Mission Accomplished!

It’s important not to try too hard to remember what was and wasn’t illegal during the various lockdowns

Good afternoon. Today I want to set out what our lives would be like from the 19th of this month if and when we move to Step 4 — a decision we will finally take on the 12th — and I want to stress from the outset that this pandemic is far from over. And yet we unlock because we are, and always have been, following The Science. When The Science told us to stay at home, we stayed at home. When it told us not to cover our faces, we kept them naked. When it told us to leave the family home, and cover our faces, we left the family home and covered our lips as quickly as we could. But now The Science has done all it can for us and has dropped us off at the bedside of an old chap we’ve managed to keep alive on a ventilator in Whitehall, called “Personal Judgement”. If, indeed, The Science, really does decide to lead us to him.

This was the gist of the Prime Minister’s big victory speech today announcing an almost return to normal. From 19 July there will be no capacity limits on anything and all remaining businesses that are closed by law, like nightclubs, can reopen. If they have not already gone bust. People will no longer be asked to work from home, punters can order drinks from a crowded bar, train passengers can rip off their masks, as long as the train company doesn’t reimpose the stipulation.

And whoever heard of the dead hand of past regulation ever strangling something is a point I would be making if I could make myself heard over the din of 50-something colleagues muttering about Lloyd George and something something munitions workers something something pub licensing laws before you were born something something and for seventy years before that! I seem to have stumbled into a private world of middle aged sorrow and should move. But apparently we have much to thank Mrs Thatcher for, if our teenage hopes centred on mid-afternoon drinking.

The unlocking will finally be revealed after being whispered into the ears of a SAGE member from Science itself

But leaving the 80s behind us and back to the age of Big Government’s back, baby, bigger and better than ever! The [checks notes; suspects notes have limited utility] hardcore Randian new Health Secretary confirmed in the Commons that singing will be allowed in churches again. If there was no “Mission Accomplished” banner flying behind the Prime Minister then there should have been a choir. Of delightfully winsome London children mugging for the cameras.

Presumably we finally got to the happy point of the unlocking finally being revealed to us because it was whispered into the ears of a SAGE member from Science itself. But then something odd happened. The Prime Minister forgot for a moment that it was The Science that had relinquished its grip on our personal lives and alluded to something this sketch half-remembered from 2019 called “political calculation”:  “If we can’t open up now during summer”, he asked, “when will we return to normal?” To delay is to reopen in winter or not at all this year, he reasoned. The High Priest of Science, Chris Whitty, also forgot his deity and said it wasn’t “controversial” to say that transmission was greater during Winter so now seemed like a good time to lift restrictions. Perhaps our crack team wasn’t solely relying on their medicine-based master? But then this sketch recollected the reason why the final unlocking was pushed back by four weeks: Boris Johnson said it was worth it to get some more people vaccinated. Despite all of the most vulnerable groups having been offered their second vaccine long ago. The wonderfully arbitrary, mysterious Science was back.

This sketch must apologise because it really won’t do to keep questioning how much of these decisions are based on The Science. People who probe any deeper risk getting hung up on conspiracy theories which assert that the occupant of No.10 is doing everything for his own self-interest. It’s equally important not to try too hard to remember what was and wasn’t illegal during the various lockdowns once all this is over. If we spend all our time trying to recall whether the Health Secretary broke the law or get too concerned about whether a different (hypothetical) Cabinet Minister was breaking the rules he was zealously enforcing at a time when parents couldn’t see their dying children, we’ll never have time to #BuildBackBetter as part of #TeamUK. After all, it is only enemies of the Government who have been spreading the rumour that “data not dates” originally started life as an internal Whitehall memo on personal relationships.

It’s important not to try too hard to remember what was and wasn’t illegal during the various lockdowns

Let’s just bask in the warm glow of hypothetical freedom day and confine our face-masks and any hitherto unreported law-breaking by the Cabinet to the dustbin of history. This sketch is willing to bet that The Science will unlock England on the 19th, obviously it would be heresy to suggest there might be a political motive, but will any of the little people worry too much about some law-breaking and a lapse of personal responsibility by their masters once they themselves have been released? Of course not. We’ll all have moved on from irrelevant SW1 bubble stories by then. No matter how the SW1 bubble was burst. Unless there are more pictures. Then we’re all going to be very unhappy. You’ll get tired of how unhappy you’ll be then.

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