Tuesday 1 December 2020

The 'punishment' is deliberate


The experience of having different rules in different parts of Wales prior to the ‘fire-break’ lockdown was not good, and in the light of that, the Welsh Government has sensibly decided to try and follow a single set of restrictions across the whole of Wales rather than revert to a system which was clearly not working at all well. The English government has followed a different route: having found that the system of putting areas into tiers really didn’t work terribly well, they’ve decided to revert to it with a few tweaks, the most obvious of which is that virtually the whole of England is now to be under restrictions as of tomorrow.

In justifying why even areas of England with low incidence are being placed under greater restrictions, the Foreign Secretary said “...you've got to get the geographic size sufficiently effective that you don't find the smaller enclaves of lower level virus shooting up because they are not subject to the restrictions in the high levels around them”, one of the few sensible utterances he’s managed to make. He could also have added that having variations in rules between smaller adjacent areas makes it more likely that people will travel between those areas, taking the virus with them. Meanwhile, in Wales, the Welsh Tories are arguing for precisely the opposite – demanding that Wales be broken up into smaller and smaller areas with different degrees of restrictions imposed. It’s a sort of triumph of politics over experience and evidence.

In both Wales and England, Tory opponents of the tough level of restrictions being imposed are using similar arguments about areas being ‘punished’ despite having low levels of prevalence of the virus. It’s a perverse way of looking at things, when it is in the Tories’ hands to make sure that no-one loses out financially, and they are only prevented from doing so by their own mindset. One of the biggest problems with getting the pandemic under control from the outset has been ensuring compliance with the rules, and the biggest reason for that has been forcing people to choose between maintaining their income and doing the right thing. For all the vast sums of money being spent by the government, they have consistently failed to do the single most important thing – fully protect people’s incomes. Partly it’s about ideology – they can’t stand the idea that anyone might ‘get something for nothing’ – but it’s also partly about them living in a different world from the rest of us. For rich people (and we can certainly count the Chancellor in that category), a temporary loss of part of their income is neither here nor there, but they just don’t understand how catastrophic it can be for people at the other end of the spectrum. It’s easy for those who can afford it to talk about ‘sacrifice’ when the real sacrifice is being made by others.

It does indeed look like some sort of punishment when people who have followed the rules and live in low incidence areas have further restrictions placed upon them and see their livelihoods threatened, but it only looks like punishment because of the choices which the government has made. The Welsh Tories, like their rebel English counterparts, are complaining about the wrong part of government policy.

1 comment:

dafis said...

Punishment ? Most of these half wits don't know the real meaning of it. In the world of Covid "punishment is seeing people dying before their time, or maybe perishing to a condition which they might have otherwise survived for a few years or more. Some of those hostile to any kind of restraint try to project a libertarian stance. The grim reality of it is that their liberty is the only thing that matters in their myopic selfish minds. Perhaps a visit from the Grim Reaper would do some of them a power of good !! Those last few seconds of life would be well worth watching and recording.