J: Number10

As lockdown starts to take its toll on Britain’s statues, zoos and drive-in cinemas re-open, but Mumsnet stops the UK government from getting pupils back to school, we come to the letter J.

For some reason, I have always been aware that the letter J is the 10th letter of the alphabet, which is useful for rapidly calculating what number any other letter in the alphabet is. It rarely comes in handy.

J also stands for the following:     

Just in time (JIT) production is the method used by manufacturers to optimise what they need and when, so they can keep levels of raw materials, components and finished products to a minimum. Essentially, orders provide the signal for production, often using sophisticated scheduling software.  

Supplies are delivered to the production line only when they are needed, which saves on storage space, rent and insurance, as well as working capital invested in stock.

Originating in the automotive and similar industries, JIT is used almost everywhere where there is a supply chain. There is less opportunity for stock to perish, become obsolete or out of date.

Obviously, just in time ordering fails in a pandemic that has not been properly planned for, and when you want masses of PPE at the same time as everyone else and you have ignored emails from your ‘friends and partners’ who have kindly offered to include you in a joint deal, when you have just left their union, just when you needed them most. 

One man’s JIT is another’s cutting corners.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson seems very much like a just in time type of person, not averse to cutting a few corners.

With his petulant pout, hardman rhetoric, belied by his thin-skinned reactions to criticism and cowardice (he got out of military service with fake bone spurs), we have lived through the last four years (it seems much, much more) of President Trump, watching the US in disbelief at the awfulness of their leader.

But that is now how the rest of the world views us. With pity and shock, as we are taken to the top of the pandemic death leaderboard, by a shameles, lying charlatan.

And it’s not just the rest of the world, it’s us too.

The YouGov Covid-19 international tracker looks at how each country thinks its government is performing and it says that Britons rate Boris Johnson’s handling of the crisis even lower than Americans rate Donald Trump. More than 40,000 (official figures) people have died in the UK due to the virus, while the US is at over 110,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

The UK leader’s performance is rated joint bottom with Mexico.

Our government still claims that it is proud of its record, with a death rate of 60,000 (unofficial), when the chief medical officer had said 20,000 would be a ‘good result’. They keep saying they have done the ‘right thing at the right time’, which is obviously untrue.

They insist that now is not the time to review their performance and that the reckoning and reviews will come later. But you can’t ‘hold to account’ a government that isn’t truthful. You can’t ‘not interrupt your enemy while he makes a mistake’, when that mistake is measured in deaths. 

John Crace, the Guardian sketch writer, calls Johnson a petulant narcissist, a sloth who appears once a week for PMQs and then hosts his brief weekly coronavirus press briefing at 5pm, shielded by his scientists.

Johnson’s earliest recorded ambition was to be ‘world king’.

He was educated at Eton, where school reports complained about his idleness, complacency, and lateness.

He won a scholarship to read Literae Humaniores at Balliol College, Oxford, a four-year course in the study of the Classics, where he joined the Bullingdon Club.

Through family connections, in 1987 he began work as a graduate trainee at The Times, where he was sacked for making up quotes.  

His writing style was condemned as bigotry, using the words ‘piccannies’ and ‘watermelon smiles’ when referring to Africans and he referred to gay men as ‘tank-topped bumboys’.

As editor of the Spectator magazine, his colleagues became frustrated by his regular absence from the office and meetings. In 2005, its new CEO, Andrew Neil, sacked him as editor. He is currently, what politely might be called a delegator; having achieved his political ambition to be in the position of pulling the levers of power, he has realised it can involve a lot more hard work than he is used to. 

I’ll bring this to a close by repeating what the actor, Christopher Ecclestone, said: “I think it’s fair to say that without Donald Trump there would be no Boris Johnson. The idea of a celebrity moron becoming the most powerful person in the country was patented by the US.”

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s PM, on the other hand, has been universally praised for her handling of the pandemic. New Zealand has eliminated the virus and pretty much returned to normal. Obviously, being an island makes it much easier to close your borders, stop incoming travellers and protect your vulnerable, so perhaps the comparison with the UK is unfair. Oh, wait a minute…


On Topic

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