The hero Britain so desperately needs right now
May 21, 2020 12:31 AM   Subscribe

Capt. Tom Moore Sir Capt.Tom Moore, a 99-year-old veteran set himself a goal to raise money for Britain’s widely cherished but chronically underfunded National Health Service during the deadly coronavirus outbreak. He set up a fundraising page and decided to walk the 82-foot length of his garden back and forth 100 times, using his walker for support. posted by bendy (58 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
He raised £33m for the NHS.
posted by bendy at 12:35 AM on May 21 [5 favorites]




He raised £33m for the NHS.

More than BoJo.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:57 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


It's worth pointing out that Captain Tom specifically was raising money for NHS charities who provide help for the mental and physical wellbeing* of NHS staff and volunteers they wouldn't otherwise get, rather than the NHS itself - which he felt should be paid for through taxation.

He was also made an honorary Colonel to mark his 100th birthday, and is now the oldest artist to claim a UK no 1 for his charity cover of You'll Never Walk Alone.

The government is now to offer him a knighthood for his services.

* mental health support, carepacks, accommodation, travel and parking expenses - yes, NHS staff are normally charged the same eyewatering parking rates at hospitals as patients and relatives.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 12:57 AM on May 21 [40 favorites]


All funds raised by Moore will be donated to a group of charities that support and protect Britain’s NHS at a time when the organization is crying out for support, funding and better protection for its workers.

He should be lauded for his efforts but those efforts should not be necessary. The government has the means to address these issues and years of austerity and cuts has lead us directly to the point of being ill-equipped to manage this crisis much less appropriately support the people in the front lines. Throughout this entire process the government has been praising the NHS and its workers while explicitly staying quiet about support above and beyond immediate COVID response.

The first "clap for the NHS" started labelling front-line medical staff as heroes which abdicates responsibility of treating them like people who do this for a livelihood and normalises the idea of sacrifice without pay. After all, you won't be a hero if you ask for money for your heroic deed. When attempting to raise the point about salaries in the NHS and its funding, plenty of people are rushing in with "now is no the time to talk about this" like it was American gun control and "clapping and cheers" is a bit too close to "thoughts and prayers".

I have nothing but respect for Sir Capt. Moore and he's clearly making a meaningful difference and the money will be a huge boon for people. I just wish it was additional funds for the NHS during a time of crisis rather than footing a bill the government should have paid in the first place.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:01 AM on May 21 [65 favorites]


Mmm, yes. Sorry, but this is a very involved political situation, and the government's attempts to scoop up one laudable individual and use them as a Feelgood Human Shield has a bit of a bad taste to it.

In other news, the £400 a year surcharge that people who come to this country to work in the NHS are charged to receive the services they provide is still set to rise to £650, despite the fact that they pay the same taxes as anyone else.
posted by Grangousier at 1:07 AM on May 21 [38 favorites]


By the way, what aspect of this story do you find batshit insane?
posted by Grangousier at 1:35 AM on May 21


Mmm, yes. Sorry, but this is a very involved political situation, and the government's attempts to scoop up one laudable individual and use them as a Feelgood Human Shield has a bit of a bad taste to it.
The fingerprints of Number 10's communications department are all over this one, I'm afraid. I'm sure it started out organically and Captain Tom did it with the best of intentions but I'm also sure it had more than a little help in, to coin an unfortunate phrase, "going viral". I'm also quite convinced that the knighthood announcement rushed out the other night had something to do with the government being unhappy about the way the "reopen the schools" debate was going. They were losing control of the message, the newspaper front pages were full of furious teachers pissed off about going back to work in the middle of a pandemic, and this was a great way to push it down the news agenda. I've got nothing against Captain Tom, I just think he's being used as a propaganda tool at this point.

The clapping thing is scary. Again, it started out as a grassroots thing, but it was quickly jumped on as a useful bit of rally-round-the-flag propaganda by Number 10. The Prime Minister and other senior politicians are careful to be seen to join in. BBC1 TV blocks off a short slot on Thursdays at 8pm for live coverage of the clap. There have even been reports of people literally gathering in crowds outside hospitals to clap the staff, which seems like a good way to find yourself inside the hospital in short order. I stopped listening to our local radio a few weeks ago because the morning DJ started calling people out, berating his neighbours for not clapping. He was furious, banging the desk, saying he hoped they never needed the NHS after being so disrespectful, it was frightening to listen to especially in the context of a fairly insipid local pop radio show.

I can't remember who said this, but when they start calling you a hero it's a sure sign that they're about to screw you in some way.
posted by winterhill at 1:39 AM on May 21 [35 favorites]


My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
posted by fullerine at 2:20 AM on May 21 [26 favorites]


By the way, what aspect of this story do you find batshit insane?

Just my personal custom of tagging everything I post with batshitinsane.
posted by bendy at 2:23 AM on May 21 [10 favorites]


Oh don't get me started on the clapping thing, that's such transparent bullshit now. Apparently it did make frontline workers feel a bit better at the end of a hard shift, when it was people genuinely and mostly organically showing their appreciation for the risks those workers were facing to help the rest of us stay alive, but it's totally been hijacked to avoid criticism of the lack of PPE for workers, the murderous debacle in care homes, and the total failure of planning for scaling up track-n-trace before shoving more people back into the meatgrinder (like teachers). And avoiding awkward questions about cutting NHS training bursaries, freezing their pay, and that bloody 'health' surcharge for overseas workers.

I do feel a bit sorry for Sir Captain Tom too. He originally was hoping to raise a few thousand at most for the staff that helped him after he broke his hip, and then it just went totally mental and the government latched onto it - and I too feel Cummings fingerprints all over the 'wow, what a hero' messaging lately, including the knighthood, to distract from the fact that it shouldn't have been needed at all, and the school reopening clash with the unions.

On that last point, I felt this cartoon was very apt.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 2:26 AM on May 21 [17 favorites]


Absolutely No You-Know-What: "On that last point, I felt this cartoon was very apt."

Wow. That's a very subtle, very powerful editorial. Well done Ben Jennings & the Grauniad.
posted by chavenet at 2:34 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


All due respect to Captain Tom, he did a very nice thing that has helped a lot of people.

But I'm angry with how the nation's chosen hero is an old white dude who fought in WW2. It would be hard to find a more classically conservative icon than that, rather than (say) the front-line NHS staff putting their lives on their line. In early April, the eight UK doctors who died from coronavirus were all immigrants. No honours or flybys for them, just thousands in annual visa fees and NHS surcharges.

None of this surprises me, of course.
posted by adrianhon at 2:50 AM on May 21 [33 favorites]


Hadn't really thought about this until adrianhon's comment but co-opting a WWII captain does fit neatly into the militarised language and framing of all of this. Johnson loves to pretend that he's leading a wartime Britain and the speeches often refer to an enemy, combat and front lines (a descriptor I used myself).

Conservative icon is exactly right. WWII is still a certain demographic's "unproblematic fave".
posted by slimepuppy at 3:25 AM on May 21 [11 favorites]


Sorry, but this is a very involved political situation, and the government's attempts to scoop up one laudable individual and use them as a Feelgood Human Shield has a bit of a bad taste to it.

I'm loving how, in Canada, the CBC is adding an extra layer of "for Queen & country!" sentimentality on top of this story.
posted by sneebler at 3:52 AM on May 21


One of the scariest things has been the way conditionality of access to the NHS has become so quickly part of the public discourse. Barely a day goes by when I don't hear or read someone commenting that they don't think someone else should be "allowed" to access the NHS because they've been insufficiently patriotic, didn't clap loud enough, met a friend during lockdown, etc. The idea that access to the NHS is some kind of divine reward for being a good, compliant Brit is starting to gain currency.

I'd be interested to know whether other countries have this same almost religious-style attachment to their health services that Brits seem to have to the NHS. It's worrying sometimes that the NHS seems to be almost beyond criticism, particularly at present. It's actually not that good for a lot of stuff. Mental health provision on the NHS is almost non-existent and is among the worst in any developed country, with lengthy waiting lists for the most basic therapies and lots of unnecessary hospitalisations because they waited until it was too late to treat someone. My own experience with the gender identity services has been marked by years-long waits, misdirection and gatekeeping. This idea that good, hard working NHS staff are all perfect, flawless gods among men is weird. (Aside: why do supermarkets give money off to NHS staff who are still getting paid at present when so many other people are unemployed and hungry?)

If we weren't fighting actual Nazis at the time, I sometimes think it might have been better in the long run for Britain to have lost the war. We wouldn't then have spent seven decades and counting talking among ourselves about how we're a great country that won the war while the world moves on, comes closer together and progresses without us.
posted by winterhill at 3:54 AM on May 21 [13 favorites]


I love the turn this has taken.
posted by bendy at 3:56 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Johnson loves to pretend that he's leading a wartime Britain

He wants to be Winston Churchill.

So, let's let him win the war, and then show our appreciation just like we did for Winston Churchill.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 4:24 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


In 2024.
posted by Grangousier at 4:49 AM on May 21


But I'm angry with how the nation's chosen hero is an old white dude who fought in WW2. It would be hard to find a more classically conservative icon than that, rather than (say) the front-line NHS staff putting their lives on their line. In early April, the eight UK doctors who died from coronavirus were all immigrants. No honours or flybys for them, just thousands in annual visa fees and NHS surcharges.

YES. Thank you. This is what I have been feeling all along. I was wondering if I'd be able to put this in words in response to this post, but you've done it better than I could have already.
posted by EllaEm at 5:00 AM on May 21 [10 favorites]


If we weren't fighting actual Nazis at the time, I sometimes think it might have been better in the long run for Britain to have lost the war. We wouldn't then have spent seven decades and counting talking among ourselves about how we're a great country that won the war while the world moves on, comes closer together and progresses without us.

We never really won it though, did we? WWII was won in Russia and lost in Europe. The Nazi's weren't as smart as they are often credited, and the Brits, being an island nation, got lucky. As a native Brit resident in mainland Europe for the last 20 years, I can tell you that most Brits have no idea how brutal that war really was. I'm in no doubt that this legacy is at the root of the UK's conflicted relationship with Europe.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in our memorialising. Over here, Liberation Day is a reflective moment, a time to count costs and examine consciences. Meanwhile, on VE day, the Brits make conga chains while Muslims celebrate Eid indoors. Unbelievable.

Anyway. Props to Uncle Major Tom and his walking frame, but I'm with Henning Wehn. The clip stops short of the cogent point he makes about Europeans paying more taxes.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 5:00 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


But I'm angry with how the nation's chosen hero is an old white dude who fought in WW2.

Well, there's this guy:
@Keir_Starmer
On behalf of @UKLabour, I would like to thank Dabirul Islam Choudhury for his incredible fundraising effort.

I know he has now raised well over £150,000 for those affected by coronavirus in the UK and Bangladesh.

He is an inspiration to us all.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:16 AM on May 21 [8 favorites]


Captain Tom to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door
Walker set, I'll take a stroll
Far across the garden floor.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:20 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


To me, the media spectacle around Captain Tom looks like a cross between the heartwarming all-American poverty porn, like the supposedly feel-good stories about the little boy who collected bottles to pay for his sister's cancer treatment or the minimum-wage workers who donated their sick leave to a struggling coworker and the kind of faintly xenophobic Blitz-spirit our-finest-hour WW2-themed sentimentalism that is endemic to Brexit-era Little England. The whole thing seems grotesque, like a heavy-handed satire of England's dysfunction and neurosis.
posted by acb at 6:32 AM on May 21 [11 favorites]


Capt. Tom Moore Sir Capt.Tom Moore WWE Champion Sir Capt. Tom Moore
posted by Etrigan at 7:02 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


the £400 a year surcharge that people who come to this country to work in the NHS are charged

Just wanted to clarify here for those who might not know that the surcharge isn't just for NHS workers; it's paid by anyone on a work visa, all of whom already pay for the NHS through their taxes and payroll deductions just like any other UK worker. They're getting double-charged, essentially.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:06 AM on May 21 [7 favorites]


WWE Champion Sir Capt. Tom Moore That's WWE Champion Colonel Sir Tom Moore, thank you very much
posted by Zonker at 7:14 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


I stopped listening to our local radio a few weeks ago because the morning DJ started calling people out, berating his neighbours for not clapping. He was furious, banging the desk, saying he hoped they never needed the NHS after being so disrespectful, it was frightening to listen to especially in the context of a fairly insipid local pop radio show.

Cotswolds Woman Who Didn't Clap For The NHS To Be Burned At The Stake.
posted by acb at 7:22 AM on May 21


If we weren't fighting actual Nazis at the time, I sometimes think it might have been better in the long run for Britain to have lost the war. We wouldn't then have spent seven decades and counting talking among ourselves about how we're a great country that won the war while the world moves on, comes closer together and progresses without us.

That, along with Britain's refusal to reckon with its centuries of colonialism, has led it to become a country unmoored from the reality of its past and its present. The very same greed and cruelty that once propelled its empire's growth had come back home with a privatizing vengeance.

Of course, it will be the immigrant descendants of those brutally victimized by colonialism who will feel the worst of its post-colonial decay.

I mean, people still talk about Winston Churchill as though he's a hero.
posted by Ouverture at 7:24 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


I've seen some Americans suggest lack of access to healthcare (at least for COVID-19) for people who are blatantly ignoring lockdown.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:02 AM on May 21


I appreciate what Tom Moore has done, and I like that people are clapping carers, but the main way I support the NHS is paying my f**king taxes. Because that's the form of support that actually matters.

Wow, this thread has made me grumpy...
posted by YoungStencil at 8:27 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


They've done a U-turn on the surcharge. Dear god, do we have to drag them screaming towards common decency inch by inch?
posted by Grangousier at 8:52 AM on May 21 [7 favorites]


(Yes, I know, a U-turn on the surcharge for NHS workers, all others still pay it. That's another bloody inch.)
posted by Grangousier at 9:07 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


All other non-EU immigrants are going to have the surcharge hiked in October, from £400 to £624. This isn't a victory for a common sense view of immigrants as full and valued members of our society, it's yet more "our NHS heroes" stuff. Boris didn't do a U-turn because he wants to show immigrants they're valued, he did it because of fear of bad press about how "front line heroes" are being treated. Immigrants in jobs that aren't venerated like NHS staff are still having to pay up.
posted by winterhill at 9:08 AM on May 21 [9 favorites]


I'm glad others saw this for the Tory propaganda that it is, with Capt. Moore as the (perhaps) unwitting poster boy.

With the introduction of an NHS surcharge for actual taxpayers, it occurs to me that it can no longer be said that the NHS is free. It is a tiered fee-based system and also keep in mind that "The Government has a manifesto commitment to increase the charge and extend it to EEA nationals after the Brexit transition period. "
posted by vacapinta at 11:25 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I stopped listening to our local radio a few weeks ago because the morning DJ started calling people out, berating his neighbours for not clapping. He was furious, banging the desk, saying he hoped they never needed the NHS after being so disrespectful, it was frightening to listen to especially in the context of a fairly insipid local pop radio show.

Ah, Britain’s own Don Cherry
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:50 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


The clapping and cheering and horns have just begun.
Right as my child is being put to bed.
Every time.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 12:00 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


He walked that far, he's probably well enough to go pick fruit and veg, just like the Prince of Wales suggested.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:12 PM on May 21


Just wanted to point out that his rank goes first before his title, so he’s “Captain Sir Tom Moore” and that as Honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College he’s only “Colonel Sir Tom” when conducting his ceremonial duties for the AFC.
posted by Ranucci at 4:45 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]




The founder of the clapping initiative has said today that it's time to stop.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 7:41 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


I've seen some Americans suggest lack of access to healthcare (at least for COVID-19) for people who are blatantly ignoring lockdown.

Deliberately putting others at risk of sickness and death is a good reason to withhold priority access to care. I'm not sure that questioning clapping puts anyone at risk, but gov't policies that starve a health system of funds, staff, and PPE materiel certainly does. Apologies if I misunderstood your comment.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:59 AM on May 22


Deliberately putting others at risk of sickness and death is a good reason to withhold priority access to care.
If someone starts a fight (thereby putting another person at risk) and then gets injured (because they're crap at fighting) would you rather just leave them there injured rather than treating their injuries? That seems uncharitable at best and nasty at worst. We shouldn't be attaching any conditions at all to the act of healing our fellow human beings.
posted by winterhill at 9:05 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


If someone starts a fight (thereby putting another person at risk) and then gets injured (because they're crap at fighting) would you rather just leave them there injured rather than treating their injuries?

I was careful to use the phrasing "priority access". If someone picks a fight (deliberately violates social distancing public health policy with complete disregard for what is known about asymptomatic spread of novel coronavirus) and gets injured (gets infected, spreads the virus to others, contracts COVID-19), and I had to choose who to give an available hospital bed to in an overloaded hospital, where care has to be rationed, I would unreservedly choose to prioritize care for victims (those infected by the aggressor) over care for the aggressor.

This isn't an abstract notion. For instance, those who abuse alcohol and suffer ALD may be more likely to be turned down for a liver transplant, if they end up needing one, until they can demonstrate sobriety for a period of time. There is the risk that they may die before they can receive a transplant. But limits on the number of available organ donations for transplants require choices to be made.

In any case, I agree with the anonymous NHS doctor who notes that actual support for NHS workers would come not from clapping for them, but from giving them PPE gear, funding, and staff to save lives. In that light, the analogy made with withholding clapping and limiting care for those who deliberately violate public health policy, with complete disregard for the health of others, does not seem applicable.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:16 PM on May 22


Does anyone want to put the Cummings thing in here? I'd do it myself, but I've a precious sliver of will-to-live I'm struggling to hold on to.
posted by Grangousier at 7:59 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I wasn't going to, but Johnson's briefing tonight changed my mind.

In short, Dominic Cummings is the PM's senior special advisor who was the mastermind behind "take back control" and "Get Brexit done", slogans that won the Brexit referendum, and the sweeping General Election victory by Johnson last year. He gained noteriety originally for ramming through a number of unpopular changes to Education, when he was advising his then best bud Minister at the time, Gove. He's been on a mission lately to completely "reform" the civil service, and is generally portayed as a maverick, with contempt for government, the media, and the public, who often claims to be smarter than than anybody else in the room. For Americans, I guess think Steve Bannon who's also a complete weirdo who goes off into the weeds about AI and the singularity on his blog.

Anyway, at the height of lockdown, Cummings decided that given his wife was sick, and he may already have covid-19 (Johnson having been confirmed infected), decided to drive 260 miles from London to stay at his parents farm in Durham so they could help look after his 4-year-old son. He also was spotted taking trips out and about on Easter Sunday and other days, potentially also including having been back and forth to London, when government instructions were strictly not to do. (timeline)

Thousands had been fined by police for doing similar things; Cumming's father was apparently spoken to about the matter according to Durham police, but denied by government press office. The chief science advisor in Scotland, and a science modeller member of the government science advisory group both resigned after minor breaches of the rules, yet Cummings has refused to do so for multiple egregious ones.

Meanwhile, Johnson, in an attempt to quell the growing outrage, did the daily press briefing himself tonight (a rarity)
“I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that,”
and
"Though there have been many other allegations about what happened when he was in self-isolation and thereafter, some of them palpably false, I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity and with the overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives."
And refused to answer questions on the details of Cumming's other ignoring of lockdown instructuctions.

Johnson clearly depends very heavily on Cummings to do his thinking for him, and isn't going to let him go. The rank stench of hypocrisy is growing so much, even the Daily Fail - a normal staunch defender of all things Boris - has tomorrow's front page splash as “What planet are they on?”

The official government civil service twitter account posted, before quickly deleting, "Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?"

I've written, politely, to my yes-man tory MP expressing the anger of myself and my family. I won't bore you with the whole thing, but a snippet can perhaps be indulged.
My wife and I were both quite sick in the early stages of lockdown; we don't know if it was covid-19 or not, and probably never will. We have four-year-old twins. We did not take them to their grandparents (or anywhere else) and risk spreading this terrible disease, despite them living only a few miles away. We quarantined ourselves, and managed, as we were told to, despite the hardship. And we do not have anything like the resources he could call on. No doubt you've had many other far more harrowing emails about the sacrifices that people have made to prevent the spread of covid-19.

We did not drive hundreds of miles, spreading it at any petrol stations, or putting people at risk if we broke down on the road. We did not gallivant back and forth on Easter weekend for a family day trip and other trips out coming out daily in breach of orders. We haven't seen my parents or our friends for over two months. We followed the rules, and hopefully saved lives. Cummings has spat on all of us who did what was right, despite the cost, and the PM's defense of him showed even more contempt for the public. How stupid does he think we are?
The Guardian's sketch writer, John Crace, has written a pretty devastating takedown of the affair, having regularly lampooned this government's failings. I heartily recommend the whole thing.
In saving Dom – for the time being at least – Boris had tossed away the credibility of his own government. He has been stripped bare and exposed as not very bright, lacking in judgment and completely amoral. Within an hour, he had not only defended the indefensible, he had basically told the nation they were free to do as they please. If there is a second coronavirus peak, Boris will have even more blood on his hands.

At a time of national crisis, we have a prime minister who makes Henry Kissinger look worthy of a Nobel peace prize. Satire is now dead.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 5:52 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Related to the excellent summary above:

Cummings' neighbors yelling at him as he shuffles down the street. They are pissed off.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:31 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]




Additionally, multiple high level tories went to bat for him (including Suella Braverman, the Attorney General) on day one (Only did what he did to protect his child....) only to get thoroughly blindsided by the reports (which look to have been held back ready for this) that he also was off sightseeing and looking at bluebells.

The stupidity of it all is that if early on he'd said "yup, sorry, made a mistake and won't do it again", and maybe paid a small fine? then it would have gone away super quick.
But it's the government seemingly going all out to protect him that has raised many hackles.

The AG saying that the law doesn't apply.
The PM and cabinet saying "It's what any parent would have done" when there are parents who couldn't attend their own children's funerals.

Everyone in the country probably has a story of how Lockdown has impacted them.
Two members of my family have died during lockdown (my grandmother, and my uncle) of non-covid 19 reasons, but no one in the family was able to attend their funerals.
14,000 people died every week in May of all causes. That's 14,000 funerals, easily 100k mourners who couldn't attend weekly. How could they expect people to not be furious.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:51 AM on May 25


Also it appears that the hashtag that Twitter as a whole has settled on for this is

Cumgate
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:38 AM on May 25


I'm still a little squicked out that through this whole mess "Dominic Cummings" hasn't once been trending on UK twitter.
posted by fullerine at 5:30 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


#dominiccummings was no 1 earlier today, then beaten by #cummings, but #CumGate has definitively come from behind to dominate in victory. I imagine it's not what BJ wanted to blow up in his face after his performance last night.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 6:25 AM on May 25


It gets better. During today's truly shambolic interview, Cummings stated he drove for a half hour during lockdown with his wife and child "to test his eyesight."

No, he doesn't plan to resign. Has never considered it.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:16 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Well, obviously going to Barnard Castle 30 miles away was the only way to test his eyesight. One hopes his wife drove!

I thought Johnson's statement last night was a car crash, but just wow.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 10:33 AM on May 25


The Cummings press conference was painful to watch. I don't know exactly what I expected, but I was taken aback by how incoherent and convoluted his "explanation" was. Isn't he supposed to be some kind of super-genius spin doctor?
posted by Mauve at 12:59 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


This lot's main strategy is to completely without shame make a confusing noise to distract people from what's going on. Cummings isn't capable of being embarrassed, because he despises people outside his circle anyway.

It's not a situation they created, but it's one they're taking advantage of. So they're milking this, adding confusion on confusion, partly to show that Cummings is unsackable (we'll see how that goes, but that's obviously their belief), partly to distract from something else.

What is that something else?

(The most obvious past example of this is Johnson's story about making model buses out of wine crates - partly it was used to try to dilute his other bus related data points - the £350 million NHS Brexit bus and the "Boris Bus for London", which was an extravagant waste of resources; partly it attracted attention at a time they needed attention. They calculated that appearing palpably insane wouldn't hurt his election chances. They were right.)

They don't care what we think of them, we're just plebs to them.
posted by Grangousier at 1:45 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


For example, hasn't it struck people that Cummings doesn't have to walk down the street to get to and from wherever it is he's going? The government is awash with chauffeured cars. This is getting his photos on the covers of all the newspapers, creating a public profile, while allowing him to give the impression it's against his will.

I'm not saying they're that clever. But they're literally nothing if not conniving.
posted by Grangousier at 1:50 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


My father (who has dementia) has rung me three times today to say he's been reading Cummings's website and is taken aback by how mad it is - specifically, he says, that Cummings is a proponent of trying to apply scientific thinking to politics (which, according to my father, does not work because of human messiness). I had a bit of a poke around on Cummings's site and can see he has expressed concern about politicians not understanding stats, which is actually a reasonable concern, but can't see anything more general about his political principles. The wikipedia article about him has a very short section on his political views, just stating he's anti-EU and anti-London. Does he have any stated principles? I admit I may have missed them on his own site as it made me feel slightly ill spending time there.
posted by paduasoy at 1:37 PM on May 28


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