Johnson’s coronavirus blame game has gone into overdrive

Boris Johnson
Fréa Lockley

The UK has the highest coronavirus (Covid-19) death toll in Europe. At the time of writing, over 45,000 people have lost their lives. From late lockdown to lack of PPE, inadequate testing and a litany of other errors, the government’s response to the crisis has already killed too many people. Boris Johnson has been prime minister for just one year. Now, after blaming care homes for coronavirus chaos, he’s shifting the blame onto yet more ordinary people. The latest Tory drive linking obesity to coronavirus deaths hits peak hypocrisy. And it’s utterly spiteful.

Blame game

On 25 July, Johnson admitted to Sky News that “there are things we get wrong”. He also said: “You’ve got to learn from your mistakes as fast as possible and that’s what we’re doing.” On the same day, the latest government initiative linked coronavirus risks and deaths with obesity. On 27 July, Johnson went all-out, launching the government’s Better Health Strategy.

The government’s plans to tackle obesity include:

  • A 9pm watershed for “TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt”.
  • Ending supermarket deals “on unhealthy food”.
  • A “campaign to help people lose weight, get active and eat better after COVID-19 ‘wake-up call’”.

There’s no doubt that obesity is a problem. The government notes:

Almost two-thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity – and 1 in 3 children leave primary school overweight or obese, with obesity-related illnesses costing the NHS £6 billion a year.

But the government makes no mention of the links between obesity and poverty. And Johnson added a further sting, saying:

if you can get your weight down a bit… and protect your health, you’ll also be protecting the NHS.

In other words, the latest smoke and mirrors Tory initiative slams yet more blame on the UK public for a drastically underfunded NHS. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“You couldn’t make this sh*t up”

From 3 to 31 August, the government-funded Eat Out to Help Out scheme gives people a 50% discount at restaurants. Participating outlets include fast-food chains. Yet the links between fast food and obesity have been well established. The Left Bible suggested on Twitter that you “couldn’t make this sh*t up”:

And let’s not forget that too many families can’t afford to eat out. The coronavirus crisis has impacted the poorest families the hardest. According to the Trussell Trust:

Recent work by the Social Metrics Commission shows that the largest employment impacts from the current crisis have been felt by those already in the deepest levels of poverty. Food banks have seen this first hand. Across the Trussell Trust network there has been a dramatic rise in the numbers of people pushed to food banks during this crisis – including an 89% rise in food bank use in April compared to the same time last year, and a shocking 107% rise in parcels for children.

Poverty and obesity

Johnson also ignored the devastating links between poverty and obesity.

In 2019, The Canary reported that a Commons select committee report condemned the Conservative government’s failure to “recognise and respond to the issues of hunger, malnutrition and obesity in the UK”. Pointing to rising levels of food poverty – particularly for children – it made a damning recommendation: to appoint a minister for hunger to deal with the spiralling crisis of poverty in the UK.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) slammed the UK’s “significant and growing” levels of food insecurity. This is defined as “limited access to food… due to lack of money or other resources”. It also found the UK has the one of the worst levels of food insecurity in Europe, especially for children. One in five children in the UK (19%) goes hungry.

Food poverty creates two devastating outcomes: “malnutrition and obesity”. Too many people can only afford the “very cheapest foods, which are often nutrient-poor but calorie-rich”.

There’s absolutely no mention of this in the latest government policy.

On your bike?

Let’s not forget either that Tory-led cuts also axed countless strategies that actually worked to protect people’s health. Unite’s Howard Beckett offered a real strategy for change:

Another part of the new government initiative means “GPs will be encouraged to prescribe cycling as a way for patients to lose weight”. But again, this fails to take into account the dangers of cycling in the UK without proper investment. And how do people without a bike afford one as we head into mass unemployment from coronavirus? “Redundancy notices,” as Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “are already flying around like confetti”.

Johnson and the Tories’ disgusting shift of even more blame onto ordinary people doesn’t hide their mishandling of this crisis. Enough is enough.

Featured image via YouTube – Bloomberg QuickTake News

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  • Show Comments
    1. Let’s not forget the real reason his blame game went into overdrive on the 25th of July. he blames the NHS, makes sure it struggles even more in the next few weeks then proposes the new deal he makes with Trump because the NHS was placed on the chopping block on the 25th

    2. What a crock of sh*t I mean they can’t even be bothered to pretend to tell the truth now.

      Knowing that the British love a good headline and will believe anything even if its blatant lies written. On a bus they just spout garbage and deceit like its gospel. The old saying tell the lie often enough and the people will believe it, springs to mind.

    3. The proper death total is 75,000+. The Tory number is a fiction & dosn’t include the early 10-15,000 care home deaths. Also remember death certificates are notoriously unreliable. GPs are too busy to enter the correct cause of death & more often than not have never seen the corpse. Read Malcolm Kendrick https://www.rt.com/op-ed/490006-death-certificates-covid-19-do-not-trust/ The 2-faced Killer Johnson & Court Jesters have been fabricating from the day others started questioning them about their on-the-hoof CV19 Catastrophe & their big-pharma ‘independent’ ‘scietist’s’ advice.

    4. I can imagine prescribing cycling.

      – Doctor, I have [illness]. What can I do?
      – Well, we know light exercise does help to reduce the symptoms and will improve your mood. So I prescribe cycling.
      – Thank you doc.

      After a week of regular cycling at slooooow pace for short distances, DWP letter is received:

      “We saw you cycling, so you’re not really sick, are you? Little lying bastard. We cut your support now and your doctor knows nothing about health and we do. We got a week training once. Now piss off.”

      Such instances did happen in the past.

    5. Obesity is a problem and cycling is an excellent way to prevent obesity. As well as being a keen cyclist I am also a campaigner for better infrastructure, repartitioning of roads, speed limit reductions, bike hire and bike refurbishing schemes, which can get people on to bikes and relatively cheaply. So, let us agree obesity has to be tackled.

      However, The Government is doing this as a diversionary measure to distract attention from its own abysmal handling of the epidemic and also because the cynical, heartless, money-grubbing bastards could not give a damn about the level of infections, because it is overwhelmingly poorer people who die. Johnson and Cummings recovered from Covid-19 because they had sufficient money and resources to be in reasonable condition before they succumbed to the virus and survived.

      So, campaigners need to avoid falling into the trap of scorning measures to tackle obesity because the media will immediately condemn them for that and focus attention on this rather than on the Government’s failures and its baleful agenda.

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