The Right-Minded View on social distancing infractions

by richardhutton

 

Now, I’m not one to judge by appearances – no matter what they may indicate about a person’s character and morals. So I believed in giving people a fair shake, and the benefit of considerable doubt, when it came to social distancing measures.

However, I realised it was time to act – and act promptly – when my neighbours looked suspiciously like they might be on their way to enjoy a picnic in the local park

Nobody relishes their civic duty more than I. Accordingly, I dialled 999, in order to request immediate emergency assistance; only to be placed on hold, for very nearly an hour.

When someone finally answered, I registered my concerns, in full.

To my surprise – in fact, outrage – I heard them sigh audibly, then found myself being told it was “not an emergency of any kind, whatsoever”. To say I was livid would be the biggest understatement of all time.

I was of a mind to visit the police station in person, there and then – and discuss the matter of recklessly breaching social-distance measures, face to face!

*

Only, unlike others I could mention, I am sufficiently modest to appreciate that the police have enough on their hands as is. What with rogue sunbathers, renegade picnic-conductors, and juvenile delinquents, playing in their own front gardens, for all to see.

That is why, rather selflessly, I have decided to stay indoors throughout this ordeal – in-between making the necessary journeys, here and there (by contrast to many, who have been hoarding enough things to last a fortnight, I took no more than I required to cover the next three weeks or so).

I compare the lackadaisical attitude of far too many people, with the conduct of our nation’s Prime Minster, most unfavourably. Working tirelessly as he has, for a few hours each day – and leading by example. Shaking hands with everyone in a hospital; including no end of coronavirus-positive patients.

And that is merely one testament to Boris Johnson’s leadership.

*

At the beginning of this outbreak, the government said people should carry on as normal; and senior journalists lauded them for their clear-thinking approach [1].

The schools were open. Cheltenham Festival was allowed to go ahead. Pubs and restaurants were in full swing. All carried on unhindered, thanks to the sensible attitude of our government.

But then the science changed, and reality with it. At which point, regrettably the public began letting our government down, rather badly. Going to eateries. Visiting drinkeries. Attending sports events, and turning up at educational facilities. All despite the government’s utmost efforts, at making people behave more sensibly.

I don’t blame the Prime Minister – he’s done his best, by encouraging people not to take the matter seriously, until it was too late.

Instead, I attribute it to our permissive society – where people are not permitted to do certain things, but do them quite regardless of their complete legality.

After all, the government’s advice merely led to an upsurge of mortality statistics; whereas this business of sunbathing, without written permission, is really quite serious.

*

And yet, I’m afraid to say, the general public are not the only ones who have let our PM down, at this crucial moment. Certain members of Her Majesty’s Opposition have been most impertinent.

Now is a time for unity. It is not the time to politicise this issue – by suggesting that our government have gone about things the wrong way. Let alone ask why the Prime Minster and his colleagues felt sufficiently emboldened to pursue the strategy which led us all to this situation, in the first place.

What’s more, mentioning – in the presence of journalists – that the government were supposed to provide 30,000 ventilators while only managing to produce 30, and failed to supply protective equipment for doctors, nurses, and carers, is the very height of poor taste.

Even the Queen has had to take time out from her busy schedule, and politely remind the nation to come together, and stop being so disobedient. Not to mention, ungrateful.

Applauding health-workers, for placing their own lives at risk, and saving others; but not applauding the Prime Minister, who put them in this position to begin with?

And nobody should be asking government ministers how the National Health Service came to be left in such a parlous state; nor why social care has grown precarious during their time in office.

If journalists can manage to refrain from raising these matters, then I see no reason why others cannot follow suit.

Naturally, I am sorry that people feel there may have been failings for our government’s part. But any mistakes will have been made in good faith; and the correct lessons learned. Just like they were during the odd wars, which went awry. The phone-hacking thing. Windrush [2]. Orgreave. Hillsborough. And all that Grenfell palaver. So let us not dwell.

What we need is a sense of community, and togetherness; not recrimination.

Besides, we all know who is to blame: Premier league footballers. As it transpires that their reluctance to hand over a week’s wages, during the past month, is responsible for chronic under-funding of the public sector, during the past ten years.

It’s not as if that could have been resolved by the Prime Minister. I mean, the government can’t simply raise taxes on high-earners: not when many of Britain’s wealthiest people are struggling to get by as it is.

*

No, what we need are sensible solutions. Policies which combine practicality, with sound financial prudence, good old-fashioned commonsense – and, yes, Britishness.

What I propose, therefore, are the following simple but effective measures:

 

• Make crime illegal again: law-abiding felons are the very worst kind, in my opinion. So, let’s nip this sort of thing in the bud – before it gets out of hand. I recommend that anyone who, at birth, looks like they may go on to lead a life of picnics and strolls, should be locked up from day one.

Furthermore, we should station officers of the law in every supermarket throughout the land. Have armed police patrolling the toilet-paper aisle; with a judge, and full jury, situated at every checkout. Casting firm verdict on whether people have bought sufficient essential items to justify any luxuries. Enough pasta to account for a chocolate orange, for example.

Failing that, make proper use of the military. I draw the line at summary executions in the middle of our shops – though others may feel we cannot be too careful; and I am, at heart, a democrat. From the outset, however, I would suggest giving folk a round in the hand, or foot, for relevant offences. Such as a lack of deference to the Royal Family; or for posting outrageous comments on the internet.

Fines or imprisonment will suffice for those who ignore the rules, and sit on benches in parks, for a moment longer than strictly necessary. And we can send vans around public places, insisting that people do not belong there, and should go home.

 

• Refrain from politicisation: I favour pragmatism over politicking. Politicians who simply get on with the job – working across political divides – and doing their level best. Putting country before party; rather than indulging in opposition for opposition’s sake. Which would prove unbecoming.

So, I hope the Parliamentary Opposition continue exactly as is – providing robust encouragement, and hard-hitting praise, with a well-timed tweet, politely phrased; from one day to the next – if that.

Only ever disagreeing with policy if a government minister says something is no longer quite the tip-top idea they believed, the previous week.

In fact, to avoid future unpleasantness, we might consider a change in Parliamentary rules altogether, so that the Leader of Opposition is selected and appointed by the government (I cannot believe nobody has thought of this before). Though, I will concede, this seems unnecessary at present [3].

 

• Keep up morale: here our nation’s journalists may shine as exemplars to all. They have performed admirable service thus far, in fearlessly holding the public to account, for undermining the government.

I have a suggestion for further refinement, however: be more patriotic.

So, for example, instead of dispiriting news headlines like “nearly a thousand deaths occurred in the past 24 hours”, have invigorating lead-ins, like “impressive government efforts are underway to do something worthwhile”.

Likewise, rather than say “the government purchased millions of faulty Covid tests“, say “the Health Minister is doing his jolly best”.

Instead of writing “despite pledging 10,000 tests daily, only 8,000 people were tested today”, try “we’ve reached 10,000 tests per day” (rounding up) “and are on track for 25,000 tests daily” (rounding down to the nearest ballpark).

Instead of “NHS workers and carers have dangerous jobs to perform. Those who died of Covid infection were victims of an occupational hazard, and should have been protected by the government”; use the language of self-sacrifice. Issue medals. Posthumous awards for valour. That sort of thing. Similarly, instead of raising salaries, for the first time in 10 years, simply call people heroes. Then we need think on the matter no further. 

Instead of “hospitals are being forced to ration oxygen, and ‘do not resuscitate‘ certificates are being demanded of disabled people, while doctors are being tasked with deciding who lives or dies” – simply say “pray for the Leader”.

Instead of negativity about NHS staff depending on supplies from adult fetish outlets, and  props from TV hospital dramas; write positive, feel-good stories about the nation pulling together. Fetishists and MPs, side by side, as one. Very easy to picture.

 

• Exit strategy: things went pear-shaped when the science changed – so, let’s simply change the science back. Get everyone out of doors once again, forthwith – it’s the last thing that the virus will expect [4].

 

I appreciate that these ideas may seem radical to some, but I contend they are vital if we are to avoid the Coronavirus pandemic having negative repercussions for our government.

After all, it is not Boris Johnson’s fault that his policies have had consequences.

True, people forewarned the PM, and the PM ignored them; but that is simply everyone else’s fault, for not trying hard enough to leave Mr Johnson convinced. Reality really should have tried much harder to impose itself, far sooner, as well.

And, if need be, Johnson and his ministers can face some tough questioning in a select committee one day, a few years down the line. If indeed it does turn out that some few of their decisions were a spot off-tangent, they can be granted life peerages in the House of Lords, as punishment.

That shall surely suffice.

 

 

 

Notes

 

[1] Those countries which adopted populist measures, like lockdowns, were wrong – but now they’re doing the same thing as Britain. So, belatedly, they are right. The fact that they copied us, several months before we began doing it, just goes to show how faultless our government has been all along.

 

[2] While it is fair to note that roughly 33% of Covid infections affect people from ethnic minority backgrounds, even though they comprise only 13% of the UK’s population; I’m afraid that asking why this circumstance arose is playing politics. Really quite unacceptable. So let us say no more about it.

 

[3] One person who understands the gravity of the situation facing our government, is the new Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer.

Instead of confronting Boris Johnson with difficult questions, or asking about people falling ill in detention centres and prisons – because the government won’t release them – Sir Starmer has given the Conservative Party nought but constructive feedback. Wishing it well, and all the best, in its future endeavours.

If his predecessor was still in office, I have no doubt the situation would be completely different. In fact, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest failings was that his politics were quite often political.

Accordingly, I expect he would have used the present moment to score one or two political points: like, demanding pay-rises for carers; rent-freezes for the jobless; and an end to immigration policies which will see NHS workers lose their right to reside in Britain, once the pandemic has ended, and they are no longer serving our government’s purpose.

In my opinion, real opposition means supporting the government. Perhaps posting an inspiring tweet, about laying politics to one side, and coming together in celebration of our differences, at this challenging time.

Not talking about “official responsibility”; let alone demanding “accountability”.

 

[4] Other ideas of mine include:

• Replace social security with televised re-runs of the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, celebrating Britain’s glory.

• Neighbourhood Watch schemes to be tasked with reporting disrespectful tweets about Boris Johnson, to their authors’ employers (off-colour comments about other politicians are perfectly acceptable, and a matter of free-speech).

• People should only travel in groups of one, or less.

• If new laws against sunbathing do not curb the practice, what I propose is to block out the sun entirely. I would imagine this can be achieved using some kind of giant umbrella, maybe a parasol; or possibly an oversized spoon, of some variety.

• Members of the public should be thanking our government for the nice weather.

• When things get back to business as usual, we should have an inquiry into how and why members of the public let the Prime Minister down so badly – by doing exactly as they were instructed, before it was suggested that they do something completely different; instead of following the government’s clear guidance.