Imagine my excitement today, at finding something new in a story that’s becoming exhaustingly repetitive. I haven’t seen a single newspaper headline, tweet or Facebook status using the pun ‘Oh Tier, What a Mess’. The only thing more tiresome than the COVID measures themselves are the puns. If my single contribution this weekend is stumbling across a new one, then I’ll consider that a job well done.
These weeks can be hard to plan a show, when one big story sucks the life out of the news agenda – especially when it leaves us asking an evergreen question, that you could apply to most political and social falls outs from the last few decades: how much of this is driven by a Conservative Party domestic?
Tory MPs are knocking on Boris Johnson’s famous black door this weekend to demand evidence that the Tier system will work. On the surface, it feels like another of those moments where the Prime Minister will have to do what is in the best interest of keeping the Tory party together rather than the country (see also, Brexit).
But it isn’t quite that simple – you don’t have to be an anti-lockdown freedom fighter to recognise that the measures introduced in places like Kent, where the whole county falls into Tier 3 despite massive variations in case rates, don’t make much sense. In my stomping ground of Greater Manchester, we’re scratching our heads too. Having been under strict measures since July, we also fall into Tier 3 despite cases falling here but rising in Tier 2 London.
I wonder what it is about a place with a dominant concentration of wealth and power that means it has looser restrictions? It has also been widely pointed out that the stand-off between Westminster and Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, may have a lot to answer for too.
For you and I, as we get together this weekend and try to make sense of what’s going on, it presents another tricky puzzle. We are left to rummage through the wreckage, trying to decipher which bits are designed to help thwart the spread of the virus and which bits are intended to keep rebellious Tories happy. Not to mention the bits that are there to give Andy Burnham a kicking. And it begs the question, how many times do we have to do this?
The first stop is to ask one of those rebellious Tory MPs. We’ll do that this weekend. It’ll give us a peek into the relationship between Downing Street and backbenchs – at a time when a new step-father is making himself at home.
Boris Johnson has appointed a new chief of staff, just a fortnight after Dominic Cummings made his dramatic Hollywood departure through the front door with the contents of his desk in a cardboard box. Dan Rosenfield, it seems, is the antithesis of Cummings. It might be a name you aren’t familiar with – but its a man that will have a substantial influence over how you live your life. So, he’s worth getting to know. We’ll speak to Westminster insiders to do just that.
Trying to figure out who does and doesn’t hold the cards – who is and isn’t calling the shots and worth listening to – and what it means in real terms has become a full time occupation under this government. It’s a question that is getting easier to answer across the pond.
It’s been another week of fruitless legal wrangling for Trump’s lawyers, with one of their key lawsuits thrown out in Pennsylvania because of… you guessed it… a lack of evidence. With each recount and ratification solidifying Biden’s win, Trump came about as close to conceding as we’re likely to see this week. He gave the go-ahead for his team to work with Biden’s on a transition and pledged that he would leave the White House if the electoral collage ratify the election result. Which they will.
Not much of this is new. We can track back to late October, when this process was predicted by commentators, pundits and Biden himself… as well as on the pages of this newsletter. The question we should ask this weekend is – does what Trump says matter anymore?
The American constitution, for all the battering it has taken over the last few months, is pretty solid. Joe Biden won the election. It would be the end of days if the electoral collage didn’t ratify his win, he’ll be inaugurated on the 20th of January and, if needed, Trump will be dragged out of the White House by the Secret Service.
So why are we still giving this guy the time of day? Why are his tweets still headlines and his comments still newsworthy? The election has happened and the process will play out, no matter how hard he kicks and screams. News networks have already started cutting away from his press conferences as he makes baseless and embarrassing claims of voter fraud – is it time we put him on mute entirely? Is it now the job of people like me to not pander to his tantrums, but report on what the grown ups are doing to help the process of transition along?
Maybe. But Trump’s dying political breaths remain so captivating – so entertaining – it’s hard not to watch. We’ll go live to America on the show this weekend and ask them that question… and figure out what comes next.
Also this weekend – another of those stories that stops you in your tracks: a study from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation found that loneliness amongst parents of young children has risen dramatically during the pandemic. For on-lookers like me, a family unit seems one of the least likely places to find the effects of loneliness. Last week, we considered the often hidden impact that technology is having on domestically violent partners. We did what we don’t do enough of, and spoke to somebody who has lived it – felt it – to help us better understand it. It shouldn’t be a story that catches me off guard – and this weekend we’ll try to fix that.
See you in the morning.November 27, 2020 | No Comments