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THE UK Covid-19 inquiry is more than an obscene waste of £200million of your money – it is also a missed opportunity of historic proportions.
The inquiry was set up to examine the UK’s response to, and the impact of, the Covid pandemic.
But as it proceeds at its dead snail’s pace, with its desperate yearning to bash the wicked Tories and put BoJo’s tousled bonce on a spike, it feels like the truly important questions are not even being asked.
Lord Sumption, who sat in the Supreme Court from 2012 to 2018, has said the inquiry was “more interested in assigning blame”.
It certainly felt that way when chief pantomime villain Boris Johnson arrived to give his testimony this week.
Yes, there are people who will always blame Boris for their personal loss.
And the night before the Queen sat alone and masked at the funeral of her beloved husband Prince Philip, it beggars belief that people were enjoying a few cans behind doors at 10 Downing Street.
But against the stain of Partygate, we should balance the BoJo books with the fastest vaccine rollout in the world.
“2020 was a tragedy for Britain but I did my best,” the former PM told the inquiry — and I find it impossible to doubt the sincerity of a man who was nearly killed by Covid.
After his testimony, Boris did not seem like a hero, but then neither did he seem like the cackling, uncaring murderer his enemies paint him to be.
Johnson did his best for this country in a time that, as he said, “was outside our living experience”.
And I can’t think of a Prime Minister in our recent history who could have done any better.
Lord Sumption’s criticism of the inquiry is for its apparent assumption that lockdowns were worth the immeasurable damage they caused.
Sumption told the BBC: “The first question we’ve got to ask is whether, with the knowledge we have in hindsight, lockdowns were a good idea and whether the effects were worth the phenomenal collateral costs — financial, social and educational.
“That doesn’t appear to be on the agenda.”
Lockdowns protected our elderly and vulnerable, but at what cost to our children and the young?
As far as I can tell, this shamefully self-indulgent inquiry will do bugger all to prepare us for the next pandemic.
And — frankly — don’t we have far bigger things to worry about?
There is a ground war raging in continental Europe.
The Middle East is being reduced to rubble.
Plans for peace are not even on the horizon.
Meanwhile, in the weary, cash-strapped West, Republicans in the United States have blocked a funding bill that included aid for Ukraine and Israel, doing nothing but emboldening Vladimir Putin and Hamas.
Make no mistake — the forces who would dance on our mass graves are in the ascendancy.
And yet in the UK we are paralysed by petty recriminations about the past.
Only a country addicted to meaningless tittle-tattle could blow £200million on an inquiry that will not even ask if lockdowns were a good idea.
The pandemic is over now. And with the world in flames, we have bigger battles to fight.
ONE concern about “silver snorters” — the growing number of cocaine users in the 60+ age range — is that these elderly wild things do not understand the potency of what they are sticking up their wrinkled old hooters.
It is possible that some of them took cocaine many years ago.
But have now forgotten about it.
RISHI SUNAK is trying so hard to make his £300million Rwanda plan work and cut down on illegal immigration.
You feel for the guy – a politician who actually wants to keep his promises to voters.
Rishi’s big problem is that the distance from South Foreland, Dover, to Cap Gris Nez, Calais, is only 20 miles.
And however much we all jump and down about Rwanda, it will always make more sense to send illegal immigrants back to France.
BBC newsreader Maryam Moshiri stunned licence-fee payers when she stuck up her middle finger at the start of a live news broadcast.
The excuse? Maryam was having a “private joke”.
Really? Because she did not look even remotely amused. Exactly the opposite.
Perhaps Maryam was laughing on the inside.
It’s honest Taylor’s time
TAYLOR SWIFT and her cat are on the cover of Time mag, anointed as Person Of The Year for 2023 (Taylor, not the cat).
At 33, Taylor has attained a level of fame that no other female singer and only one male – Elvis – has ever surpassed.
And she has reached these giddy heights largely by mining the memory of her own relationships.
Most major artists write one great album about a break-up, the obvious examples are Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks, about the collapse of his first marriage, and Jackson Browne’s I’m Alive, his masterpiece about breaking up with Daryl Hannah.
But Taylor has built her entire career on opening up about real life and real heartbreak. And it is working.
Bowie’s Ashes winner
DAVID BOWIE, as always, was way ahead of the curve.
When he died in January 2016, most of us had never even heard of direct cremations – the death that skips a funeral service.
Bowie, who died of liver cancer two days after his 69th birthday, did not want a funeral service.
He was cremated without family or friends present and his ashes were reportedly scattered on the Indonesian island of Bali.
It was a spectacularly original way to leave this life. But now direct cremations are all the rage.
A new survey suggests that more than half of us now quite fancy missing our own funeral.
One company, Simplicity, says it has seen a 400 per cent increase in direct cremations in the first half of 2023.
The main reason for dispensing with a funeral is that it is cheaper. But it is also a less painful way to say goodbye.
I have no fond memories of the funerals of my mum and dad.
All I remember is a day filled with heartache.
When we remember those we have loved and lost, we think of them IN LIFE. We don’t fondly recall their funerals.
Funerals are not a crucial ritual that we need in order to grieve.
So I can see the appeal of direct cremation.
And if it is good enough for David Bowie, it is good enough for me.
THE publishing industry is the ultimate bottom-line business.
Publishers always know exactly how well a book is doing – or not.
So beetle-browed bard Omid Scobie’s publishers will be painfully aware that in its first week, he sold a teeny-weeny 6,448 copies of Endgame – his snide, spiteful pile of bile.
Endgame is currently below Diary Of A Wimpy Kid and Riddles To Do While You Poo On The Loo in the Amazon charts.
Proof that not all publicity is good publicity.
Why we don’t miss EU
CHRISTMAS quiz time.
Who said: “I’ve got news for those who say Brexit is a disaster – it isn’t. That’s why rejoining is just a pipe dream.”
Was it A) Nigel Farage?
Or B) That bloke who leads Reform UK?
Or C) The Economics Editor of The Guardian?
Rather jaw-droppingly, the answer is C), Larry Elliott, Economics Editor of The Guardian.
Elliott wrote a balanced, wise and perceptive piece about the UK leaving the EU in the last place in the world you would expect to find it.
Elliott does not claim that Brexit has been an unalloyed success, or even properly implemented.
But he points out the apocalyptic catastrophe predicted by Project Fear was laughably wide of the mark.
Small businesses, Elliot says, have been suffocated in red tape post-Brexit.
But big corporations – Nissan, Microsoft etc – see the UK as the place they want to invest.
And he notes that EU countries are increasingly in thrall to extreme right-wing fruitcakes who would never get a look-in here.
This is Brexit’s great irony.
From Holland to Hungary, and in Germany and France, it is the countries of the European Union which look like small-minded xenophobes today.
Keir up to task
KEIR STARMER really is a changed man. After trying to get Jeremy Corbyn elected as PM – twice! – he is now rarely seen without a Union Flag at his shoulder.
His decision to get the comrades at the Labour Party Conference to warble God Save The King was a masterstroke of reassurance for a nation still wary of a senior Jezza henchman.
And now Starmer is praising Margaret Thatcher for her “driving sense of purpose”.
It can’t be long before he despatches a Task Force to secure the Falklands.