Food shelves run empty up and down the country, tensions flaring in Ireland, and the entitled attitude of long term politicians who seem to think that Britain being a world leader in economics 150 years ago entitles us to special dispensation from the people on whom we spit in 2016. Just when is England, specifically, going to admit that Brexit was a mistake so we can start moving forward and repairing it’s fallout?
I’m talking to my friends this morning, almost on the edge of hysterical laughter at how ridiculous things are. With freedom day having passed and seeing daily spreader events taking place and precautions lifting as employers encouraging their staff to delete the track and trace app, you would assume we have enough to deal with – there were reports last night on the 21st of July, that there were NO PICU beds left in the country (paediatric ICU)- these reports, whilst unsubstantiated, came from a senior paediatric doctor via her social media so carry more weight than an anonymous report.
Additionally, outside of healthcare and service roles, workers returning to office after exposure to people now living “as normal” will begin to fall ill and be away from work. The slow crumbling of the UK workforce will come to the fore over the next fortnight as hospital admissions climb at rates we haven’t seen in months. So you’d be forgiven to assume that we have quite enough to worry about, simply as we’re all getting closer and closer to falling sick.
However, if you’re focusing intently on the already imminent disaster of the pandemic, you’ll also be treated to the media’s newest collective spinning of the truth – the “pingdemic” (which, incidentally, is one of the most ridiculous concepts I’ve seen in my 33 years).
The fact that the track and trace app is alerting people to isolate and actually doing its job effectively is a surprise to me- I’ve seen how ineffective the app was at the height of the pandemic, so to see it working to this extent is terrifying- the statistical rates of capture for the app was bad, so if it’s working at this rate- we are in a real mess.
This isn’t a pingdemic- it’s the app doing what we have allowed the government to spend a projected £35 billion on it to do.
As the UK workforce lowers either by actual sickness or isolation, the government flounders out message after message- it’s advised that you must isolate mandatorily or not but dont not isolate if you want to not isolate when you’re advised that you must isolate- it’s the tory way. Fans of three word slogans they are, so perhaps their ongoing message throughout 2020 and 2021 should have been “confuse, distract, ignore”.
But on to the reason I felt the need to write this.
Brexit is, put plainly, a fucking disaster.
It’s already cost more than every payment the UK ever made to the EU. It’s already alienated literal health workers that I had long term connections with- they left the UK because they didn’t feel welcome here by a country that voted to sever ties with their mother countries. It’s caused endless division between people on either side who are convinced that they are right, it’s made families tear themselves apart, it’s allowed the bolstering of authoritarian bluster from a government whose only concern is to hide their deceit and enrich themselves and their fellows. Now, in what I confidently say is still the middle of this worldwide pandemic, it’s causing shortages in food, whilst also increasing the consumer cost of goods.
Additionally, barely a whisper in the press that the new deal that the UK has struck with Australia pales into comparison with the EU and that it also manages to undercut British farmers- another huge demographic who voted leave and are now reaping the costs of their own determination to ignore facts and political forecasting that always warned them (please note that as a country boy myself I’m not blaming all farmers, some I spoke to were very much pro co-operation with the EU). The press is, as I’ve pointed out before, firmly in favour of pushing party lines even in the face of the obvious: journalism seems to have taken a very generous step away from providing the public with what they need to know, and towards telling us what we want to hear for an easy life, and I’m sure the 52% will be reluctant to be told that their decision to TAKE BACK OUR SOVEREIGNTY, TAKE BACK CONTROL and all the other slogans- were a poor decision which should never have been in our hands.
There is a point that I’ve made numerous times and always been attacked for- and it’s not because we made what I still maintain is the wrong decision. My job has almost nothing to do with EU import/export, EU citizenry etc and Brexit has still caused myriad issues. But that is the issue- millions in the UK voted on our membership to the EU with absolutely no idea what it actually meant, what it did or did not do for us, the real positives or negatives. Such debating wizardry should have been left to people whose job it was to understand the finer details- but of course, those people are those like Nigel Farage who for years enjoyed the fruits of the UK’s membership to the EU, and has built a career off of being xenophobic, or Lord Frost, who negotiated the deal so bad that we “cannot carry on as we are” under it’s terms. We were always set to fail, and the issue with the leave campaign is, and was, that they were free to lie- which they did in earnest. The truth is a boring grey little thing and it’s immutable- it can be spun, but facts cannot be changed and the fact was that we were well placed in the EU, that we enjoyed privilege other member states didn’t, that our citizenry benefited from further protections. A lie can be anything! Money for the NHS, money for you, freedom, taking our borders back, booming economy! Sell those lies and of course people will stand behind you- as they did. The reality is, unfortunately, grim.
Fishermen are struggling, we’ve seen more job losses than the Nissan Gigafactory will actually create, I’ve seen multiple healthcare staff (EU, British AND of other nationalities) emigrate prior to or during the transition period listing Brexit as the reason, our standing in the global perception has sunk because of the churlish behaviour of openly xenophobic idiots like Farage or Hopkins, or from the idiocy of a man like Lord Frost who believes his say so means that we can override the Northern Ireland agreement… Let’s just pause there to examine the word “Agreement”. An agreement is not “we can do what we want”, it’s a set of terms which both parties agree to, which dictate the behaviours of each party. It speaks to the long bred line of imagined British superiority that has led to a situation where after four years of negotiations with a trade bloc, our highest place negotiators think they can state “we cannot go on like this” under the terms that THEY agreed for us!
I’ve said it before that it’s not the job of the working class to worry about the economy- that should rest in the hands of those who, as civil servants, are appointed to oversee it- and yet the fallout of their ambivalence hits US! The working class, most directly.
So we have less food, the food we have is more expensive, and the places the scant food is available are also hotbeds for COVID because nobody needs to wear masks or social distance- and with the virulence of the Johnson variant, it doesn’t matter if “only one or two people” break the rules- it will still spread amongst those who do choose to do the right thing.
Ireland as a whole has been caught in the middle of the ridiculous exchanges of the UK and EU from the start of this process- and the EU has not been blameless, much as the more hardcore remainers (I am one) would sometimes protest. It’s pragmatically common sense that the EU would be harsh on an ex partner specifically to discourage others from leaving and facing the same blockades- but to fully heft the weight of this mess on the EU is disingenuous- the continued poor behaviour of the UK (England… Westminster…) brings the selfsame worst case scenarios that we have been predicting and being told about since the day after the UK referendum that set us on this course.
The reason the media, so attuned to the message they should be pushing for the government, are pushing the narrative of the app is to further the rampant infections that are coming. The foolish short term thinking of those in power is that many, many hundreds of thousands- perhaps millions, of people will get sick, recover, and carry on working. No thought about death, disability from long covid, job loss, these people’s families who are dependant on them- no. Force infection through lassitude, blame the citizenry for “not doing what was right” when we’ve seen that the moral mandate of some folk in the UK is to do whatever they want whilst loudly repeating buzzwords like “sovereignty” and “freedom”. They hope that people will delete the NHS track and trace app and that the reported number of infections drop as people just stop caring about reporting their results. They hope that they can blanket the media with distractions as the virus rages and mutates through a disturbingly compliant populace. And they hope to distract from the simple fact that their own lack of expertise in writing trade agreements outside of the European Union means that in addition to this, we face greater cost for less choice of goods. But of course, all in the name of that famous word, sovereignty, I’m sure.