COVID-19 in the UK has claimed over 100,000 lives and prevented us from going to work, seeing our loved ones, and living our lives. Unlike New Zealand or Australia, countries which took necessary hardline precautions from the beginning and are now free of Coronavirus, we are still locked down nearly a year later because of several failures in our pandemic control.
Over the past year, the Tory government has continually flip-flopped on their decisions, implementing them too late either to avoid backlash or simply because they have no idea what they are doing. In recent months, with the successful trials of a number of vaccines that will give us back our lives, the Tory government is using the brilliance of scientists as a cure-all for their own incompetence.
In recent press conferences, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has praised the vaccine and the impressive vaccination programme that the UK are undertaking while avoiding important questions posed by the media and the public about their current initiatives to help those suffering during the crisis. The issues faced by Britons during the crisis are not limited to COVID-19, but rather all the residual effects it and the lockdown is causing.
Not only are there increases in domestic abuse cases, with survivors stuck at home with their abusers and rarely any recourse, but there are also concerns over the toll lockdown is taking on mental health. Additionally, during the first lockdown, the government housed all the homeless people in the UK, but have made no plans to do so during this lockdown, despite it being the coldest months of the year, further increasing their risk of contracting COVID-19. Hospitals are at capacity, while NHS staff are suffering both physically and mentally, following a decade of austerity measures that have left funding and staffing levels too low to cope with the demand we are seeing during COVID-19, not just from those who have it but also those who have other ailments such as cancer and need urgent care.
For a while now, it has been said that the state of the UK under COVID-19 could have been extremely different for a number of reasons. Had the government initiated the first lockdown just two weeks prior, preventing the infamous Liverpool vs. Real Madrid game from going ahead with thousands of Spanish fans travelling into the country, or if they had left lockdown in place longer and did not encourage the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, we might have been out of this mess by now. Unfortunately, at every turn, the Tories have shown that they are not concerned with the high numbers of lives lost, once even saying that we will lose loved ones and we must come to terms with that inevitability.
The Tories are using the vaccine as a bandaid for their continued incompetence and policies that are not working to reduce Coronavirus cases or support people financially, support their mental health and help the NHS. It is effectively propaganda, despite the fact the British government had no say in creating, no clearer than when Health Secretary Matt Hancock cried on live TV after seeing the first vaccination being completed. They are hoping that when we emerge from the virus with the success of a vaccine, they will maintain their comfortable lead in the polls – and it is likely this will happen, as they are currently supported by 43% of the country, according to DeltaPollUK.
This is highly disappointing as the introduction of a vaccine does nothing to bring back the thousands of people who have died, or help those who have suffered physically and mentally over the past year with no help whatsoever from the people who are meant to govern and take care of us.
While the vaccine is undoubtedly a medical marvel, and will ensure no more lives are lost, it doesn’t erase what has already happened. We can’t become complacent, or forget what the Tories have done, or in fact what they haven’t done, to this country. We must continue to criticise them for their unforgivable actions during this pandemic, and not allow them to use the vaccine to improve their political standing – a political standing that they don’t deserve.