Andy Richardson: 'The incompetence and inefficiency is staggering'

Here’s what Boris said. “It was the right thing to delay.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (left) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson leave 10 Downing Street
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (left) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson leave 10 Downing Street

He was advised to lockdown on September 21 when we were recording 4,638 cases a day. Now it’s more than 21,000 cases per day and rising.

So a simple question to the PM might be this: If it was the right thing to delay: Why. What have we gained?

It’s taken six weeks to lock down, despite all of the evidence – New Zealand, we rest our case – showing that early intervention works best.

And that’s before we come onto the wrong settings that have been used in the test and trace app, meaning thousands of people are not told to self-isolate after possible Covid-19 contact. The incompetence, indecisiveness and inefficiency is staggering. Oh yes, and the ineptitude. Unfit for purpose.

On the day the furlough scheme ended, the furlough scheme was extended – which meant it was too late for the people who’d been laid off because the furlough scheme was going to end… And, yes, they told us it couldn’t be extended.

Boris Johnson was told his regional approach wouldn’t work. Now he’s conceded that he was wrong. And here’s the thing. The Government’s obsession with libertarian issues, with not locking down, with playing down the coronavirus and pretending things will be just fine so that we can protect the economy has led us to this.

Having an understanding of the catastrophe ought to teach us how to avoid a third and fourth wave. Though we failed to learn any of the lessons of the first wave, when we also locked down much too late, and now face four weeks indoors to try and save the NHS.

In a year of U-turn after U-turn, we also ought to look to the future. A vaccine and mass testing won’t solve this in a few months, or in spring. A third wave is possible. Experts anticipate the disruption lasting for at least 18 months and it taking up to five years to get back to where we were in 2019.

We’re not alone. Austria has enforced a curfew, France imposed a nationwide lockdown, Belgium ordered non-essential shops and businesses to close, Germany imposed new measures and Italy has introduced new restrictions too.

There are plenty of people who still love Boris – though none of them love Boris as much as Boris loves Boris. He is great at spreading cheer and boosterism. Stick him in a red suit with a white beard and he’d probably climb down the chimney. He’s just not that good at running the country.

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