Wherever you look, the headlines this week have been dominated by COVID, whether it’s surging numbers of – Omnicron cases, so-called Plan B restrictions, or what happened at Number 10 this time, last year. You could be forgiven for thinking that nothing else matters, but the truth is that there has been so much else that should have hit the front pages and that has simply slipped under the radar.
Put it all together and it leads to the question of whether those leading the Government have a handle on things.
The week began with the revelations of unanswered emails and slow responses as the Afghan evacuation took place. It is heart breaking that, had we been quicker off the mark, more people could have been rescued.
Following these devastating revelations, we learned that inflation is expected to hit more than 5% next year, we heard that NHS waiting lists are anticipated to exceed 10 million and we expected more coverage as today is Budget Day in Scotland.
Yet these major news stories are not getting the airtime they deserve.
Instead, the headlines we are reading add to Johnson’s woes of backbench rebellions over COVID passports and the seemingly illogical decision to ask people to work from home whilst allowing them to attend Christmas parties or stand at the bar in their local pub. Questions over what the Prime Minister knew about the ‘Cummings and goings’ at 10 Downing Street, alongside the fine from the Electoral Commission relating to the declarations over the funding of the refurbishment of the Prime Minister’s flat keep surfacing. If the Opposition is doing its job properly, these will not go away.
It is times like these when we need to be able to trust our political leaders, and believe that what they are doing and the decisions they make are well thought through and have our best interests are heart. As Boris Johnson’s credibility fades, we have to rely on a sense of strong personal responsibility by the public rather than examples set by our leaders. It is not just the Prime Minister who we look to for leadership, but the entire Cabinet – and indeed our Opposition MPs as well. As Minister after Minister has backed Johnson, it is a struggle to find anyone who does not seemed to be tarred with the same sleazy brush.
However, the reason that the Prime Minister has always been so popular is his ability to brush off scandal, relate to the public and win elections. Time will tell if he has retained that ability or if the Conservatives think someone else might be a more effective leader.