A change in government strategy is urgently needed
At the time of writing the infection and death rates as result of the coronavirus – Covid-19 – continue to rise. However does this situation justify the economic and political policies the government have embarked upon?
There is a difference between good advice, which the government on the whole have been giving to the public, and taking measures which may not be necessary. The public have been very ready and able to adhere to the medical advice, and that should be borne in mind.
However, anyone pointing out that some of the government’s political decisions have been wrong and there is a better strategy has somehow been accused of going against medical advice! As Parliament endorsed the government’s police state powers, it has become more difficult to find anyone in politics or the media to speak out in favour of a more effective policies. In essence the climate of opinion has been the government is doing ‘the right thing’, and by implication any other viewpoint therefore has to be wrong. This is very unhealthy in a democracy, but then democracy has effectively been suspended by Parliament itself!
From the start of this crisis, there has been a huge pressure on the government, both by some media representatives and other politicians, to take actions, most of which are very restrictive of personal freedoms, the curtailment of free speech, huge pressures on businesses and much more, for no other reason than other countries are carrying out such actions.
It is as if they are all competing to be the ones suggesting the next set of controls, but none of them have any sensible reasons for why they should be doing so. Some of the media have simply stopped questioning government decisions and instead been telling the government what they should be doing.
When the media stops its role of investigating and examining the merits of government decisions, it is losing a part of the purpose for its existence. It was interesting that at his last press conference the Prime Minister thanked “our friends in the media”, which only confirms that the press have been following government edicts on the issue.
The public is slowly becoming more aware that having a free media in this country is just a pretense, a façade. It has not gone unnoticed that when there are TV question and answer questions, that many questions people would like asked are never put. They are basically censored. The public is only being allowed to know what the government wants them to know and nothing more.
Politicians were vying with each other as to who could suggest the biggest financial benefit to those affected by the crisis, forgetting about the fact that at some point the taxpayer is going to have to pay for the financial fallout from this crisis.
The announcement of very limited, and in some cases non-existent financial support for both the employed and self-employed, has only shown how fiscally irresponsible the government has been with shutting vast swathes of the economy down.
The politicians and much of the media have at least admitted that something like this is unprecedented, and there is no previous comparable situation. That is true.
What they don’t say is that we have had far worse health crises, yet taken none of the draconian police state actions which the government has implemented on this occasion. Ever! Except in times of war, and in no way is this similar to a war situation, despite the attempts of some people to glamourise their actions by intimating they are being like Second World War leaders.
It is also not fair to be blame it all this on the government, because where have the opposition parties been on this issue? Effectively supporting the government’s actions, which is not healthy in a democratic country. We should always have governments which are held to account.
The government’s policy was wrong in the first place and from their starting mistake of putting the coronavirus on the same level as something like the Spanish flu epidemic, all their follow up decisions were flawed too.
Look at some of the past diseases which the world has had to contend with:
The Spanish flu of 1918 killed 50-100 million people worldwide.
Smallpox killed 300 million people worldwide before it was eradicated in 1980.
HIV/Aids, which started in the world in 1980’s, has so far killed about 36 million people.
Rotavirus, a severe diarrhea, killed 450,000 children under 5 in 2008.
The Swine Flu killed 151,000- 575,000 worldwide.
There are many worldwide, or world region diseases, which kill many thousands more people than the Covid-19 virus, so it is important to get a sense of balance on these matters.
In the UK there are other diseases which have had to be contended with: hepatitis C, measles, yellow fever, Ebola and SARS.
It is as though the government are on a runaway train, and simply don’t know how to stop it, while it gets faster and faster building on its own momentum, until it finally crashes into the buffers and is destroyed.
Somehow the UK government has to find a way to pause and think. Ministers should come to the conclusion that they need to put the runaway train into reverse and save the nation from a calamity far worse than the effects of a mildly menacing new type of flu virus.
The recent decision to end the public’s right to attend health and leisure centres, swimming pools, restaurants, bars, pubs and nightclubs has no real logic to it. This type of flu virus just does not justify such curtailments of individual activities. Instead there should be targeting of the safety of those deemed most vulnerable and end the unnecessary targeting of the rest of the country.
As for the decision to close the schools, it just was not thought through, was inconsiderate and was chaotic.
Yes, there were pressures on the schools with up to 25% of teachers and pupils in some areas not turning up for self-isolation reasons, but a lot of this was due to the scaremongering by sections of the media and the government. Have both of them been responsible in how they have portrayed this crisis to the public? In fact they made it a crisis alongside much of the world media, because it should never have become one.
There was just not a good enough reason to close the schools, let alone scrap the exams many of the students had been studying for.
In fact the scrapping has been over-extreme, as even subjects which are often taught outside schools by self- employed musical, singing and dance teachers have been dropped too, losing the children some worthwhile and enjoyable extra-curricular activities. It is as if Education Secretary Gavin Williamson does not have a grip of what goes on in the Education world.
A very important factor is that whilst schoolchildren are generally the least likely age group of the population to actually contract the Covid-19 virus, they are reputed to be super spreaders of it.
If that is the case, why let them out into the community where there is a risk they might infect people like their grandparents, who despite the government’s warnings, will probably end up looking after them?
Another point about the schools closure is that there was this feeling among many that the government had let them down.
Part 2 will be published here tomorrow and part 3 on Tuesday.