Boris Johnson looking unhappy at a press conference, accompanied by Rishi Sunak

Their Best is Not Good Enough

Dave Exeter
Authored by Dave Exeter
Posted Sunday, May 3, 2020 - 1:33pm

I've seen and heard many comments over the past few weeks in support of our government, and berating those that hold them to account. Comments such as:

"The government can't do right for wrong"

"The media should just let them get on with their job"

"This kind of crisis is unprecedented, there's no textbook"

"They are just doing their best"

Well, their best simply isn't good enough given the fact, that as one of the richest countries in the world, we are also worst affected. You only have to look at similar developed economies such as Germany, with similar demographic, size and infection rate, to see how this crisis could have been dealt with. We have more than 4 times the number of deaths in Germany.

And there should be a textbook. We have had plenty of pandemics in the last couple of decades, and coronavirus pandemics have only been getting more frequent in the past 20 years (eg SARS, MERS) and we haven't learned from them or prepared properly. Also, we have plenty of experience of dealing with human crises bigger than this, we should still have lessons from WW2 in our minds.

Remember Foot and Mouth? I know this was mainly a disease of animals, but it's worth looking at. This affected livestock and therefore the farming industry. We wiped out that virus pretty drastically and quickly, because industry is more important than human life. And the government of the day learned its lesson, because when the disease resurfaced briefly in 2007 we were prepared and we contained it. Why can't we do this for human pandemics?

Finally, and probably most importantly, we must remember that the government and our populist leaders do not want scrutiny, and that this crisis will only deepen inequality in our society. It's now, more than ever, crucial that they are held accountable for their decisions and scrutinised very, very closely, and vitally important that the free press are able to ask any questions they like, and receive answers, and write comment and opinion as well as evidence based, informed news. Sure, we have to take poor, impartial, biased and misleading reporting as a price for the above, but it's a small price to pay for our democratic system and freedom of speech and a free press. I'm fed up of people thinking just because we are in a crisis democracy should stop. The "catastrophe capitalist" phenomenon will ensure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and Tory control and power of the right wing press will get even stronger. Just like has happened with the financial crisis and Brexit.

If we don't take control, they will.

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