‘Is now the time to get political?’ A question I keep on hearing in response to criticisms surrounding our government. An annoying answer if I am honest, as how our government responds to a global pandemic and economic crisis is exactly THE time to get political, right? We should all be questioning how our elected representatives are dealing with this situation and anyone that is meekly complaint on this should reassess their thinking. It is in times of trouble that we should have absolute faith in those elected to oversee things on our behalf. The nature of democracy will always result in disagreements as to the correct way of doing things, I am not naive to this. This is one of the wonderful things about democracy, however this government’s behaviour is alarming. To describe this current government as controversial is an understatement but whatever side of the fence that you sit on, and even if you are big supporter of Boris and co, I can not be alone in questioning certain responses, decisions and attitudes. I can not be alone in brandishing this government as an absolute clusterfuck?
We’ve seen weekly clapping in support of the NHS, which several government representatives have jumped at the chance of getting filmed clapping along like performing seals, as a symbolic gesture of steadying the troops; uniting us all together in a ‘one for all, all for one’ attitude. Our ‘heroes’, as they were so often hailed just a few weeks ago, were given many assurances as well as many promises which I now see are beginning to get broken. One such issue is the agreement that student nurses could forgo their right to supernumerary whilst they study enabling them to work on the front line and get paid accordingly. They were told that they would be paid and that they would be looked after, that they could finalise their study whilst on a work placements and achieve the required hours needed to qualify. Reading several accounts from various NHS staff over the last few days however, highlights the anger and disappointment felt as many thousands of student nurses are being sidelined because once again the government has over promised something and woefully under delivered. This backtracking that many student nurses today are experiencing, however, shines a spotlight on to what our government actually thinks of these ‘heroes’. Nursing times and The Guardian reports 30,000 student nurses have been deployed into paid placements since April, giving up their right to supernumerary status in order to support the workforce during the coronavirus pandemic. Most students are reported to have signed up for at least six months. It has today been confirmed however, that many of these paid placements will end for all second year students and most third year students on 31st July. Meaning that these nurses, who have been left with little choice but to accept the placements offered have put added strain on themselves whilst studying and worked in truly stressful conditions. Many gave up existing paid work to step up and are now in line to lose their paid placements early leaving many of them without income whilst they await qualifications to be able join the workforce officially. These nurses likely have family at home to support and bills to pay all whilst juggling to complete their studies. The extortionate fees nowadays means that most nurses will complete their study and leave with debts exceeding £30,000. Their bursaries were cut in 2016 under a Tory government resulting in even harder conditions of qualifying. Imagine the working conditions in hospitals over the last few months, how devastating and soul destroying some days must have been both physically and mentally. To then have Helen Whately, Minister for Care for the Department of Health, declaring student nurses as ‘not deemed to be providing a service’ to the NHS and can subsequently forego being needed. Imagine being that nurse? Imagine how undervalued you would feel
We have seen a 100 year old man walking to raise money for our NHS, and whilst the sentiment is amazing and I have nothing but absolute respect for this man, I am left with the question of why a 100 year old war veteran is raising money for our NHS like it is a charity? This is what we pay for, what our taxes are for. We CAN NOT start to see our NHS as a charity – it should already be preserved and protected by our government. Our government should already have allocated the correct and proper funding for it to thrive. Instead they seemingly welcome the view the we should raise money for it, that we should all contribute toward helping it, like we haven’t already been doing that by paying our taxes. I believe this is just another step towards desired Tory privatisation that will happen if we do not speak up. They want us to believe that it needs extra help, they want to blind side us into believing that it is a charity whilst money is continued to be funnelled elsewhere.
We have witnessed Dominic Cummings, a ‘trusted’ member of the government, who to all intents and purposes has bullshitted his way out of a reckless road trip under the guise of testing his health and eyesight – even under normal circumstances this notion is utterly ridiculous and severely dangerous. This man, before anything else, should have been setting an example. Whatever side you sit on he effectively drove 260 miles in an unfit state putting his family at risk, this is the VERY minimum damage that he caused. Yet he has gotten away with it and his actioned has been trivialised and marked as ‘ok’ from our Prime Minister, sending out a very clear and concise message, Dominic Cummings is above the rules. Government and scientific advise is for normal civilians to follow.
I firmly believe that this government is not providing all it can for us and it certainly wasn’t doing enough pre-pandemic. How many people have been put at risk as a result of the governments pre-pandemic policy cuts? I fear that people will forget once again the monumental mistakes and terrifying judgments and decisions that they make on our behalf. Even now, whilst the country is distracted with corona virus, the government have been accused ‘of re-opening the door to imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone treated beef after a leaked memo instructed ministers to have “no specific policy” on animal welfare in US trade talks’ You can read the damning article in full here published by the guardian. This kind of approach to negotiating trade deals is shady to say the least as there has been a genuine outcry from thousands of people against this relaxing of food standard measures. It seems that once again capitalism and achieving a trade deal is more important.
A fantastic comedian Francessca Martinez sums up austerity measures that the conservatives are oh so fond of, with the following statement: ‘The real reason behind austerity is to erode hope, to increase inequality and to make peoples lives so hard that they don’t have the chance to demand better. Austerity is about putting people into poverty because poverty is the ultimate form of control’ So whilst Boris and his crew are throwing around money in this time of crisis we must remain vigilant to where he is NOT putting money, who will not benefit from this, what further cuts will happen to our NHS? To our schools? To our police and fire services? I know that by allowing our children back to school, and putting that decision squarely on the parents and individual schools is simply a pre-cursor to laying blame with the schools and the parents if and when a second spike occurs. This government is reptilian at best and we must remain vigilant to the stuff that is being decided quietly, whilst everyone is distracted with the current pandemic. This government has shown little respect for ordinary folk, otherwise Cummings would have faced more consequences for his reckless actions, the response to the black lives matter movement would have gained much more traction and debate. Notice that the focus very quickly became about the sanctity of statues, trivialising the real issues. This technique by and large is yet another convenient sidestep initiated by the media to distract creating the ultimate ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality.
We must not get caught up with the inevitable media spin of government self congratulatory stories that will no doubt be paraded soon. We MUST remember who owns the big newspapers and media conglomerates, we must be mindful that the heads of most UK newspapers have a VERY real agenda and it is in THEIR best interests that a Tory government stays in power. It is your right to vote, however you wish, and however you believe is correct, but please do not allow yourself to be hoodwinked by transparent spin and agenda. We are a long way off another election we have ample time to arm ourselves with knowledge and OBJECTIVE fact, not mere opinion that has been carefully and methodically planted. We can learn, watch and decide our votes accordingly. Question whatever opinion you come across (even mine), questioning encourages education, questioning brings knowledge. Now is absolutely the time to question our politics, now more than ever is THE time to get political we owe it to ourselves to ensure that we are living in the best environment that we can.
N.B. I could not find the name of the artist of the fabulous illustration that I have used for this article – It was originally published for The Times newspaper