Being led by donkeys would be an improvement

There’s a cartoon I love by Stephen Collins about Michael Gove. It riffs on the film Independence Day, and features the MP volunteering to fly a plane to defeat an alien invasion.

When quizzed about his unsuitability – “you’ve never flown a fighter plane in your life!” – Gove is adamant that he’s the right man for the job.

“I used to be a journalist,” the fictional Gove says. “for The Times. I wrote two articles about planes [and] I’ve got strong opinions about aliens.”

The cartoon’s ending is one of my very favourite things.

Unfortunately it’s not so funny when the threat isn’t fictional and the strong opinions are about ventilators for coronavirus patients.

Earlier today, Financial Times public policy editor Peter Foster wrote about the “Ventilator Challenge”, where the UK government decided to specify a whole bunch of ventilators that aren’t suitable for coronavirus patients. His Twitter thread tells the story. It isn’t a happy one.

The short version, as Foster puts it:

What this speaks to is the deeply worrying tendency of this crop of politicians to think they know best.

The ‘cut-the-crap’ ‘how-hard-can-it-be?’ attitudes that leads to headless decision making. It’s embarrassing.

…Expert people TEARING their hair out at the willful numbskullery of the people at the top.

If it weren’t for a combination of medical skill and sheer good luck, this fiasco would have killed people.



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