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Covid-19 and the UK; Who's to Blame?

by Alex Jenks 12 months ago in opinion

The public or the Government?

Let’s be frank, the situation is dire. Not only are we an island, but we also had a few months head start whilst Covid-19 made its way across the globe. We could literally see it coming. So, it’s interesting that we’ve somehow ended up with the worst death rate in the world and the highest death toll in Europe.

There seems to be a great divide in the UK at the moment – those who think things have spiraled so far out of control because people aren’t following the rules, and those of us that think almost all of the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the Government. I’m obviously aware that some people haven’t been following the rules, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone anyone that has broken the rules. They’re putting us all at risk and are clearly wankers. But I think the large-scale ignorance and sheer inadequacy of Boris Johnson and his Cabinet hold far more responsibility for our ‘world beating’ horrendous infection and death rates than any rule-breakers.

Have you ever had a really bad manager?

I think a lot of us have probably had a bad manager. Whether they were rude, clearly didn’t pull their weight or were evidently promoted above their level of competence, it’s a pretty grim experience. Being able to manage a group of people is more than having knowledge in your field, you need the ability to lead people. Unfortunately, not everyone was born to lead. Precious few people are able to get the balance right between being relatable whilst commanding enough respect for people to follow you. I get it, it’s fine, not all of us can do it. I quit a managerial role after 13 months because I could tell I wasn’t able to lead the team in the way that was required – it’s not for all of us. What isn’t fine though, is when your Prime Minister is clearly one of these people.

In order to lead people through a crisis, you need to be able to give clear instructions that are both easy to understand and follow, so there isn’t any room for misunderstanding or bending the rules. Unfortunately, what we got with Johnson is his trademark blithering idiot routine; he appears to be completely unable to give just one speech without trailing off into obscurity or using a lot of words to say exactly nothing. When it gets to a point that a show that is neither a comedy or political show, such as The Great British Bakeoff, do a sketch at the start of the show about ‘go to work, don’t go to work, work from home if you can, but go to work if you can’t, stay home, but don’t stay home’ you know you’re in serious shit. Other than spewing out various three-word slogans, this Government hasn’t ever gotten its messaging right even a year later, and that’s had very real, disastrous consequences for the people of the UK.

But my neighbour had a party in lockdown!

Look, again, some people are wankers. That is a sad fact of life. But I’m fairly sure the odd person blatantly breaking the rules has had far less of a large-scale effect than a Government that can’t send a clear message in over a year and has kept making mistakes/ignoring experts over and over again. The negligence has been well documented but in brief; Johnson missed multiple Cobra meetings when the virus was first emerging, bragged about shaking hands with people with the virus, ignored the advice of SAGE experts again and again, gave money to non PPE companies to make PPE which wasn’t safe, and has failed to learn from the mistakes of locking down too late and not stringently enough.

Something that’s particularly crazy to me is that really, they only had to copy what other countries were doing well. That’s it, it’s not like it started here for fuck’s sake! We literally watched it make its way across Asia and Europe towards us. By then countries were mandating masks and quarantines and lockdowns to marked effect. I think this one of the things that makes the horrendous state of the UK the hardest to swallow for me; 110,000 deaths were entirely avoidable. We can definitely go as far as to say that 10,000 deaths would have been entirely avoidable if our Government had acted sooner and heeded the advice of experts. Boris Johnson has blood on his hands.

But it’s hard to run a country

This is completely true. That’ll be why you and I did not try to become the Prime Minister, because it’d be bloody hard to run the country. But Johnson vied for and accepted the job, so he should have accepted all the responsibility that comes with that. Also, I’m not expecting the Prime Minister alone to have all the answers to everything, that would be ludicrous. But they are surrounded by advisors and experts who all do know about their fields, such as infectious diseases. You know, hence the term expert. All he had to do was listen to these people, along with looking at what strategies have worked in other countries and put that all into place. Again, I don’t want to seem like I’m oversimplifying things – I bet that is all still pretty difficult to do. But come the fuck on, none of these has clearly been done and as a result we’ve had over 110,000 people die!

No one else/Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t have dealt with it any better

So, for the first statement, we know that actually a lot of people have dealt with this well. Vietnam, New Zealand and Taiwan have all navigated their way through this pandemic amazingly and as a result, have very low death counts. So we have literal real-time evidence of other people handling this far better than Johnson and his Government have done, yes even countries with higher populations and population density than the UK.

Secondly, technically we don’t know how Corbyn would have handled this. But the Labour Government in New Zealand have handled the pandemic so well because of Labour values, which Corbyn obviously has himself, including but not limited to: putting people before the profit, putting health before the economy, intervening as a state wherever needed, having a functioning and effective test and trace system and offering support to people so they can actually isolate/miss work if needed. All of these are absolutely crucial in stopping the spread and containing the virus and as we know, very little has been done on each.

The sad fact is, Britain was already in a bad way before Covid-19

A decade of Tory rule in Britain has resulted in many families living in poverty. One of issues that comes with this is that, people who are sick with the virus are having to go into work because they either don’t get sick pay or it wouldn’t be enough to survive on – even just for one or two weeks. Not to mention the underfunding of the NHS which meant we were already in dire straits there, without the added stress of a pandemic. These factors and many more are the reasons for things being so bad here, and it’s then been exacerbated by the people in charge who openly put the economy first and chose to line the pockets of their friends with billions of pounds of public money rather than paying companies for effective PPE.

Conscious decisions have been made, over previous years and throughout the pandemic, which have resulted in over 110,000 deaths and which are altogether far worse than Sharon having some mates around for drinks or Mike and his kids meeting another family down the park.

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels,


Alex Jenks

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