We’re nearly two thirds through this year and what a year! We’ve had lockdown, shortages and loss of everyday activities. Our lives have been turned upside down.
I don’t underestimate the horrible nature of this pandemic or the lives lost but am I alone in doubting the government? Not that long ago the PM was saying we should look forward to ‘normality’ for Christmas but just as we’re getting used to things with pubs and restaurants reopening and swimming pools and bingo clubs back in action, we’re facing local lockdowns and warnings about a second wave.
Facemasks are becoming part of everyday life and a requirement in shops, your place of worship and the bus but not in schools, place of work, or cafes. This week, the Chancellor’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ subsidy starts but last week the message was all about obesity and sounded more like ‘Stay in and Keep Slim’. If ministers are really following scientific evidence, those scientists must be awfully confused.
There’s now a suggestion of a curfew being applied to those over 50, that strikes me as the surest way of bringing the economy to its knees, and at the very moment we’re receiving warnings of a possible 100,000 job losses in Birmingham alone.
What will be the abiding memory of this terrible time? Will it be the dedication of NHS and care workers, self-sacrifice and neighbours at their best or the selfishness and thoughtlessness exemplified by Dominic Cummings?
I know it’s easy to criticise but ministers can’t escape responsibility for lack of trust and confusion they’ve created. They promised testing in our care homes would take place throughout the summer, now it’s delayed until September. They announced a world beating test, track and trace system and gave us the Isle of Wight fiasco. Dominic Cummings, and the PM’s decision to defend rather than sack him, has dealt a serious blow to trust in this government.
My message is – Don’t promise things you can’t deliver. Make clear that the rules apply to everyone. Try to avoid obviously contradictory messages. Above all – tell the truth!
Steve McCabe MP writes a weekly column for the Birmingham Mail every Wednesday