With the growing sensibility of the wind-up-merchant Piers Morgan, and the growing insensibility of our government, which so successfully won the Battle of Brexit, has the very electorate who took to the ballet box in their millions to settle the debate once in for all less than 6 months ago, suddenly awoken to an unsettling realization on the general incompetence of this government?
Our embarrassingly sluggish response to the pandemic is well documented. When most of Europe set out to contain, prevent and ultimately distinguish this morbid disease, our prime minister was still twiddling his thumbs, and the thumbs of the corona virus patients he so pridefully greeted.
The record will remain clear, Cummings ‘herd immunity’ policy has cost thousands of lives and will cost thousands more. Our Government seems to have only been Trumped by Trump himself in the weary attempt to contain the disease.
What has become evident, more and more so throughout this bitter battle, is that our problem wasn’t just our reaction, but the country as a whole was disgracefully ill-prepared. If the record-number of homeless lining the street wasn’t a vehement poster-boy for the decade long fight against austerity. An all-encompassing global pandemic has painfully highlighted a country on the brink. So has this appalling reaction to an appalling crisis re-shaped the conversation and offered a new enlightenment against the one-slogan, one-nation tory?
I opened this article with a nod to a certain Piers Morgan, a brilliant journalist who’s paved a spectacular career. But what Piers does with great conviction, is side with the populist, belittle the marginalized and play on the self-proclaimed title of the ‘most hated man in Britain’ (completely untrue).
The atmosphere in this crisis seems different, however, Piers has gained praise from Remainers and Brexiters, left and right alike – His brilliant interview with Matt Hancock left the Health Secretary looking bewildered, out-of-touch and exposed a selfish hypocrisy in relation to pay cuts for premier league footballers. A screenshot of his interview with Faversham MP Helen Whately should be popped in the dictionary alongside the word ‘Car-crash’. She bluffed, massively when challenged on her voting to retain the pay cap for NHS nurses.
Piers has gone from being the shameful antagonistic denouncer of the trans community, to the gleeful challenger of our flailing government. Piers blows in the wind, he is a journalist who sides with the popular opinion of the time, albeit even if the popular opinion is one better left behind closed doors (the anti-LGBTQ tirade).
One need only look at the traction some are getting online in contrasting war hero Tom Moore’s valiant fund raising with Sam Smiths clear phycological battle in quarantine to understand the shamefully popular anti-LGBTQ sentiment. So if Morgan is adopting a pressingly impatient attitude at our government, is the tide truly turning? Is the very electorate which took to the ballot with such vivacious optimism in December losing faith in the Brexiter-in-Chief?
The fund raising of Tom Moore offers one of the most heartwarming stories of this entire crisis. Moore’s effort, alongside the army of instagrammers completing their 555 (Run 5k, donate 5 pounds and nominate 5 others), the thousands who answered the governments call for volunteers and the countless others giving up time and money to help the cause have all been humbling and warming. But, beneath all of this selfless giving, an undertone of discontent appears to be fostering – why are we donating to the NHS at all? After all, the NHS is a government funded institution, not a charity? It shouldn’t be down to a 99 year old man to raise money to give our brave frontline workers vital PPE.
The outrageous shortages in PPE, which Hancock has since flirted with the proposal of shifting the blame on to NHS staffs in-efficient misuse rather than the failure to actually buy enough of the stuff, seems to be what our fund-raising is for. Which quote obviously, is on obscene shortcoming in government funding.
Hopefully, our valiant efforts as a nation can help fill the gap left by the government’s frivolous decade of austerity, which we are oh-so-happy to help with in this moment of national crisis. However, questions are being raised about the necessity of this in the long run, have the Tories gone too far in strangling our public services? Why in a nation of 54 billionaires, of powerful lobbyists controlling governmental interests, do we, the working class, have to raise money for our already tax-funded National Health Service?
Labour famously claimed we’d lost 200,000 nurses in the decade of Tory power, a bold statement, not entirely amiss. Since 2010, we’ve seen a 1% increase in nurses, contrasted with a 6.9% increase in population, we now have approximately 7.8 nurses per 1,000 people. For comparison, Germany has 12.85, USA 11.61 and France, 10.46. We have a similar rate to Lithuania and Czech Republic. Where we the public can (but shouldn’t have to) raise money for PPE, hiring staff is a far longer term and worrying prospect. Training nurses or doctors takes time and money, keeping them takes even more.
The fact is, job satisfaction for these nurses is at an all-time low, people are literally losing their lives in the heat of battle, a battle which has no end, even before Covid, nurses, doctors and hospital staff have all been underpaid and underappreciated. In 2016, the bursary for student nurses was removed, resulting in a 8% decrease in student nurses, a figure the Royal college of nursing said will would and is leaving us destitute, now and in the future. In late 2019, it was estimated there was 40,000 nursing vacancies. Our country is awaking to the very prospect that we don’t have enough foot soldiers to fight this battle, and somewhere, somehow, we need reinforcements.
Ironically, those reinforcements would have been, and still are reluctantly available from the EU. During the fight for Brexit, the leave campaign engineered a new-found nationalism in the Britain of days gone by. The campaign played on nostalgia and leaned on the older demographics yearning for a simpler time, put plainly, they played on our age-old relationship with empire. So many bought into the idea that ‘we’ve stood alone before, we’ll do it again’ or ‘we conquered the world, not the EU’ but again, what seems to have been realised through the eyes of Coronavirus, is that we really can’t go it alone. Of our overseas nurse registrations in the decade of Tories, 38,564 have come from the EU with only 11,399 from elsewhere. How do we propose to make up these numbers? We rely on our brothers and sisters on the continent once again.
The ongoing ventilator crisis too seemed to have an obvious and plentiful solution earlier in the pandemic, but alas… emails, the cyber Achilles-heal which costs election victories and, seemingly, lives.
Another indicator of the dwindling support of this government stems from the sales of the Sun Newspaper. The famously unpleasant, inconspicuous, hate-mongering rag has seen a huge decline in sales, leading to Executive editor Dan Wootton’s shameless beg on twitter, where he claims ‘A paper costs less than a cup of coffee’ let’s hope coffee sales have gone up. Declining sales offer an understanding into the mindset of the public, people don’t want a full-page spread demanding we clap for our prime minister, when hundreds are dying each. To any who have lost loved ones, this is a disgraceful oversite, one typical of the Sun’s heartless reporting.
That’s not to say Boris’s image has faltered, he seems to be the only Tory who has maintained his image. The Rockstar politician, Churchillian in his exuberant Britishness, he has been in the Trenches fighting the disease firsthand. He has embodied the very words his idol so famously inspired with ‘We will never surrender’, but his reliance on his babbling sidekicks looks costly. Perhaps, as Britain did in 1945, this war time character will be ousted for the social reforms so desperately needed to reshape our society for the better.
Finally, the biggest problem facing us is that the enemy is entirely invisible, we don’t have a clue how many are infected because we don’t have near enough tests available. But again, where did we turn when we couldn’t meet demand? We sent our tests to Germay, to the EU, to help. We can’t do it alone, the first great test of our independent nation as dramatically failed, and the public are beginning to open their eyes.