This may be the blog where I lose ALL of my friends. But the bottom line is that if I can't tell the truth, then I am as nothing. I've always felt that you can't judge a government on a single decision or a single day. To really get some perspective of them, you need to look at how they deal with something over a period of months. In an unprecedented crisis such as covid, where not even the worlds best scientists knew anything in January, a bit of leeway needs to be given. It is now October. They've known about all of this for six months. We have more than enough information to objectively judge the performance of the Government.
The big debate at the moment is whether there should be a second "circuit breaker" lockdown. Under any normal circumstances and any normal government, I would agree with Sir Keir Starmer, but we are not in normal circumstances and we do not have a normal government. We have one that is beyond incompetent. Let us look at the reason why the infection rate is currently going through the roof in the UK. Given that there is an increase across Europe, it might be tempting to say "well we are just following the global pattern and we always knew there would be a second spike in the Autumn".
This ignores the evidence of what our government has done. The key moment in the UK was when Dominic Cummings was given a free pass to ignore the rules. This sent a signal to the country that it is OK to ignore the rules if you have powerful friends. For people suffering financial and mental hardship, this was a complete insult. The concept that a rich and powerful man can flout the law, when ordinary citizens can't was the moment the government lost our trust and people decided that it was up to them to 'interpret the rules'. The fact we are still mentioning Cummings shows the damage done. Whereas prior to that, we'd all been responsible, Cummings gave us the excuse to flout the law. What could a Police Officer say to anyone breaking the law, when it was clear that for the rich and entitled, it didn't matter. A lockdown in the UK needs the support and consent of the people and it is clear to me that with this administration, it will destroy businesses, without changing the behaviour that spreads covid. For covid to be beaten, we need people to take the decision to not meet friends and family and the sad truth is that for many, they will simply ignore those rules.
Back in July, the UK was finally getting on top of covid. All we really needed was a functional track and trace system to keep it under control. The country spent £12 billion on trying to make this work. It still doesn't. Without such a system, the "Eat out to help out" scheme was an act of criminal negligence by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Had he waited until the App worked, and said that installing the App and using it in restaurants was how you got the tenner off, it may have worked, but he sent us flooding back to restaurants, without any mitigation whatsoever.
Then there was the decision to send students back to college. Only a fool would think that student accommodation would not be a fertile breeding ground for covid infections. We have a friend who's daughter is in Liverpool at Uni. She has tested positive for covid, thankfully she's asymptomatic, but reports that everyone in her student block has the virus. Liverpool council have sent food parcels. I cannot believe that this was anything other than entirely predictable.
We have a Conservative government with a huge majority. There is no prospect of a change of party running the country for at least four years. But we desperately need a change of regime. I am not a fan of the man, but at least someone like Jeremy Hunt would not have the baggage and may be able to rebuild trust. Until we have a Prime Minister who people believe in and can trust, all a lockdown will do is damage the economy. When we had the first lockdown, the government bought time. They should have had a coherent plan to lead us out of lockdown and to restart the economy. They should have been cautious and they should have been able to give clear guidance. They should have anticipated a spike when Universities reopened and students left the relative safety of homes, to mix with dozens of strangers from across the country.
Surely students should have been tested before being allowed access to student accommodation? Surely people entering the country should be tested? Surely there should be fines for breaches of self isolation? Surely there should be support for people self isolating, so that they have no reason to breach?
Under the Boris Johnson/Rishi Sunak regime, if there is a second lockdown, it will devastate businesses, but as the police lack the resources to enforce any rules, the population will flout it. If you don't believe me, simply stand outside Tesco's in Mill Hill and see how many people are wearing masks in the shop. I would absolutely support a second lockdown, if we had a competent government, but we don't. We have one that long ago lost the trust of the people. The Rishi Sunak bung in August (Eat out to help out), was a hugely expensive PR stunt for Boris that has gone horribly wrong.
The only way out of this that I can see, is for the Conservatives to act poste haste and find a new PM with a degree of integrity and trust and for Keir Starmer to work with him to sort this awful mess out. Anything else will just end in a cycle of chaos, where people die needlessly and the economy is trashed.