A Look Back At 2021

Poppy Read-Pitt

We begin our rewind on January 4th 2021, when Johnson announced a third national lockdown – something that everyone had seen coming over the last weeks of 2020 with both the covid infection and death rates soaring. A stunning way to start off the new year.

Perhaps I am remiss in saying that everyone saw the lockdown coming, as it seemed like the entirety of the government was in the dark, with Johnson announcing on the 3rd of January that children should be sent to school as usual on the following Monday, yet 24 hours later he announces a lockdown, leaving parents, carers and schools in the lurch. Nothing says ‘happy new year’ like having the rug pulled out from under you.

It’s almost as if years of austerity had come back to bite us in the arse 

Moving into February now as on the 2nd we lost Captain Sir Tom Moore, a man who skyrocketed into the public eye after raising roughly £39 million for the NHS. Captain Toms act of charity is something that seemed to -briefly- unite the nation, until somebody questioned why on earth we’d found ourselves in position where our national health service was so critically underfunded that a man turning 100 was fundraising for it. It’s almost as if years of austerity had come back to bite us in the arse. On a serious note, Captain Tom’s legacy showed how much the British people valued the NHS and how far we were all willing to show up for it when we needed to. There’s no tongue in cheek line to round off this paragraph, unfortunately, the whole debacle was grimly dystopian and reminiscent of those go-fund-me’s you see in America, where people are begging for the means to access lifesaving health care. Not fun. There were some redeeming elements to February though, as the government announced their roadmap to get us out of lockdown and into living with covid as normal.

In March, schools reopened again. A huge relief to parents and carers across the country as they unanimously realised that children are really rather annoying when you have to be with them 24/7. Also in March, more restrictions eased as two people were now allowed to mix outdoors – perfect for doggers.

In other news, the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard sparked a nation-wide conversation about misogyny. When Sarah’s killer was found to be a met police officer, who kidnapped her under the guise of arresting her for breaking Covid regulations, the conversation turned towards how the British police time and time again fail to protect women. The police responded to this by aggressively breaking up a vigil held in honour of Sarah at Clapham Common and arresting four women, actions that showed exactly what women were talking about- how validating to be proved right!

In April, further restrictions were eased with non-essential retail, hairdressers and public buildings to open. Also in April, we saw the death of Prince Phillip, which explained why he’d be looking like a corpse in his most recent pictures. It turns out he’d passed a while back, but the royal family had been dragging him around ‘Weekend at Bernie’s style’, apparently the Queen found it hilarious. I think Prince Phillip would have loved it; he was of course described as being a ‘legend of banter’ by Prince Harry.

May marked a shocking loss for Labour in the Hartlepool by-elections, as they lost the seat to the Conservatives for the first time since the seat’s creation in 1974. Perhaps this is the manifestation of years of new Labour patronising and neglecting much of its working-class base, or perhaps the residents of Hartlepool found Kier Starmer to be as decent an opposition to a routinely corrupt government as a wet fish. Who can say?

Not only was this unacceptable because it was a breach go his own regulations and both parties were married, but because it made me think about Matt Hancock in a sexual scenario 

Explosive revelations from disgraced former chief advisor Dominic Cummings came out in May, where he claimed that Matt Hancock should have been fired long before now for “at least 15-20 things” and accused Johnson of being infected with Covid while appearing live on TV. None of what he said is particularly inconceivable, but he might want to look at the phrase ‘pot calling the kettle black’.

In June, Cummings’ wish came true, as Matt Hancock resigned after pictures were released of him breaking Covid regulations by kissing his aide Gina Colandagelo. Not only was this unacceptable because it was a breach of his own regulations and both parties were married, but because it made me think about Matt Hancock in a sexual scenario, which in turn made me long for a time when they lobotomised women so I wouldn’t have to remember what I saw.

In July, we lost the Euros and collectively lost our shit about it. Like with February, I can’t think of anything witty to say about members of the England football team facing intense racial abuse online following a disappointing defeat for them, 2021 hasn’t given me much light material to work with. The whole thing was made worse by Priti Patel (everyone’s favourite workplace bully) arguably stoking the flames of racial discord by calling sportspeople kneeling at the beginning of games “gesture politics”, for which she was subsequently heavily criticised, including by members of the England team.

It was so nostalgic to see our nation at its worst again, with the panic buying being reminiscent of the first lockdown

In August we saw the devastating scenes that played out in Kabul, Afghanistan as the city fell once again to the Taliban government. I say everyone saw, but that excluded Dominic Raab -the foreign secretary- who was having a lovely time on holiday in Crete. After being told he needed to return to the UK to do his job, Raab apparently convinced the Prime Minister that he should stay two more days. Two more days in the sun whilst a whole city collapsed to a fascist government. Perhaps the nice tan he got will help ease his conscience.

The petrol shortage dominated headlines in September, but it turned out there was never an actual shortage of petrol. Instead, there was a shortage of HGV (heavy goods vehicles) drivers, but the nations panic buying ensured that we subsequently did end up running out of petrol. It was so nostalgic to see our nation at its worst again, with the panic buying being reminiscent of the first lockdown.

We can all rest easy in the knowledge that our world leaders are now officially aware of coal 

October saw the long awaited COP26, which is the 26th annual UN climate change conference. It was so highly anticipated as there had been a lot more public pressure on our governments to address climate change in the last few years since the last COP in 2019. Many watched COP26 with an eagle eye- desperate to see if anyone’s government would take efficient action against such a preventable issue. The outcome was disillusioning, with the chair of the event Alok Sharma ending the conference by crying and apologising, seemingly for the lack of action or resolution achieved. There was one positive though, which is that this COP agreement, unlike any previous ones before it, explicitly mentioned coal- the leading cause of climate change. We can all rest easy in the knowledge that our world leaders are now officially aware of coal.

November saw allegation of sleaze in the conservative party, with Tory MP Owen Paterson being found to have inappropriately lobbied parliament on behalf of two companies that were paying him over £100,000 a year to do so. The governmental standards committee recommended a 30-day suspension for Paterson, and the government responded by attempting to disband said committee in favour a Tory led one that would reconsider Paterson’s case as well as the standards system as whole. The debacle ended with Patterson resigning and the plans for a Tory led committee dead in the water due to the public and parliamentary push back, so all in all a success! Also in September, the first omicron case was detected in the UK- the beginning of all of our collective headaches.

Finally, in December, there was the huge revelation about a ‘bring your own booze’ party held in Downing Street in May, during the first national lockdown. The event was advertised as ‘socially distanced’, but recent reports have revealed the over 100 people were invited to this party in the Downing Street garden. For reference, the lock down rules at the time were no more than six people were allowed to meet outdoors. Rightly, the nation was outraged, with the biggest injustice being the concept of ‘bring your own booze’. Johnson can cook the books for his flat refurbishment, but not for some booze for his staff members? You should at least be able to get pissed for free at the illegal and monstrously hypocritical work drinks.

Poppy Read-Pitt

Featured image courtesy of Hello I’m Nik via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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