A Trip to Mars

You can buy a trip to Mars
With three billion Mars bars
But Dido does a million and a half a day
On her defective track and trace,
That’s enough for every homeless person in the UK
To eat six Mars bars a day.
But if the corporations paid their tax
The homeless would have to give some Mars bars back,
‘Cos they wouldn’t be able to take away
Nearly six hundred bars a day.
In fact, take the tax from the corporate trousers
And just build chocolate and nougat houses.
By the time you got to the 28th
They’d could all live on a Mars bar estate,
Somewhere out in Essex
That they could nibble on if they’re peckish.

A Million Pounds a Day

How would you spend a million pounds a day?
Buy two small flats in Walthamstow,
Or a big one, round Hackney way?
You could give up work and visit Marseilles,
Or park a new Ferrari, on your new driveway.
If you sliced your drive, you could buy the fairway,
Or put on a play, on Broadway.
You could spend a million pounds on Monday,
And have a million more again on Tuesday.
You could hire Elton John to play
Or Adele, or even Beyoncé
For three performances a day.
You could buy a small painting by Monet
Or quite a few by Bernard Buffet.
You could wear a new pair of trainers every day,
Then give ‘em away.
And never mind coffee, you could buy the café.

But if you find yourself round Downing Street way,
You’ll send your million pounds a day
Your mate Dido Harding’s way
Who gives it all to Deloitte, they say
For test and trace that even today
Is still not okay.

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.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

What’s the connection
Between the new head of the National Institute of Health Protection
(Set up in the middle of fighting the infection)
And the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care?
Is there something of which we should be aware?

Well, he’s MP for Newmarket and his campaign was endowed
With lots of money from the horseracing crowd,
While she’s on the board of the Jockey Club
And, ay, there’s the rub,
The Cheltenham Festival
Which you might recall
Went ahead when cancellation was the call
And infected a load of people.

And as head of app-less Test and Trace
(Which isn’t in world-beating first place)
Gave ten billion quid of public dough
To Serco, whose CEO
Is Rupert Soames
From one of the country’s most famous homes
And whose brother Nick, I quote
“Is a main investor in the Tote”.

While Randox, who sponsor Aintree,
Are another company
Awarded considerable public money
With very little scrutiny.
A hundred and thirty-three million pounds, in fact,
Is the value of their contract
For testing kits that didn’t work,
And worse
They pay an eight grand a month fee
For consultancy
To another Tory MP.

At Talk Talk she won the wooden spoon,
Which is coming to Dido’s Test and Trace soon
And she’s head of NHS Improvement as well
As this new role, can you hear the death knell?
Because her husband is on the board of 1828
Who called for PHE to meet its fate
And are advocates for a change in Britain
To an insurance-based healthcare system.

So who’s looking after your health today?
Because this lot shoot horses, don’t they?

Hey, Dido!

Hey Dido,
How’s the track and trace going?
We hear that your site crashed on its very first day.
And Dido, we hear that you were supposed to get the app first anyway.
Dido, are you covering for Dom? You weren’t supposed to start ‘til Monday

Hey Dido,
How’s the track and trace going?
We hear that your staff have had very little training
After you got them in with your last-minute recruitment campaigning
And Dido, you must know that public confidence is waning?

Hey Dido,
How’s the track and trace going?
We hear that you’re gonna be the one to blame
And Dido, who was it that came up with that awful name?
You must know that most people fail at the Whackamole game

Hey Dido,
How’s the track and trace going?
Is it true you have no medical expertise?
But Dido, you were CEO of a telecoms company
And Dido, is it true that you’re married to a Tory MP?