RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Tier 4 Is Not Enough… Covid-19 sounds like an elite snatch squad from a movie

They love their NATO-style acronyms, don’t they? How many times during this pandemic have we been informed ominously that the Prime Minister has convened an emergency meeting of COBRA?

Back on March 3, as coronavirus was coming to be seen as a clear and present danger, I observed in this column: ‘COBRA sounds like something out of a disaster movie, conjuring up images of West Wing-style hotlines, war games and giant TV screens linked by satellite to a high-tech bunker on some remote Pacific island. The reality . . . is more mundane. COBRA actually stands for Cabinet Office Briefing Room A.’

Mind you, as I pointed out at the time, given Boris’s Churchillian sense of showmanship, I was surprised the Government hadn’t immediately relocated to Winston’s old war rooms under King Charles Street.

Given that the premiere of the latest Bond movie has been postponed because of corona, perhaps Dishi Rishi could bung Pinewood a few hundred million quid to come up with a hybrid homage to the original. Pictured: The famous laser beam scene in Goldfinger

Now ‘the science’ has come up with a scary new name, NERVTAG. It could be the initials of a secret Kremlin death squad responsible for the Salisbury novichok nerve agent poisonings.

You can just imagine NERVTAG agents being behind the murder in London of Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko and the suspicious death of exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky at his home in Berkshire.

Nothing so exciting, I’m afraid. The banal reality is that NERVTAG is a bunch of boffins advising the Department of Health on corona. You may be surprised to learn that one of its leading lights is Professor Neil Ferguson, aka Professor Legover, or the Angel of Death. 

Ferguson, you may recall, is the so-called ‘expert’ who spooked the Government into locking down Britain in March after producing a doomsday report predicting 510,000 dead.

Quite why ministers took the slightest notice of him is a mystery. He’s the man who was behind the slaughter of millions of perfectly healthy cattle, and destroying the lives of countless farmers as a result of Labour’s panicked response to the foot-and-mouth scare in 2001. 

Boris Johnson at a Downing Street press conference with Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, the Two Ronnies of Doom

Boris Johnson at a Downing Street press conference with Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, the Two Ronnies of Doom

He was also the architect of the stay-at-home order issued in March, only for it to be revealed subsequently that he had been breaking his own rules by indulging in non-essential naughties with his married mistress, a Bavarian milkmaid lookalike called Antonia Staats.

She was travelling across South London from her family home to Ferguson’s drum in Clapham, giving a whole new meaning to the expression ‘Super Spreader’. 

Yet even though Ferguson was forced to resign, he’s now back centre stage advising the Government and being welcomed on to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme as an honoured guest, with no mention whatsoever of his earlier transgressions. Why?

In the alphabet soup of the COBRA war room decision-making process, NERVTAG now joins SAGE, the outfit headed up by Whitty and Vallance, the Two Ronnies of Doom, which has been thrusting a poison-tipped umbrella into our economy and civil liberties for the past nine months.

They could be the baddies from the Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series — a sinister organisation bent on world domination called THRUSH.

(Stop sniggering at the back.)

Come to think of it, Covid-19 itself sounds like an elite, special forces snatch squad from a Hollywood blockbuster starring Sylvester Stallone.

And given that the premiere of the latest Bond movie has been postponed because of corona, perhaps Dishi Rishi could bung Pinewood a few hundred million quid to come up with a hybrid, no-singing, no-dancing 007 homage to the original. NERVTAG could take the place of SMERSH.

But what would they call it? I’m sure they could think of something appropriate, given that ‘the science’ has spent months trying to scare The Living Daylights out of us.

You Only Get Vaccinated Twice? Long Covid Is Forever? Tomorrow You’re All Going To Die? From Wuhan With Love?

No, I’ve got it. Seeing as they’re always holding a Walther PPK to the Government’s head, demanding longer and tougher lockdowns, it has to be — Tier Four Is Not Enough.

The scene is the NERVTAG underground bunker.

Blofeld and Goldfinger are played by the Two Ronnies of Doom. Ferguson is Scaramanga and his frisky Frau Antonia Staats co-stars as Rosa Klebb. Agent Double-O BoJo, played by Boris Johnson, has been captured by NERVTAG.

Blofeld strokes his trademark white cat, while Goldfinger taunts Boris, who is strapped down and spreadeagled on a table.

A laser beam, strong enough to cut through metal, is advancing towards BoJo’s crown jewels.

‘Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr Johnson, it may be your last.’

‘Do you expect me to order another pointless lockdown?’

‘Yes, Mr Johnson, I expect you to do as you’re bloody told or we’re all going to DIE!’

The French look like abandoning their cynical blanket ban on cross-Channel freight movements after they realised it will hurt them as much as us.

Perhaps they’ll now stop playing silly beggars over a free trade deal. It’s time we stopped obsessing over the alleged damage No Deal would do to Britain and realised we are negotiating from a position of strength, not weakness.

Or, as a 1930s’ newspaper headline is alleged to have put it: ‘Fog In Channel: Continent Cut Off.’

Merry Xmas, mind how you go next year

Goodbye and good riddance to 2020. Readers have written in droves again this year telling me this column reassures them they’re not alone. Trust me, the feeling’s mutual.

Sorry I can’t reply to everyone individually, but I do read and appreciate your letters and emails — especially your wonderful contributions to regular features such as You Couldn’t Make It Up and Mind How You Go.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. This column really wouldn’t be the same without you.

A word of heartfelt thanks, too, to my Daily Mail colleagues in the engine room who have toiled under extremely difficult circumstances to bring you this newspaper during the pandemic.

And of course, to Gary, whose brilliant cartoons are such an integral part of this page every Tuesday and Friday.

To all of you, a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.