Captain Tom dies, and with him a part of Johnson’s PR toolset

Who will divert everyone form my mistakes now?
A man who is not a hero, upset for the death of an actual hero, for the wrong reasons, yesterday

I have nothing but respect for Captain Sir Tom Moore, a passionate and compassionate gentleman who stood up as a 99 year old in April 2020, having already fought a war as a young man, and did something incredible when every bone in his body begged him not to. He raised awareness and he raised millions in donations to NHS charities and provided a sense of optimism which had been so sorely lacking from the start of this crisis.

The Captain took everyone’s minds off the worst of things, albeit for a little while, and gave us reason to pause and consider the best of things, the best of people.

It is little wonder that Boris Johnson is saddened by Sir Captain Tom Moore’s death from Covid-19, and perhaps it is partly genuine, though I have doubts that his reasons are the same as everyone else’s.

The Captain was, after all, a hugely effective diversion for Johnson in 2020, with his garden-walking action coinciding wonderfully with a litanny of gaffes and blunders from Johnson and his government. With Captain Tom in the headlines, bringing smiles and cheers, Johnson was able to quite easily hide in the shadows of page two, with his PPE supply disasters, his failed Test and Trace attempts, his dodgy medical contracts handed to his mates, and of course his inability to sack Dominic Cummings for breaking his own rules. (That only came later when Cummings sent a sarcastic text about one of the mothers of one of Johnson’s many offspring).

Tom Moore was a simple old man with a steel walking frame and a golden heart, who raised £30 million in his back garden.

By the time Captain Tom turned 100 on 30th April 2020, he had raised a staggering £30 million for the NHS. This cannot be emphasised enough; one very old man, not an organised charity. Captain Sir Tom Moore was a simple old man with a steel walking frame and a golden heart, who raised £30 million in his back garden.

And that was in 2020. Now, in early 2021, as January drew to a close, Captain Tom’s health had declined rapidly, and he was hospitalised with the Covid-19 virus. Everyone knew that now, his amazing journey was coming to an end. But what an incredible legacy he would leave! How many people can die at 100 knowing they changed so many lives in the last year of their life?

Johnson, by contrast had just endured a horrendous week of Covid PR, with the 100,000 death toll hanging like a millstone around his neck, he stood before the nation a broken man, unable to justify his position yet incapable of stepping down from it, or even of acknowledging the mistakes which brought him to that point. (He prefers instead to suggest we have a review of lessons learned at some later date, presumably once enough mistakes have stacked up that he’d like to leave it to somebody else to deal with).

Johnson desperately needed something to take the heat off.

None of this stopped his (perfectly timed) contraversial trip to Scotland in which he was surely haunted by the actions of his former advisor-in-chief, perhaps wondering if he himself might have to set up a kitchen table in the rose garden soon.

So we came to February 2021, and Johnson desperately needed something to take the heat off. He needed a change of subject. That 100,000 death millstone was growing heavier.

Miraculously for Johnson, Captain Tom saved him again. When our hero sadly died, the the media spotlight was steered firmly on to Captain Tom’s lifetime and his achievements, with rightly glowing tributes and thanks. Nobody, at this time, wanted to talk about Boris Johnson or his catalog of devastating mistakes, or the 100,000 dead, or the unnecessary travel to the Highlands. There was no appetite for criticising government choices, not this week. Johnson had gotten away with it, as he always does.

Captain Sir Tom Moore was a hero.

Captain Sir Tom Moore was a hero, a real-life one, the best kind. But we need to be straight about this: It is the job of the elected government to fund, protect and equip our health service. The government should be utterly ashamed of itself that they left this duty to an elderly veteran with a walking frame, happily standing aside to let him raise money by hauling himself up and down his garden in front of television cameras.

All this time, even now, Johnson stays silent about his election promises for the NHS. Here’s a quick reminder to help us out:

With this in mind, it is particilarly sickening that Johnson has called for a national round of applause in honour of the heroic Captain, whom as a private individual did more for the NHS than Prime Minister Borish Johnson ever has, or ever will do, from his ivory tower.

Captain Sir Tom Moore did more as a private individual for the NHS than Prime Minister Boris Johnson ever has, or ever will do, from his ivory tower.

If Johnson had any genuine respect for this gentleman, he would offer an apology to the nation for creating a situation where Captain Sir Tom Moore had to raise funds in the absence of his own government taking action, and he would resign in disgrace.

While Captain Sir Tom Moore’s family can be rightly proud of him, nobody who values our National Health Service can say the same for Boris Johnson.

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