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19th May 2020

John in Lockdown (inst.15)

by Burns Team Writer

Coronavirus Lockdown 19th May 2020

If there is one thing we need in this time of national crisis it is clear leadership and at last we’ve got it. The Government has announced nannies and home cleaners can go back to work. What kind of thinking led to that as a priority for getting back to some sense of normality? You couldn’t make it up.

Saturday’s Guardian reported that Britain’s leading free-market think tanks that backed Margaret Thatcher’s tax-cutting and privatisation agenda and sanctioned the last 10 years of austerity have lent their support to the government’s plans for unprecedented and sustained increases in public spending.

In a shift of stance that will give Chancellor Rishi Sunak political clearance to ramp up UK debts to levels not seen in peacetime, Adam Smith Institute, Centre for Policy Studies, Institute of Economic Affairs and Policy Exchange all said they endorsed public spending increases to confront the coronavirus outbreak and state-funded investment to boost the recovery. There’s a change of heart, the like of which we have not seen since St Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.

The real reason for this change of heart is that austerity as an economic solution didn’t work and couldn’t work. In fact it was never intended to be based on repairing the economy; austerity was a political philosophy, intended to shrink the state, cut public spending and services, cut taxes and increase privatisation. Austerity was responsible for the slowest recovery from recession in history. We are now paying the price for that.

To quote the Archbishop of Canterbury, asked about a possible return to austerity in a BBC interview at the weekend, “NO! Austerity would be catastrophic! Austerity falls first on the weakest.” That’s what austerity was intended to do.

A trial has begun to train sniffer dogs to detect coronavirus. The trial is being conducted by Medical Detection Dogs and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. There is huge potential for dogs to be trained in disease detection; wouldn’t it be marvellous if this was recognised and funded properly by the state.

Early in the coronavirus crisis, Boris Johnson’s popularity rating was very high as the nation ‘rallied round the flag’ in support. That has now nosedived as the shortcomings of the Government’s handling of the pandemic become more apparent daily.

Boris was skewered by Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Question Time over the handling of the care homes issue. I predict BBC Parliament at 12.30 on Wednesdays could become top of viewing figures for the nation.

Stay safe,