This is a shambles.

It really needs to be seen to be believed. The staggering incompetence from a British government that’s lead us to being the sick man of Europe really does defy belief, how did it come to this? This weekend has been an utter betrayal of everything this government professed to stand for; bridging the north-south divide, levelling up, innovation, creativity and investment, it all rings hollow this morning.

The first shocker is we’ve been treated to the wonderful revelation that seats with high profile Tory MPs aren’t suffering the same restrictive measures when cases surge. This almost seems like a mendacious fiction, but it’s real, and it’s the world we’re currently living in. This government practises the standard cronyism of neoliberal governments in a way so blatant it almost dares you to notice. The key thing on this matter is it undermines yet further the trust and the faith in order to get the public to follow incoming restrictions or health measures. One Rule For Them doesn’t fly with the British public, as the Cummings debacle (which historians may well credit with bringing down Johnson’s premiership) showed all too clearly. Besides that, it’s all just a bit obscene, and shows the decision makers of government making the same geographical lottery decisions they profess to oppose.

Today, we hear of a supposed new system of restrictions, along with tougher measures for parts of the north of England, being brought it. Mayors aren’t on board; they found this out through the papers. The Tory government briefed the Tory press before local elected officials. The Chancellor has made the act of the U-turn into a fine art. All consistence of messaging has flown out the window; realistically that happened weeks or indeed months ago. The insult of leaving people across vast swathes of the country unsure as to what measures will be put in place and how their lives will change come tomorrow, with the exception of speculation in the press, shows the government holding people (especially in the north) beyond contempt.

The government has betrayed the basic contract they made with people; obey the rules, tolerate a lockdown, and they would get the systems in place to render the prospect of a second crippling lockdown obsolete. People help up on their end of the bargain; the government betrayed theirs, and now we all pay the price.

There’s a way out of this for the government, and more importantly for the country. It has to start with an apology. An unreserved apology from those at the top, recognising the failings and own goals of the last few months, and a promise of change. Dominic Cummings must be sacked, his career stalking the corridors of Whitehall a worthy sacrificial gesture to show the public things are changing, and the government is listening. A reshuffle is a must, bringing in from the cold experienced and able Tory MPs, rather than hard-Brexit loyalists. Contract tracing and all other functions of public health during this need to be removed from the arena of private profit and put into (local) public hands. Proper relationships must be formed between national government and the devolved, local, and regional officials they deal with. Messaging needs to be clear, we need a path to stick to; let scientists run the show rather than political hacks. And finally, implement a circuit breaker three week lockdown; eradicate the virus, get the systems we need under control, and make clear if the public cooperate these errors won’t occur again.

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Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Toby Lipatti-Mesme

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Insightful and innovative UK journalism and commentary, from Toby Lipatti-Mesme.