The Art Of Politics – The Merry, Merry Month Of May… Not Exactly….

by Richard Bruton

Another month in politics and have a wild guess just what the political cartoonists are concentrating on this month – after all, there was sod all else going on in the world apart from the continued Covid-19 crisis and the world in varying stages of lockdown.
As we moved into May, the world was under lockdown, the death toll was rising, and the world was undergoing changes. Suddenly, nurses and essential workers were the heroes and big business and celebs didn’t seem all that important anymore. But we were also imagining just what the world might look like post virus – and so was Chris Riddell… pondering a new Golden Age and what’s next


We started the month over in the UK with full lockdown, growing infection and death rates, and a government that really couldn’t seem to organise a piss up in a brewery – if any of them were actually open. The rules were still in place, social distancing, closed stores, and a nation wondering whether it would ever be safe to go out again even as Boris and Business leaders were thinking about getting Britain back to work…
Ben Jennings

Martin Rowson on Britain getting back to work…

The UK surpassed Italy and Spain with Europe’s highest Covid-19 death toll, so the government switched to ideas of contact tracing and testing with the introduction of an App for contact tracing. Meanwhile, New Zealand, whose handling of the viral outbreak has just worked simply and easily with quick, early, decisive action, introduced a contact tracing system of writing down contacts you had been in touch with and sending them to medical authorities. I know which one I’d trust more…
And it seems Steve Bell has roughly the same trust in a government contact tracing app…

May 8 was VE Day, a bank holiday in the UK (although with the UK closed, it didn’t really feel like one), leading to various street and house parties across the country where the clever folks celebrated the sacrifice of those who fought for us in WWII by endangering the lives of older folks across the country. Genius.
And of course, it all felt very wrong with the focus on the rising death toll in UK care homes… Martin Rowson on that…

Halfway through the month, Boris decided it was time to start un-lockdown in the UK, proceeding to give the nation a set of new instructions where schools might be opening, where you could go out exercising more than once, you could meet up with one family member (with social distancing of course) maybe, and you were allowed to get the cleaner and nanny back in… yes, because we all have nannies. Although, to be fair, Jacob Rees-Mogg was relieved.
And best of all… we had a brand new slogan to bewilder the nation… ‘Be Alert’.
Chris Riddell delivers the obvious…

All in all, the nation just felt confused… with a government road map that just didn’t seem to help one bit…
Nicola Jennings

Steve Bell

The prospect of opening schools up again was a particularly contentious one. Teachers and teachers unions were understandably concerned. Of course, certain sections of the press over here began the pernicious and downright nasty process of demonising them, something that just doesn’t sit right. Of all the various responses, one has stuck with me… a teacher telling us that she was already working hard with essential workers’ children and online learning and that, should she go back to full classes, she’s terrified that she might pass on the virus to her children unknowingly and how she’d feel to be that responsible. Oh, and whilst we’re doing this, it’s also noticeable that Eton and other private schools beloved of those in power have already said they’re not going to accept children again until September.
Anyway, Martin Rowson on that…

And a particularly brutal and chilling cartoon from Ben Jennings

One thing that has been positive in the UK and around the world has been the recognition of those essential workers. Suddenly, we’re all realising that it might not be the tax-dodging billionaires who are ditching their staff left, right and centre who are the people who keep the wheels of the world turning. Instead, we have a new-found respect for some of the lowest paid in society, whether that’s nurses, delivery drivers, supermarket checkout assistants, fruit pickers, farmworkers, and so many more.
Actually, when I say ‘we’re all realising,’ I should actually have said most of us, as the Home Secretary here in the UK, ‘Auntie’ Priti Patel, doesn’t seem to be getting that particular message. Or, as the magnificent Meera Syal said on Twitter this month, ‘We clap for the immigrants who are on our frontline with one hand and slap them round the face with the other. I suspect this is what Priti was like at school. And I bet she eats chapatti with a knife and fork.
It’s all about Auntie Priti’s decision to carry out anti-immigration policy with these words; ‘We’re ending free movement to open Britain up to the world. It will ensure people can come to our country based on what they have to offer, not where they come from.
Anyone see the problem here? Yep, those essential workers are a big part of the immigrants that are going to be hit by that.
Or, as Martin Rowson puts it…

There was also the shameful fact that, until intense pressure was put on old Bozza, immigrant NHS workers (you know, those very same immigrants who are putting their lives on the line for us all right now) were being charged a fee to work here. Thankfully, that’s been scrapped now.
Steve Bell on that one…

And then, just as you thought the world of UK politics couldn’t get any worse, along comes the Dominic Cummings story towards the end of May. Cummings, for anyone who doesn’t know, is the head advisor to the government and man who possibly has some very compromising information on Boris Johnson – which is the only thing I can think of to explain why he’s still in a job.
He decided to completely ride roughshod over lockdown rules, travelling 260 with his wife and child 260 miles from London to Durham to his father’s farm. And then, because he was worried about his eyesight and his ability to drive, he travelled another 30 miles with the family to have a stroll round local tourist spot Barnard Castle. He was, he said, checking to see if he was okay to drive. Cummings and Johnson, along with a number of ministers wheeled out to support the debacle, have refused to bac down and Cummings is still in his job. This in a country where so many people have isolated and avoided going to see loved ones, parents, children, even missing their loved ones’ final days alive or failing to attend funerals because they were following the lockdown rules. To say the nation is a touch cross is an understatement.
Ben Jennings

Martin Rowson

 
Roger Langridge‘s regular updates are essential reading these times… his reaction to all that’s going on…

 
Meanwhile… over in the USA… well, Pres Trump has been having a fine old time… 100,000+ dead, rioting over racist cops killing a black man, feuding with Twitter and using executive orders to promote free his speech…
Steve Bell

Michael de Adder

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