From a friend: As this crisis deepens and the death toll mounts, a narrative is going to emerge that will be very seductive to many of us. It will all be the fault of “the people.”
The people who failed to practice social distancing.
The people who hoarded.
The people who didn’t listen to the government.
The people who didn’t listen to the science.
The people. Those selfish people. Look at them in their parks.
The government will start trotting this out. Right wing media will push it hard. Police forces have already begun assigning blame to “the people”.
Many of us will feel the tug of this seductive reasoning. Our brains will be tempted to lash out at “the people.” When we do, we must remember some things:
- The government had 3 months to prepare. This was a train coming down the tracks.
- At first we were told the plan was herd immunity. Then it wasn’t.
- As the first few people started to die, Boris Johnson boasting of shaking the hands of hospitalised coronavirus patients. This was a week before the lockdown.
- Why weren’t we in lockdown like other European countries, some asked. Trust us, they said.
- Then we got the lockdown order. What did they say? The initial government advice was only “essential workers could travel to work”. A day later this was changed to “essential travel for work.” See the difference? There are screenshots of this.
- They told us to practice social distancing as MPs crowded around each other in the House of Commons.
- They said only the old and immuno-comprised were at risk. Then healthy twenty-somethings started dying.
- They said the NHS could cope, then they started building field hospitals in stadiums.
- They said the NHS had the protective equipment it needed, then we logged on to social media.
- They said we were in it together, then they got tested before the frontline workers.
- They said there was no such thing as society and it was survival of the fittest, then said we needed to show solidarity.
- They clapped when they voted against a pay-rise for NHS nurses in 2017, then they clapped for the NHS.
- They spent a decade telling us cuts were needed to save the economy, then they said the only way to save the economy was to spend trillions.
- They spent a decade insisting £94 was enough to live on, then admitted it wasn’t.
- They got us to vote for Brexit by rubbishing “experts,” then told us to trust experts.
- They told us retail workers were low skilled, then said they were key workers.
- They said homelessness was sad but inevitable, then they order it ended overnight.
So yes, “the people” ended up a little fucking confused.
Because our so-called leaders have utterly failed to lead.
They don’t know what they stand for; they couldn’t believe the world could change so quickly; they resisted “alarmism” when the only proper response was to be alarmed; they had no idea how to use the power of the state, having spent a decade dismantling it; they were arrogant and complacent, wallowing in privilege. The fundamental duty of government is to keep us safe. That’s what we pay them to do. They have failed.
As the death toll mounts, remember that our leaders are to blame, not “the people,” and we must resist the temptation to blame each other.
This resonated. We must remember. As the Stoke City motto says: Vis Unita Fortior (United strength is stronger).