The year 2020 has been pretty wild. After the Tory landslide victory in the 2019 general election, we knew that 2020 would be bad, but little did we know how bad. In January the first reports began to circulate of a novel viral infection that was infecting people in Wuhan, China. The novel coronavirus COVID-19 rapidly spread globally, and countries were forced to introduce a variety of measures to limit the impact of this deadly virus. Some did better than others. Yet it appears that those that did worst were led by lying populists such as Johnson (75,000 excess deaths and climbing) or Trump (over 300,000 deaths).
Its been a year of pain, failure, political disgrace and idiocy. So here are our worst bits of 2020.
10) Journalism failures and COVID-19 herd immunity
At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the UK Government briefly toyed with the idea of pursuing a policy of herd immunity, until someone explained to them that this would be a terrible idea that would result in a lot of dead people. The consensus is that this brief flirtation resulted in a catastrophic late lockdown. In the meantime, several ‘journalists’, without any particular background in public health or infection control, sought to justify this policy.
9) Mask culture wars and COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the wearing of face masks ought to have been uncontroversial. It is a minor inconvenience that benefits all by preventing the spread of infection. Yet right-wing idiots, in both the US and Britain, managed to turn the wearing of masks into a weirdly aggressive culture war.
8) ‘31 January 2020’
On the 31st of January, the UK formally left the European Union, which led to embarrassing scenes in Trafalgar square with revellers fascist nitwits shouting slogans like ‘lock up the traitors’.
7) Trump does an interview
In August Donald Trump did a mind-numbing interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios. Watching this it is hard to not believe that it was a scripted comedy. It involved Trump waving meaningless charts about COVID-19 around, and making a variety of outlandish claims. Even for Trump, this was a surreal performance in the grotesque pantomime that was his presidency.
6) A level exams fiasco
In August we had the secondary school’s exam results debacle. Because of COVID, no students sat exams in the summer, so Ofqual used an algorithm to award results instead. This caused anomalies for promising students at poorly performing schools and advantaged private schools. After initially declaring confidence in the results, the inevitable government U-turn came days later.
5) The Johnson and Frost outfits at the EU summit
In the final stages of the Brexit hubris David Frost, and the most successful liar in Britain, Boris Johnson met Ursula von der Leyen and Michel Barnier in Brussels to try and finalise a deal on Britain leaving the European Union. Many commented on how the slick, professional appearance of the Europeans contrasted with Johnson and Frost, who looked like they had been stuffed into ill-fitting clothes by their nannies. Maybe it’s a class thing about being so privileged that you don’t need to care about appearing professional?
4) Defending statues of racists and slavers
In June following the killing of George Floyd in May by police officers in the United States, a global protest movement started that gave renewed impetus to the earlier ‘Black Lives Matter’ social movement. This led to crowds pulling down a statue of the slaver Edward Colston in Bristol. This, in turn, sparked a global movement with people challenging and removing statues erected to racists, colonialists and those who profited from slavery. As a reaction to this, a bunch of right-wing nitwits (are these the same nitwits who complain about masks?) sought to defend statues of people they had never even heard of.
3) COVID-19 and England is the worst affected country in Europe
As the COVID-19 pandemic rumbled on worldwide, it appeared that England was one of the worst affected countries in Europe. While Johnson and his incompetent cabinet are not responsible for the global pandemic, most of the blame for what happened in England can be laid at his door.
2) Four Seasons Total Landscaping
It seems quite fitting that the disastrous Trump presidency should end between a sex shop and a crematorium. And all the more appropriate that it was actually during a press conference to announce legal challenges that the 2020 presidential election was called finally called in Biden’s favour. Since then, Trump has continued to lose many many times. Has there ever been a greater loser?
1) Barnard Castle
In May it emerged that the Brexiter and advisor to the British Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings had broken lockdown rules to drive to Durham and then take a further trip to Barnard Castle. In the following days, there was mounting pressure for him to resign both from the general public and MPs (many in the Tory party). On the 25th of May, he gave a press conference that was notable for the number of implausible lies that he told. In August 2020 the Lancet published a study on the “Cummings effect” and how his actions had undermined essential public health messaging during the pandemic.
Earlier poor reporting was here compounded when a ‘journalist’ responded to a Tweet from Pippa Crerar. Presumably, after she got a text from Dominic Cummings.