In this war against the virus who is the real enemy? Government, police or is it us?

Whether it’s the number of deaths, the amount of PPE or the rates of testing, Johnson is about as sloppy with the facts as he was over Brexit. Robert Fisk says we’ve had enough careless talk – the people want the truth

Monday 20 April 2020 09:40 BST
Government printed countless propaganda posters during the Second World War to discourage discussion on sensitive topics
Government printed countless propaganda posters during the Second World War to discourage discussion on sensitive topics

It really is time we set The Boris Johnson Story to one side. I wish no one’s demise – and am glad that Johnson, like thousands of other people around the world, came back from the valley of the shadow of death. But it really is a bit much to hear him thank the NHS for his life when his own government cannot provide them with the protection they need to treat the sick. Or even provide his own people with the truth about just how many of them have died or are dying or will die.

Even if we accept the difference between Covid-19 hospital deaths and Covid-19 nursing home deaths and Covid-19 deaths at home – and even if we are prepared to believe the intolerable difficulties of collating these casualty tolls – why didn’t Boris Johnson’s spokesmen and spokeswomen (or Johnson himself before he was wounded in action) point out at the very start that the daily death toll in UK hospitals was probably a gross underestimation of total British casualties? Maybe by about 100 per cent.

I think the cabinet just thought they could get away with fooling us that hospital coronavirus deaths represented all deaths – until someone spotted that they didn’t, at which point the rest (or some of the rest) of the dead got untidily tacked on to the original figure with insufferable excuses as to why it might not be exact.

So please, let’s have fewer details of Johnson’s ordeal with death – and more details about just how many of his fellow citizens are meeting that fate. Careless Talk Costs Lives, the posters used to say in the Second World War, the event which all of us are supposed to remember, though most of us cannot conceivably do so – unless we are over 80 and not yet felled by Covid-19. But careless talk about how many lives are lost appears to be a feature of Boris Johnson’s cabinet. Indeed, whether it’s the number of deaths or the number of protection kits or the number of available tests or the number of positive tests, Johnson and his playmates are about as sloppy with the facts as they were over Brexit.

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