One step forward; two steps back.
If there were league tables for incompetence, the British Elite (political and governmental) would be very high on the list. The claim of Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, to have personally endorsed an ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal a year ago was never more than half-baked and now looks more like a dogs breakfast than anything else. But incompetence is spread more broadly among the British governing elite with regard to the Covid-19 Pandemic. This can be reliably asserted because the civil servants and politicians who commissioned the UK National Security Strategy, in 2008, apparently ignored the fact that it clearly warned that;
“Experts agree that there is a high probability of a pandemic occurring – and the speed at which it could spread has increased with globalisation”.
That expensive and comprehensive security strategy also included material on how to prepare for and control the spread of any new virus. Yet everything the British elite have done with regard to public health and basic economic activity, since it became clear in February 2020, that a serious Sars like virus was on its way from China, has been a mixture of gross incompetence and large-scale indifference. Every lock down to prevent spreading the virus was too superficial, was started to late and was ended too soon.
During 2020, the British elite lurched from half measure restrictions with regard to lock downs to half measures in supporting workers and small businesses. The only ones who really benefited from the pandemic fiscal measures were the extremely rich and those involved in speculation within the finance sector. For the rest of the population it has been dire.
In half-heartedly trying to save the economy the British government sacrificed thousands of lives, in half-heartedly trying save lives, they sacrificed thousands of livelihoods. The results of this elite incompetence and indifference to virus transmission, has been that people have continued to spread the virus and the economy has continued to collapse.
These dismal results would be palpable failures on both these accounts even without the predictable (and predicted), evolution of a potentially more virulent variety of the Covid-19 virus. The new strain (designated as ‘VUI-202012/01’) which is now being energetically passed around UK citizens has been declared “out of control” by the British Health Minister. However, it isn’t the virus which is ‘out of control’, it is the elite and their measures which are not effective in controlling the situation.
Blaming a virus, which without legs or wings, relies upon close human contact in order to be passed on, is to shift the blame for its spread away from those who bear prime responsibility for preventative failures and previous overconfident reassurances that the pandemic was under control
This new wave on top of previous waves, clearly means more deaths will now occur in the UK even if the new variant is not more lethal than the original strain. It also means more non Covid deaths will occur as hospitals become swamped again with Covid cases. And with medical staff already ill and/or fatigued by the 10 months front line battle they have been engaged in, the UK situation in December 2020 is actually far worse than it was in March 2020.
It also means that the UK is set to become a hot-spot exporter of the new strain, if other countries do not quickly put restrictions of travelers from the UK. Nor should we forget that ahead of a future successful vaccination programme, people already suffering from a long period of repeated isolation are now going to have to spend more time in solitary or family confinement.
And all this is because an extremely well paid governing elite with practically unlimited power and resources have yet again proved themselves unworthy of their status and stipends and appear only adept at making self-justifying excuses.
Since neither individual sense, political leadership or governmental legislation has sufficiently altered human behaviour to prevent people passing the virus around their respective communities, all hope is now being placed in a vaccine. With regard to vaccines, in Corona Virus Pandemic – 11, I wrote;
“…. viruses mutate and evolve, some – rapidly. Hence vaccines can be effective only as long as the virus has not sufficiently changed.”
The governing elite have belatedly woke up to the fact that Covid 19 can change and has changed – and rapidly. They have been wrong footed again. So it now remains to be seen whether any of the current vaccines and other treatments (targeted at identifying the first Covid-19 variant) will be effective in dealing with this second and any future variants.
Once more elite reassurances are being given out that all is under control when it is obvious – to all those not in a state of denial or indifference – that very little within the capitalist mode of production is under any form of rational control or ever could be – and least of all in responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Roy Ratcliffe ( December 2020)