Greenock Telegraph 24th April 2020

Some are more equal than others 

One of the continual drum beat messages that emanates from the UK government’s ministers is that we are all facing COVID-19 together. They repeat ad nauseam that the virus can affect anybody and will cross all social barriers. They use Prince Charles and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson as examples. But just as the Prime Minister Winston Churchill didn’t face the same dangers or hardships that the working men and woman did in WW2 ( breakfast in bed, whisky and soda at 11am, multi course lunch at 1pm, at 5pm he took a nap at 6:30pm he rose and had a bath, at 8pm he had dinner with with guests, where drinks and cigars accompanied the meal ) then neither do the richest and most privileged today. As they bend the rules to suit themselves and holiday homes and castles become havens from the virus and as a result put pressure on rural health care services, the real heroes are the people that continue to work at the frontline, the NHS nurses, auxiliaries, cleaners, care home workers, emergency service providers, our supermarket and corner shop staff, call centre workers, deliver drivers and postal workers. People in crowded accommodation and people already living on the breadline will contract the virus in greater numbers and more will die. When this is all over, I have no doubt that we will all be told that collectively we showed great spirit, that fortitude was in abundance and we are all the closer for it. But that is not the truth and we should not allow ourselves to be patronised. No doubt the Queen will hand out baubles in her honours list and men and women will kneel before the monarch in gratitude, but it should be the other way around.  

The UK Government was slow to react to the evidence, while other countries were going into lock down, Boris Johnson was shaking hands in hospitals. The herd immunity was the preferred path. When the Scottish Government was telling people not to go to pubs and clubs, the UK Government dithered, when offers of ventilators were made to the UK Government the email was ignored, when social distancing was being asked of everyone, cabinet members sat side by side at Westminster. Once again in challenging times the United Kingdom’s Government has been shown to be out of touch with reality. It can manage a sound byte, it can manage a press conference but it must not be allowed to manoeuvre itself away from all accountability. If we are to learn anything from this crisis it is that we need to reshape our society so that community and equality are more than just politically expedient words to be used during a crisis. They are the keystone of our society.