Tuesday 7 April 2020

On Speaking Ill of the Ill

You don't have to "clap for Boris." There is no compulsion to put out earnest tweets or status updates "wishing the Prime Minister well." But going to the other extreme, to actively crow about Boris Johnson's illness or, in some cases, merrily willing him to suffer and die is so self-evidently stupid that it says something about the state of politics how a piece such as this has to be written.

I don't need any lectures about what an arsehole Boris Johnson is, his bumbling chucklesome indifference to the hundreds of thousands who've suffered under the Tories, and how his own dithering and complacency has led to hundreds of unnecessary deaths, and is - poetically, one might say - responsible for his own hospitalisation. But before anyone caves into the little voice urging a public display of gloating, perhaps some thoughts should be spared for other people. Yes, a radical suggestion for our narcissistic times.

Johnson's family deserve sympathy. Whatever Johnson is responsible for, his kids and relatives are not, and anyone wishing Johnson harm is also wishing distress, misery, and grief on others who aren't accountable for his actions. Hoping his unborn child grows up without a father is many shitty things, but radical and left wing it is not. That the Tories show scant concern for those who suffer at their hands does not matter: socialism is not a game of putting a plus wherever they put a minus and vice versa. We're not their mirror image, nor a revenge fantasy wrapped up in a critique of political economy. Socialism is a class politics, a collective struggle, and a morality too. As my mate Anna Chen has oft noted, Trotsky wrote a pamphlet called Their Morals and Ours, not Their Morals and We Ain't Got Any.

Which brings me to the second point. After putting something out last night about Johnson's move into ICU, some dickhead on Twitter replied about not being on Labour doorstep now. Quite. But sure, it's a great idea to go round associating left wing ideas with wishing death on Coronavirus sufferers because of their politics - which is how most people will see it. As well as handing ammunition to our enemies, something cranks and idiots in our own ranks have proven more than happy to do in recent times. We don't know what politics is going to be like post-Coronavirus, but giving the powers that be excuses to snuff out, witch hunt, and delegitimise leftwingers is dumb beyond belief.

And yes, there are very good non-political reasons to show a bit of bloody common sense. Right now there are millions of people stuck at home. Millions of people who are frightened of Covid-19 and are terrified of catching it, not least thanks to the unpleasant symptoms and the grim death toll that gets published every day. What do you think they feel about the stricken Prime Minister? Would the daily grind of stress and worry grow lighter if Johnson suffers badly, or dies? Or would this situation become more frightful and more difficult to cope with? And spare a thought for those living with mental health conditions, or need to stay healthy to discharge caring responsibilities, or live with at risk people. Are they going to be cheered up? Or, as folks deeply anxious about the future is it going to make every day more of a grind, more miserable and dreadful? The answer is so obvious it shouldn't need spelling out.

If you can't stand Johnson, fine. It's that the world doesn't need to hear about your oh-so principled reasons for wishing him dead right now.


matt@694 said...

Try saying that to the families of the thousands that have succumbed to this virus due to his incompetence...!

David said...

Good call.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right Phil and this shouldn't even need to be said. I'm quite sure that if Jeremy Corbyn had caught CV there'd have been plenty of gloating, but two wrongs don't make a right. We're supposed to be better than them.

Phil said...

See families of Coronavirus on social media calling for the death of the Prime Minister? Of course you don't. Stop being a pecker and grow up.

Anonymous said...

Look lets not take our eye of the ball. Lots of people need a better government and a better future for their kids. Phil is right. We all need to focus.

Anonymous said...

For some reason, a lot of people seem to have no self-control whatever about putting their very dark thoughts online where anyone can read them - perhaps under their real names! It's because it's been made too easy. If you have a smartphone in your pocket, always on, and a couple of taps get you onto an online gambling site or a public platform that millions read - then I think there aren't enough barriers between you and self-destruction.

Also, there's no little or no warning feedback until it blows up in your face - a Cold Equations situation if there ever was one.

Jim Denham said...

Spot-on, Phil. It needed saying.

Love the Lockdown Hate the Virus said...

I hope Johnson pulls through but he did force ill people into work, many of whom subsequently died. i can only hope his experience of COVID19 will sober him somewhat.

The lockdown definitely has benefits. I am feeling happier and healthier. I am lucky that I can work from home, I can only feel for those who are forced to go out. Most people do not want to be anywhere near this virus as the high demand for home delivery slots clearly demonstrate. As one Amazon worker put it, I don't want to die because someone wants fragrant oils!

Before the lockdown I would have to travel in and out of work, this would take at least an hour and a half each day. It is also a very stressful thing to travel the congested roads of Britain.

Usually when I return home from work I have to make dinner or do the washing etc. Now I am working from home I can get the dinner going while I am working, I can put the washing machine on while I am working etc etc.

I must be saving at least 3 hours in time every single day and I don’t have the stresses of getting to and from work. Also I am less inclined to order a takeaway to avoid cooking, so my health is improving. I also seem to be doing more exercise.

And to top it all off I am not being sent out to be potentially infected with the deadly and awful virus (much much worse than flu as reported by the W.H.O.). I can’t imagine how my mental health would be affected if on top of the usual stresses of going to work I would have to also worry about being infected with COVID19.

I think that would take 10 years of my life!

Long live the lockdown!

Anonymous said...

Agree- spot on Phil and it did indeed need saying.

Boffy said...

53% of those dying from COVID19, in Britain, are over 80, according to official data. 92% are over 60. Many of these also have other underlying medical conditions. Of the remaining 8%, the data shows the vast majority also had underlying medical conditions, leaving, less than 1% of deaths amongst those not in those categories, and its likely that subsequent medical examination will show that these too had some previously undiagnosed condition, or other reason why they succumbed whereas the other 99% plus of people in that category didn't.

That is why, as I've said from the start, the focus should have been on isolating that 20% of the population in that at risk group over 60, or who had underlying medical conditions. That is what the government's advisors such as Professor Graham Medley is also saying, as well as Professor Mark Woolhouse on Channel 4 news, last night.

The government policy is idiotic, because as medley and Woolhouse say a lock down is crude and not based on scientific evidence, and it treats everyone as though they are equally susceptible, whereas the actual data on deaths shows that is not true. Medley points out that the current policy is a dead end that the government needs to find a way out of. If its logic held good it means continuing a lock down for another 18 months which would drive the economy back to pre-industrial times, which reactionaries might love, but any sensible person should hate.

Woolhouse says, what I have always said, which is that the government needs to find a way of protecting the at risk 20%, by allowing them to be isolated for a long period, whilst enabling the other 80% to go back to work, because they are not at serious risk, as the actual data shows. The government policy will result in irreversible damage that will cause the deaths of millions in coming years, as the recent report on just the effects of austerity indicated, but the damage to the world economy is already putting the lives of millions in less developed economies at risk. They are the ones again that all the data shows have benefited most from globalisation, and who are now threatened by economic nationalism.