Will it End in Tiers?

The move from local lockdowns in parts of the north of the country and the Midlands came fast, the move from tier 1 to tier 2 in London, York and other areas came even faster, as if the Government had miscategorised certain areas in the first place which of course they had. The people, needing clear, simple, effective guidance in the face of rising case numbers and hospital admissions didn’t get it. The rules, no longer guidance and now enforceable by law, were complex and it was difficult to understand how they would work. The balance of protecting the nation’s health against protecting the economy weighed heavily in favour of the latter. Confidence and compliance were low.

As families and communities considered the impact of the new rules on their lives and how they might bend or break them, open rebellion in the Westminster-governed political sphere was seen for the first time, echoing the previous divergence of the devolved administrations. Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, declared that he would resist a move from tier 2 to tier 3 unless the Chancellor found some money to support those affected. You can’t instruct people to stay at home, he argued, if to do so deprives them of an income. Correct, of course, but falling on deaf ears, or tin ears as Kier Starmer like to refer to them as during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Sir Kier, leader of the workers’ party and knight of the realm, was not in favour of the tiered approach and argued instead for a short total shutdown, the “circuit breaker” approach, which would at least hurt the economy as much as it would the people. It was an argument that had previously been put forward by the Government’s own scientific advisors, the SAGE group, who were also ignored.

In Liverpool, the first area to enter tier 3, we discovered that there were two mayors, a Conservative mayor for the Liverpool city region with whom the Government maintained a dialogue and a Labour mayor for the city of Liverpool with whom they did not.

Britain was a nation fractured and exhausted. The arts had been written off as unviable, the hospitality industry dealt yet another blow by the tier 2 restrictions which didn’t shut them down but discouraged customers from going out and thus killed their trade without compensation, and football failed to emerge from behind closed doors.

The twin saviours of mass testing and comprehensive contact tracing still seemed a distant dream. Both were in the purview of Tory darling, corporate and political failure and baroness, Dido Harding.

Earlier in the crisis, Prime Minister Johnson and his sidekick, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, were at pains to demonstrate how they’d “ramped up” the testing regime, setting their own targets and celebrating when they achieved them but under Harding’s regime the swabs were all tested at centralised, privatised “lighthouse” laboratories, standing down the previous NHS and university collaborative effort and when laboratory capacity looked close to being exceeded the system started to restrict access to tests, sending symptomatic people hundreds of miles to testing centres and cancelling walk-in appointments. The Government issued a stern message that you should only apply for a test if you really needed one.

Hapless Harding, abetted by an equally hapless Hancock, took a cue from their boss and spaffed £12 billion on a test and trace system that didn’t work, including an app that failed and a centralised contact tracing system that couldn’t find any work for full-time private sector contact tracers. Although comparisons with spending in the Republic of Ireland were misleading, the rumours that some consultants earned in the region of £7000 per day proved true.

Populist Prime Minister Johnson had got it wrong at every turn, from herd immunity to world beating test and trace. Even the appointment of a vaccine tsar and the promise of a jab by September had come to little, but at least the news from China was more encouraging.

Hands, Face, Pasty

Six tier one folks can still meet inside
It’s the tier where the science and the politics collide
Where the rule of six guide stands ready for the slide
Over to the hundred in one hundred thousand side

So, we’re standing on the precipice of tier two
Sadiq says that it’s coming very soon
But I’ve got people to see and things to do
While COVID’s turning the screw

Meanwhile there’s a new slogan in tier three
Where you can’t have a pint except with your tea
It’s like Tim Wetherspoon’s writing policy:
Hands. Face. Pasty (and chips).

Rishi Sunak (We Know a Song About You)

Oh dear, Rishi
You’ve pissed off the people
Who like to rhyme
Who like tell stories
Who like to keep good time

Oh dear, Rishi
You’ve pissed off the minstrels
The entertainers
The chroniclers
The maintainers
Of the culture
Of the hope
Of the real story
Of our times

Oh dear, Rishi
You forgot the golden rule
That all that glitters is not gold
That money can’t buy you love, Love
That value can’t always be measured
In pound notes
Not even close

Oh dear, Rishi
You forgot
That we know the words
That people sing
And people hum
That we know the tunes
That people whistle
And people strum

Rishi Sunak we know a song about you
No better than the other Tories in your crew
Rishi Sunak, fuck you

EDIT: Full Fact are now reporting that Sunak didn’t say that musicians and other people working in the arts and creative sectors should all re-train and ITV have modified their headline and deleted their tweet accordingly.

But you know what? Fuck him, anyway. The Musicians’ Union recently published a survey of their members which reported that 70% can’t do more than a quarter of their pre-COVID work but 38% of them aren’t eligible for the government’s support schemes. His hands are nowhere near clean.

And let’s not forget Edwina Currie telling LBC’s Iain Dale that “you can’t save all the puppies”.

Facemasks at Half Mast

It’s facemasks at half mast
For the coffee guy at the station
For better facial aeration
For poorer droplet filtration
For rules half followed out of frustration
And Stanley Johnson ain’t wearing his at all

It’s facemasks at half mast
For the woman on the morning train
In a sippy cup coffee kinda vein
She’s looking at her make-up again
Over a blue chin protection membrane
And Stanley Johnson ain’t wearing his at all

It’s facemasks at half mast
Baby, let’s go exponential
It’s facemasks at half mast
Baby, let’s get existential

My mask protects you, your mask protects me
Round here, it’s what we call solidarity
It’s how we show love and respect for one another
Sisters and brothers

It’s facemasks at half mast
For the fella on the train home
Slipped down while he was on the phone
Glanced around the carriage and he’s not alone
With important communications home
And Stanley Johnson ain’t wearing his at all

It’s facemasks at half mast
Baby, let’s go exponential
It’s facemasks at half mast
Baby, let’s get existential

My mask protects you, your mask protects me
Round here, it’s what we call solidarity
It’s how we show love and respect for one another
Sisters and brothers

Spaffer doesn’t understand the rules
What rules?
Whose rules?
His rules
For home and work and schools
While Stanley Johnson ain’t wearing his at all

It’s facemasks at half mast
Baby, let’s go exponential
It’s facemasks at half mast
Baby, let’s get existential

My mask protects you, your mask protects me
Round here, it’s what we call solidarity
It’s how we show love and respect for one another
Sisters and brothers

The debased street music of the vulgar

Out now!

It’s been four years (four years!) since the last Protest Family release but finally we’ve got something to share with you that’ll give you an idea of what we sound like these days.

It’s a 100% DIY affair, recorded mostly at my house with some percussion recorded at Andi’s but that said, we’re pretty pleased with the results.

A DIY release comes with a DIY marketing department, of course, and that’s, um, you lot. So do us a favour and tell everyone you know and if you enjoy the EP then tell ’em all again, and if anyone fancies reviewing it then please let us know; someone else’s words always carry so much more weight than ours on occasions such as these.

If you really, really want a copy but finance is an issue, get in touch privately, I’m sure that we can sort something out.