We always suspected Downing Street was run by children – it’s all spats and petty squabbles

These people are in charge of communications and yet they are behaving like 15-year-olds. Maybe this is why we have received such clear instructions throughout the pandemic

Mark Steel@mrmarksteel
Thursday 12 November 2020 18:45
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<p>Boris Johnson with his former director of communications Lee Cain</p>

Boris Johnson with his former director of communications Lee Cain

What a reassuring sign, with the country shut down mid-pandemic, weeks before leaving the European Union with no plan other than building a space station in Kent for 85 million lorries, that everyone in the prime minister’s office is dedicated to hating each other and trashing each other’s reputation. One of them announced: “On Wednesday, the WhatsApp group went nuclear.” Everyone in the prime minister’s office must be, what, 15?

Tomorrow, the bloke who’s resigned will issue a statement that goes, “It’s not fair because Boris said I could be his mate but then he got wiv Carrie and she got preggers, even though he’s already got, like, a hundred kids or summink, and he said I could ruffle his hair before he goes on telly, so now she’s always giving me evils and Micky Gove reckons it’s ’cos she knows about when Boris got lit on champagne and vodka at Eton and shat in a wardrobe.”

Downing Street will rebut this with a statement: “Well, that’s not true, right, ’cos Dominic told me Lee was just jealous ’cos he wanted to go out clubbing and he weren’t allowed, yeah, ’cos of lockdown and he was like, ‘how comes he was allowed to go to Barnard Castle or whatever’, and I swear down Carrie was like, ‘I’ll take you down bitch’, and he was like, ‘yeah?’ and Priti was like, ‘you go girl’.”

So the bloke who’s resigned will retort: “Yeah well, like, you wouldn’t be nuffink wivout me and Dom helping you out wiv all words and stuff and everyone knows when you done them press conferences you looked MINGING and all the cabinet started being like, ‘Rishi, we love Rishi now’, and they all talk behind your back and everyone knows it ’cept you ’cos you’re such a LOSER LOL.”  

And these people are in charge of communications.    

Maybe this is why we receive such clear instructions, such as when we were ordered to all go out, as there’s no danger of being locked down again, until a few weeks later when we were all locked down again.

Then they explain the rules with such beautiful clarity, the whole country comprehends exactly what we’re doing. So we understand how the spread of the virus has grown alarmingly, especially in schools and among students, so the only places that can stay open are schools and places full of students.

And we follow with heartening certainty that the lockdown will or won’t last either four or more weeks, then we will or won’t have to do it again, and we might go back into tier 1 or 2 or B or § which means we can have a bubble as long as it has less than one person and we only meet outside, or inside if we’re not there.  

Maybe now the bloke who’s resigned has resigned, he’ll tell us what it was, as head of Boris Johnson’s communications, that he did. It could turn out that Boris Johnson is fluent and coherent with a loveable persuasive manner, but the head of communications told him, “That won’t work. I suggest you add ‘er’ in and ‘ugh, um, in as much, which is notwithstanding’ twice per sentence and throw in random inappropriate lumps of Latin.”

It’s not just Johnson who struggles to communicate. Dominic Raab was asked whether he thinks all legal votes in the US election should be counted, and he answered: “I’m not here to get drawn into the system of elections they have in the US.”

If he’s asked whether he approves of the system they have in Syria, where anyone who suggests voting against the president gets driven over with a lawnmower and thrown in a dungeon with a puma, then the president receives 358 per cent of the vote, he’ll answer: “Ha ha, you’re not going to catch me out by getting me to say how they should do things in another country.” And he’s the foreign secretary. Perhaps it’s for the best that soon we’ll have no contact with most of abroad.

It’s a shame the way it’s gone, as this government was supposed to be brilliant at communication. It was run by people who knew how to be clear, with their “Take back control” and “Get Brexit done” slogans.

Cummings, Johnson and the bloke who’s just resigned tried a similar tactic through the pandemic, explaining everything with simple slogans such as: “Guided by the science”, “Go to the pub” and “Checking my eyesight”.  

But it’s all unravelled because every time they insist we won’t need another lockdown, or they won’t have to extend the furlough scheme, and anyone who suggests otherwise is a miserable unpatriotic arse, a few days later they have to start another lockdown or extend the furlough scheme.

So their authority has eroded, in the same way that someone in a house who shouted the simple slogan, “Sit still, there’s no fire”, is slightly undermined half an hour later when you’re all sat in the road watching the fire brigade search through the rubble for clues.

Similarly, the current slogan of the man they followed and learned from and took comfort from, is poetically simple. “We won by a lot,” he says. But it doesn’t work as well when you lost by a lot.

So here and in America, they’re turning on each other. By Christmas, whoever is running the communications department will book a press conference at the Hilton, but they’ll book Teddy Hilton’s Scrapyard by mistake and they’ll hold it anyway. Then we’ll know it’s all over, at last.

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