THE WEEK THAT GOVERNMENT LIES CAUGHT UP WITH THEM
- If we’re to beat Covid 19, it can’t go on like this!
- One of the worst death rates in the world.
- Testing doesn’t meet needs
- PPE shortage letting down our health and social care workers
- Care homes becoming death traps
- Government then blame health workers for misusing PPE!!
This has been the week where much has been revealed. The lack of preparation for the virus, the weakened state of the NHS due to austerity and privatisation for profit is broadly recognised by people. Many people of course want to get on with fighting the enemy at the door, Covid 19, rather than argue about things.
But failure of both our economic system and government has consequences, different responses have different outcomes.
There is still much for the British people to learn and absorb about the lack of preparation that has left us short of PPE, staff, ventilators and the rest – not least the ignoring of operation Cygnus in 2016 that warned we were unprepared for a pandemic. But it’s also the week the government tried to shift the blame, and largely failed.
BLAME THE POPULATION….NOT THE PREPARATION ?
From PPE, to ventilators, to testing, to delayed lockdown, to considering ‘Herd immunity’ (which would have led to 500,000 deaths) the government’s lack of preparation and slow reaction has hamstrung our reaction to Covid19. Now, even ‘The Times’ a Tory supporting paper, has joined the condemnation of the wasted months (in an astonishing attack). Faced with this the Government moved to shift the blame and shift our gaze, with a “Don’t look there, look here” policy.
It started with “blame the public” -get us all to blame each other re shopping or going out in public. It was classic divide and rule, but the reality was very different. Of course, social distancing is vital and that it came too late has allowed to virus to kill over 20,000 already (16,000 in hospitals, 4000 in care homes and community as of 20 April) **
Then it was footballers – note: not billionaires, or more ‘upper class’ entertainers.
Then the biggest mistake of the government, they tried to start blaming health and care workers for the lack of PPE. As health workers saw increased deaths amongst colleagues and feared going to work, that the government tried to blame them brought howls of outrage across the country.
OBEYING THE LOCKDOWN: You wouldn’t think it from government and media blaming and shaming, but the public response to social distancing has been remarkable. With rare exceptions, the lockdown has been well observed and community support for one another has soared. We’ve seen the best in people. Many have been surprised at how well people have recognised the rules. Especially young people, for whom misleading talk might have led them to believe they would not be affected.
That didn’t stop TV pictures of a couple walking a dog in the big spaces of the Peak District. Of one woman alone on a beach being moved by police, or of Central News last Friday showing pictures of (much reduced) traffic on the M42 asking ‘where are they going?’ Yet on the mile long section of road filmed, there were only 4 cars!
But, as government finger pointing at the public went against what most of us experienced, and even the Government had to admit “they were surprised at the public response to supporting lockdown” (BBC), they had to start ‘backing off’.
FOOTBALLERS: Matt Hancock pointed the finger at wealthy footballers not donating. There can be few of us sports lovers who welcome the huge salaries for the minority of super-successful footballers, but this attack was not made on absentee, Tax dodging billionaires, or the less working class elements of the entertainment industry and just revealed Tory dislike of working class kids doing well. But to their credit, footballers organised themselves to donate directly to health services and not hand money back to their often very wealthy owners. Again the government had to back off.
HEALTH WORKERS ‘MISUSING’ PPE. The government shot themselves in the foot here. Some Trusts were close to or actually running out of PPE over the weekend. Dr Rob Harwood chair of the BMA Consultants, said: We “should not expect people to expose themselves to potential risk to their lives during the course of their work. It’s a real disappointment to us that Government has been unable, even after a month, to address this progressively worsening shortage of PPE”.
Note from his comment that the situation is “worsening”. Ministers have tried to claim it was a distribution problem but it’s becoming clearer it’s a supply problem. Meanwhile they admit to 27 health workers dying from Covid, As of April 18, The Guardian says it knew of at least 58, the Times confirms this figure.
If we might advise the government: people are sick of this deflection and hiding. If there’s a shortage, say so. Don’t keep pretending there’s enough and blame shifting. Get on with putting it right! Stop debating contracts with private firms, and mobilise the relevant parts of British industry to get the stuff made.
To add to all this, is the horrible truth coming out about infections and deaths in care homes, the deaths of transport workers and while Mr Hancock claims cancer and other treatments should be carrying on, there has even been talk of up to 60,000 deaths from other illnesses that are not fully treated as hospitals are diverted to Covid treatment.
Does all this matter for the immediate future? – Simple answer ‘Yes’.
When government supporters say ‘keep politics out of it’ are they right? – Simple answer ‘No’.
As we all fight to win against Covid, we want the best ways to win. It is widely recognised now that the government squandered time despite the warnings from China and Italy. Sir Jeremy Farrar of the government’s own SAGE committee said ‘UK is likely to be one of the worst, if not the worst in Europe’ for deaths and infections.
Government supporters cry that ‘Politics should be taken out of it’, but the problem is two-fold.
First that past ‘politics’ got us ‘behind the curve’ in the first place, with decisions to run down pandemic preparation due to austerity, decisions to break up and fragment health and social care for their ‘market’ in health care that has led to uncoordinated procurement of materials and uncoordinated Laboratories, decisions to rely on ‘just in time production’ and to outsource production of vital materials to cheap labour economies. This has already cost thousands of lives.
Secondly, we want to win the war against the virus and we don’t think this lot are up to it. We had the wrong preparation and then the wrong response. The Times revealed government simply didn’t take this seriously enough. Fortunately for us all, the government dropped ‘herd immunity’ and started using the state to organise, but their love of relying on the market means they are still way behind catching up with the virus. Cabinet members who ‘hate the state’ are clearly unsuitable for the job.
These issues are biting government now and instead of spending time covering their backsides at press conferences, they need to get on with it and mobilise all resources to fight this virus.
HOW TO GET OUT OF THIS?
The growth of the death rate appears to be levelling off but we are not out of the woods by a long way. The ‘plateau’ that they talk about looks like hundreds of deaths per day for a significant period. Without adequate testing any attempt to leave lockdown risks a deadly second wave and cycles of release and lockdown.
The only way out until a vaccine is available for all, is by testing, tracing isolating – hunting the virus down and keeping people away from it, and to stop it spreading in hospitals and care homes protecting our health, social care and other workers.
But with testing at only 20,000 per day when what’s needed is 500,000 per day, things don’t look good. That’s why there’s cabinet division on coming out of lockdown.
What is required is a huge mobilisation of our industry and our labour to provide a system of testing tracing and isolating. Something we simply aren’t seeing.
Against their will and to save capitalism amidst the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, the capitalists and their parties have been forced to use massive state intervention. However the example of the nationalisation of the Banks in the crisis a decade ago shows they will bail out the bankers and wealthy shareholders at the expense of the working class.
An editorial in the recent issue of ‘the Socialist’ commented: “A genuine exit strategy – not just from the pandemic, but from the austerity, poverty and exploitation that the capitalist profit system generates – will only be possible in a fundamentally different kind of society.
“This would be based on public ownership of industry, services and finance, in which the planning that governments have been randomly groping towards in this crisis – to build the hospitals, secure essential equipment such as ventilators and masks, distribute food, etc – could be extended to the whole of the economy.
“Working-class people could then democratically decide and prioritise where the enormous wealth that already exists, and will be created in the future, should be spent.”
**Breaking: April 21st Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that deaths are 40% higher than government figures.
Comments seen this week on social media…….
“Definition of an essential worker: Someone you treat like sh*t, until you realise you need them”
‘Britain in 2020. A 99 year old man has to haul himself round his garden to raise money for medical supplies while billionaires sit on private islands with more money than they can spend in a lifetime. And the worst part is people think this is normal. This country is fu*ked, absolutely fu*ked.’
‘Captain Tom should be praised, but while we praise the heroes, we must also hold the villains to account.’
‘By the way, what happened to the Chancellor’s ‘doing whatever is necessary’. Why is charity money needed then?’