money to cement his populist rule. Oddly, after the Marian reforms, the Roman military was so organised that it tended to fight better after its generals were killed in battle, yet became devoted to their surviving plunder-distributing commanders. Mind you, by the time the Praetorian guard saw their drunken, corrupt and incompetent commander-in-chiefs close up, they often took the decision of who made the cut themselves.

  9. Robbie says:

    He has the stupid arrogance of Benito Mussolini and all the shit that came out of his gob and we no what the Italian people did to him.

  10. Robbie says:

    Sorry we know what the people did,
    ——— See your not alone Richard.

  11. The Over Extended Phenotype says:

    Bellacaledonia will no doubt be overjoyed to hear that T-cells provide immunity to people and that a Scottish bio-tech firm are trialling T-cells as a treatment.

  12. Morag Williams says:

    Yep. Close the border.

    There are many borders now in Australia so Nicola’s notion that Scotland is an open and welcoming country and therefore can’t close its border with England just doesn’t cut it. Australians do sometimes see themselves as belonging to the particular state or territory where they were born/live but mostly they see themselves as Australian and free to move about the country. Still, most of us accept most of the border closures.

    Melbourne has had a spike in Covid-19 infections recently so no-one wants anyone who has been in Melbourne, let alone a resident of same, so practically everywhere is a border now to Melbournians. Accepted.

    The Wodonga/Albury border is another matter altogether. The towns are, respectively, on the border of Victoria/New South Wales (NSW) and at the time of typing there are two infections of Covid-19 in Albury related to Melbourne. NSW is now policing its boundary with Victoria 24/7. Literally. Picture trying to police the borders between say Paisley and Glasgow or even the sides of Glasgow along the Clyde. You get the picture! People that live in the border towns are experiencing gross disruption to their lives. Maybe not so well accepted.

    South Australia (SA) and WA are the least populous states and distant to Queensland and NSW so the border closures are broadly accepted. Maybe a touch of jealousy that WA has eliminated Covid-19 and folks there can now enjoy a drink at the bar, standing up. It is unlikely that anyone in WA wants the borders open. Indeed, the Premier of WA wrote to the PM to advise that he wanted a reduction in the number of international flights coming in to WA in order to maintain the quarantine arrangements. Accepted!

    It is beyond my comprehension that Scotland does not control its own borders. The argument that immigration is a power retained by Westminster is surely a nonsense. In Australia, health is generally a matter for the states whereas immigration is a matter for the Commonwealth. This is not dissimilar to the situation between Scotland and Westminster. Additionally, the constitution of Australia is very clear that there be no barriers to trade between the states but borders have been imposed on the grounds of health and for the most part they are accepted by all parties!

    How long can the Scottish people accepts social distancing while people travel in and out of the country without quarantine?

    Leslie Evans or Nicola Sturgeon. Someone will have to go!

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