“Where everything is bad it must be good to know the worst” and, “Where all is rotten it is a man’s work to cry stinking fish” — some warningly prophetic words from @RussInCheshire

Jasper, a friend's cat of whom we are very fond
As many readers of this blog know, I am very much in agreement with something the late-nineteenth and early twenty-century British Idealist philosopher F. H. Bradley (1846-1924) once wrote, namely, that “Where everything is bad it must be good to know the worst” and “Where all is rotten it is a man’s work to cry stinking fish” (Preface to “Appearance and Reality”, 1893).

Someone who, to my mind, is doing this well and consistently (and not without appropriate dark, gallows humour) is @RussInCheshire who writes a regular Twitter thread called “The Week in Tory”. Well, he has just penned the thread I reproduce below and, in my role as a responsible minister of a small, progressive religious community, I feel compelled to share it with you here because, even if the worst he outlines doesn’t happen quite like this and in all its details, in the bad (and worsening) situation we in the UK now find ourselves we absolutely need to know what the worst could be like. So here is his (to my mind) plausible vision of that.

May I suggest that when you have read it you make a strong cup of tea (or pour a stiff whisky or G&T) and settle down to have a long think about how we might play our own parts in the coming months, either to ensure that the worst or the worst doesn’t happen or that we at least have some strategies in place to get through the worst . . .

This is depressing thing to say, but we're nowhere near the worst yet. Covid health crisis hasn't ended. A 2nd wave combined with normal winter NHS crisis will be horrendous. Mass unemployment will start soon, and nobody under 60 has had to feed a family through anything like it. Even if we find a vaccine tomorrow, producing enough and then injecting 67 million will take 12 months. By that time, projections are 12% unemployed. But when furlough ends, the high-street dies, we see the collapse of holiday companies, airlines, car manufacturers, train companies, and countless small businesses go under... then the shit will hit. And trust in govt is collapsing. Few now believe them. There's been no public disorder yet because furlough means the unemployed generally don't feel unemployed yet. Unemployment benefit in the UK is a max of £116.80 a week. Can you imagine what the reaction will be when 3 million people suddenly find out what it's like to live on that? Especially after 20 years being told the unemployed are pulling in £36k and being given free houses? And trust in govt is collapsing. Few now believe them. Fewer still will believe them when they have to live on the breadline, while the lies they've heard for their entire adult lives are cruelly exposed. All the govt has is lies. When they stop working: what then? We've had, by my reckoning, 14 major U-turns in 10 weeks. The exams policy was a disaster, the minister is still in post, and we've forced our kids to go back to school just as the 2nd wave arrives. You think parents will forget the risks, the illnesses, the deaths? Partially due to the govt's "hostile environment" policy and Brexit, we've lost over 22,000 NHS workers born in the EU, and the care sector has over 190,000 unfilled vacancies. And here comes winter, with an ageing population and a global pandemic. Barely noticed this week, in all the noise around WA [Withdrawal Agreement], is the fact we've run out of home-testing kits, and after 6 months are still not able to produce any UK-made PPE. So no tests and no PPE, exactly as we were in March. 6 months wasted. No solutions. Beneath the whack-a-mole approach to governing, support for Brexit is now 34%. I can't imagine this week's fiasco will improve that. Yet on it goes, with the promise of an additional 5% to 9% collapse in GDP. That could be ~2m jobs, in addition to the ~4m Covid job losses. That sounds bad enough, but the 5% GDP drop won't fall evenly. For some sectors it'll be 100%. Fatal. Gone. UK farming will collapse under the tariffs we face, there aren't enough seasonal workers to pick crops, and it's likely we'll see some food shortages by next spring. How will Brits react? Honestly, I don't know. There was a time I thought we'd be phlegmatic, but now? For all the talk of WW2 and Dunkirk Spirit, I strongly suspect we'll have an absolute shit-fit about it. I fear riots. I fear massive, relentless, rolling social problems. Meanwhile Johnson's approval rating among Tory activists has fallen from 92% to 24%. Sunak is far more popular, but only cos so far he's been Mr Give-Away. Very soon he'll become Mr Tight-wad, and the only popular member of the govt will be toast too. They can cling to power for a long time, because an 80-seat majority is a huge buffer. But can they govern? If Johnson goes, will the nation accept the 5th PM in a row to take office without winning an election? Who will the UK accept from the woefully shallow bench of Tories? I'm sure there are people out there who rate Patel, Gove, Raab, Jenrick, Williamson, Hancock, Shapps or Rees-Mogg. But not many. Certainly not enough to command the confidence of the UK in what will be, by any reckoning, a series of vast, broiling, existential crises. And will the UK even still exist? How can this govt hold the UK together while its ineptitude kills its citizens, starves them, destroys their jobs, immiserates their kids, guts their democracy ... and 3/4 of the nations that make up the UK don't even vote for them. Our govt hasn't got the capacity to change. They don't have the skills, leadership, or compassion. The saner Tories quit or were driven out. Decades of lies are catching up, and they're boxed in. Imagine how badly they'll respond when social unrest happens and the UK breaks up. See. Told you this would be depressing. But here's a picture of a kitten to cheer you up again.