I’m starting to hear rumours about the state of the country after the lockdown is over and people try to resume normal life. It isnt encouraging.
One of these rumours is that one of the biggest employers in my small town will be unable to sustain itself longer than three months.
With the government saying that the lockdown is likely to be extended into May, it seems increasingly likely that this deadline will be reached and passed – meaning this very large firm will go bust and around 100 workers will be going to the Job Centre instead of back to work.
(Or, more likely, they’ll be remaining at home but on the telephone or internet, applying for Universal Credit, God help them.)
I don’t think it will happen, though.
Remember 2008, when the banks all failed because fatcat investment speculators all bet on the most unsafe financial packages on the market at the time?
The government bailed them all out – and then the government that came after forced working people to pay for the bailout (rather than those who were responsible).
I reckon we’ll see something similar after the lockdown.
It will be “business as usual”.
One element of the situation that isn’t “business as usual” is the plight of our prime minister.
After months of cavalier nonchalance in the face of the pandemic, Boris Johnson is now facing the consequences of his actions.
He championed the idea of “herd immunity” – forcing the populace to “take it on the chin” and get infected, in order to build up a resistance to the disease among the general population – until his advisors made it clear to him that this meant the National Health Service would be overrun with coronavirus hospital admissions.
He merrily claimed that he was still shaking the hands of Covid-19 sufferers when he visited them in hospital.
And then he ignored his own government’s orders on how to stay safe. I’m not saying he didn’t wash his hands afterwards, but we don’t know how well he did it. Did he touch his face?
And why wasn’t he observing social distancing rules and staying two metres away from everyone else?
And now he is in hospital himself, in an intensive care unit. As a “precaution”.
Some have tried to use his illness as a chance to drum up sympathy for Johnson and his government, with Twitter hashtags springing up like #PrayForBoris and #GetWellBoris.
Others have gone the other way, berating him for his silly behaviour or making his illness into a joke.
For example: remember last week, when he announced he would be sending out a letter to every UK household – at a cost of £5.8 million – telling us what we’re being told to do to fight the disease?
He would have had the coronavirus already (it can be in a host body for up to 14 days before the symptoms show), meaning it was possible for a wit to create this:
(Of course he won’t have licked all the envelopes. He won’t have touched the printed letters at all. But it’s a good comment on his attitude to the virus.)
I said in an article on Vox Political that he won’t be the first UK prime minister to die of stupidity – and I could have added “even though he probably deserves to be”.
He is receiving the best possible care – which is more than can be said for older and more vulnerable people who have been told to sign away their right to treatment and wait for death.
I actually received Johnson’s letter yesterday (April 6) – a week after it was announced. All the information in it was out of date.
It did contain an admission that the lockdown is entirely intended to slow the progress of the coronavirus through the population because the NHS has been so badly starved of resources by Johnson’s Conservative government that it would not be able to cope with the volume of patients if it was allowed to spread unchecked.
Will this mean a better-funded health service in the future? Probably not.
In fact, the Johnsons of this world are more likely, perversely, to claim that a private health system would be better-able to handle such a situation.
I look across the Atlantic to where Donald Trump is desperately stealing shipments of ventilators intended for Canada and other countries, and I have a doubt about that.