On Wednesday the 10th of February, 1,001 people were recorded to have died as a result of COVID-19. On Thursday the 11th of February, Jacob Rees-Mogg spoke out in Parliament against the infamous baked beans on Weetabix tweet.
The coronavirus has proved to us all that we cannot survive on sorrow and fear alone. Despite the unimaginable suffering we’ve witnessed in the last 12 months, I hope that we can all remember times (though they may well have been few and far between) when for a brief moment, we were able to laugh away the memory of this deadly pandemic.
Dark humour is a famously effective mechanism to deal with trauma for many people globally. In fact, some psychologists will agree that “laughter has long been considered therapeutic and studies demonstrate that in the face of stress”. In this unbelievable age of terror, there has arguably never been such a need for laughter. There is certainly a time and a place for comic relief, especially in this current climate. But surely the role of lighthearted jester could be left to someone that isn’t a politician? Let alone Rees-Mogg, who is perhaps one of the least heartwarming men in the country.
"In this unbelievable age of terror, there has arguably never been such a need for laughter. There is certainly a time and a place for comic relief, especially in this current climate. But surely the role of lighthearted jester could be left to someone that isn’t a politician?"
However, I do understand why our ill-sighted MPs thought that this poor attempt at humour might go down well with the general public. Perhaps they thought we’d chuckle away with them, blissfully forgetting the 100,000 dead thanks to our government. Or, maybe they believed banter over baked beans and mainstream breakfast cereal would show the people that they’re one of us. Perhaps they hoped their quips would humanise them; convincing those who believe that they are nothing more than scaly reptiles beneath their flesh and skin costumes that they’re actually just like you!
But they’re not like us, not really. Politicians are not our mates. Their jobs aren’t to make us want to join them for a pint at their subsidised pubs, or DM them a meme on Instagram. Politicians are elected to serve us and do right by us. With thousands of our loved ones dead, it doesn’t always feel like the likes of Rees-Mogg are acting in our best interest and we certainly don’t need an artificially constructed ‘debate’ over breakfast foods to remind us. But, don’t worry Jacob, we won’t forget that easily.
"Politicians are not our mates. Their jobs aren’t to make us want to join them for a pint at their subsidised pubs, or DM them a meme on Instagram. Politicians are elected to serve us and do right by us."
We won’t forget that while they debated Heinz vs. Weetabix, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 rose to 114,851 people. These are lives that were taken too soon, deaths that were ultimately preventable. Had Rees-Mogg and the rest of the government shut the borders of our tiny island, and initiated lockdown soon, it’s unlikely that so many families would be going to bed each day without their grandparents, parents, siblings or children. We won’t forget how the government dithered at the expense of our loved ones. The NHS is under strain, its staff overworked, overwhelmed and underpaid. Yes, there are times when a bit of comedy can help us through tough times, but not by the government that has already cost us so much.
Despite my grievances with the Conservative government, I believe in serving up credit where it’s due. At the time of writing 13,058,298 people have received their first coronavirus vaccine, a priceless resource of hope that had been previously lacking in Britain’s other lockdowns. We are beginning to sense light at the end of the tunnel and it’s undeniable that the UK has excelled in regards to vaccinating its citizens.
But we need to see this sincerity and ruthless commitment to our future continue. We don’t have time for politicians pissing around in our Parliament. Perhaps in another age, another world, where the state of our affairs weren’t so catastrophic, we could have laughed along with the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg. But we still have a way to go before we can breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the distant memory of this pandemic. That day is not yet here, and until it is, I want to see my government taking their jobs seriously and trying to make up for the mistakes made that cost the lives of thousands.