In a time like this, it’s easy to feel sorry for those in power. Don’t. The selfishness and incompetence of the Conservative Party is a virus which has been slowly infecting Britain since 2010 – COVID has only exposed it.
The UK ranks 9th worst for coronavirus deaths relative to population. Over 75,000 lives lost. Numbers that big are easy to dismiss as just statistics, but these are real people and most of their deaths were preventable. Some estimates suggest if the UK had introduced its first national lockdown just one week earlier, close to 20,000 lives could have been saved. Yet despite this, even I started off wanting to give Boris’ government the benefit of the doubt. After all, it can’t be easy to run a country during the greatest public health crisis in decades.
However, their continued mismanagement of the situation leaves us no choice but to hold them accountable for these deaths. From our PM missing five pandemic Cobra meetings, to declining to join EU PPE and ventilator initiatives, to consistently waiting too long to take action, the UK’s pandemic response has been a national embarrassment. And this was just in the first lockdown. Since then we’ve seen government ministers defended despite blatant breaking of lockdown rules, misleading mixed messages including the disastrous ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, and two more delayed lockdowns.
But it’s not just mistakes made during the pandemic which have impacted our resilience. The NHS has been weakened by a decade of cuts and privatisation, austerity has made the country’s most vulnerable even more so, and neglected public services just aren’t able to cope under the increased pressure. This is the real virus. Because while most of the impacts of COVID-19 were in no way inevitable, the impacts of the Tory government were. The Conservative Party have proven repeatedly that they don’t care about most people. From the raising of tuition fees, to handing public services to the private sector, to the aforementioned coronavirus fiasco.
During the first lockdown, billions of pounds of taxpayer money were used to bailout airlines, automakers, and the oil industry. Hundreds of thousands were spent on an ad campaign for the dairy industry, but feeding poor children? Sorry, not enough money in the budget! Then, when the company contracted to provide free school meal packs pocketed a majority of the money and provided completely inadequate food, the government stayed strangely quiet. Except it’s not strange, because a private company profiting from poor and vulnerable people is exactly what the Tories want.
I could go on listing examples, but I think you get the point: Boris Johnson, and the Conservative party in general, do not care about you. At all. Their incompetence is not just from a lack of experience or skill, it’s intentional. When you have something like a pandemic to blame, you can get away with a lot more. If I’m starting to sound a bit too ‘conspiracy theorist’ for you, take it from Boris himself: “ it is often useful to give the slight impression that you are deliberately pretending not to know what’s going on – because the reality may be that you don’t know what’s going on, but people won’t be able to tell the difference.”
If we’re going to beat this virus we need not just vaccines and face masks, but also votes. So, the next time you’re at the polling station (my prediction: later this year) remember:
Stay alert. Don’t vote Tory. Save lives.