2021 Lockdown — Day 11

We’ve all been there. You are on a mission and determined to see the thing through but there comes a point at which you have to admit defeat. I remember building a dam on the beach and there came a point where the sand built walls were not up to the surge of water against them. What I wanted was for my siblings to come to my aid but despite my tears I was persuaded to give up. I ended up working on another dam with the rest of the family. It was built with rocks, sand, seaweed and love. And the beauty of it was, the dam, in the end, didn’t really matter.

As an adult I’ve had experiences where the pain is real and the outcome is truly important yet there comes a time where you have to admit defeat. On the beaches of Dunkirk the British Army was forced to rely, in part, on ordinary civilians (the very people they were committed to protect) to save their skins. Yet as humiliating as it was to be virtually driven into the sea by the advancing Germans, the event has since been celebrated with national pride.

Decades ago we wouldn’t have got to this. We’d have passed the point where we tolerated a secretary of state lying, squirming and deflecting to the extent that Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson and Matt Hancock do on a far too regular basis. The stakes are far too high for us to carry on regardless. Dysfunctional governments are common place but what we are seeing is something so shambolic it defies explanation.

Margaret Thatcher lost the leadership of her party over the Poll Tax. She lost, not primarily because it was a terrible policy but because it was terribly unpopular. No one was going to die if it was introduced. In 1997 the Tories lost power because the country just had enough of them. We ended up with a coalition government in 2010 because the country had had enough of all parties. Maybe we are stuck with a government that’s more dangerous than inept because the stakes are so high.

You might ask “What’s the alternative?” but when you’re in a burning building you don’t look at the flames and wonder if being killed by smoke inhalation might be a better option. This isn’t Brexit. The country isn’t split between those who are happy with over 100,000 deaths and those who are not. There was no plan B at Dunkirk, there was simply an imperative to get the soldiers off the beach and across the channel. We pride ourselves in our ingenuity and stoic resolve. So where is that resolve and where now is the ingenuity?

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The feeling I get is that most people haven’t properly joined up the dots. The alt-fact brigade are already manning the lifeboats because they have a simplistic view of the crisis that very clearly paints them as victims. Those on the front line are either getting on with keeping it together and taking their demands to the government or they are just keeping their heads above the water. Others find themselves in limbo or don’t have the head space to deal with the detail.

Some look to the 2024 elections if the government lasts that long but what will be left of the country by that time. The NHS could well be fully privatised by then, we could hit a quarter of a million deaths and the economy will be shot. If you thought the last decade of austerity was bad you may not want to know what’s ahead of us. We will need to have a grip of the climate crisis by then if there’s a hope of mitigating the worst of what scientists are predicting. Put simply, we don’t have 3 years to spare pulling our socks up.

Power is about fear

In a recent interview Chris Hedges remarked that power is about fear. He referred to the occasion when, in 1971, the Whitehouse was surrounded by thousands of anti-war demonstrators. Nixon had a fleet of buses lined up as a barricade and said to Kissinger “They’re going to break through the barricades and get us.” It shouldn’t be the citizens living in fear, it should be the politicians. That’s how you get things done. At the moment Boris Johnson is afraid of his establishment overlords and potential rivals to his premiership when he should be afraid of working people who’ve had enough.

In a previous article I noted how Franklin D Roosevelt was able introduce the New Deal, not because industrialists were in favour of it but because they were afraid of the alternative. In a recent interview with Piers Morgan, Matt Hancock was called on to apologise for voting down lunches for children. He looked utterly ridiculous and spineless as he dodged the question and it showed clearly that he didn’t believe he was answerable to those watching.

It’s simply ridiculous that Priti Patel can get away with blaming everyone but the government and her fellow ministers can tell us bare faced lies when they have transparently made matters worse while being the cause of further unnecessary deaths and enriching their friends in the process. Their time is up.

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