To those who are not familiar with Boris Johnson’s history, his Do-Nothing, Take-It-On-The-Chin, approach to COVID-19 may need some explanation.
I believe the reason why the Prime Minister is ignoring WHO advice and taking no action when the rest of Europe is closing schools, banning large gatherings and desperately trying to increase the numbers of hospital beds with ventilators, is not because he has a better plan for protecting public health but because he doesn’t see protecting public health as his job.
The most important thing to Boris Johnson is Boris Johnson. This clarity of prioritisation is one of the strengths that got him where he is today.
He believes he was born to rule. His eduction at Eton nurtured this belief and his time as Mayor Of London, where he worked part-time, wasted money on failed vanity projects and was still known as “good old Boris” confirmed it.
Over the past four years, Boris Johnson’s Brexit experience has taught him that he can lie and be fired for it, be a serial adulterer, be flagged as a security risk by the British Security Services, bully his colleagues and his staff, have “fuck business” as a policy, and STILL be elected with a huge majority by the British public.
So when any crisis comes along, Johnson falls into the patterns that have made him successful: deny, deflect, delay, lie. As a Minister, Boris Johnson was known for putting his fingers in his ears and chanting la-de-la-de-la-de-la when any expert tried to tell him something he didn’t want to hear. He is not a man to be concerned about truth. Least of all, inconvenient truths.
Then there is the influence of “think out of the box” “get Brexit done” “so what if I spent three years in Russia before this job?” Cummings, on whose guidance Johnson has grown to depend. Neither of them seems to have anything but contempt for the British Public, They mentally characterise them as a herd of cattle to be milked for votes and taxes.
Johnson is not a stupid man. He can do basic maths.
He knows that a 70% (47 million) infection rate means 10% (4.7 million) will need hospital care and between 1%-3.5% (47,000 – 165,000) could die.
He knows the NHS doesn’t have the beds to cope. He knows there is no cure. He knows that the most vulnerable are those over seventy, those with compromised immune systems, diabetes and heart conditions i.e. those who cost the NHS the most money to care for year on year.
Knowing all of this, Johnson sees not a threat but an opportunity – to cull the herd
To cull the herd, he needs a six-step plan:
- Delay panic
- Accelerate the spread of the virus – “Get COVID Done” – to fail quickly and shorten the length of the period of economic disruption.
- Remove sympathy for those to be culled by making it partly their fault or by making it something that is sad but inevitable, or by adding hate by labelling it “The Boomer Remover”.
- Encourage selfish behaviour and minimise collaboration – this provides a cushion of collective guilt to avoid consequences later.
- Concede to The Will Of The People when the “Something Has To Be Done” cries can’t be ignored
- Use The Will Of The People to suppress civil unrest and protect the strongest from the weakest.
Which I hope explains why Boris Johnson’s actions make sense, at least to him.