HAVE I GOT OLD NEWS FOR YOU

CummingsI guess at one time it must have been relatively easy to avoid the news. All you had to do was not switch the telly on at 9 or 10 in the evening and not buy a newspaper. Even if one adheres to a similar principle now – as I do – being online makes it much harder; after all, the news is always just a click away. Opening my inbox is a bit like living on a cul-de-sac with only one way in or out, and I have to walk past Yahoo News every time; even if it has an inexplicable obsession with Amanda Holden and no longer allows comments (which were the one thing that made a story there worth reading), it serves a purpose of sorts. Sure, it helps to have some kind of awareness of what’s going on out there, and Yahoo News headlines can sometimes pique my curiosity; this here blog would simply be a nostalgia/pop cultural fest all the time otherwise. But I do have an inbuilt system that keeps the news at a distance unless required – a well-honed instinct that also suggests which story can be written about; this comes in handy when there’s such an overwhelming amount of information available.

You know that feeling when a rumbling in the tummy heralds an imminent fart? The genesis of a Winegum post is a bit like that. Yes, there are occasions when posts are planned in advance – marking a particular anniversary, for example; but most just materialise out of nowhere, sparked by a story that catches the eye. I always know when an article is on its way due to this early warning system. Phrases, analogies, sentences and paragraphs begin to formulate in the head, and once they’re jotted down I glue them together by adding further content, confident the separate segments will gel and constitute a satisfactory whole. The average gestation period is around a couple of hours, and when I feel no more can be added I press the ‘publish’ button. If there’s any delay once the piece has been written, it usually comes from not being able to find the right picture to illustrate it or failing to come up with a suitably snappy title featuring a classic tabloid pun.

Whichever story I write about tends to pick me rather than the other way round; and this method means certain topics on the online radar which one might assume will provoke a comment on my part sometimes fail to appear. A lot can depend on my mood at the time of writing and whether or not I’m feeling fatigued with an ongoing narrative, something that can make it difficult to motivate my mojo. Race-baiting mob rule in the US dictating the outcome of a jury trial on the promise that the wrong verdict will bring about anarchy – as threatened by astonishingly irresponsible Democrats who accused Donald Trump of a similar crime not so long ago, and pre-empted by the prejudicial dodderer masquerading as the President – is an important issue, of course; but I’m so weary of the whole business that penning a post about YouTube (see last time) seems so much easier when there are a thousand-and-one other things to attend to. Handing over the creative section of a full day to researching and composing a response to the preordained outcome of the George Floyd trial is not an appetising prospect, to be honest; and let’s face it – everyone else has covered it to death, anyway.

Similarly, the return of Sleaze to the Conservative Party in Government should serve as the cue for a forensic dissection, yet there’s an inevitable shoulder-shrugging reaction that online discourse used to sum up with a solitary word, ‘Meh’. Come on – the Tories bogged-down in scandal; I mean, what’s new about that? Every bloody time the Tories are running the country there’s some sort of sleazy scandal; if it’s not connected with sex, it’s connected with money. And hearing SNP and Labour MPs attack Boris Johnson’s failure to address the issue when neither opposition party can feasibly lay claim to the moral high-ground – Alex Salmond or Peter Mandelson, take your pick – is hilarious hypocrisy beyond parody. Any idiot knows by now that the incumbent occupant of No.10 is one of the most untrustworthy individuals ever to occupy the office, but the electorate knew that before it gave him a handsome mandate when the alternative was Comrade Corbyn. Therefore, is it any wonder that the only people who appear to be getting their knickers in a twist over recent developments are the MSM and, in particular, Fleet Street? The fact is that both have been so nauseatingly supine in their attitude towards the powers-that-be during the pandemic (and uncritically supportive of Project Fear) that nobody takes their opinions remotely seriously anymore.

The ghost of a former PM haunting Boris was, again, no shock revelation; David Cameron’s crooked lobbying – who saw that coming, eh? Matt Hancock having shares in companies benefitting from Covid, companies run by someone he was at school with or is related to – yeah, big deal. The Prime Minister allegedly promising tax breaks to Brexit exile Sir James Dyson – so what? Does anyone really expect anything better from this shower? And then we have rumours that Boris intended the refurbishment of the Downing Street to be paid for by Tory donors – and who did these rumours come from? Yes, the former Public Enemy No.1 (in the eyes of the media), Dominic Cummings. The ex-puppet master of No.10 has resurfaced to wreak revenge upon his one-time marionette by claiming the PM attempted to prevent an official inquiry into leaks concerning Lockdown Mk II once he was made aware such an inquiry may well implicate a close friend of Carrie Symonds. That there is little love lost between Boris’s other half and Cummings obviously had no bearing on any of this, naturally.

The Cummings missive appeared on the former Svengali’s blog – though as he apparently has a habit of doctoring his posts on there when they later contradict changing opinions, it may not remain in its current form for long. The buddy of Ms Symonds is SPAD Henry Newman; Cummings claims it was Newman and not him who was responsible for the leak last October that precipitated the second lockdown, an error of judgement that would presumably lead to Boris having to fire Carrie’s chum; far easier to pin the blame on Cummings, with him now safely out of the way. Preventing an inquiry into the leak would also keep a lid on the truth. ‘It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves,’ writes Cummings; perhaps Cummings’ damning indictment of Boris and those around him would carry more weight had the competence and integrity the country deserves not been so noticeably absent when Cummings was pulling the strings.

Boris himself has publicly responded to Cummings’ outburst by saying, ‘I don’t think people give a monkey’s about this issue’, and in many respects I think the PM is right; it does have a very ‘Westminster Bubble’ feel about it. The majority of the public just want to get back to a semblance of normality, even if that may prove difficult for some with the reported presence of ‘Covid Anxiety Syndrome’ symptoms that are a direct consequence of a full year of being bombarded with a steady stream of panic propaganda. A timely open letter signed by 22 (non-SAGE) scientists and academics has appeared in the Telegraph, criticising the Government management of the pandemic and demanding an end to social distancing, mandatory mask-wearing and all restrictions by the end of June. The letter suggests the widespread take-up of the vaccine, along with falling death rates, should accelerate the end of lockdown measures as well as negating the introduction of ‘Covid passports’. All very laudable, but feasible? We shall see – and no doubt I’ll end up writing about it…or not.

© The Editor

2 thoughts on “HAVE I GOT OLD NEWS FOR YOU

  1. And yet, some of it is almost surprising to long-serving observers of politics. There was a time when almost all scandals involving Tories were based around sex, whilst those emanating from Labour almost invariably originated in money. It seemed as if Tory governments used the corruption potential of their moments in power to address their sexual deficits, while the equivalents in Labour sought to bolster their lacking finances.

    All good tabloid stuff it was, but now we’re seeing issues founded on competence and integrity (or lack of), promoted by those whose memory seems so short that they’ve already forgotten that they themselves were so recently involved in, and supportive of, those demonstrating that alleged lack of competence and integrity.

    Within Joe Public, I suspect the bar of morality, competence and integrity is set quite low for politicians, they are all expected to line their own nests to some extent, to use their power to gain access to the undergarments of their preferred gender and to create opereational cock-ups where those seemed impossible to imagine. That’s the real world.

    One aspect of the media exposure is also to expose the opposition’s lack of alternative policies: Donald Trump faced the same situation when the Democrats, devoid of alternative policies or any credible candidate, chose to marshal all their resources to attack the man, not the ball. Same’s happening with Boris: because the others have nothing to offer as an alternative, they can only attack Boris for being Boris – but they forget the fact that the electorate voted for him simply because he was Boris. The forthcoming Hartlepool by-election, in that traditional heartland of Labour, may offer some confirmation of that and indication of why they are so desperate.

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    1. Yes, dropping trousers did once seem to be the default Tory scandal rather than being caught with hands in the till – but there doesn’t appear to be a Chelsea top in sight this time round. Maybe the Blairite credentials of the ‘liberal’ Tories today means Mandelson is more of a blueprint than Mellor. I have to say the SNP outrage even overshadows the hypocrisy of the Labour outrage, though; Labour’s scandals are becoming more dim and distant the further we travel from the party’s last stint in government, whereas the SNP scandals are right here, right now. If I were them, I’d remain tight-lipped lest they invite any scrutiny of their own behaviour.

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