This Is No Longer A Game

battle black blur board game

It’s five pm
So it’s time…
For the briefing 

Unless it’s a weekend
When they take place at four
For reasons I can’t quite fathom
But I’m prepared to ignore

Standing three astride
A podium a piece
The politician ‘tween the scientists
To announce the deceased 


‘We’ve carried out x many thousands of tests’
As if that were meaningful data
But tests done is dictated by test kits we had
So that won’t help us manage this later

I’m willing them on, hoping beyond hope
That they’ll rise and step up to the plate 
But each day they manage to fail once again
Increasing my concern for our fate

Johnson, Hancock and Gove taking turns
All looking like scared little boys 
Desperate to get to the end of their slot
Lest their cover gets blown midst the noise

Rushing to end each briefing
Survival the only goal
Getting through it the only measure of success
Then retreating away from the proles

Every successfully evaded point 
That you see as some mark of success
Erodes even further our weak trust in you
Which serves to exacerbate this mess

Will you apologise minister?
To the people who stand in harms way
Without the protection that should keep them safe
But who stand unprotected today 

On day one you couldn’t be held responsible
But the first time you stood ‘fore the nation
And said it had all been sorted. 
Then it’s on you now, whatever the duration.

You didn’t answer that way because it was true
You answered that way to deflect blame 
That’s the game you usually play
But this is no longer a game

People want to trust you – they need to
They need to know that you’ve got this
But day by day, trust is slipping away
And you’re stepping ever closer to the abyss

When you lie, People die.  
And they die in your name
When your policies are tailored to protect your lies, more people die
Because this is no longer a game

Unable to admit to the problems we face
Else the lies will soon start to unwind
But they’re really beginning to look rather thin
And we know what we’re likely to find 

People don’t have the PPE – What are you doing?
Today alone we’ve shipped fifty million
A meaningless answer to a different question
That diminishes you in the eyes of every civilian

Hancock said PPE was sorted again and again
To make all the questioning stop
But you cannot deny now that each time, he lied 
And he should be next in line for the drop

You stand up and boast that there’s still spare capacity
But frankly I’m appalled that you have the audacity
As daily we read of the care homes in tragedy
People denied hospital, evidence of your mendacity

In any other environment, this would be gaslighting 
People come to you with serious questions and concerns
You dismiss them and explain that it’s no longer a problem 
And they shouldn’t believe what they’ve learned. 

Our journalists asking multiple questions 
Each and every time it’s their turn
Which allows the answers to be evaded 
And I’m praying to god they soon learn.  

There, for our delectation
Each and every day 
Are the failings in our democracy 
And the games that our politicians and media play 

Here’s a question I’d like you to ask
And I’d like you to ask it right now
Why are you not sharing deaths in the community
As soon as the data allows?

The scientists debasing themselves everyday 
To bring credibility to the politicians
While the politicians are delighted in every way
To be able to share their inquisition 

These experts have clearly been trained
To play your little media game
Media training? Discussion framing?
Not answering questions’ their aim

It’s like the worst bits of the apprentice
Which is all of the apprentice by the way
The lack of sincerity in their voices
Would be laughable were there not such a price to pay

Did they miss the ‘faking sincerity’
Module of their media training?
When Gove and Patel speak
I can feel my trust further draining

We’ve no idea how many have this thing now
Nor how many have had it before
We simply don’t have the information we need
And no plan for how we get more

I’m scared because it doesn’t seem true that 
Decisions are being based on what’s best
For the nation or our NHS
But on what supports the lies already told throughout this unrest

Take it on the chin – let it move through us all
Which absenting vaccine or treatment regime
Is where we might end up
But for that to be your first option is frankly obscene 

We need herd immunity – Sage advice indeed
But that can’t be a policy aim
As we don’t even know if immunity is guaranteed
So we’d lose hundreds of thousands in vain.  

This nation led its government 
In this time of disaster
When the nation deserves to be led
By a qualified master 

Where we should have been closing down 
And people confined to their digs 
Instead we had the Cheltenham festival 
And Stereophonics gigs

We can’t take action yet
Not enough of you are dying
We have to fill the hospitals 
Before we actually start trying 

Our breakout came later which meant that
Our action should have come quicker
But we waited and waited and dithered with guidance
And sadly now people are sicker

Ten thousand dead? But that isn’t all
The ONS stats suggest double
The fact that they’re not sharing community deaths
Suggests that we’re in for more trouble

Test, test and test again
Is the WHO advice 
Test, isolate and trace contacts 
But we’ve decided to roll our own dice 

So it turns out that when it comes to the crunch
And the need for strong leadership is clear
That there’ll be vagueness, weak advice and a lack of clear rules
Which is literally killing us here

Stay two metres apart
Say the three wise men or women true
Who are not standing Two metres apart
Do as we say. Not as we do.

I’m really struggling to believe that 
Under a right wing Tory prime minister 
I’m wishing for him to be more draconian
In the rules he needs to administer

To see how the world is responding to this
And then plough your own furrow could be brave
But if it’s based on nothing more than covering your own backs
You’ll be sending thousands more to their graves

The financial assistance that’s been offered sounded great
But under scrutiny looks decidedly less so
And millions quickly lost jobs and will suffer
As companies preferred to sack than furlough

Loans might help in some cases
But it relies on companies putting their future profits
Ahead of their employees present
So beware of false prophets 

Millionaire bosses throwing staff to the wolves
And cocking a snook to protestors
Then taking the money the government gives
And handing it straight to Investors

How worrying it is to realise
That personal circumstance leaves you prone
Newly self-employed?  Well I’m sorry to say
That there’s no help for you, you’re on your own.

I’m lucky – I know that I’ll be alright
But there’s millions not as lucky as I
And the government just says ‘sorry – you don’t fit our model’
Compassionate conservatism?  It’s hard to deny.

All of the assumptions that underlie
Our economic model laid bare 
And found to be lacking when push comes to shove
As there’s really not much substance there

How can they do it?  We hear people cry
When the toilet roll hoarders arrive
Yet the hoarding of money is seen as a virtue
While others find it hard to survive 

There are Millions now in genuine need
But the distribution of resources is so screwed
And help from those who have millions doesn’t seem to be guaranteed
Hoarders they are, just of money not food

It won’t stop me shaking hands
Johnson proclaims with a smile
Just as Trump stares directly at a solar eclipse
How ridiculous, contemptible and juvenile

What you say really matters, you appalling man
People’s behaviour will be led by your words
So this blustering fool that you choose to portray
Is dangerous, obscene and absurd

A lying newspaper columnist in charge
Seasoned at playing the buffoon
So out of his depth as he blusters around 
Believing himself to be immune

So little trust in our minister prime
Who’s lied his way right to the pinnacle
That if he’d faked his positive test
Nobody would be surprised, we’re that cynical 

Years of demonising experts and truth 
Are suddenly shown in high contrast
With the urgent requirement for people to trust
And respond for as long as this lasts 

Rejecting EU help, as our doctors and nurses die
On the altar of your brexit myth
But the lack of plan b seems to suggest to me
That you should step aside now – Forthwith

People are dying and dying alone
And that will live with us for generations to come
Your lies are enabling this shame to persist
And for many more people to succumb

Illness or not
You Bullingdon chancer 
You cannot escape this
You have questions to answer

So we’re digging mass graves here in England
And there’s no sign it’s stopping just yet
So please let’s support our key workers
And remember we’re all in their debt

But the maddening saddening tragical truth
And the thing which should fill you with shame
Is that you’re too busy lying and spinning to see
That it’s sadly no longer a game

(c) Michael Gurner April 202o