Life

Mary Kelly: The Crown has nothing on real-life ruckus at the heart of the British establishment

The fuss about The Crown is all very entertaining, but nothing as riveting as the drama unfolding at Number 10 with sackings of once trusted advisors and claims of a Lady Macbeth controlling the tousle-haired PM

Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in the latest series of The Crown on Netflix
 
Mary Kelly

HISTORIANS have been up in arms about the inaccuracies and fictionalised caricatures of the royal family in the latest series of The Crown on Netflix, with the queen portrayed as a sour-faced old trout who was nasty to the saintly Diana, and snobbish towards grocer’s daughter, Maggie Thatcher.

It’s all very entertaining, but nothing as riveting as the drama unfolding at Number 10 with sackings of once trusted advisors and claims of a Lady Macbeth controlling the tousle-haired PM.

You might be forgiven for thinking Boris Johnson should have sacked Dominic Cummings when he travelled 300 miles for that famous eye test at Barnard Castle, while the rest of the country was obeying the strictures of the first national lockdown.

But far worse than giving the fingers to those people enduring the hardships of isolation when many had to watch loved ones die alone, far worse than making people lose faith in the government’s call for national-sacrifice action during the pandemic, the self-styled genius’s crime was to say the boss was “indecisive” and called his fiancée, Carrie Symonds “Princess Nut Nut.” Not exactly Oscar Wilde, was it?

Now, hilariously, Boris is having to isolate in Downing Street after coming into contact with another MP who’s tested positive for Covid. A spokesman said the PM would be “working from his office for the next 10 days.” That would be a first for the notoriously work-shy Johnson.

And while British politics has become a soap-opera, up at Stormont, they’re still sticking with farce.

Sammy Wilson has come out swinging to announce the DUP will indeed use the cross-community vote to veto any plan by fellow unionist health minister Robin Swann to extend any further restrictions.

The party has positioned itself as the friend of business – a relationship they were notably less interested in during their pro-Brexit crusade.

No-one can pretend it isn’t a tough call between preserving the economy and protecting lives. But dead people don’t spend money in shops, bars or restaurants. What is needed is less of the high-wire, last-minute political squabbling, and more concentration on how to efficiently and swiftly organise the compensation needed for those unable to work in the current climate.

Why have so many received precisely nothing during the past five weeks of restrictions? Why has nothing been done for the recently self-employed who missed out on the last lockdown payments?

No-one in the hospitality business wants more stand-offs and uncertainty, and nobody wants a huge upturn in Covid cases in December either.

* * *

ONE of the saddest reports I read recently was the account of the retired nurse who tried to “kidnap” her 97-year-old mother from her care home in Humberside after becoming frustrated at not being able to visit her for nine months. Skype calls and visits through the window of her home did nothing but cause the woman, who suffered from dementia, increased distress.

Another woman stood outside her mother’s care home and listened as the 80-year-old groaned in pain. She reached her fingers, doused in sanitiser, inside the window to touch her mother’s hand in comfort. Now she is facing sanctions as her mother was placed in self-isolation and banned from leaving her room for two weeks.

The care homes are themselves in a bind. The government has left it up to each home to set up Covid-safe visits but, unlike the NHS, they don’t have indemnity to protect them against legal claims by those who might catch the virus.

For the past nine months, my own family’s visits to see our 93-year-old mum have been restricted. During the summer we could see her in the garden but since an outbreak of Covid among some of the residents, we’re limited to waves through the window.

We hope that can change soon. But this sector, which was treated shamefully at the start of the crisis, needs help, financial and practical, to implement measures that can protect the vulnerable people in their care.

* * *

THE daily news reports of Trump’s continued denial of Biden’s win are both surreal and dangerous. Proud Boy militia men, armed to the teeth, are on the streets in Washington DC as crowds chant about “stolen” votes.

The Republican Party should be hanging its head in shame. Their increasingly deluded leader claims credit for the latest corona vaccine, being on “his watch” while paying no attention to the steady death toll of Americans. He hasn’t attended any Covid crisis meetings for five months and his refusal to concede is hampering future plans to deal with the disease.

Meanwhile the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, has revealed that his fellow republican Senator Lindsey Graham contacted him to suggest he find a way to disqualify legally cast ballots to get the result to favour Trump.

It would make a despot in a banana republic blush. But this administration has no shame.

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