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The worst possible people are in charge at the worst possible time. In the UK, the US and Australia, the politics of the governing parties have been built on the dismissal and denial of risk. Just as these politics have delayed the necessary responses to climate breakdown, ecological collapse, air and water pollution, obesity and consumer debt, so they appear to have delayed the effective containment of Covid-19.
So says George Monbiot who spent the last 4 years denigrating the Labour party that has tried to shift the balance of politics back to the left. It is these same journalists and to an even greater extent those in the BBC who have helped the election of the current Tory Government and who have not had the courage or integrity to dig underneath all the propaganda and expose the anomaly that was the rigged 2019 election.
He then goes on to analyse how the governments of the UK, Australia and US have been captured by lobbying from these industries including tobacco, oil and although he does not directly mention this, agrochemical and pharmaceutical industries.
I showed how these companies funded rightwing thinktanks and university professors to launch attacks on public health policy in general and create a new narrative of risk, tested on focus groups and honed in the media. They reframed responsible government as the “nanny state”, the “health police” and “elf ’n’ safety zealots”. They dismissed scientific findings and predictions as “unfounded fears”, “risk aversion” and “scaremongering”. Public protections were recast as “red tape”, “interference” and “state control”. Government itself was presented as a mortal threat to our freedom.
But what George does not mention is the role of journalists (including himself) in all of this and their lack of direct grilling of politicians in power rather than denigrating the opposition. If all the journalists exposed the inner substance of the tory party and did not help the coverup of their rampant racism instead of attacking Labour for a minor problem, or if they did not spend so much effort demonising Corbyn as a communist and terrorist sympathiser and looked beyond this screen, then things would have been different.
But maybe this was inevitable. If Labour was in now they would have had a hell of a problem dealing with the ten years of tory anti-social policy. It is not just that the NHS will be under great strain but social services that have been decimated and local councils that have been emasculated will have a tough time to deal locally with people who need help. I believe in China they appointed wardens to look after people who needed deliveries of food and so on.
But here Johnson has the gall to divert attention from the governments slap dash policies in dealing with the virus, justifying not testing those with symptoms until they are in hospital and not testing even NHS staff who have symptoms, and instead announce this revolutionary diversionary policy of asking ‘industry’ to divert from making whatever to making respirators. The guy has no clue, what we need is testing, testing, testing as the WHO has advocated, both for mapping the risk and for understanding the disease better. These are basic rules of contagious disease containment and yet UK is the outlier in the world.