Tuesday 4 January 2022

Learning to live with it


The media reported two fatal stabbings in London last week, an occurrence which seems to be becoming all too frequent. Each and every one is a tragedy for those involved, of course, but to put it in perspective, very, very few people die each year as a result of knife crime. According to the House of Commons Library, there were 244 homicides as a result of the use of a sharp instrument in the year to March 2021. Yet no-one seriously suggests that we should ‘just learn to live with’ knife crime, and invest resources in dealing with the consequences rather than in attempting to reduce the incidence. It would be a very silly argument to make. And yet…

Contrast that with preventable deaths due to Covid. There have been 174,000 premature deaths so far which mentioned Covid on the death certificate, according to the ONS, and currently around another 1,000 are being added to that total every week. There are things which the UK government could do to reduce the incidence of infection, or even to make resources available to allow the more civilised governments in Wales and Scotland to take more steps to protect the population, but they have instead decided to allow the virus to rip through the population in England, with inevitable knock-on effects elsewhere in the UK. Instead of acting to prevent deaths and hospitalisations, they are investing scarce resources in building extra temporary wards in hospital car parks (with no clue as to how they will be staffed, given that Covid-related staff absences are increasing daily). It’s good business for what the Telegraph referred to as “purveyors of soft-shell body storage solutions”. Yes, that’s right – their normal business is supplying temporary morgues, but they are handily diversifying to house the living in glorified tents. Although we may yet be calling on them for their core business skills as well. This is what ‘learning to live with Covid’ looks like for at least the next few months in the UK, and there is no certainty that it won’t be so for a great deal longer.

One of the fundamental arguments for restricting people’s freedom has always been to protect others from the consequences of that freedom. That is why we do, quite properly, restrict the ‘freedom’ of people to walk around the streets carrying knives, and we act against transgressors. In the case of Covid, the argument has been turned upside down. The ‘freedom’ of people not to have ‘restrictions’ placed on their daily lives in order to control the spread amounts to the freedom to infect others as they wish. Not intentionally, of course – that’s where the comparison with carrying knives breaks down – but those resisting restrictions have enough knowledge to know that the ‘freedom’ they demand has inevitable consequences for others, including the premature death of thousands of them.

The UK finds itself at a time of crisis with a government in thrall to people who present an effective cull (perhaps unintentional, although in the case of some of them, I cannot be certain) of the oldest, frailest and most vulnerable of the population (for it is those categories most likely to die early) as some sort of libertarianism, a protection of the ‘freedom’ of the many. And, rather than having a reasoned debate on what collectively enforced measures might be sensible to reduce the impact of the disease, the public is encouraged by the UK government, from the PM down, to see any measures as individually restrictive rather than collectively preventative, and a compliant media goes along with this. It’s difficult to overstate how dangerous the crazies who have infiltrated and taken control of the Tory party are, but the one thing Brexit has taught us about them is that ‘winning’ one argument is never enough for them. Their pursuit of ideological purity can and will never be satisfied, and the costs of making the attempt will be high. Wales and Scotland need out.

1 comment:

An Eye On... said...