‘Twas a gloomy day in Wellington. The sun hidden behind thick clouds while heavy rain blew violently across deserted streets. A silver BMW pulled away from the Labour party headquarters, two passengers obscured from view by darkened windowpanes. In the back of the car the mood was tense.
There had been whispers on the streets of the capital for some time now. Even within the inner party many no longer denied that large swathes of the public knew the truth.
It was indeed true that the average citizen was finally beginning to see something that had been there the whole time: the Government’s strategy was unsustainable. Naturally, there were plenty who would not admit it but all knew that something was up.
The ever-mounting debts, the impossibility of containing a ‘wild’ virus in the long term, the lost jobs, the failed businesses, the moral costs associated with isolating people, the negative health outcomes, the suicides… After 18 months, even the nation’s dimmest and most compliant citizens were starting to see that the whole thing was a farce.
Dissidents at the margins of society were feeling hopeful, it was now increasingly common to hear people saying things like, “Progress! They’re waking up!! It’s only a matter of time now!”
But the celebrations were premature.
The Prime Minister had no intention of losing control of the narrative. And she certainly wasn’t going to give it up without a fight.
It was clear by this point that the vaccine wasn’t as effective as people had hoped. The company that had developed it said so themselves. There was no evidence that it reduced transmission rates and vaccinated people were still dying of Covid. Other countries that had inoculated the majority of their population were still experiencing mass outbreaks. On top of this, there were increasing numbers of documented adverse reactions; heart problems, even deaths, as well as the uncertainty around potential future side effects due to the complete lack of any long term studies.
She was frazzled. But they had been here before, and she wasn’t about to start letting “objective reality” interfere with her plans now. Not after everything they’d been through. In truth, the Prime Minister had two medium-term goals. Firstly, to restore her reputation as the Covid darling of the international media, and secondly, to ride the deadly virus drama all the way to victory in the next general election. Sitting in the back seat of the Crown limousine she gazed wistfully out the window as the city passed her by.
“What if…” she thought out loud, “what if… I continue with the lockdowns, and I blame it on people who don’t want the vaccine!”
“I love it, you’re a genius”, her companion said from the other side of the car. “That way, the more upset people get about the lockdowns, the more social pressure there will be on people to get the vaccine”, he explained, turning to look at her, his enormous belly threatening to break through his trousers. “We should try to have the most vaccinated population in the world – just think of it, even China will be impressed!” he rambled, his rosy cheeks now flushed with excitement. “Imagine if we reached 100 per cent!”
“Yes, thank you Grant,” she replied curtly. He was as loyal as a dog, but she’d always found him irritating, ever since their student union days. But he was right, she did want to get as close to 100 per cent vaccine uptake as possible. The only question was how.
“That stupid Bill of Rights, why can’t I just inject them all with the damn thing? It’s science isn’t it?” She was now visibly agitated. She reached into her bag for her bottle of anti-anxiety meds, throwing a couple down her throat then taking a swig from her eco-friendly water bottle. “You just remember what Nanaia said, I’m the rangatira, they’ll do what I tell them.”
…to be continued.