With cases of coronavirus soaring again, I’m now furious with this government. For weeks, no… for months, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt: this is a pandemic after all and normal ferocity of opposition does not apply. But the testing system is failing and they are dangling imaginary technology (hello “Operation Moonshot”) in front of the public to give them false hope – when really all the public hope for is competence.
Competence is not boasting about a world-beating track and trace system, when in truth the system is crumbling, testing centres lie empty, Britain is sending hundreds of thousands of tests off to Europe for processing and no-one – NOT ONE PERSON – believes the boasting anymore. Only 8% of people get their test results within 24-hours. That isn’t world-beating. It is embarrassing.
Competence is not talking about a second national lockdown which would have been completely avoided if the test and trace system had been scaled up to necessary levels much earlier. Who would have thought that the return of work, schools and universities would have required many more tests? Who would have thought that the students working in testing labs over the summer had to return to their autumn studies, so the labs would need new staffing? I tell you who: everyone it seems (apart from this incompetent government).
Competence is protecting people’s jobs beyond some arbitrary cliff-edge ‘end of furlough’. The furlough scheme was great – I’m really delighted it was introduced – but other countries have introduced systems to protect jobs as long as is necessary. It is those people in customer facing jobs, often the lowest paid, that will find themselves receiving notice of redundancy today, or in the next few weeks. Boris Johnson, who – in truth – has largely been absent from dealing with this crisis, does not understand that it is the poorest who (a) take the biggest risk of virus contraction with people/customer-facing jobs and (b) take the biggest hit, when working restrictions, lockdowns and redundancies are delivered. Boris Johnson wanted to be Churchill, but in truth he’s turned out to be about as good a Churchill impersonator as my Grandpa was when he delivered his WWII Cabaret routine at the South Acton Working Men’s Club in 1967 (N.B – it was terrible). He is going down in history as a terrible Prime Minister and the truth is that even Conservative MPs know this.
Competence is not rationing tests. We should never have got to this point. Rationing is a result of government incompetence. Remember when Hancock kept saying ‘Everyone who needs a test, can get a test.’ Yeah, I remember that too. It turns out that isn’t true anymore. In fact, most people who need a test will try for days and days to get a test and then they’ll give up.
Competenceis not blaming the people. Blaming the people is the last resort of failing administrations. If rules had been simple and constituent across nations, without U-Turn after U-Turn… if rules had allowed families to be together whilst clamping down on larger gatherings…if local authorities and police had been given wider funds to keep public areas safe and crowd-free…if…if…if…
If only we had a competent government.