Take Care How Little You Care…

The malady that faces the First World today is not the Corona virus:  it is Society itself.

In a UK hospital a few days since a thirteen-year-old boy lay dying.  His parents were not permitted to be near him at the end.  He died alone.

A terrified child, almost certainly aware of what course events would take, died alone.

At the same time, on station platforms throughout the overcrowded South-East, commuters were packing into trains without a breath of space between them.   At the same time, planes from America and Europe (including Italy and Spain) were landing at UK airports, disgorging passengers to go where they wished without regard.  At the same time, workers on construction sites were doing their non-essential work as usual, in the name – as I understand it – of ‘keeping the economy going’.

The UK does not have anything like enough respirators to treat the anticipated surge in COVID-19 over the next few weeks, even though the National Health Service warned four years ago that if there was an outbreak of this kind they would be short of essential equipment.  The equipment was thought too expensive.  Like the jeeps the British Army was forced to use despite their vulnerability in Afghanistan, but were too expensive to replace.  Even now, in the throes of a pandemic, I am prepared to bet the reason UK has insufficient testing kits for the virus has something to do with price.  Somebody is skimping.

For years, the system of privilege in UK has protected itself with ‘rules’ intended to stifle a public voice.  It can afford to ignore almost everybody, including the press it has not yet succeeded in buying.   The moment the heir to the throne coughs he is isolated, cossetted and respirated.  Being seventy-one seems to have been no obstacle for him, he was better in a few days, yet in the country half of those diagnosed in his age group are dying.

No-one can blame those people on the station platform.  If their bosses insist they go to work they must go because every spare penny has been bled from them by the system and they face homelessness or worse if they dissent.   What is missing is the man from the Treasury at the station entrance ready to hand out subsistence money to anyone who agrees to turn around and go home.  Everyone should blame the inhuman cypher who prevented those parents from comforting their child.   Everyone should blame the government that, in defiance of all good sense, does not close the airports.

It is time and past time for the financial plutocracy to pause, and show genuine sympathy for the common man.  It is time someone actually, really, genuinely cared.  Because, if you are reading, we built your castles, and one day, if you are not very careful, we will tear them down.

A Voter’s Dilemma

If you are resident in UK, you will probably be voting in a General Election tomorrow.

As, come rain, snow, hell or unacceptably high water, shall I.

I cannot add anything to the litany of high principle that has bombarded the people of Britain for the last eight weeks, or comment meaningfully on the scheming, conniving and legal wrangling of our Members of Parliament throughout the last three years.  You will have formed your own opinions.

So how can I contribute?  How can I, personally, decide which box to tick?

One thing I can offer is memory.  Not ‘nostalgia’, simply memory.  I was already an adult when UK decided to join the Common Market, then a tariff-free trading relationship with a half-dozen Western European nations as signatories.  I have voted in more General Elections than I care to count.

Here are some thoughts.   The day before UK linked arms with Europe, £5000 would buy a very reasonable house, a cup of coffee was the equivalent of 12.5 pence, and £6 to £7 would cover the weekly ‘shop’.  Make no mistake: the price/wage spiral started there, and it was led, of course, by prices.

In a few years, back there in the 1960s, the cost of living escalated by 100%.   In a very few more, UK had lost most of its industrial base and an entire fishing industry.  In a handful of decades, the German hegemony that likes to entitle itself the EU has asset-stripped UK mercilessly, while we, as the only other net contributor to the EU, paid them for the privilege.

We weren’t doing brilliantly before the EU, but we were doing all right.  Without us the whole Tower of Babel is likely to come crashing down, anyway.  I can’t think of one solid reason to stay locked in with them, nor can I imagine why we have to pay them even more to get out.

That single influence should dictate the destination of my vote.  The Conservatives are the only electable party with a determination to press forward.  The others are advocating one or another form of surrender to the Bergers of Brussels.  Well, let’s see.

The Labour Party is the only other real contender for government.  Putting aside its neo-Marxist leader’s extremely extreme views – his support of the Irish Republican Army, his reluctance to maintain a nuclear deterrent, and his past associations with Hezbollah, plus his party’s, if not his own, anti-Semite history – the party he would lead into power is to the left of left-wing Socialism.  I remember the Labour governments of the 1970s.

The Labour Party is, and has always been, led by the creaky democracy of ‘Conference’ in which the powerful trade unions have a disproportionate say.  In the current campaign their Chancellor-in-waiting, John McDonnell, has twice mentioned ‘collective bargaining’ as insurance that everyone should enjoy a decent standard of living.

I remember the true effect of ‘collective bargaining’.  I can shorten it to one word: strikes.  The threat of industrial action will have teeth again if Labour re-nationalizes such services as the railways.  ‘Collective bargaining’ means forcing up wages to a point where productivity is stifled and prices mushroom.  ‘Collective bargaining’ means one disaffected railway worker in Crewe can bring the whole national railway network to a halt.

So, not Labour then.   The other parties, Liberal, UKIP, the Greens – no, I’m afraid not.  I want my vote at least to have a chance of counting.

Which brings me back to the Conservatives, even knowing their only real interest is in perpetuating the worst aspects of the British tradition – class, unearned privilege and the preservation of wealth of a chosen few.  I am not, by instinct, a Conservative, especially at this junction in our history, but I accept they will generate business growth and get back at least some of the country we had and have lost to the EU.

Which is better for all of us, in the end.  So thereto I plight me my ‘X’, albeit, I think, for the last time.

Let’s see what happens…