A wave of well-wishers for Boris from around the globe

First Minister of State Dominic Raab – not a natural performer deputising for Boris Johnson

Philip Evans: My Isolation Diary – Day 22 (Wednesday, April 8 2020)

I’M not sure how many people stepped outside their front door last night to clap for Boris, clearly not as many as did for the NHS front-line workers, but that should not be interpreted as not caring for the health of our Prime Minister.

There has been a wave of well wishers from all around the globe sending goodwill messages, from world leaders to many, like actor Hugh Grant, not his biggest fan, but who said “I’m rooting for Boris.”

Of course, as I stated in my diary yesterday, there are those sad individuals out the whose political hatred renders them immune to any compassion for their enemies, but they are very much in the minority that’s for sure.

Boris’ hospitalisation has thrust Dominic Raab into the political spotlight as he’s been designated as the PM’s chosen deputy, not only because he is the First Minister of State but, we are told, because the PM trusts him.

Michael Gove would have been my choice but Boris will never forgive him for stabbing him in the back over the Tory leadership battle.

Raab is not a natural performer at the dispatch box or No 10 briefing room lectern. He was reluctant to answer any questions yesterday from the press pack about his willingness to make the big decisions if called upon, saying the Cabinet would adhere to their policy of “collective responsibility”.

Now is clearly not the time for any jostling for positions, but it will happen if there is a prolonged period while Boris is out of action.

I’m not so sure about the nation being asked to clap for so many different groups who are under threat or who are going over and above the call of duty. There was some talk earlier that we should hold a clapathon for children because they were  unable to go out to play and meet their friends, etc.

I’m not sure the older ones are too upset by having eight weeks extra holiday and not having to sit exams. When I was their age I would have thought that to be utopia.

Clapping for the NHS and public service employees keeping the country going has been a tremendous success and is an appropriate way in which we can all show our gratitude. In some ways, copying the idea for other groups lessons the effectiveness of that sentiment.

As in all crisis situations, there will always be those whose acts of bravery deserve acknowledgement and I am sure the government will have something in mind when we finally defeat this contagion.

Locally, I know our Mayor, Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE, is already working on some ideas of how the town can recognise those locally who are playing such a big part in protecting our health and keeping services going.

The Easter weekend is fast approaching and it looks like the weather may hold, although the latest forecast is not so sunny as originally predicted.

Lyme has definitely stuck to the government instruction to stay indoors after a bit of a sticky start. But the big fear is that if the weather is really good the area will be inundated over the Easter weekend with visitors from outside the area who might well be infected.

This is a fear which applies to the whole of the West Country and not Lyme alone. Local car parks are closed but that won’t stop people parking in the streets, as they do during the peak weeks when the parks are full.

We just have to hope that the message has got through to second home owners and regular day trippers that Lyme is definitely not open for business.

A suggestion was floating around earlier this week that we should put a card through every letterbox in all second homes and holiday homes. This is not a practical or sensible idea for a number of reason:

  • The two main holiday letting agencies in Lyme cancelled all bookings in April and May and are not accepting any bookings for the time being, a move which has virtually decimated their businesses. So most of the lets already stand empty.
  • The owners of holiday lets rarely if ever visit their properties, so they would not see the cards.

And this is the most important one, Lyme relies on to a great extent on the occupiers of holiday lets throughout the summer. They contribute a significant sum to the local economy. We don’t want to be saying to them “we don’t want you in our town!” What we should be saying is: “Please don’t come during this difficult period but we look forward to seeing you at some time in the future.”

There is a small minority of people in Lyme who would ban all holidaymakers. I would never subscribe to this view. I have always believed that we should not be continually seeking to cram more people into the town but be more concerned with giving those that do come a better experience.

My 22nd day of self-isolation started dim and dismal with a sharp breeze on a deserted seafront, but the day has improved so our fears about a sunny Easter may be well founded.

Let me leave you with this thought: “Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.”

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