The rollout of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine on Tuesday to great fanfare, was pure political show-business.
Of course, this vaccine is probably safe. But will it be effective? The jury is still out. Britain’s “fastest in the world” licencing of this vaccine was immediately suspect. Why not just give it temporary “emergency use” approval? Other countries, which are scarcely less willing to see big pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders enjoy a bonanza, have been much more circumspect.
Of course, there would be good reason for Britain’s medicines’ agency to say yes to a vaccine ASAP: Britain has the highest death rate from Covid in Europe. A safe and effective vaccine is desperately needed. All the more so, now that the measures to stop Covid spread are being relaxed and a 3rd wave could be beginning already.
But there was a more pressing reason. Boris Johnson, who is losing points daily in the opinion polls, thanks to his criminal mishandling of the pandemic, needs to try to save his political neck.
So what better than a life-saving vaccine, a world first, to boost himself aka “British greatness”. And never mind that the vaccine is an EU import!
It’s the same when it comes to the final days of Brexit negotiations. The talks have “gone right to the wire”. So now it is up to the mightily egotistical King Boris to return with a deal, in time for Christmas! Of course, if he does not, no problem, says he - Britain will still “prosper mightily”. A bit like Simple Simon though, he will only really be a “good boy” for the capitalists, if he brings back the pie.
He already backed down on his pretence to play hard ball by breaking the Northern Ireland protocol. But who could be fooled? It is the EU, not the British negotiators, who could always “walk away” without much harm: 6-8% of EU goods are exported to Britain whereas 43% of Britain’s exports go to the EU. A case of a giant versus a mouse.
The Office for Budget Responsibility spelt out last week that Brexit will be worse than Covid, because its effects are permanent, whereas the economy can recover (with some scarring), from the effects of the pandemic - whether there is a deal or not. But if there is “no deal” the effects would be far worse.
Had governments not been so obsessed with their petty nationalisms and insularity, the Covid virus might not have taken hold as it did. And what is Brexit, except another insular act of nationalism? It is a step backwards. The working class can be in no doubt as to what and whom to blame. And in no doubt as to what to do about it.