rogue’s gallery

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Before placing himself in an enforced lockdown, our Prime Minister never tired of telling us ‘we are where we are’ but exactly where is that? From where I’m slouching that’s a world where there’s never been such a gulf between truth and lies and where the need for clarity has never been greater. Straight-talking is the doctor’s order of the day but Boris Johnson’s continued inability to do so makes him an accomplice to the worst of scenarios.

If, God forbid, he was ever to appear on Mastermind, his specialist subject would not be his much-flaunted Greek classicism but the apparent need to disguise rather basic points with needlessly overwrought, obscure and ornate language (pot, kettle, a very dark colour – ed.). The government’s inability to clearly define necessary terms has resulted in a situation where ‘self-isolating’ means wholly different things to different people. ‘Social distancing’ is one foot for one person, two metres to some and a country mile to others. Our supermarket shelves bear testament to one’s essentials being another’s Armageddon’s stockpiling. And don’t get me started on BJ’s “Operation Last Gasp” ventilator strategy. Furthermore, stating “I’m very confident we’ll get this thing done” and “we can turn the tide within the next twelve weeks” are dangerously close to his earlier Brexit rhetoric and worryingly reminiscent of World War One’s ‘over by Christmas’. Never have bullet points on a PowerPoint presentation been warranted by so many but used by so few.

Mind, if it’s a somewhat confused message on this side of the pond, pity the people of America. Last week, the US topped the global premiership for coronavirus infections, becoming Liverpool to their China City rivals. Not only do they battle one of the greatest challenges, but they do so whilst being led by a man whose character flaws make him the last person you’d want in that presidential position. “This is just my hunch” he explained, dismissing the WHO’s projected Covid-19 death rate as… you’ve guessed it, “a fake number.” “I have a feeling that NY will need far fewer ventilators than the state has requested.” An idiot in the oval office is probably not a first but an idiot who seeks to undermine public health efforts at every turn, an idiot who closed the pandemic task force purely because it was initiated by his successor, Barack Obama, an idiot who values his own risible home-spun philosophy above that of medical and scientific wisdom, and an idiot who has informed state governors that their federal requests are “a two-way street, they have to treat us well” is surely one of the lowest points in the country’s history.

And, as billionaire Wall Street hedge fund manager, Bill Ackman, warned “Hell is coming”, never let it be said that there’s no cloud around every silver-lining. Clearly frustrated by his leader’s lack of concern, Ackman, the chief executive of Pershing Square Capital Management, took to the CNBC airwaves to explain in no uncertain terms “Mr President, the only answer is to shut down the country for the next thirty days and close the borders. Millions are going to die. The global economy will be devastated ” As he spoke, the Dow Jones blew its fuse, automatically closed for fifteen minutes and reopened down more than 2,000 points. Clever boy, Mr Ackman, as he’d quietly placed a bet that the markets would tank and it netted him a cool $2.6bn ($2,600,000,000) return on his $27m stake. Way to go, Bill.

Closer to home, it’s not difficult to fathom the intents of our own Brexit-business poster-boy, Tim Martin, and to clearly appreciate his recent U-turn was driven purely by the fear of a public backlash and its subsequent impact on his future bottom line. Wetherspoon’s 43,000 staff were informed by Martin’s online video that he wouldn’t be paying their salaries until the government’s 80% subsidy kicked-in at the end of April and that, in the meantime, they should go join Tesco’s as that’s where all his business had gone. The jaunty “Good luck!” sign-off was undoubtedly the icing on a very unpalatable cake. It’s anyone’s guess how many crooks and charlatans the coronavirus has yet to expose.