‘I don’t want to go outPhilip Gilbert 2
I won’t stay in
Get things done’




Confusing lyrics, aren’t they? Don’t want to go out, I won’t stay in, reminiscent of Johnson’s mystifying televised address last weekend.




What he did say was if you are a middle-class professional, then you can keep safely working from home, and whether you venture outside for leisure, exercise or sunbathing is entirely up to you.

As for the rest, well, it’s time to get back to work, hopefully you won’t contact the virus.

‘if you are a middle-class professional, then you can keep safely working from home’

Typically Johnson wanted to keep those that ‘matter’ happy; the Tory libertarians, who believe in freedom for those can afford it, and the wealthy Conservative backers whose care more about profits than the lives of vulnerable and older people.

Decisions such as this only serve to heighten the class impact of this pandemic.

Johnson suggests avoiding public transport, but when over 50% of the poor do not own a car how else are they to get to work?

This gap between haves and have nots was wonderfully summed up the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, who said the government would be asking commuters to be sensible while admitting he would not get on a tube or bus.

‘The class system prevails all the way to the morgue;

Why’s that Grant? Perhaps it is unsafe?

The relaxation of rules allows us to meet one friend or relative from outside our household at a time, but only in an outdoor public space while observing social distance, meaning that large gatherings outside are still banned

Which begs the question, why can people return to work indoors in whatever numbers? Perhaps the safety of the working-classes matters less than profit margins and shareholder returns.

Johnson should remember that many of these are the ‘blue-collar Conservatism’ of the fallen Red Wall.

Does ‘Stay alert’ means ‘stay at home only if you can afford it’? Is the new slogan ‘save middle-class lives’.

The class system prevails all the way to the morgue.


‘Fade to scenes of violence
Like a t.v. screen but silent
Where the victims are all paid
By the hour’


What is more research published on Wednesday in the Lancet by researchers from University College London (UCL), warns that, 8-million people with underlying health conditions should be exempted from plans to get the country back to work and normal life.

‘easing the lockdown too quickly could propel the Covid-19 death toll to 73,000 this year’

It goes on to say that easing the lockdown too quickly could propel the Covid-19 death toll to 73,000 this year.

They calculate that 20% of the population are vulnerable from one or more common conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart problems,

Most of those are not considered clinically extremely vulnerable by the Department of Health and so instructed to shield entirely for 12 weeks, whereas the report considers diseases that cover the commonest chronic diseases.’

Someone on the minimum wage and has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), who is at high risk of sickness or death from coronavirus, may otherwise head back to work the report concludes.


UCL look at three scenarios:


  • Doing nothing in the hope of creating herd immunity, which would lead to up to 80% of the population becoming infected,
  • Mitigation, which was the strategy before the lockdown, when people were asked to keep their distance and wash their hands, which is presumed to have led to a 10% infection rate,
  • Suppression during the lockdown.


Returning to an infection rate of 10% would lead to 37,000 deaths over the year if the relative risk of dying is twice that people with underlying conditions usually run. It is 73,000 if the risk is tripled. The relative risk of death from the virus is currently uncertain.

We are now, in so many ways the sick man of Europe. Whichever way we calculate the death toll we are the highest in Europe, and globally second only to the US, and there has been scathing international criticism of the way the government has dealt with the pandemic.

‘We are now, in so many ways the sick man of Europe’

We smugly watched Italy struggle to contain the virus, thinking, ‘it’s Italy, what do you expect?

Britain ‘did not pay enough attention to what was happening here’, commented Beppe Severgnini in Corriere della Sera, referring to the two- to three-week period when Italy was ahead of the corona curve.

The UK ‘lost the advantage that fate and Italy gave it… when it was obvious the virus was spreading’.

The real irony is the fact that the world’s highest coronavirus death tolls belong to the US and UK, two countries whose leaders came to power promising the restoration of greatness and control.

Neither can claim to have been caught by surprise: both nations had the benefit of time, ample scientific warnings, and the cautionary examples of China and Italy.

The similarities are striking, the conclusions unavoidable. In the UK, whist Johnson is a lightweight he is nowhere near as stupid or dangerous as Trump.

reckless political decisions based on rhetoric triumphing over reality’

Despite that our government’s response has been little better than that of the US. Both countries suffer from a damaged political culture and a distinct form of Anglo-American capitalism.

Both have made reckless political decisions based on rhetoric triumphing over reality.

Johnson told us that the cost of leaving the EU would be ‘virtually nil’, with a free trade agreement that would be one of the ‘easiest in human history’.

Imaginary scapegoats were used as both countries severed their ties with other nations and international institutions.

Politics was reduced to soundbites, all that mattered was ‘getting it done’ no matter how slapdash the job. In the US Trump kept his supporters happy talking about building walls, passing racist travel bans, and savaging public figures for sport.

Both leaders surrounded themselves with inadequate yes merchants, meaning that by onset of the pandemic neither government was prepared and able to respond effectively.

The source of this problem is that the so-called special relationship has become an ideological partnership forged in the post-second world war era.

‘an economic and political model based on privatisation, liberalisation and the withdrawal of labour rights’

Anglo-American capitalism has become rooted in small government and powered by exceptionalism, effectively dismantling ‘the state’.

What has evolved is an economic and political model based on privatisation, liberalisation and the withdrawal of labour rights. It has left a system prone to regular crises, despite such shocks being explained away as one-offs.

After the 2008 financial crisis, two centre-left leaders, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, chose to shore up the infrastructure that had brought their economies to the brink, recapitalising the banks and revitalising the markets, opting for regulation over fundamental reform.

‘the failure of the US and the UK will be somehow spun into victory’

The financial crisis was viewed as a malfunction in the system when in fact it was enabled by the system.

As a result, both countries regard the pandemic as an unforeseen event, rather than a result of an ideology that enables banks as being seem as too big to fail!

All Trump and Johnson offer the electorate is rhetoric, making America great again and, in Britain, taking back control.

They seek out scapegoats; immigrants, other countries and institutions such as the EU, WHO, NATO, and use them to deflect the feelings of helplessness experienced by the electorate.

As the bodies pile up, the failure of the US and the UK will be somehow spun into victory. The only question now is how many will continue to believe it.


‘Half his friends are stuffed into black body bags
with their names printed at the top
Xmas in February’


Trump has become an unwanted thorn in the side for the UK. Whilst Johnson and his mob can’t admit it, his America has become an unreliable, problematic and, sometimes, a hostile entity, tending to belittle us rather than building us up.

This makes our Brexit planning look even more vulnerable.

Despite this they continue to pander to him, almost begging for a trade deal, and mimicking his anti-Europe, populist posturing, rejecting pandemic cooperation with the EU.

‘Brexit might yet to be our moment of hubris’

Brexit might yet to be our moment of hubris. It was supposed to deliver a ‘global Britain’, creating dynamic new trade relationships.

With the WTO predicting that trade may decline by up to 34% our timing couldn’t be worse.

This will make trade talks even more difficult, we will be desperate for investment, easy prey for Beijing’s diplomats. This could be a return to days of the unequal treaty, but this time we will be the loser.

Lest we forget, Brexit transitional arrangements expire at the end of the year, the deadline for an extension is 30 June, 7-weeks away.

Hardliners will naturally view this as another trick by ‘remainers’ to keep us in the EU arguing that:


  • Deals are easy, and only traitors or cowards deny it.
  • Brexit is a fiery spirit, best downed in a single shot. Sipping is for wimps.
  • The UK gets what it wants by threatening to walk away.


Their belief in brinkmanship is based on what they perceive as the triumph last autumn.

Whereas the reality is quite different, Johnson simply withdrew behind a customs border in the Irish Sea, something he had previously rejected. Moreover, he continues to delude himself that this isn’t the case, even though it is a legal fact.

Hi solution, a ‘Canada-style’ free-trade deal, would disrupt the flow of goods, the cost of which is meant to be offset by gains in sovereignty.

It is forecast that a deal of this nature would require 50,000 new customs officials to keep the border fluid. Amusingly, 50,000 is greater than the number of civil servants employed by the whole European commission, presumably these new bureaucrats are fine because they are ‘ours’ and not some pesky foreigners.


‘Personality crisis you got it while it was hot
But now frustration and heartache is what you got..’


To the true Brexiter, no deal is the best deal of all. ‘If the goal is separation, why keep a bridge’ Now they can hide behind the argument that any costs from Brexit will be irrelevant compared to the upheaval caused by coronavirus.

No one will notice which bit of the hardship was caused by leaving the single market, and we can ‘streamline’ reconstruction without the need to deal with Brussels.

People who know Johnson well say that his overarching concerns have always been his place in history, and the need for it to be heroic.

For the second time in 80-years Britain stands alone, the last time we had no choice, this time we have, foolishly chosen to do so.

Which brings me to my conclusion, as VE Day saw the conclusion of WW2 in Europe. Not long after VE Day, Churchill was pressing the case for what needed to happen next.

‘We must recreate the European family in a regional structure called, it may be, the United States of Europe,’ Churchill declared in Zurich in 1946.

Five years later, he was warning of the ‘disadvantages and even dangers to us in standing aloof’ from a more united Europe.

He was sad that Britain had refused to discuss the creation of a European army. He hoped Britain would join the European Coal and Steel Community, the precursor of the Common Market.

Close ties to our European neighbours were precious, Churchill argued, even if that sometimes meant ‘the abrogation of national sovereignty’.

In 2020, 80-years on from standing alone, we need another miracle, a fresh strategy, and, as in 1939, a better leader.


‘Spun our minds and through time, ignorance has taken over
Yo, we gotta take the power back!’


Philip has clearly spent the last fortnight sharpening his quill and at the risk of mixing metaphors he gives it both barrels this week; he’s madder than a cut snake that the relaxation of lockdown disproportionately penalises the weak and the vulnerable.

Struggling with the mixed messages and lack of clarity coming from Downing Street, Philip sees them ultimately reflected in the UK’s top of the league performance in the Reaper Premiership.

He has us as the sick man of Europe because we failed to learn the lessons of Italy and China, and draws some less than pleasant conclusions about the UK/USA ‘special relationship’ as Trump appears to be increasingly unhinged.

As we celebrate VE Day, and Brexit crashes towards us, Philip compares the incumbent’s stance on European integration and cooperation with that of his great hero and concludes, ‘Sorry Boris, no cigar’.

One of the best crops of lyrics to gnaw on this week, and I have to admit to being pretty pleased with myself; however, not enough to put in claim – with a whopping 30 pts up for grabs, its electronic entries only for 25 pts and above.

First up, nobody will be surprised at the return of the thin white duke – 3 pts for Bromley’s finest and 3 pts for ‘Modern Love’.

Next ‘a man I have wrongly ignored’ – 3 pts each for Gary Newman and ‘You are in my Vision’; then ‘the poet laureate of NYC’ – a belter – 3 pts for Lou Reed and 3 for ‘Xmas in February’.

Next, and other cracker from those ‘mock-rockers’ – 3-a-piece for New York Dolls and ‘Personality Crisis’; last but not least ‘a US hardcore band with an opinion’ – an absolute monster – 3 pts for Rage Against the Machine and 3 pts for ‘Take the Power Back’.

Enjoy, and let’s be careful out there.



Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s


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