One rule for them, another for you – how the coronavirus became political
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One rule for them, another for you – how the coronavirus became political

THE coronavirus is not political. It is an act of nature. It is random fate.

It arrived in these green Irish hills. It arrived on English streets.

It arrived in the vast spaces of the USA. It arrived on the warm beaches of Brazil.

It arrived everywhere.

The world scrabbled to deal with it and even the best made it up as they went along.

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The stark biology of it made us confront the simple, human, fact of our own mortality.

It was inevitable, too, that there would be mistakes.

Ireland’s death rate, for instance, could have been better.

We locked down just that little bit too late. We made mistakes with our nursing homes that constitute a pretty damaging oversight.

Each and every death was a sadness and even as I write this, with our first day without a single coronavirus death just announced, we remember that.

Yet, just as the virus itself was not political, the response to it clearly was.

It cannot be an accident, even to the most willingly biased, that the countries with the worst global death rates are the likes of the UK, the USA, Brazil and Russia.

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It does not take a student of world politics to see the comparisons between the political leadership of those countries.

Indeed, it would have to be a willing blindness, not to see the macho, nationalistic, bombastic, blustering nature of the men in charge of those countries.

The virus in those countries has been no different from the virus in other countries. It has not been, of itself, more deadly or more contagious.

The virus did not act politically when it arrived beneath Westminster Bridge, outside the Kremlin, around Times Square or on Rio’s beaches.

Those governments responded politically and their politics caused deaths. People died because of decisions they made and didn’t make.

I don’t know about Johnson or Trump or Putin or Bolsonaro but that would haunt me.

So we are once again left watching our friends and family in the UK, or in England to be more precise, and wondering just how you put up with this.

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We are watching Dominic Cummings stumble his way through an explanation for his contravention of his own government’s rules with a dismissive arrogance that is awe-inspiring.

One rule for them and one rule for you?

Well, these are the Tories you know. That is an essential part of Tory philosophy.

Do you not think it has been a part of Boris Johnson’s personal conduct his entire life?

Being applauded for your actions as a father by Boris Johnson is like being recommended for your approach to truth telling by Donald Trump.

The great English writer George Orwell went, many years before, to the same school as Boris Johnson and Orwell, an avowed truth teller, said it taught him nothing except how to be a snob.

One rule for them, for Johnson and Cummings, and one rule for you? Is the Pope a Catholic?

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The coronavirus is not political.

It is an act of nature. It is random fate.

But many coronavirus deaths have been political.

In Birmingham and London and Manchester and Sheffield people lie in their graves because Johnson and Cummings made decisions based on such ideas as the fact that you should stay at home but they should drive to local beauty spots to check that their eyesight was okay.

I am beginning to wonder if the new test of suitability for political power might be who can tell the most ludicrous, farcical, story without their soul crumbling.

When Bertie Ahern lied to us about his finances and said he’d won unaccounted for money on the horses he did so with a corrupt flourish.

We all knew he was lying it was simply a matter of whether you went along with it or not.

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Ahern was a spoofer and he’d been found out and he knew it.

Political lies now are more frightening in that they are told as if they should be believed.

Trump denying he has said something we’ve all heard him say and have recorded.

Johnson lying about the NHS and Brexit, driving around in a bus emblazoned with the lie, and then denying it.

Cummings breaking all the virus guidelines and then denying he did so.

People believe all manner of things but believing in lies that are clearly and unambiguously lies is beyond explanation.

Bertie Ahern is a liar. Donald Trump is a liar. Boris Johnson is a liar.

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And Dominic Cummings also now appears to be a liar too.

And those people who have died because of political mismanagement during the pandemic aren’t really alive.

They are dead. And I’m not lying.