The government is delaying the inevitable

Our government is failing on coronavirus. They’ve been failing for months by any reasonable measure, and now seem to be in a state of flailing denial about the prospects of this incoming winter of discontent that could well make the last one of those seem trivial.

Politically, the government is in a tight spot right now. Droves of their libertarian leaning MPs are demanding less (or no) restrictions on people, willingly sacrificing life for the present, deeply flawed iteration of the British economy. Meanwhile, the opposition has got off its arse onto the front foot and is actually proposing alternative solutions, and the mantra of “follow the science” is dead and buried, considering the cabinet is currently running away from “the science” if anything.

The national government is essentially at war with local and regional mayoralties and councils over Whitehall imposed restrictions that don’t carry sufficient support for the damage they’ll cause; and don’t seem to be working. There needs to be a reset button on this response… the government is delaying the inevitable. The longer they hold out on a nationwide lockdown, the longer that lockdown will eventually have to last (provided we don’t want to overwhelm the NHS or have a mass of deaths). Their own scientists are privately saying we need a national lockdown and the current approach won’t work.

A full national lockdown is an extremely painful and unpleasant option; it’s now the only option we have to reset our coronavirus response, otherwise this veers off the cliff edge, we are currently by some metrics at the same place we were when we went into the first lockdown. A full national lockdown needs to be sharp, harsh, and as fast as possible. This includes hospitality, travel, schools. This was completely avoidable, we could’ve put the systems in place to prevent this but the government was too busy with private contract free for alls for their rich mates or farcical culture wars about museums, statues, songs, and the BBC. In other words, we’ve just witnessed a masterclass in why strongman rightwing populism doesn’t help the people it professes to be sticking up for; or anyone else for that matter.

We cannot let this slide, the public still believes no government would’ve done a better job. These opportunistic charlatans must be held to account for the damage they’ve done to our country and the laughing stock they’ve made us into during this global pandemic. Most governments could’ve done a better job, and that includes previous Tory administrations, this isn’t a party political thing it’s a shocking ineptitude thing.

We need to initiate the lockdown (a circuit breaker, as now backed by the opposition) as soon as possible. We need to use that time to put contact tracing in local public health hands, scrap the lazy private contractors, actually plan a realistic roadmap out of this, and pursue a Zero-COVID national strategy. During the lockdown no cost must be spared; we must bring forward a furlough-type scheme (and support for businesses) even more generous and ambitious than the first lockdown, and we need to chart a path to a more durable, post coronavirus economy, with big green public works programmes for anyone loosing work in the transition, and powering our way forward on a zero carbon tech economy, with high wage, high skill jobs; actually levelling up.

This can be salvaged, the government needs to listen, need to reset, and needs to rebuild.

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