Toby Neal: Wipe away the smiles and let's have a gloomfest

Read the latest column from Toby Neal.

George Osborne
George Osborne

Dead. That's what we're all going to be one day.

Until then, we're doomed. Doomed I tell you.

I have seen the light. And it is not a light at the end of the tunnel. It is a light which just illuminates more tunnel.

George Osborne says the government is guilty of "optimism bias". Strangely, that's the same George Osborne whose budget forecasts as Chancellor of the Exchequer were never borne out by reality.

Admittedly, on the other hand, in 2010 he was accused of exaggerating the scale of the economic crisis to justify his making massive spending cuts and launching an austerity programme.

But he's right. Pessimism is being given a bad name. It is really realism, and we need a good dose of that. It is no use trying to hide or minimise what we are up against.

In the darkest days of 1940, even Churchill said he could offer nothing less than blood, sweat, and tears. There was something about sunlit uplands as well, but we'll gloss over that flight of fancy.

Too many people have been trying to raise spirits when they should be concentrating on crushing spirits. Wipe any smiles off your faces and let's have a gloomfest. It is the only thing that makes sense when British children are starving during the half term and according to the government's former homelessness adviser destitution could lead to prostitution and children going barefoot.

A cold, cold winter is approaching which will carry many of us off with the usual seasonal ailments. And Covid-19 will aggravate that in a second wave more deadly than the first, giving us an unmerry Christmas and an unhappy and impoverished New Year.

You want hope? I offer you none. As John Cleese famously said, he can take despair, but it is the hope that really kills you.

Forget about a vaccine, it's never going to come is it? Or if it does, there won't be enough of it to go round. Or they will find troubling side-effects.

And now we know that catching Covid does not appear to give lasting immunity, we are locked into a permanent cycle of misery.

Test and trace is a national joke and has simply informed us about the growing scale of the second wave without holding it back.

Based on the figures, face masks have made no noticeable difference to the spread of the disease while cutting people off from each other, and there is a mounting long term issue of isolation, loneliness, and mental health problems.

The economy is going down the pan because of the restrictions and Rishi Sunak is steadily bankrupting the country. All that is going to do is store up trouble for our children. So those who are at least risk from Covid will find themselves paying all the bills for it tomorrow, as the only way Rishi can fund it all is through taxes and borrowing for which the burden will fall on future generations.

At this rate the hospitality industry is going to be decimated, so those sing-songs down the pub around the piano will be a thing of the past.

Then there's the arts. Tomorrow's Britain is going to be a cultural wilderness, with out-of-work actors and theatre directors adding to the unemployment crisis.

Millions are going to be jobless. The Brexit transition period lapses at the end of the year and when reality bites there will be another 700,000 people thrown out of work on top of the ones I've already mentioned, food prices will rise, there will be a shortage of vital medicines, and a drastic reduction in the number of flights. A bigger drastic reduction, I mean.


There will be a recession of the like not seen since the South Sea Bubble of 1720.

Gangs of crooks from mainland Europe will be coming over because there is no co-ordinated international security apparatus to stop them and lorries will be backed up from Kent all the way to Junction 10 on the M6 because of a shambolic chaotic delay situation at Dover and a border checks operation which is underfunded and understaffed.

The United Kingdom will fall apart as Queen Nicola of Covid has become a modern saint and the Scots will inevitably vote for independence.

Scotland will then immediately go bankrupt because of its massive structural financial deficit which is only currently plugged by daily convoys of truckloads of used English bank notes travelling up the M1 and to a safety deposit box in Holyrood from the Bank of England.

To try to make ends meet Nicola will massively increase the price England pays for Scottish crude meaning motoring is so expensive that the British car industry collapses, which it will probably do anyway because it can no longer get any parts for assembly from Europe.

The ramifications of the departure of the UK from the European Union will lead to tensions and finally European war, just as David Cameron suggested during the referendum campaign, and then Britain will have to send troops to help one side or the other. Probably Merkel because Macron seems a bit anti-British.

In America there is terrible news brewing in the presidential election – either Biden or Trump is going to win.

You think there will come a point when things can't get worse, but I promise you – threaten you – that they will.

On the telly it's all rubbish and repeats of game shows because social distancing means they can't make any programmes like they used to.

I think that just about covers it.

Was that okay for you, George?

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