Boris Johnson could have honoured Captain Sir Tom Moore by funding hospitals – he decided to clap instead

Johnson insisted on clapping because he understands that Captain Tom's ambition was much higher levels of clapping for the NHS

Mark Steel
Thursday 04 February 2021 22:58
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Captain Sir Tom Moore honoured with national clap

Several politicians, newspapers and personalities have taken the totally reasonable stance that if you didn’t clap for Captain Sir Tom Moore, you’re a traitor who doesn’t deserve the vaccine, and instead you should be battered for several hours with the captain’s zimmer frame by Piers Morgan, live on ITV.

Because we learned many vital lessons due to Captain Tom, and the most important is that the correct and proper way to fund the National Health Service is not the outdated, cumbersome practice of taxation. It’s much fairer and more efficient to get 99-year-olds to run round the garden.

In years to come, there will be no more bureaucratic National Insurance, and accountants working out how much each of us has to pay. That will be replaced by lines of the elderly charging round Hackney Marshes, while personal trainers bark: “Don’t be a QUITTER Mavis, you CAN give me two more laps, CRAWL if you have to, we’re short of X-ray machines, so MOVE IT.”

It’s no wonder they insisted on vaccinating the over-80s first, they’re relying on them to fund the NHS for the next 10 years.

Eventually, everything will be funded like this. Rishi Sunak will say in his budget: “I am pleased to announce a boost for education. From the start of the next economic year, we will provide no fewer than 500 90-year-olds to hula-hoop all day in Wembley Stadium, to fund school books and fix the busted toilets. Furthermore, I can reveal we will provide the fire service with a 50 per cent increase of 94-year-olds, who will bungee jump for a hosepipe each. And I can announce they will be led by Sir David Attenborough, who will describe the starlings he passes on the way down.”

So it was Boris Johnson who led the clapping, praising the man who raised £30m towards the £30bn Boris Johnson’s party has left the NHS short of.

Some cabinet members have proposed a statue to Captain Tom, to celebrate the man who raised money for the thing they could have funded but decided not to.

Everyone should behave like this from now on. In each family, someone should announce: “I’ve decided to never do any tidying up ever again. You have to do it all. But in return, when you die I’ll stand on the step and give you a clap.”

Then we should consider Chris Grayling, because he managed to waste about £30m of public money every day when he was in the cabinet. That means he saves us £30m every day he’s not in the cabinet, so he should have a statue in every village square.

The way that Johnson embraced clapping for Captain Tom is similar to the way he praises Marcus Rashford, when he says: “Isn’t this person wonderful, for pointing out what a useless heartless idiot I am? Thank the Lord this person selflessly dedicates himself to correcting some of the stuff I ruined.”

So now Johnson is insistent on clapping because he understands that Captain Tom’s ambition was much higher levels of clapping for the NHS.

The government could have honoured his name by funding hospitals, rather than sending out billions of pounds worth of contracts to their mates in companies such as Serco. But how would that have led to the claps the service so desperately needs? It’s no good nurses having adequate masks and gowns if no one’s banging a saucepan for them.

That’s why there are so many of these harrowing pieces of footage, in which exhausted nurses plead into the camera: “Please, please someone look at the conditions we’re in, and try to put this right by walloping a wooden spoon on a tin cup.”

So it’s understandable this government feels so emotional about Captain Tom, because they share his values, which is why they sent £12bn worth of contracts to companies such as Serco to create a track and trace system that didn’t work, rather than fund it through the NHS. Because Captain Tom didn’t mind the NHS, but the organisation he really loved was Serco.

The vaccination programme has been delivered through the NHS, and that seems to be working. So we should expect that before long, that will be put right, and it will be outsourced to a company that makes ladders registered in Monaco, owned by a Tory MP’s personal jousting coach.

The problem is, as all sensible people agree, we can’t fund the National Health Service through taxation, as people aren’t prepared to hand over that amount of money. So instead we must have lower taxes, and fund the NHS by asking people to hand over that amount of money, because they’re inspired by a 99-year-old. The difference is, instead of the wealthiest handing it over, it’s the poor, which is fair enough as they have so much more to spare.

So we should applaud Captain Tom, and we can only wonder what he’d have done next if he’d had the chance. Because he would have had to top his efforts next year with something more spectacular, in the same way each Fast & Furious film has to be more extravagant.

He would have had to ski down his roof all day, using the frame to do a sharp turn before flying over the guttering, or do a rodeo for the NHS on the back of a bison.  

And if the government wants to carry on using his name the way they have until now, we can expect them to start with his funeral, asking the pallbearers to carry the coffin round and round the churchyard to raise enough money to buy some protective gowns and a ventilator.

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