Neil told me yesterday that he did not believe anybody else would have done any better. He thinks they are all as bad as each other.
It’s a point. In many ways they are. But I do believe that just about anybody would have done it better than this mob. You do not get the worst record in the world by chance. You have to be doing a lot of things wrong – and they did and they are.
The first job of any government is to keep its citizens safe. For that reason they have to keep their finger on the pulse and have strategies for everything that can go wrong. I expect the government to have modelling and strategies for every eventuality. That is their prime job. (When I managed my school we had planning for all manner of crisis – from fire, terrorism and epidemics to crime, snow, water and explosions).
I expect the government to be prepared for war (nuclear, bio, chemical and conventional), terrorism, immigration, climate change, drought, flooding, meteor strikes, nuclear meltdown, extreme weather and – pandemics).
I’ve heard them say that nobody could see Covid-19 coming. That’s a lie. The WHO has been blathering on about it for years. Obama did speeches on it. Everybody knew a pandemic was inevitable. We have had plenty of warnings – HIV/AIDS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola, SARS, MERS and we’ve been incredibly lucky. Due to the WHO they were all contained.
The government (same Tory incompetents) even did their own assessment of our capability to deal with a pandemic in 2017 – The Cygnus Report. It laid out what needed to be done and how poorly prepared we were. They irresponsibly shelved it.
Their performance has been the worst in the world for a reason.
I call it the AIICCI factor.
Arrogance, Ideology, Incompetence, Complacency, Communication and Ignorance.
The arrogance is key to the Public School Oxbridge nature (particularly with the Bullingdon set). They have been brought up with privilege, believe they are better than anybody else and consequently have nothing to learn from anybody else – least of all other countries – particularly Asian countries. So Vietnam, with a population of some 97 million and close proximity to ground zero has a death count of 35 while we, with a population of 68 million have a death count of 42,679 (probably in excess of 70,000 really).
Conclusion: they are doing something right. We are doing something wrong.
Ideology has played a big factor. This is the most extreme bunch of Tories ever. They purged the party of many of its brightest people – Rory Stewart, Philip Hammond……. All they cared about was Brexit. Consequently they have a very narrow set of views at a time when they needed a much broader range. It has hampered their thinking.
Their hatred of public services means that for ten years of austerity they have run schools and hospitals into the ground. The NHS had no spare capacity. It was horribly short of doctors and nurses.
The hostile environment had added to the exodus.
After creating zero hours and creating mass pillorying of many working people they suddenly found that we needed our key workers – the deliverers, drivers, shelf-stackers, carers, teachers, doctors, nurses, police and shop-workers were suddenly the most important people – the very people they have been picking on.
The other political parties, other countries, local councils have all been kept out of the loop. They have no input and no say. They have been kept in the dark for ideological reasons. Instead of joining in with EU schemes on PPE and ventilators, they stubbornly declined out of ideology.
Incompetence is a key player. They were ignorant and did not know what to do. You could see the panic. They still do not know.
They frantically spent billions trying to plug the holes, set up mechanisms, build hospitals, buy in PPE, ventilators, testing facilitites, Apps and tracing.
Instead of funding and staffing the existing facilities – GP surgeries, clinics, hospitals and local councils, instead of buying in from existing manufacturers, they put out contracts, without tendering, to their chums – result – nothing worked. The PPE was rubbish, the ventilators didn’t work, the Nightingale hospitals weren’t used, the App didn’t work, the Test and Trace still isn’t working. Then we had the exam fiasco. It’s been a total cock-up.
Then we have incidents like the Dominic Cummings fiasco – the liar – who should have been immediately sacked. It was a turning point. After that nobody followed the rules.
Complacency – their attitude was been lamentable. Although warned about the inevitability of a pandemic by the WHO, by Obama, by their own Cygnus Report, they did nothing.
This pandemic started in November in China. Their job is to protect us. All they cared about was Brexit. The Tories have been in power for 10 years yet there were no contingency plans or strategy.
They watched China, then saw the spread into Europe with Spain and Italy in crisis – and still they did not act!
It is criminal – 42,000 deaths!!!
Communication is vital. The country needs to be informed. The public need to be clear on the strategy, the reasoning, the nature of the disease, how it is spread, what action needs taking.
Johnson has proved lamentable. He has not been on the ball. Set the wrong examples and made blunders. Unlike in other countries where the communication has been clear, in Britain it has been pathetic – dithering, not explaining, not being clear, muddled messaging, constant U-turns. Without a teleprompter Johnson blathers. Left to himself he shows he doesn’t have a clue and puts his foot in it. Wankcock and Raabit are equally hopeless in their own ways. The rest they have to keep hidden for fear of them sparking a riot – Rees-Mogg, Ian Duncan Smith…………………..
They all avoid the TV – boycotting programmes.
Johnson has been cheerleading (pathetically – world-beating, oven-reading moonshots) instead of leading.
Communication is necessary for coordinated action and morale. I don’t think anybody knows what they are meant to be doing and why. 10 pm curfews??? What’s that about??
Ignorance is something we can’t afford. Many decisions are being made for political reasons and not medical. Tory areas are being treated differently.
Ignorance kills. They still do not have a clear strategy because they don’t know what they are doing.
So – I do not believe Labour would have done anywhere near as badly. I don’t think anybody could do worse. Even the Lib Dems would have made a better job of it. The SNP and Plaid Cymru both have.
So today I marched up to the top of my hill and I marched back down again. I played some Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band to get a slice of sanity and I wrote some of my Roy Harper book.
There’s madness all around but here, in my little bubble, everything is good.
You stay safe.