George Galloway: PUSSYCAT media has failed to call out the UK government's ABYSMAL Covid-19 response. We should be angry

George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator. 

11 Apr, 2020 14:25 / Updated 4 years ago

As the UK government’s inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic gets record numbers of citizens killed, the media should be up in arms calling out every failure. Instead, the Q&A sessions look like a softball match.

The charge that the media is merely an echo chamber of the political establishment in Britain has long been made by leftists and other rebels outside the prevailing orthodoxy. At the end of a third week of lockdown, this charge is being made not just by millions of ordinary people of quite mainstream political opinions, but even by two giants of the media market itself.

The daily press conferences – quite unlike the rumbustious White House briefings – are akin to a pleasant afternoon in the cricket nets, as the chosen England batsmen hit softballs robotically bowled at them by handpicked hacks more keen to stay onside than to get at the wickets. Gentlemanly exchanges which avoid all unpleasantness and recrimination. No “I told you so,” much less a “Whatever happened to that thing you told us was going to happen a week ago and never did?”

Outright lies are not usually the British way; even Boris Johnson is not Donald Trump, though they could easily be brothers in some respects. But outright lies of a very un-British kind are told so often now over the coronavirus that an already jaded public has begun to regard the participants as somewhere between a bad joke and a vital national scandal.

You might think me partial, and indeed I am. But the same cannot be said for Piers Morgan and Andrew Neil.

Morgan, a former editor of Fleet Street newspapers and still an influential columnist, hosts the morning television show ‘Good Morning Britain’ with an audience of millions on screen and a following of over seven million on Twitter. To call him a critic of the government's coronavirus performance would be like describing Mount Everest as a hill. Day after day, to the point that ministers will no longer appear on his show to be grilled – no, roasted – by him.

But his ire against the government is as nothing compared to his fury at the softball shufflers, patsies of the popular, as well as the ‘serious’ press, and the captains of the political sofa television studios.

Andrew Neil is a pillar of the establishment, a former editor of the Economist and the Sunday Times and still the chief executive of the Spectator, the oldest English-language political weekly. Nowadays he is the admiral of the BBC fleet of political journalists. A blue-blood, spitting blood all over Twitter, all day, every day.

Both men are at the vanguard of a new wave of anger, even rage, at the complacency not just of the government but of those in the media supposed to hold them to account.

And not just about the softball questioning, but at the abysmal failure to follow-up, even to ask about the government’s broken promises; its dodging, ducking and diving, and the flat-out failure of the government’s strategy, which lurches from one approach to another and has ended up neither fish nor fowl.

Although Britain had weeks of extra time, at least, to prepare for the arrival of the pandemic – “two weeks behind Italy” is a phrase often used (which means well over a month behind China) – the UK now has the fifth largest death toll in the world. It has this week beaten the European record for daily death rates, and will almost certainly have the worst casualty figures on the European continent by the end of the crisis.

Infamously, it seems clear that the British approach was indeed to let the virus rip through the population until a ‘herd immunity’ was reached, and let the Devil take the hindmost. By hindmost I mean our mothers, fathers, grandparents, and our aunt with the “underlying health condition” – even though she would probably have lived on for many years with that condition.

When it became clear that the inevitable consequence of this strategy would be a figure of well over half a million deaths, the government suddenly veered in the opposite direction and ordered a lockdown, school closures etc. But not before their own “stand two metres apart and wash your hands” advice had been studiously ignored by themselves, and the prime minister, the health secretary and the chief medical officer had ALL contracted the virus.

Except the ‘lockdown’ isn't really a lockdown at all. The buses and tube trains – giant Petri dishes – are still packed like sardines, with people now dropping like flies. The school closures were two weeks too late, ditto the pub, club and restaurant closures. 250,000 horse-racing aficionados were allowed to pack into the famous Cheltenham Festival stands, while thousands of Atletico Madrid supporters were permitted to fly in for a game with world champions Liverpool – which was attended by more than 50,000 people at the very moment mass deaths were already occurring in Italy. A music concert was allowed to go ahead with 30,000 in attendance.

Even now, flights are still arriving full of travellers from Milan, Madrid, the USA, China, even Iran, their passengers and any viruses streaming into the general population.

The government has NEVER been pressed enough on any of these catastrophic failures by the pussycat press.

And even when testing is promised – on a mass scale – but never happens, nobody seriously asks why? When ventilators are being DONATED by TURKEY, CUBA and CHINA, nobody asks where are the ventilators the British government belatedly ordered? From a vacuum-cleaner manufacturer, Dyson, who had never made a ventilator in his puff. When did Britain become a beneficiary of foreign aid from countries we've long been told are ‘enemy’ countries, or at least ‘rogue third-world states’?

It has taken until this week to finally ‘secure’ the millions of masks, gowns and other PPE which were promised weeks ago. That is, if the government is telling the truth this time and they actually have arrived. And let's see how long it takes to ‘roll them out’.

Even then, the numbers will likely still be insufficient – even for the NHS. But what about transport workers? Care home workers? Social care staff? My own 85-year-old mother had to turn her care workers away (God bless them) because they had neither masks nor gloves, nor had been tested – and this at a time when my sister has to leave my mother's groceries at the outside door and wave to her through the window!

A state of shame now exists in Britain. Elderly people are being handed documents by their doctors – Hippocratically bound by their oath to “Do no Harm” - and told to sign them. Upon inspection, the documents declare that the patient does not wish to be resuscitated should they become unconscious from the virus. Euthanasia by stealth, and contrary to law, has washed up on our shores. And all under the deaf, dumb and blind monkeys of the Fourth Estate.

Such is the credibility of the British government that, when news began circulating that the prime minister's health had sharply deteriorated and he had been taken to hospital and was in intensive care, a government spokesman diverted to blame “Russian disinformation.” The newshounds now known as stenographers duly wrote this down and published it. Only a few hours later the government was forced to concede how bad the PM’s condition was, and even if he was not put on a ventilator as the sources cited by the Russians said, never before had “Russian disinformation” claims aged so poorly, so quickly.

Furthermore, it emerged - on social media rather than in the pussycat prints - that Britain’s disastrous death toll was in any case a serious undercounting of the truth. Firstly, the difference between NHS mortality figures and government announcements was said to be caused by the latter’s failure to include deaths from Covid-19 at home. Given the policy of forcing those suffering to remain at home until they were potentially at death’s door, at which point they might be admitted to hospital, this was adding insult to fatal injury. Then it emerged, entirely unquestioned by the British media, that those dying in care homes - far from a cottage industry in Britain - were also not being counted. It is thus possible that the true casualty figures from the virus are as much as 50% higher than the government are gazzetting. None of this has disturbed the calm of the media-government cricket match.

Funny, isn't it, how often “Russian disinformation” turns out to be a lot closer to the truth than the so-called independent news media in the West?