Mary in the News Guardian
Opposition MPs respectfully stood and applauded when Prime Ministers Blair, Cameron, and May resigned their positions.
The final Prime Minister’s Questions for Boris Johnson did not follow that pattern.
None of the MPs on the opposition benches stood to applaud him for his work.
There was a very good reason for this. Johnson was a deceitful charlatan whose only concern was for himself.
Blair, Cameron, and May had substance and dignity in their public service. All Johnson could do is blame others for his departure and tells us Hasta La Vista, Baby.
I’ll be back is what he was saying. It’s a line from Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator.
As it happens, Schwarzenegger went on to become a respected Republican Governor and showed his deep democratic commitment to democracy by denouncing Donald Trump’s attempt to deny the election results in a widely praised YouTube video.
There’s no chance that Johnson can emulate the deep seriousness of the actor in his public life.
The most amazing thing is that MPs on his own side applauded him when he finished for the last time at the Dispatch Box.
It was only the week before that many had resigned and decided finally that he wasn’t the right or decent man for the job.
I have no idea if Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss will win the election in September. As ever, I am torn between wondering which would be better for the country or for my party.
One way or another, this farce has got to come to an end. There are just so many deeply-seated crises piling up and impacting profoundly on so many people’s lives.
Mary in the Journal
It’s perhaps understandable after the miserable years of Covid, and so many other crises, that many of us have taken our eyes off the Covid ball. But sadly, Covid isn’t returning the favour and continues to have many profound short and long term impacts.
Last month there was a significant spike in Covid cases. Over two million people succumbed to infection and there was a nearly one-third increase in just a week. Nine areas of the North East have the highest infection rates.
It seems likely there will be at least one wave of Covid in the coming months. Colder weather means we will increasingly congregate indoors and make it easier for Covid to spread.
The same goes for flu from which we had a respite when Covid was the main issue. But less flu then means we have less immunity now.
Most of us have now had three jabs. There is now a strong case for all to have the fourth jab.
There’s a debate about which company should get the contract and which is most effective against new variants and most efficient in production and delivery.
We also have a huge cost of living crisis. Some academics say this reduces risks as some simply cannot afford to be in crowded places such as shopping centres and cinemas. On the other hand, many may be weakened by living in colder homes.
The fear is increased hospitalisation. This then exacerbates another Covid legacy – increased NHS waiting lists.
Over six million are on the waiting lists. About 300,000 people are now waiting for cardiac care. That also flows from a decade of Conservative mismanagement of the NHS, as even the Culture Secretary recently conceded.
As if all that weren’t enough, we now have Long Covid. One constituent is on a nine month waiting list for local treatment.
It’s estimated that two million people are living with Long Covid.
There could be even longer term damage to internal organs such as the heart and lungs.
An official report notes that it impacts mostly on people aged 35 to 69, females, people living in more deprived areas, those working in social care, teaching and education or health care, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability.
Dry statistics don’t help us understand what people are going through.
Here’s a moving illustration of the impact on a 15 year old constituent.
Her mother tells me that her previously very healthy, happy, athletic daughter (with no underlying health conditions) was thriving at school, took full advantage of extra-curriculum activities and was a talented tennis player. She loved life, school, and sport and had so much potential and so many dreams for her future.
She caught a second Covid infection in late 2021 but hasn’t recovered yet. Her symptoms are many. They include Chronic Fatigue, breathlessness, dizziness, heart palpitations, stomach pains and cramps, food intolerance, reduced appetite, insomnia, and 80% hair loss - devastating for a teenage girl.
She can rarely attend school, needs a wheelchair, and is mostly housebound other than the odd hospital visit. She is traumatised and her mental health has been severely impacted. Her mother has had to give up work to look after her. There is as yet no treatment or cure.
We have been through the Covid cosh, perhaps lapsed into complacency, but that doesn’t mean we now panic.
We all need to be vigilant and the government needs to get a grip on getting the NHS fit for purpose, tackling the cost of living crisis, deciding on a new jab as quickly as possible, and doing more research into Long Covid.
Instead, it is groping for short-term stunts to survive its many scandals and shortcomings. We all deserve better than this sham of a government if we are going to tackle so many long-term consequences of Covid and so many other urgent issues