Coronavirus lies: the government’s plan is falling apart – and Johnson only has himself to blame

So much for the big lockdown.

It transpires that, when Boris Johnson told us all to stay in our homes, huge numbers of us were being told by our employers that they couldn’t.

Construction companies are telling their workers to work because they have contracts to honour and Johnson hasn’t said a single word that would release them of their obligations.

A commenter to This Site told me about an electrical goods manufacturer – making non-essential products – that has told employees they must continue working.

That means many will be using public transport, possibly mixing with people who are infected – all for the sake of some shareholder’s profits.

The government is, in fact, saying people should go to work if they can’t work from home – but that’s just causing confusion, apparently.

Oh, incidentally, you know the government promised to pay 80 per cent of people’s wages if they stayed at home?

It turns out that’s only if employers agree to it. If they decide to lay you off instead, there’s nothing Johnson can do about it.

And we’re seeing that many of the problems with the Tory lockdown are due to their own austerity policies of the last 10 years.

So, for example, after depleting constabularies across the country of more than 20,000 beat bobbies, they now expect the 120,000 or so who remain to enforce a curfew on more than 65 million people – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the foreseeable future.

They can’t be everywhere. And we’ve established that the people of the UK are completely incapable of following a simple instruction, so wherever the police aren’t around to make sure we’re all behaving, we probably won’t be. And that’s creating a risk of contagion.

Perhaps Johnson should have given us instructions we could trust from the start.

Today (March 24), Matt Hancock has appealed for a quarter of a million people to volunteer to help out a National Health Service that was failing to cope with everyday demands on it before the coronavirus crisis hit it.

Notice that these will be volunteers – in other words: unpaid. This is now the land of Do-It-Yourself healthcare.

He reckons more than 11,000 former NHS workers have volunteered to go back and help out, which he says is fantastic. I say: Is that all?

Who else does he expect to come forward and what possible reason could unskilled people have for putting themselves in danger?

And has he yet realised that we needed all the immigrant workers who have been discouraged from coming to the UK by the “hostile atmosphere” (of racism) that his party has nurtured, and by Brexit?

We have every right to be disgusted by this.

The Tories have spent a decade stripping the country of the ability to cope with an emergency like Covid-19 and – now that it has arrived – they want us to sort it out for them – for free.

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  1. trev March 24, 2020 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    What a farce.

  2. Dan March 24, 2020 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    So Boris has cocked it up. How inevitable…

  3. Jeffrey Davies March 25, 2020 at 6:52 am - Reply

    180000 service personnel cams told them they jobs are safe then started sacking them firemen far to many police don’t forget they lose 10000 through injuries retirements it’s a lot more than 20000 nurses doctors they seen of far to many yet they tell all yet their instructions are not been enforced by them these charlitans ain’t worried about the virus but the loose of monies hurt them more

  4. Growing Flame March 25, 2020 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Well said, Mike, though a bit hard on the British people. I think a lot of us would be willing to stay at home if our employers promised 80% of our wages. Or our problems with rent would not lead to eviction.
    Or our income was protected by Benefits if we could no longer work as self-employed or in the Gig Economy.
    But all the Tory promises, as you rightly point out, are coming to nothing and the British workforce is having to make it up as we go along.
    Overall, we have been fed headlines about unprecedented policies in difficult times. Quite mind-boggling stuff, really. But now we find that the promises were not as firm as they seemed.
    We should put the blame where it is due, on Johnson and the employers. The workers may not always behave the best, but we are having to struggle to survive .

  5. Hecuba March 25, 2020 at 11:15 am - Reply

    A quarter of a million women and men needed for fascist tory exploitation because the men in political power spent the last 10 years decimating the NHS, police forces, civil service, and other public institutions! The fascist tories claimed these women and men weren’t needed but now when an epidemic has happened suddenly fascist tories need all these ‘disposable women and men!’ Note too none of them will be paid a penny but the greedy shareholders will ensure their profits aren’t dented because all those disposable construction workers can carry on working and if they contract/transmit coronavirus – well that’s their problem not us greedy profit driven male owned corporate companies!

    Not forgetting all those so-called ‘nasty migrants’ the fascist tories deported/ordered not to apply to enter the UK because these workers weren’t welcome! Well fact they aren’t available to prop up the non existent NHS and other services is very telling! Still never mind dictator boris will blame us ordinary women and men for refusing to obey his orders! Always a convenient scapegoat for the fascist tories to deflect attention away from their 10 years plus of destroying little england!

    What a shambles and not remotely surprised London now has earned its place as one of the worst cities for the coronovirus outbreak!

  6. TeaFairy March 25, 2020 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    It’s not quite “do it yourself health care”. There are 3 levels of voluntary ‘help’ you can offer.

    The safest and easiest is dubbed “check in and chat volunteer”. Roughly speaking the NHS can, in theory, post a request for someone to volunteer to make regular phone contact with someone alone in self isolation at risk of loneliness. No risk just matching up those happy to chat with those who need a chat.

    The second level is more about matching up people locally to get shopping, prescriptions etc to self isolating people in need. The info sheet is really clear on leaving deliveries on doorsteps, no contact, how to do card payments remotely at checkouts (minimising cash handling) etc. If you follow the instructions and are going out for shopping yourself anyway I don’t see that it increases your risk. These are requests from self isolating people.

    The third isn’t much more risky either. Its about collecting and delivering medical equipment and prescriptions from pharmacies and nhs properties. These are requests from nhs workers (GPs etc).

    Maybe read up on it. Not perfect but a more official way of doing the community organising than some of the localised Facebook groups that have popped up. After all not all those who are happy to volunteer are on Facebook and many of those most in need won’t be either.

    • Mike Sivier March 25, 2020 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      People are already doing the first two things. If they had waited for Matt Hancock to make his appeal, people would already have been in serious trouble. I see you look down on the community Covid-19 support groups that have sprung up but they were actually helping people, long before your Health Secretary got the idea in his head (probably from them, in fact).

      • TeaFairy March 25, 2020 at 8:09 pm - Reply

        Look down on?! How did you decide I was looking down on anyone?
        I’ve wanted to help from the start but without a Facebook profile I can’t access those community based Facebook groups to see who needs help where and when. Should I have created a facebook profile? Is it looking down on people to not have or want a facebook profile?
        I’ve already offer assistance to all my vulnerable and elderly neighbours but really want to help as much as I can.

        As far as I can work out it’s not Hancock scheme anyway. Its run by a charity to support the NHS. Hancock is at best giving it publicity at worst taking credit. More than happy to be corrected on this but that’s the best I could work out.

        You ask why “unskilled” people would come forward and put themselves in danger. I pointed out the things they want doing aren’t putting people in danger. Is it only dangerous if you’re doing it via the GoodSam system? Organising through Facebook makes the same tasks less dangerous?

        There is so much the government is doing wrong but is publicising a volunteering scheme to help vulnerable people one of them? It’s horrifying how long it took but does that discredit it entirely?

        I’m a long time reader, regular supporter and first time commenter Mike. I really don’t get this one. I was simply commenting about what the volunteering they’re asking for is. I worded it badly in hindsight but my point on the Facebook groups is that while they are great they aren’t accessible to all.

        I’ll just go back to being a quietly observer.

        • Mike Sivier March 31, 2020 at 2:07 pm - Reply

          Are you saying you don’t look down on the community-based efforts to help people who are isolated because of Covid-19? That’s not how it comes across when you’re promoting the Tory/NHS version that was only established because people had been doing it themselves.

          The Facebook-based groups have established local co-ordinators who have been contacting people in their areas individually, so there should be no problem if people can’t actually access the pages online.

          I think the Tory/NHS scheme has been handed to a charity to run as a third party. It’s handy for the Tories because if anything goes wrong, they can say that part wasn’t anything to do with them.

          Volunteering via the Facebook/community schemes might indeed put people in danger. My point is that it seems odd that the Tories/NHS want to employ people to put themselves in danger – but don’t want to pay them for doing so. Don’t you find that iniquitous?

          Forgive me if I doubt your credentials as a long-time reader and regular supporter. This Site receives a lot of criticism from people claiming to be those things who are really just trolls who’ve turned up to criticise, and to defend the government when it doesn’t deserve such consideration.

      • TeaFairy March 26, 2020 at 11:03 am - Reply

        Maybe my reply from last night just never sent.
        Maybe your follow up article today wasn’t sparked by my comment here.
        Maybe I’m just a bit paranoid.

        I’ll be honest, while having not worded my first comment as well as I could have, I’ve been pretty shocked by your response Mike.

        Why do you assume/imply I’m a Tory? “your Health Secretary”. As a Corbyn supporting Labour member who helped campaign for the 2019 election I’m as disgusted as the next person by the shambles of a government we have. But I honestly can’t see the issue with this GoodSAM system. Disgusted, might I also add, by the treatment of yourself and others by the party and horrified by the prospect of Starmer being our next leader. But that’s besides the point and somehow I suspect you’ll still write me off as a Tory.

        Why is pointing out that not everyone is on or has access to facebook looking down on the community led groups? Are people not allowed to help if they don’t have or don’t want a facebook account? The facebook based groups are amazing and are a massive part of the support network but they aren’t accessible to everyone.

        Good luck with your fight with Riley.

        Sincerely a long time reader, occasional supporter and forever more a silent observer.

        • Mike Sivier March 31, 2020 at 2:09 pm - Reply

          As I say, you seem overly keen to find fault. Perhaps if you had seemed less keen to support the Tories and to denigrate the Facebook/community schemes we could have come closer to agreement but your persistence in trying to find fault is alienating me more. Thank you for your kind wishes.

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