New health secretary, just like the old health secretary? & The patriotic flags will have to go

 New health secretary, just like the old health secretary?

So Matt Hancock eventually resigned on Saturday, admitting to "breaking social distancing guidelines" with his advisor. This is a somewhat surprising interpretation of his candid-camera kissing, given that she is his long-standing (if secret) "girlfriend"! But never mind that!

    The Sun newspaper's scoop conveniently administered the final blow to"totally effing hopeless" Hancock, as his "totally effing hopeless" boss, Boris Johnson called him many months ago, in a text message. It takes one to know one.

    The fact that Hancock was filmed in his own private office, gave other MPs such a fright that they've now had their offices "swept" for hidden surveillance devices. Ministers think that Hancock was stitched up: no one knows who put the camera there, although it has been in place since 2017. For the moment it has been switched off and taped up.

    Getting caught like this allowed Hancock to leave the job without the government having to admit his (or its) drastic failings. It even leaves Hancock's political career intact. Never mind the 160,000 dead (real figure), the lies and corruption over PPE procurement and contracts, the Test&Trace fiasco or the defective ring around care homes.

    "Protecting the NHS", first and foremost, has led to a backlog of 5 million people waiting for treatment, £9 billions-worth of outstanding repairs to hospitals and buildings and at least 100,000 staff "vacancies". Indeed, this "protected" NHS has never been in such a bad state!

    So, what is this former director of Deutsche Bank, former Home Secretary and former Chancellor, Sajid Javid, going to do about it? Nothing, in fact!

    His first announcement as new Health Secretary, rather incredibly, was that he is ending the pandemic, forthwith! Yes, on the 19th July, to be precise. This date (data be damned) is now "irreversible" (where have we heard that before?)! The public must now "learn to live with Covid" for the sake of restarting the economy and particularly, the travel industry! Green travel listings abound, despite the rising delta variant cases among the British! But unlike other countries, "Britain" is well able to "open up", because the vaccination programme has already "weakened" (if not broken!) the link between infections and hospitalisation and deaths...

    The trouble is that this is not actually true. For life to go back to "normal", ending all precautionary measures, 60-70% of the whole population - including under 18s - would need to be vaccinated. That's what achieving so-called "herd" immunity requires. And new vaccine-dodging variants would stymie this outcome anyway. So Javid is starting in the self-same place where Hancock left off: he is using deception to cover for a policy which puts the well-being of capitalist profit before the well-being of the population, in Britain, and abroad. And of course this comes as no surprise to anyone.

 The patriotic flags will have to go

Gareth Southgate said the match against Germany on Tuesday was just another football game - like hundreds which his team members had played - and that they carried no political "baggage". He was referring to the use of such matches to revive WW2 rhetoric, among other things... 

    However, the England team duly "took the knee" before the match, briefly, as did the German players, thereby showing that politics - if not political baggage - cannot be divorced from any aspect of life and certainly not international sport.

    Southgate boldly defended this gesture, despite coming under fire from the press, some football fans and the political right. In advance of 6 June's Romania match, he said "our players will once again take the knee as a show of solidarity with the Black community, including members of our squad who themselves continue to suffer abuse on a regular basis".

    Original "kneeler", Colin Kaepernick, the American NFL quarterback, went a lot further than this. His 2016 protest against police brutality against black people was to kneel during the playing of the American national anthem - putting the whole US political system into question!

    So belting out "God Save the Queen" - before a quick "kneel" - is a far cry from the meaning of Kaepernick's protest. But still, the England team's gesture is better than nothing; racism, including police racism, is very much alive and "well" in Britain today. We were reminded of this on Tuesday, when the cop who brutally killed Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson, was finally sentenced to 8 years in prison.

    Indeed, since racism is one of the most pernicious and divisive weapons of capitalism's class system, even the "minimal" gesture of taking the knee, as a sign of resistance against it, is worth making. Of course, the working class (including football players!) will ultimately need to go a lot further than this. All the way to the defeat and final overthrow of the class system itself. And yes, that will mean first disposing of every piece of patriotic baggage.