Bodies piling up — The War on Covid

Eamon Dyas

With the perpetual existence of a virus more deadly than flu now part of society’s deadly repertoire the impact will inevitably lead to a fall in the average life expectancy. It is extremely unlikely that the COVID-19 jab will be an effective way of preventing this.

Is this not a part of the reality? Is it not also part of the reality that the Johnson lockdowns were never proper lockdowns? Is it not part of the reality that there was a criminally incompetent treatment of the old that continued for months after the impact had become obvious? Is the fact that Britain and the west ignored early Chinese warnings a sign that we were not taking the virus seriously not another part of the reality?

That Johnson was an expression of a liberal culture that hindered any proper attempt to efficiently deal with the outbreak is also the reality.

The reality is where we are now. But how we got to this reality has a backstory that led us to the here and now. The acceptance of that reality should not be made an occasion for a laurel bestowing ceremony on the head of someone who has used his position incompetently and corruptly on an almost industrial scale.

Just because Starmer has failed to drive the stake into the heart of the beast doesn’t mean we should similarly stay the hand.

Johnson is a wolf dressed up as a highly entertaining sheep. But the direction in which he is attempting to turn the Tories did not arise from a good place or from any genuine concern for the vulnerable. His one nation policies are the result of the fright the Tories and their backers were given by the arrival of Corbyn as the leader of the other party of government. 

The Labour Party’s performance under his leadership in the 2017 election became the occasion of an unprecedented media effort at undermining that leadership. Alongside that there emerged an awareness among the mandarins of the establishment that the political ground upon which Corbyn’s support rested needed to be contested or at least churned up. 

That is the context of the Johnson phenomenon. The arrival of the virus was one of those unplanned things that nature occasionally throws up to put us humans in our place. Unfortunately, it arrived too late for Corbyn but it also caused complications for the political plans of the re-oriented Tory party. 

The result has been a level of unplanned intervention by the state in the operation of the economy on a scale not seen since the war. In Britain the aftermath of wars usually led to an advance in the implementation of policies that serve the workers and under-privileged – the outcome of the experience of the people of a higher level of cooperation and the positive experience of increased state intervention during the war.

The current reality is different as the experience of the war on the virus, while necessitating a dramatic increase in state intervention, did not result in an increase in economic activity but rather the opposite. Nor, unlike other British wars, will there be a point where a final victory can be declared. This is a critical lesson that the public must be made to learn particularly as it is in the wake of such declarations of victory that the reappraisal of the lessons of the war begin. 

But more crucially of all, the current situation does not appear to include a competent and purposeful Labour Party capable of interpreting the experience of the war on the virus in a way that might lead to an advance in state activity that might underpin the ongoing well being of the people.

This is the most significant reality of all.

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