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Trump sank lower, but that doesn’t mean Johnson isn’t knee-deep in sleaze | Jonathan Freedland

A damning report makes clear how complacent we’ve been: under cover of Covid, taxpayers’ money has been abused

The gradual, reluctant departure of Donald Trump removes a man who performed a vital function for the UK government. He served as a lightning rod and handy distraction, diverting attention away from our own rulers by reliably being more appalling, more outrageous and more incompetent than they could ever manage. However low they sank, they could always point across the Atlantic to someone who had sunk lower. Trump absorbed a lot of emotional energy that way, soaking up fury that might otherwise have been directed closer to home. But now that his slow retreat from the centre of global consciousness is under way, his utility as a decoy is diminishing. Once Trump is no longer gobbling up all the attention, our gaze can settle more steadily on our own masters. And it is not a pretty sight.

For even though Boris Johnson never told anyone to inject bleach, his government’s handling of the pandemic has been disastrously bad by any measure except direct comparison with Trump’s. Whether it’s the late decision-making, including a delay to the first lockdown that is estimated to have cost 25,000 lives, and a second one imposed five weeks after the experts had warned a circuit break was urgently required; sending infected people back into care homes without testing; the baffling decision to allow mass gatherings to go ahead and to allow air travellers to keep arriving without even the most basic checks once they had landed; or the serial failures to set up a functional test-and-trace system, the record is abysmal – borne out by the fact that Britain has the highest death toll in Europe.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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