Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Criminal negligence and national deception: marking the UK Covid-19 death toll

As the official UK Covid-19 death toll surges past 20,000, the true number over double that, it's important just to stop and really think about the staggering scale of avoidable losses and suffering, how such an extensive calamity could occur in this rich and 'resourceful' country, the negation of every key scientific and authoritative warning, the elementary precautions abandoned, 'test, trace, screen, isolate, contain' treated like some kind of fanciful outlier, the disgraceful absence of key medical stockpiles and proper protective equipment, the gross failure to close and contain borders, the continued 'open door' neoliberal policies that let capital and the virus fly freely, the calculated disregard for human beings, our elderly, our vulnerable, our very community, the wilful lies, evasions, deceptions and mendacity of this government, the peddled illusion that 'we're all in it together', the government's and media's patronising promotion of people on the streets clapping for our nurses, doctors and vital workers while they're still being denied the most basic protections and worthy wages, the state indulgence, meanwhile, of corporate thieves like Richard Branson despite his privatised plundering of the NHS, the groaning strains of 'national treasure' Sir Elton, tax-havened Gary Barlow, posturing Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and our royal 'leading the nation' family with their whitewash telethon charade for the NHS and other 'good causes', services that are ours to be funded by right, not cringing charity, a national deceit amplified by a keep-us-all-dutifully-distracted, 'go easy on ministers' BBC and other service 'journalism' which still won't headline the dark extent of mass deaths or dare put a seriously damning question to those so blatantly responsible, the passive acceptance of these daily numbers, the effective normalisation of state killing, our very own locked-down readiness to comprehend such, the ways in which all our very real feelings and acts of social care and generosity are, perversely, helping to mask government culpability, all part of a system of conformity, acquiescence and control so deeply entrenched we barely even begin to think of it...

As the song has it:

Oh, that's life
Left dripping down the walls
Of a dream that cannot breathe
In this harsh reality
Mass confusion spoon fed to the blind
Serves now to define our cold society

And yet the kindness and concern for others we're seeing amid this crisis shows that we do still have the capacity for transcending that cold 'normality', that it's still within our collective power to demand a new compassionate normal that puts people and social health before mercenary politics and profit-driven economics.

In respectful memory of all the souls lost to the criminal negligence of this self-serving elite and failed system. May we use this terrible landmark moment to honour them by rising above the mass deception and working to realise the truly caring society.

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