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  • Writer's pictureJack Martindale

England's Unkempt Carte-Blanche

Updated: May 12, 2020

I hate negativity in all forms. Only almost as much as I hate Boris Johnson for the irresponsibly vague position in which he has casually bumbled the U.K. into at a time of such anguish.

The proviso return to work “where possible” was thrust upon us in the much awaited debriefing announcement of Sunday the 10th of May 2020. The timing of such a revelation could hardly have been worse. Or more perilous.

There are so many stands to unpick from Johnson’s grossly impactful verbal diarrhea. This is something that we may have learned to take for granted, though in such troubled times, adversarial politics does not seem like anything further from what we need.

Indeed, I refrained – as testing as it may have been – from casting Johnson into the sewer where I believe that he belongs, in anything that I’d say about him during this pandemic. The most powerful vessels of state all collaborating with each other in forming some sort of coalition to soldier us through the crisis of COVID-19 seemed like the natural solution, as we’re all surely united in our mutual aim.

Cooperation ever happening could not be an image further from the truth. In an ever more globalized world facing a common aim [ridding us of Corona Virus], I’m nothing short of appalled by the incredulity of Johnson suddenly adopting an opposing outlook to that of our devolved assemblies. Says a lot about our age and his arrogant disregard for sharing information, to learn that leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Nicola Sturgeon found out about England’s relaxing of the lockdown via a tweet! Whilst they have adopted the sensible (and I believe credible option, giving the circumstances) approach of keeping our lockdown as it is until further developments, London’s country has been advised to go back to work; almost as in a ‘pull yourself up by the jockstraps’ mentality.

As my political perception and understanding has hopefully evolved from not just regarding Tories as unenlightened or just baddies. I’d like to think that I’ve become tolerant in respecting other people’s views. In a way that I’d hope is not offensive to either side of the coin, I can see that both sides generally want the same thing in terms of a strong, secure and well-functioning society. The Right believe that this can be built out of prioritising a rich economy, whereas us Lefties see the futility of this in that an adjusted economy can only ever be worthwhile secondary product of a just and strong society. Perhaps on the most basic sort of terms, I’d see socialism as organic and evolving to serve everybody’s needs, whereas neoliberal capitalism is based on combustible manufactured systems that serve the needs of a minority i.e. the bourgeoisie at the expense of the vast majority. Being left-wing has always seems to mean taking advantage of each other, whereas being right-wing seems to reside on taking advantage of somebody else. Anyway, there seem to be nice and nasty people on both sides of this question of priorities. It’s perhaps whether you believe that you can ever take care of yourself without caring duly for others?

Ha, I feel like I’m a bit old to be having these sorts of debate, but some things maybe you just never outgrow! Rather than particularly caring how many billions of pounds people are generating – the trickle-down theory of wealth was surely an outdated flawed concept long ago – should we not measure society’s affluence in ways more tangible? These could be through reflections of society such as by how many people go without a roof over their heads, not to mention are able to consume an adequate daily calorie intake… Regressive concerns is what the most recent decade of Conservative Governments seem to have reduced us into facing.

In classic style, structure not being my best comrade seems to have allowed me to go off topic. But to try and reel it back-in, I so hope that the aftermath of COVID-19 allows us to reassess our placing of value. The main concern that I have in this, is how we have allowed some cosseted Etonian oaf with a minimum of 5 children and 2 past marriages to escape the public condemnation that our country so owes. Johnson’s social irresponsibility is unparalleled and his disgrace is unnerving.

I remember writing a piece entitled something like “Good luck to Boris, but even better luck to London” for a student online magazine after his unprecedented victory in the 2008 London mayoral election. Oh how far down the slippery slope we have apparently come from this… Although I can only have a limited amount of sympathy for a Johnson voter, the amount of pressure that has been placed on our workers makes me shudder. Of course, it will be the most vulnerable that’ll suffer the most. Added to this is the fact that BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities are dying disproportionately from COVID-19 and they disproportionately serve the roles from which avoiding going to work following the most recent 10th of May announcement will likely be impossible. I’ve now lost whatever reserve I had in calling Boris Johnson a cretin.

It is the poorest in our society fulfilling the key-worker roles that have allowed for us to combat this disease thus far. The least that I think that we could do, if as nothing more than a feasible gesture of gratitude along with good-will to all key-workers would be to level their pay with that of the average person working from home! Of course it’ll be deemed impossible to arrange, but why not try?

Ending on a positive note, I really do hope that our losses of life decrease and that we can return to a sense of normality as soon as we are deemed ready by professionals and unlike anything omitted from Johnson’s mouth in recent history, I think that this should be easy enough to execute. I hope that we can use this turgid time of history to progress to a more egalitarian society.

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