Tuesday, 14 September 2021

The Winter Covid Plan's Reckless Stupidity

Have you heard? According to the Prime Minister's press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Covid-19 is "still out there. Shocking if true. But more seriously, leading off with such a banal, self-evident statement, the fact Boris Johnson felt it necessary to remind people at home that the pandemic is causing sickness and death speaks to the false sense of security the government have constructed since nearly all restrictions were lifted. With the Tories acting as if the Delta variant is no bad thing, why should the public behave any different?

Indeed, this lack of seriousness characterises the Tory winter Covid plan. In the Commons earlier, Sajid Javid unveiled some initiatives to curb the spread of the virus. Central was the booster programme for the over 50s, the clinically vulnerable, and frontline health and care workers. This is supported by rolling out vaccinations to 12-15 year olds, and a renewed effort at encouraging the unvaccinated to take up their jabs. Can you spot the hole in this plan? This is an effort aimed at curbing serious illness, not the spread of the virus itself. Which, in case folks need reminding, is crucial if we want the world to resume some sort of normality any time soon. Why? Because new research suggests the evolution of Covid is accelerating. With more infections the scope for mutation expands and the selection for adapted strains becomes more probable. At the press conference, Chris Whitty's furrowed brow creased over the prospect of vaccine escape and resistant variations of the disease - something the Tories, judged by their actions, are chillaxed about.

Nothing emphasises this like the Javid/Johnson plan B if things get really bad. The Prime Minister's grand scheme would, as the emergency bites, start mandating masks in public places, bring in vaccine passports for mass events, and encourage public vigilance. In other words, a plan more appropriate to now than when the NHS is groaning under mass hospitalisations, more death, and the horrors a vaccine resistant strain would visit on us.

It really is quite simple. No one is advocating an immediate national lockdown, but mask mandates in public places, large workplaces, and educational settings, a reversal of the Tories' reckless and mind-bendingly stupid efforts at undermining the NHS app, a sensible approach to schooling as opposed to the dogmatic "you will send your children to school, even if everyone at home is riddled with Covid", and perhaps not being so determined to generate as many superspreader events as possible are good places a strategy aimed at "living with the virus" could start with. That is if the Tories are interested in stopping the spread of the disease at all.

They're not. The most malignant disease of the last 18 months could not have asked for a better ally than the country's most malignant political force for the last 180-odd years. When you look at their pitiful attempts at pandemic management, when they rely on a faulty theory of herd immunity, which is put into question every time a viable new variant emerges, and when they refuse to put into place the social safety net that would enforce effective social isolation and limit spread, one is forced to ask why. It's too coincidental and consistent to be the outcome of accident, incompetence, and ideology fighting shy of evidence. And it goes to the heart of what the Conservative Party is.

We visited this issue last year. Public health is secondary to what is truly important to the Tories: the protection of the wage relation, the preservation of the imbalance of power which sees labour dependent on capital, securing the property investments of institutional investors and petty landlordism, and ensuring society remains safe for the circulation of self-expanding capital. It's the interests, stupid. The Tories can believe whatever rubbish they like - Great Reset nonsense, face mask Stalinism, even anti-vax crap - it's funny how the logical outcomes of implementing policy informed by their concerns happens to make life sweeter for the interests the Tories organise and articulate. Capital's insatiable demand to accumulate, dependent on the continual reinforcement of class relationships cares not a jot about Covid or any other pathogen. It is a blind, remorseless, senseless beast that needs bodies working and spending. The Tories, as its most fervent political servitor are only too glad to do its bidding. Even if it means putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk.

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Anonymous said...

Ciao from Italy! Just returned from a trip to UK where I was shocked by the covid laxity - only 50 percent of people wearing masks on trains, etc. Elsewhere - pubs, restaurants, shops, etc - it is like covid does not exist, but then doesn't the UK (increasingly post-Brexit) behave as if the rest of the world doesn't exist, except America?

Here - masks are obligatory in all public buildings.
- no entrance into bars, restaurants, cinema, gym, concert etc without Covid passport (and then you have to remain masked when you get up/ between activities)

- vax obligatory for all teachers and healthworkers, civil servants and anyone working for a private company - so basically everyone. They began vaxing kids before summer.

- no travel on intercity trains or planes (obviously) without passport.

Reported infections are running at an average of 5,000 per day here compared with 30,000 in the UK.

Covid is not going away, but it will certainly not be stemmed while the UK sits off Europe cultivating a pool of infections.

Graham said...

As the latest ONS figures, the only people that are now dying of Covid are the unvaccinated (99%).
During the next months those still refusing the vaccine will get the virus, a small number will end up in hospital and a smaller minority will die.

Unfortunately we are entering period of education for those that reject the fact that the two most important advances in human health have been clean water and vaccines, and instead believe the nonsense spread through social media.

There is politics at play but it is not simple party politics. The growth of "alternative facts", "competing narratives" and plain old conspiracy theories has weakened the concepts of truth and reality and undermined our ability to take collective action against pandemics and climate change.

Anonymous said...

Possibly they are absolutely terrified of the balance of power being changed.
You can't oppress people for decades and then, when they get power expect them to 'understand ' your behaviour.

Ben P said...

Well. I wonder if beyond vapid generalisations about capital's 'insatiable demand to accumulate' you could consider the fact that *lockdown itself* has entrenched Tory power, further brutalised the wage relation and accelerated the ongoing anti-social atomisation of daily life? Or even the more visible fervour of the managerial classes for evermore indefinite lockdowns? Or lockdown as a demobilisation completely at odds with the mobilisation required for actual political change? Or the unequal distribution of misery lockdowns impose? Or whether trotting out technocratic disciplinary platitudes is really as anti-capitalist as you think it is?

Anonymous said...

When you make someone like Javid the health minister (surely the most eye popping appointment since Nero make his horse a consulate of Rome) you know where the government priorities lay, and it isn't anyones health!

"As the latest ONS figures, the only people that are now dying of Covid are the unvaccinated (99%)."

This is totally untrue, and applies only to those under 40. Over 50 and it more alarming.

The other point to mention is that no one knows how this virus will mutate.

Imagine an asteroid is heading toward Earth and there is a 50:50 chance it will hit. Let us imagine we have a technology that has been tested and shown to deflect asteroids.

The question is do we do nothing and hope for the best or do we try to deflect it?

Of course there is only one answer to this question. It is yes btw, we try to defelct it.

Now lets take a look at Tory policy, there answer is no, let all pray!

National lockdown now! Zero covid strategy! The middle classes will have to eat in for a while!