Any lingering doubts concerning the hand dealt to our societies insofar as competent leadership was concerned, prior to the outbreak of COVID19, is likely to have diminished following the debacles currently occurring in the UK and US around tackling this continuing crisis. Beginning with the US, the world witnessed Donald Trump’s intransigence in conceding defeat during the recent elections.  His stubborn refusal and unfounded claims of election fraud were invariably bolstered by more than 70 million who cast ballots in his favour – a historic record number of votes for the loser of an election that witnessed an even greater number for president elect, Joe Biden:
“More votes were cast in the 2020 presidential election than in any other in US history. While Mr Biden and running mate Kamala Harris garnered a record-breaking total…President Donald Trump received the second-most votes of all time…”
Trump’s unwillingness, incompetence, neglect – call it what you will – in tackling the rapidly escalating infection and death rate in the US, was further evidence of his bankruptcy – both politically and morally – as a global leader:
“President Donald Trump’s refusal to tell America the truth about the pandemic in a bid to save his political skin, on display at a potential super-spreader rally in Iowa on Wednesday night, is fostering a vacuum in national leadership and crucial public health mobilization as a winter of sickness and death looms.
Trump is touting his own recovery from Covid-19 with a cocktail of expensive experimental therapies available to almost no one else in the world as proof there is nothing to fear from a disease that has killed more than 216,000 Americans.
The President, 19 days before the election, is trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes by arguing the pandemic is almost over, in the hope they won’t hold him to account for his poor management of the crisis.”
And, briefly referring to his apparent contracting of COVID19 and near miraculous recovery from it so quickly: was this a poorly concocted strategy to garner sympathy and/or more time to counter the increasing number of polls predicting a Biden victory? Or was it, more ominously, a ruse to feign a very serious illness in an effort to confer cult-like status for his ardent fan-base. After all, he was unhesitant in drawing comparisons to Jesus:
“Someone said to me the other day, ‘You’re the most famous person in the world by far.’ I said, ‘no I’m not.’ … They said, ‘Who’s more famous?’”
Attempted Coup? This is America!
Trump’s strategy – if it can be called that – is no secret; if he won, everything was legal and according to due process; however, if he lost, corruption was at the heart of such defeat. By default therefore, he would never have to concede and his supporters would forever claim the election was stolen from him. Reference to pre-election tactics in 2016 should provide sufficient evidence of his contempt for the US electoral process:
“As Donald Trump’s campaign falters, his warnings that the presidential contest will be rigged have become a focus of his pitch to voters.
Historians say Trump’s sustained effort to call the process into question has no close parallel in past elections. And some are increasingly worried that his claims — for which he’s offered no real evidence — could leave many of his supporters unwilling to accept the election results, potentially triggering violence and dangerously undermining faith in American democracy.”
Sound familiar? In fact, suffice it to reproduce one of his countless tweets at the time:
“Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naïve!
4:33pm Oct17, 2016” 
Four years later, an almost identical strategy is being played out; only this time, as the incumbent president, Trump is able to invoke various legislative strategies in an attempt to stymie the final result. Various challenges have failed one after the other; the most recent being a US federal appeal court’s rejection of his campaign’s attempt to block Pennsylvania’s declaration of Biden as winner. Other tactics have been to:
“…cast doubt on the reliability of postal ballots, claim victory on election night before most of them were counted, and then sow enough confusion with allegations, justice department investigations and street mayhem with far-right militias to delay certification of the results.” 
Again, this sounds all too familiar. The only difference between 2016 and present day, is Trump’s vulgar acceptance of previous electoral results in 2016 simply because, in the end, he won. Aspersions formerly cast against the entire electoral process disappeared into the ether in a similar manner that the tantrums of an overindulged child ceases the moment s/he achieves satiation of the desired object or goal…
Tiers of a Clown or Village Idiot? The UK Perspective
The UK continues to experience conflicting advice from Boris Johnson and his government around the different tier levels implemented across the country. The Independent accurately captures the bewilderment shared by many:
To illustrate the absurdity of advice frequently received from government, the author of the above article humorously describes the following scenarios:
“When a minister is asked, they give answers such as: “The maximum number allowed outside is six but inside it’s one, so if someone comes into a room you’re already in, you must demolish the building you’re in immediately, so you are now outside. However, if you then see six other people outside, one of you must make a bivouac out of twigs and go inside.” 
He goes on to define:
“One example of the confusion is that, as we’re all heading into tier 2 or 3, we will be allowed to have 4,000 fans back at football matches. So we can’t have more than six outside together, unless it’s 4,000, then it’s alright. This means if you want to have a party, and there are 50 people you want to invite, you either have to tell 44 of them they can’t come, or invite an extra 3,950. And make sure they all come, because if only 3,999 turn up, they all have to go home, in groups of six.”
With the recent departure of the villain of the piece, Dominic Cummings, following the fallout from his overextended political honeymoon in the corridors of power, members of Johnson’s government were quick to express hope for a return to a more normalised form of politics – whatever that looks like in the current climate:
“Sir Bernard Jenkin said it was time to restore “respect, integrity and trust” between No 10 and Tory MPs while veteran Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale said it was “an opportunity to muck out the stables.”” 
The Chancellor’s Wealth: Furloughs or Furlongs?
Remaining with Sir Roger Gale’s ‘stables’ comment, questions have recently arisen in relation to Rishi Sunak’s apparent lack of transparency surrounding his wealth, which includes his wife’s multi-million pound portfolio of shareholdings and directorships. Her estimated wealth and value even trumps that of the queen. Sunak was obliged to disclose these details in the official register of ministers’ interest and failed to do so. The purpose behind raising this particular issue is to highlight his nonchalance towards thousands of small businesses in the UK that are on the brink of collapse. They could have benefitted from vital financial support had he addressed the deficiencies present in the current furlough scheme.  Instead, he has chosen to ignore requests from fellow MPs to tackle this issue. It is easy to play Monopoly with others’ livelihoods when one’s own circumstances are secure:
Sunak would do well to consider the current dilemma of small businesses more seriously and avoid prolonging delays for much needed financial interventions above and beyond what has already been granted. It is important that he avoid confusing such businesses as extensions of his own family assets, suspending essential support in order to yield greater political mileage. Furlongs should not be confused with furloughs.
As we fast approach the end of what has been a tumultuous year, the light at the end of the tunnel remains distant for many, uncertain at what 2021 will bring. Despite promising signs of a vaccine to combat COVID19, suspicions continue to proliferate among polarised and suspecting segments of various societies about its veracity. Some of these doubts are justified, especially in view of the unprecedented levels of misinformation and blatant mistruths that have cascaded from governments, almost at will. However, on the flip side, we continue to witness conspiracy theories, some wildly imaginative and others plausible. Both sides contribute to a heightened sense of uncertainty at a time when simple facts and truth have become ever more sacrosanct.
Unfortunately, as the world has witnessed, when jokers are placed at the top of the pack, efficacy and truth are irreparably damaged. Johnson’s façade as the jolly go-lucky maverick quickly revealed his buffoonery to be an actual part of his repertoire, while Trump’s megalomaniac tendencies continue to resemble the type of developing world despotism frequently condemned (and often destabilised) by western governments, the US in particular. Such flagrant duplicity is no longer the purview of secretive cabals. It needn’t be when we elect to power the likes of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Tears of dismay were shed in many quarters when these two characters assumed the highest positions of office in the land; In others, tears of laughter resounded among those witnessing such unsightly spectacles. In reality, both leaders continue to be reflections of us as, after all:
“Every nation has the government it deserves.” 
 The Economist: ‘Donald Trump’s refusal to concede is harming America,’ 21st November 2020: https://www.economist.com/united-states/2020/11/21/donald-trumps-refusal-to-concede-is-harming-america
 Lewis, S: ‘Joe Biden becomes first presidential candidate in US history to surpass 80 million votes,’ CBS News, 25th November 2020: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/joe-biden-first-presidential-candidate-surpass-80-million-votes/
 Collinson, S: ‘Trump’s lack of honesty on Covid hangs over his reelection bid,’ CNN, 15th October 2020: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/15/politics/donald-trump-coronavirus-election-2020/index.html
 Bennett, J T: ‘’Jesus Christ’: Trump says the son of God is the only person more popular than him in the US,’ The Independent, 15th October 2020: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-election/jesus-trump-god-trump-north-carolina-rally-election-b1055066.html
 Roth, Z: ‘Donald Trump’s ‘Rigged Election’ Claims Raise Historical Alarms,’ NBC News, 18th October 2016: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/donald-trump-s-rigged-election-claims-raise-historical-alarms-n667831
 BBC News: ‘US election: Appeal court dismisses Trump camp’s lawsuit in Pennsylvania,’ 27th November 2020: https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2020-55109168
 Borger, J: ‘Trump’s coup failed – but US democracy has been given a scare,’ The Guardian, 25th November 2020: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/25/trumps-coup-failed-but-us-democracy-has-been-given-a-scare
 Steel, M: ‘The government is so confused – we go from lockdown to tier 3 and back again and have no idea what any of it means,’ The Independent, 27th November 2020: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/covid-tiers-lockdown-rule-of-six-boris-johnson-b1762447.html
 BBC News: ‘Dominic Cummings: PM’s top adviser leaves No. 10 to ‘clear the air,’ 14th November 2020: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-54938050
 Garside, J: ‘Huge wealth of Rishi Sunak’s family not declared in ministerial register,’ The Guardian, 27th November 2020: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/nov/27/huge-wealth-of-sunaks-family-not-declared-in-ministerial-register
 Inman, P: ‘MPs accuse Rishi Sunak of snubbing calls to fix furlough scheme gaps,’ The Guardian, 23rd November 2020: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/nov/23/mps-accuse-rishi-sunak-of-snubbing-calls-to-fix-furlough-scheme-gaps-england-self-employed