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17th November 2023

Covid-19 Inquiry: A spectacular demonstration on what not to do

The ongoing COVID-19 inquiry demonstrates that all the skills you learn at school and university are quickly forgotten once you walk into Westminster
Covid-19 Inquiry: A spectacular demonstration on what not to do
Credit: Gavin Rodgers / Alamy

Surprise, surprise! Boris Johnson’s grand exit as an MP in June 2023 was apparently a short-lived break from his antics. Johnson has made a reappearance, providing evidence for the Covid-19 Inquiry, which formally commenced on June 28, 2022. Well, brace yourselves, because the latest bombshells reveal that Boris Johnson’s cabinet was essentially studying a BA in Incompetence 101 and achieving firsts in the module, ‘Idiocy Studies.’ It’s like they’ve turned politics into a hilarious reality TV show, and they’re the stars of the comedy line-up.

So where do we begin? To kick things off, we have Boris Johnson, the man of infinite wisdom, supposedly seeking advice from government scientists on whether people could combat the coronavirus by shoving a “special hair dryer” up their nose. You really can’t make this stuff up.

And for those of you experiencing a déjà vu moment, yes, you’re absolutely right. It’s like Trump’s brilliant idea of eradicating COVID-19 by injecting disinfectant is making a comeback, and it seems we’re stuck in a never-ending loop of questionable pandemic and health solutions. It’s almost comical how these supposedly well-educated leaders (65% of Johnson’s cabinet attended private school) can concoct such ludicrous ideas, while undergrads seem to be the voice of reason. Who knew getting a degree sometimes means taking a detour from common sense?

You would think that in a pandemic, with students grappling with learning losses and graduation delays, our government would at least try to put on a façade of competence and departmental cooperation. But no, not here in the UK. In a stunning display of government unity, Boris Johnson decided to refer to Rishi Sunak’s Treasury as “the pro-death squad” during the pandemic. Because, you know, in a time of crisis, unity and diplomacy are so overrated. So, hats off to the UK government for showing us the true meaning of leadership in the 21st century.

In a thrilling episode of Downing Street gossip, the UK’s most senior civil servants took a moment to exchange messages. They graced us with their delightful insights, describing the folks inside Boris Johnson’s inner circle as “poisonous,” “mad,” and absolutely unfit to run the country. It’s almost like a behind-the-scenes soap opera.

Let’s not kid ourselves though, shall we? If any of these supposed “revelations” manage to astonish you, you must have been living under a rock during Boris Johnson’s tenure. His track record of calamitous leadership is about as shocking as a rainy day in Manchester. Let’s not disregard the Sue Gray report, a true masterpiece in showcasing the sterling leadership within Johnson’s No.10. It meticulously detailed 16 gatherings that transpired during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a stark reminder of the key contrast between students’ isolation and Downing Street’s festivities.

So what exactly could the Covid-19 inquiry achieve? The inquiry could spell potential trouble for the current prime minister, Rishi Sunak, who’s been quite eager to distance himself from Johnson’s administration, all in anticipation of a looming general election next year. But let’s not forget the little detail that he was, in fact, the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the peak of the pandemic. Quite the tightrope he’s walking on here.

Whilst students and the public grappled with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, our government seemed to be conducting a masterclass on how not to govern. It’s almost impressive how consistently they manage to miss the mark.

However, in the midst of this spectacle, there’s a silver lining for students. It’s a reminder that the skills you’re developing – critical thinking, sound judgment, and the ability to navigate complex situations – are more essential than ever. You’re witnessing firsthand what happens when leadership falters, and that can be a powerful lesson as you forge your own paths in the future. So, keep your sense of humour intact, and take away the knowledge that even in the face of absurdity, you have the tools to make a difference and avoid the pitfalls of those who seem to have forgotten the basics of leadership.

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