IT is a year we will all want to forget.
In 2020 Britain has been plagued by misery, mistakes and misgivings as our political masters struggled to deal with the pandemic.
Ministers have imposed tough restrictions on everyone’s lives – only to be caught flouting the rules themselves. But the joke is on them as our Political Editor David Wooding hands out his annual gongs, The Wooders . . . or the New Tiers Honours.
RULES FOR FOOLS
Professor Neil Ferguson panicked Downing Street into a national lockdown by predicting 1.5million Covid deaths. But that didn’t stop him inviting his married lover over for a bit of hanky panky. It’s the sort of hypocrisy that takes your breath away faster than coronavirus itself.
TRIP ADVISER OF THE YEAR
Dominic Cummings put Barnard Castle on the map when he broke lockdown to travel 260 miles to his parents.
Instead of apologising, the PM’s senior adviser claimed he drove there to test his eyesight. Six months later he quit but was swiftly offered a new job — switching on the town’s Christmas lights.
QUIP OF THE YEAR
MPs on a golfing trip described a shot in which a player goes out of bounds but incurs no penalty as “a Cummings”.
THE THREE MUST GET TIERS
Barely a day went by without the glum trio of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and scientific adviser Patrick Vallance on TV setting new restrictions. I wonder how much we’ll see of them in 2021 when the economy tanks and unemployment rockets . . .
MUG OF THE YEAR
Rishi Sunak’s fiscal generosity didn’t stop with £55billion of pandemic handouts. The Chancellor forked out £180 of his own on a hi-tech travel “smug mug” to keep his coffee warm. Admirers of Dishy Rishi often say he is the strong, hot type.
CLANGER OF THE YEAR
Even Big Ben has been in lockdown and was allowed to bong only on special occasions. Silencing the 14-ton bell hasn’t saved a penny. But the cost of restoring the famous tower rose by £18.6million after the discovery of bomb damage and asbestos.
PANTO VILLAIN OF THE YEAR
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden vowed to revive live indoor theatres in time for the panto season with Operation Sleeping Beauty. Perhaps that was because it echoed the fairytale plot in which one careless prick led to a 100-year shutdown.
TEST AND DISGRACE
We were promised a “world-beating” test-and-trace system, with Baroness Dido Harding appointed to oversee it. But there never seemed to be any trace of her, as the system collapsed in crisis.
It wasn’t all bad news in 2020. John Bercow’s hopes of getting a seat in the House of Lords were blocked, prompting him to complain there was a conspiracy against him.
The former Commons Speaker knows foul play when he sees it, as organiser of a failed Remainer plot to overturn the referendum result. It’s probably one reason why he is still plain old Mr Bercow.
HALL OF INFAMY
Outgoing BBC boss Lord Hall tried to leave a “woke” legacy by axing Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory from the Last Night of the Proms. But a chorus of disapproval prompted his successor Tim Davie to reinstate the favourites, proving Britons never will be slaves to political correctness.
PIERS MORGAN AWARD FOR SELF-AWARENESS
Fallen Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he’d like to be Shadow Foreign Secretary weeks after leading the party to its worst election defeat since 1935.
OWN GOAL OF THE YEAR
The PM and Chancellor were tied in knots by Marcus Rashford after they refused his plea for £400million to feed poor children during school holidays. The England striker showed real leadership, ran rings around the pair and forced them into two U-turns.
TIERS FOR PEERS
Newly ennobled Lord Lebedev made a last-minute change to his title to avoid upsetting the Queen and President Putin.
He wanted to be known as Lord Lebedev of Moscow and Hampton Court but was told it would be “inappropriate” to have a royal palace in his moniker and approval would also be required from the Kremlin. So the new peer was introduced as Baron Lebedev of Hampton in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and of Siberia in the Russian Federation.
SHORTEST POLITICAL COMEBACK
Jeremy Corbyn was reinstated as a Labour member three weeks after being suspended over his handling of anti-Semitism in the party. But within hours, his successor Sir Keir Starmer ruled Jez won’t sit as a Labour MP.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, was on the receiving end of a last-minute rule change by his own department. After starting a family holiday on the Costas, he was forced to fly home and quarantine for 14 days following a rise in coronavirus cases in Spain.
LOCKDOWN TO COTDOWN
Former shadow minister Michael Dugher warned a year of lockdowns will lead to a baby boom. He said: “If couples have to stay together every night, I don’t know which will rise the fastest, the birth rate or the divorce rate.” Labour’s Lucy Powell responded by saying she was conceived during the 1974 power cuts, adding: “I’m only here because of the three-day week.”
YULE-TURN OF THE YEAR
Boris Johnson’s worst among many was surely cancelling Christmas with six days’ notice — just 72 hours after saying it would be “inhuman” to do so.
DRESSING-DOWN OF THE YEAR
Labour MP Tracy Brabin gave sexist trolls the elbow after they blasted her for wearing an off-the-shoulder dress in the Commons.
She raged: “I’m not a slag, hungover, a tart, about to breastfeed, a slapper, drunk, just been banged over a wheelie bin. Who knew people could get so emotional over a shoulder?” She had the last laugh when the dress raised £20,000 at auction for Girlguiding.
BOOZE SORRY NOW AWARD
Warrington South MP Andy Carter was banned for life from 30 pubs and clubs in the town after he voted for a 10pm coronavirus curfew. Looks like it’s going to cost the newly elected Tory several big rounds to keep his seat at the next election.
Bodyguards protecting politicians were lucky to escape the bullet after being careless with their weapons aboard transatlantic flights. Dominic Raab’s minder left his Glock 19 pistol on a seat for it to be found by a cleaner after they had left the plane at Heathrow.
Ex-PM David Cameron’s cop forgot to put his weapon away after going for a pee, only for it to be discovered by a terrified passenger who went to the loo on a New York-bound BA jet. Both officers should be in Glockdown.
CARRIE ON CAMPING PRIZE
The PM and his bride-to-be Carrie Symonds enjoyed a summer camping holiday with new son Wilfred in the Scottish Highlands. But they had to retreat to a cottage after an irate sheep farmer accused them of climbing over a fence to camp in his field without his permission. Perhaps they liked his stile.
Sales of Scotch eggs rose after Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and George Eustice agreed that tier-two drinkers could order them as a “substantial meal” with their pint to keep within the rules. Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said he’d prefer a Creme Egg.
Former Tory MP Terry Dicks, renowned for his funny one-liners, died in June aged 83. Pals recall how Dicks was defeated in his first election by Labour’s Michael Cocks, after telling voters: “Whatever happens, you will elect a prick.”
TIERS OF A CLOWN
He showed no remorse about defying lockdown but Dominic Cummings broke down in tears when the PM banged a gong in Downing Street to mark the moment Britain formally left the EU on January 31.
LEAVE IT OUT
David Cameron’s flagship overseas aid spending pledge was scrapped by the Chancellor, leading one Tory to quip: “It means poor Dave’s only legacy now is Brexit.”
DUFF SLEEPER AWARD
Ex-Tory minister Rory Stewart had the strange idea of sleeping in voters’ houses during his abandoned campaign to be independent Mayor of London. It prompted cheeky MP Tom Tugendhat to invite him to babysit. His kids would drop off like angels if Uncle Rory told them about his housing policy.
GOSSIP OF THE YEAR
Sasha Swire, wife of ex-Tory minister Sir Hugo, caused a storm with her diaries. She told how during a coastal walk with David Cameron in 2011 the then-PM told her he wanted to grab her, push her into the bushes and “give you one”. She also revealed her pet names for top Tories. Mr Cameron was “Drunken Dave”, Theresa May “Old Ma May” and ex-Speaker John Bercow “That Little Goblin”.
HEROES OF 2020
The army of scientists who took just eight months to develop a vaccine which gives us hope of halting the spread of coronavirus in the year ahead.
VILLAINS OF 2020
Europe’s politicians who took four and a half years to come up with a Brexit deal — and even then, they only did it with days to spare.
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