[Continued from Part I published here.]
It seems that half of the country has little or no idea – or interest – in how all of this is to be paid for, sitting at home, spending less in their local economy, never mind the national one, feeling quite secure. On the other hand, queues are getting longer in the food and baby clothes charities, pensioners presently favouring their local garden centres may find that their discretionary disposable income falls, and quite considerably, if as is being mooted, the triple lock mechanism which keeps the state pension ahead of inflation is removed. Will all the mobility payments for vehicles and blue badges be affordable in the future?
Then there is education. Wasn’t it Blair who was into schools and hospitals? Goodness knows how many millions or billions have been thrown at these state edifices, with, if you ignore the media and political hype, little to show for it. No huge improvement in the standard of either. It is now said that the UK, apart from being at the cutting edge and world leaders in obesity, is a country where grandparents out-perform their grandchildren in basic educational tasks. The political class and many others in the public sector are saying that the work ethic of much of the population is questionable. I’ll say it is, farmers importing people from eastern Europe long before this Covid crisis will tell you the same. Only last week the media carried a story from a farmer who said that he’d tried recently to employ local people but the majority found the work too hard, didn’t like the early starts and after a week, only a handful had stayed the course.
The NHS, education, and the public sector has had more to do with creating nice middle class jobs than creating standards of even a national standard, never mind ‘world class centres of excellence’ to use another of the favourite phrases of the Blair years.
Now we find, or are told, that ‘teachers’ don’t want to go back to work until it is perfectly safe to do so. What happened to all this talk of safeguarding and policies for this and that, inter-agency meetings to work together to provide a ‘safe’ environment for children? Presumably safeguarding their education by writing off half of a school year is going to be helpful and safeguard their future examination results? I can see future employers being particularly impressed when Zayden or Kaydence present for interview clutching a certificate showing that their results were assessed by teachers that, during the lockdown, did little or nothing to provide teaching for a reported 700,000 pupils, because, it is said, many teachers were ‘embarrassed’ and anyway, face-to-face teaching is the only way pupils learn. Interesting that, as many schools have long since dropped any pretence of that and young people are grouped around tables, often having to swivel around or even stand to see a white board or teacher as they walk around the room. No consensus there then, University students complaining that the quality of courses is poor and hardly worth the cost, many parents of children removing them from schools to teach at home and even forming social and tutor groups, where they say they can provide a more than acceptable standard of education.
A quick look at the United Kingdom and its now anything but united. Years of subtle and not so subtle interference from the EU, public sectors overmanned in what looks more and more like a job creation scheme. A voluntary or so-called third sector held together by the taxpayer in many cases and quangos with vested interests, again often subsidised by the taxpayer.
Armed services which have been cut to the bone lauded for building Nightingale hospitals in double quick time by army logistics experts – whom it transpires were drafted in from the private sector. But that apart in general suffer from continued recruiting and discipline problems.
A police service led by people who appear to have little knowledge of how or what they should be doing, who have during this emergency often exceeded their authority – often unlawfully we are now told – and have done nothing in many areas of the country to build community respect or support.
In recent years, the nation has been split over the handling of one problem after another. From the world banking crisis, Brexit, BBC bias, media bias, knife crime, policing, immigration, education, the NHS, and now the Covid crisis, and the vaccination ‘debate’, not to mention the forthcoming financial crisis. What you see is a depressing cycle of poor leadership and management at local and national levels. Poor leadership, often taking the easy way out and concentrating on the latest social media storm or mood. We will see how that plays out in the next few months or so, as the world moves on and we keep looking inwardly replaying events with the miracle of hindsight.