My need to tidy up is kicking in again, so here goes with putting some of my published Covid rants, rambles and ruminations over the last few weeks into some kind of order. It should be easier than the previous collating …
Part 1 posted on April 13 here,
part 2 which went up on May 3 here,
and part 3 here,
… because I had a massive depressive crash since posting the last one on June 6, so had a spell when the energy tap was very much in off mode. But there is still plenty to get through.
A fair few are from overseas, as I decided to make sure knowledge of just how badly the UK government was managing the Covid crisis was not confined to home. So here is I piece I wrote for Il Foglio in Italy on June 6. ‘Il Coronafiasco di BoJo.’ I am hoping even those who didn’t do languages at school can work that one out.
The headline in the Danish paper Berlingske on June 9 is not so easy, but you can work out Johnson, Coronacrisis and charlatan, so the thrust is clear.
For my piece on the same day for the Slovakia Spectator (don’t worry, it’s in English) they used the headline Slovakia 10, Britain 0, the article being an analysis of how the UK and Slovak governments had fared against ten principles of crisis management I set out at the start of the crisis.
Also on June 9, George Floyd having become a focus of debate around the world, I wrote a piece for The Article on Boris Johnson’s tone deaf handling of it in the UK.
You might remember I was at the time also collating letters from Tory MPs to constituents complaining about Johnson’s handling of the Dominic Cummings’ breach of lockdown rules. Here is Part 7 of my epic collation, which historian Professor Tim Bale described as a service to historians, and others described as evidence I was going a bit mad (again.) Perhaps it was both.
Same (obviously a bit manic) day, another paean of praise to Jacinda Ardern in the New Zealand Herald. How the UK could do with a PM like her right now.
The next day, June 10, I took my case against Johnson to Norway, and the Aftenposten headline is beyond me, but I think it is on the lines of Johnson making me feel ashamed to be British. Which he does.
For my June 11 New European column, I was back to my ten points on crisis management, and an analysis of how Johnson was failing on all of them, but gaslighting the country with constant claims of success and delivery in defiance of the truth.
June 11 I did another comparative analysis of Johnson and Ardern, a piece on my blog suggesting she put him to shame, in various ways.
Same day the Independent ran this piece about how Johnson had shown himself behind the curve on Covid, on Cummings, and also on the public response to George Floyd’s murder, and the outpouring for Black Lives Matter.
As I am clearly dead big in Norway, the Stavanger Aftenbladet decided their readers needed to know my New European views.
French news magazine L’Express ran this piece in which I suggested the French people, who love a good moan about President Macron, did not know how lucky they were to have him in charge, compared with Johnson here. I was very chuffed with that one, as L’Express was one of the magazines I used to read to help me when learning French many decades ago.
June 12 took me to Holland, and NRC Handelsblatt, who illustrated my piece with a picture of Johnson looking like a fat spin, Cummings manipulating him from behind. The headline, Johnson is incompetent, this we now know. For the Globe and Mail in Canada, back to the theme of comparing leaders, Justin Trudeau doing a far better job than Trump next door or Johnson in the ‘old country.’
June 13 Spain, El Pais, and what was probably my favourite illustration of Johnson, as a red-nosed blonde map standing at a lectern the shape of a black coffin, illustrating that while he talked of his great success, the UK was becoming one of the Covid death capitals of the world. And this was Spain talking.
For my piece for Croatian newspaper Jutarni, I used a line I first saw in Der Spiegel, calling Johnson, Trump, Putin and Bolsonaro ‘the four leaders of the infected world,’ suggesting populism was every bit as dangerous a virus as Covid.
June 16, Le Temps in Switzerland headlined similarly, ‘Johnson and the leaders of the infected world.’
Same day, as the Telegraph exposed itself daily as little more than a propaganda sheet for Johnson, I wrote on this theme for The Article.
I was definitely on a depressive dip by now, as discussed with my daughter Grace in an episode of our podcast.
June 18, Die Presse in Austria ran my analysis of the Johnson failings. Funny historical footnote; the paper once described me as ‘the most unpopular man in Europe,’ based on my robust briefings of the media at EU Summits.
June 19 in The New European I further explored the gaslighting theme, according to the Wikipedia definition. “Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment …. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs. Instances can range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents occurred, to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.”
June 20, the Telegraph magazine ran a Father’s Day piece on me and my daughter Grace. Footnote, the very nice Venezuelan photographer Silvane Trevale did a black and white shot which I now use as my twitter picture.
Not gonna lie, to use one of Grace’s Millennial catchphrases, no idea what the headline in my piece for Asahi Shimbun in Japan says. Hopefully that Johnson is becoming a global embarrassment. Because he is.
June 24, as the government called a halt to daily Covid briefings, and Johnson made a rare statement to Parliament, I wrote this piece for The Article analysing the government handling. Fair and balanced as always.
June 25, I came clean about the ‘major downer’ I was on, in a piece for The New European, and made clear the political and government scene were among the reasons.
I was not writing as much in this period, but I was doing a series of ‘Living Better’ interviews on mental health in lockdown with well-known faces from sport, politics and culture, some of which you can see here.
July 2, as Liverpool won the League, I wrote a piece on the comparative leadership skills of Jürgen Klopp and Boris Johnson for The New European. Klopp won.
A few days later, I broadened the theme, to make the choice Klopp/Dyche v Johnson/Jenrick as to who you would rather have in charge of decisions affecting your life. Blog here.
Talking of football, I finally got to a match, and July 10 wrote this for The Article, making clear fanless football was unsustainable for the long-term. Similar theme the next day on my blog, as the football world mourned ‘Big Jack’ Charlton, and Burnley ended Liverpool’s winwinwinwinforever home run.
Around this time, BBC Radio 4 PM programme broadcast my piece on my favourite tree, on Hampstead Heath, but alas I can’t find it!
July 10, I took part in the New European podcast to celebrate the paper’s fourth birthday.
July 12 I wrote for the Independent about the so-called Nolan Principles governing public life, and suggested Johnson and Co were breaking them pretty much every day.
Same day, Tortoise ran my 9,000 word piece on mental health in lockdown, based partly on my own experience and also on the interviews mentioned above. Tortoise also did a very nicely edited podcast on the piece, using footage from the interviews.
I missed the Murdoch documentary, as I was in Italy, but seemed to be in a lot of the reviews, and my sense was that the series came over as a nicely made cuttings job. Could be wrong, and hopefully will see it some time.
July 15, as the government stumbled towards a no-deal it had said millions of times would never happen, I revisited the Brexit fiasco for The Article.
July 17, I revisited the Nolan theme for The New European. Day after day, government was debasing public standards and there seemed to be nothing like the outcry it merited.
July 18, I wrote for the Independent on mental health, after speaking at a conference on ‘the second pandemic,’ namely the expected surge in Covid-related mental ill health.
July 19, Nick Keller of Beyond Sport had me as one of his guests for his podcast, Life Beyond Sport, in which you have to pick three important sporting moments in your life as the spine of a long interview. It is harder than you think, but a great format. I also really enjoyed this chat with Maro Itoje, England rugby star, for his podcast, The Pearl Conversations.
July 21, I was half way through a piece for The Article on Johnson’s first year when the Russia Report was published, so rewrote the piece to take in some of that.
And today, in the light of the latest very dubious piece of government wastage, I have written this article for The Independent, about the accelerating slide towards corruption under Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings.
Meanwhile, twitter and instagram still find me posting loads of pictures of trees, and the Tree Olympics becomes more likely by the day. And I am thoroughly enjoying commenting on the more boastful tweets by Boris Johnson, and in recent days getting twice, four times, five times and in one case six times more likes and retweets for the comments than our So-Called PM gets for the posts. Every little helps.