On live television, Andy Burnham had just finished making an impassioned plea for the tiny amount of money that will be needed to spare the poorest and most vulnerable people of Manchester from ruination in the wake of new coronavirus constraints being thrust upon them.
Reporters had asked a few questions, and then, still, on live television, a colleague positioned a smartphone in front of him, containing breaking news.
Not only is help not coming, through pure vindictiveness, the previous, already too low, offer had been withdrawn.
Andy Burnham puffed out his cheeks in horror, and after a short pause to take in what was happening, alighted on the following words and said that this was no way to run a country, is it?
Coronavirus has not left history short on vignettes to encapsulate this Government’s quite shocking ineptitude. But this wasn’t ineptitude, it was sheer nastiness.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, had just been saying that there would be a better possibility of beating the virus if we worked together and that we couldn’t move through the pandemic by grinding communities down – we need to carry the public with us, not destroy their spirit.
They were stirring words. It’s also, of course, a significant testament to Boris Johnson that he’s turned the likes of Andy Burnham, a man who was arguably the least outstanding contender in the 2015 Labour leadership contest, which we may recall was defeated by an obscure backbencher called Jeremy Corbyn, into a great leader.
Crises make some, not all, but some aspects of the job of politicians much easier and it isn’t all that difficult to find the right words for sober times, though it’s certainly beyond the Prime Minister, as is every other aspect bar none.
Andy Burham had explained in stern and clear detail how he was asking only for £65 million, which equates to approximately £23 per person in the Greater Manchester region.
This he said, was the bare minimum and that without it, people would be made homeless.
He’d been offered £60 million, and the negotiations appeared to have broken down over the almost laughably tiny sum of £5 million and then, on live TV, he would learn that Manchester’s MPs were on a video conference call with Matt Hancock, the offer had been unilaterally lowered to £22 million, and tier 3 restrictions were being unilaterally imposed too.
And this grievous handling of these matters by our Government endangers the very unity desperately needed in these times across the country, with everyone now liable to becoming rebels, with most people saying that they can stick their tier 3 and that they’re going with their instincts, just like puppet master Dominic Cummings.
And how much more poop are the people going to take?
The Conservatives have nothing but contempt for having to help the working classes and we should remember their actions when we next visit the ballot box and we should also remember this is the Prime Minister who said he’s finding it difficult living on £150,000 a year but still expects people to live merrily on a minimum wage.
And we have seen Boris Johnson at his most dangerous, and he doesn’t appear to know what he’s doing, although I’m sure nobody else could have done better. Still, they seem to have become extremely vengeful of the people with their imposing settlement figures based on what they need in the middle of a pandemic, but what they’re really doing is bringing about pandemic austerity.