Netflix and Chill

At the top of this week’s Netflix ‘for you’ list came the star studded 1995 classic Outbreak. I cringed a bit, but watched it in the end, being the lockdown and all that, and I am glad I did, for I finally understand where the UK Government got its COVID-19 strategy from! This Hollywood disaster cliche has it all: the politicians’ cavalier attitude to loss of life, the war imagery, the pseudoscience, the vaccine produced in days, the triumphal ending.

Also this week, in order to meet Hancock’s arbitrary, and entirely meaningless, 100,000 test target, we saw the UK Government clumsily fiddling the figures to get to that magic number. While the UK might not be particularly high up in the world’s school leavers literacy and math skill rankings, not even a furloughed UK six year old would be fooled by this particular slight of hand—yet another confirmation that our dear leaders don’t care about anything but loss of face, the Government’s daily briefings continuous stream of inane slogans, spin and outright lies.

There is one phrase in particular that sums up the moral bankruptcy of the UK Government: Protect the NHS — it is not the job of the public to be protecting the NHS! It’s for the NHS to protect us, that’s its job description and its vocation.

The fact the health service is unable to cope is solely the fault of the Tory governments of the past decade, making the daily routine of hollow thanks from the governmental pulpit a hypocrisy of the highest order. (And the NHS is not coping; a slow suffocation is a terrible way to die. In a supposedly civilised society nobody should be allowed go through it without appropriate hospital care—the next time you hear how many people are dying of this virus outside of a hospital, ask yourself why are they not in one if things are so splendid?)

Luckily the situation is a wee bit better in Scotland then south of the border. There are two reasons for this, (a) we are somewhat behind the English curve here, so the start of the lockdown has come relatively earlier up here, and (b) the Scottish Government is spending bit more on the NHS then they do down south. But, of course, there are limits to how much we can spend on public services up here, for we are chained up to the spending policies of our English overlords by the Barnett formula, our budget hostage of Tory worldview. This cannot go on, this crisis is making that, yet again, clear.

And still no practical steps taken toward ending the lockdown ... we can’t go on like this indefinitely, not even for months. When it is obvious our Governments have no plan, it is unavoidable that we start exercising our individual judgement on what we have to do to get ourselves and our families safely through this, and that’s not ideal. So rather than lamenting the rise in traffic, it’s time for our politicians to pull their finger out.