Last week, the Office of National Statistics revealed that by 10 April, the total Covid-19 death count was already 41% higher than the hospital death toll published by the government. By Tuesday, new calculations estimated that the real number was over 41,000 - more than double the total of 17,337 official hospital deaths!
It's not as if ministers haven't been challenged, time and again, over their failure to publish comprehensive figures - including from care homes, in particular. Their response is that collecting all of these figures would be too time-consuming!
This is not the only area in which they keep exposing their incompetence. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is another. Day after day, Hancock or one of his substitutes announces that "over a billion" PPE items are "about to be delivered". But day after day, we hear horror stories from frontline staff who are instructed to re-use gowns which should be used only once, or to use aprons instead of cover-all gowns - if they get any PPE at all!
The fact is that, whatever PPE ministers may boast to have in their hands at any one time, it doesn't get delivered where it's needed. As a result, frontline staff die: 49 Covid-19 deaths have officially been acknowledged among NHS staff, but adding care workers, the (unofficial) death toll is over 100!
More than just naked incompetence
We know that behind all this lies the politicians' determination to cover their backs!
As if we didn't know, by now, that none of the recommended preparations for a likely pandemic were implemented, because of 10 years of cuts after the 2008 banking bailout - and this also brought the NHS and social care to their knees!
But there is another reason for the utter incompetence and total impotence of this government to achieve anything that might be of any help to the working class in this crisis. These politicians are sitting at the helm of a state machinery which has been shaped and reshaped to serve British Capital. Its function has always been to prop up capitalist profits - and nothing else.
Take the NHS. It has long been run as a commercial market. Its top bureaucrats are trained to cut corners at the expense of staff and patients, while helping private healthcare profiteers to parasitise the NHS budget. And these are the same bureaucrats who are now expected, under "Lord" Deighton of Olympic fame, to organise the vital massive supply of PPE to frontline staff! The result was and is all too predictable: Hancock boasts of his “159 potential UK PPE manufacturers” - all his favourite private businesses, of course, and all keen to grab their share of the Covid-19 bounty that Hancock is offering them! Their profits will come first and too bad for those who will die because nothing gets delivered at the point of need!
Private profit is unaffordable!
One thing the state machinery does well - is to find new ways of boosting capitalist profits. Just listen to the enthusiasm of public school boy Rishi Sunak, when he promotes millions in loans (as if it was out of his own pocket) to small businesses and billions to fill the coffers of big companies!
Even when Sunak claims to be "bailing out" workers with his "furlough scheme", he is not: this is just another bailout package for the bosses. In fact, most of the furloughed workers have taken a significant pay cut. The ten million or so workers who were not entitled to the "furlough scheme" won the dubious privilege of joining the internet queue for Universal Credit and its Scrooge benefits. Overall, therefore, all workers have lost out and bosses had only a tiny proportion of their wage bill to pay, which they will recoup thanks to another of Sunak's tax cuts packages. And shareholders didn't have to fork out a penny from the fat dividends they "earned", doing nothing, in the past!
But all this state largesse to the capitalists has another purpose. Despite the fact that Sunak's "furlough scheme" is called a "job retention scheme", it doesn’t say anywhere that employer must to keep workers in their jobs, with the same conditions.
Some companies which are already gearing up to restart production, like Vauxhall, are using "social distancing" at work as a pretext to pick and choose who they will rehire. And then what? Will they dump the others onto the dole queues, or turn them into always-on-call zero-hours contracts, on the grounds that there aren't any orders?
There is another way: all available work shared out between all available hands; "social distancing" to be achieved by cutting hours and reducing line speed - all without loss of pay. Then it will be time for shareholders to pay their due out of their accumulated dividends. But for this to happen, the working class will need to take over control of the economy, out of the hands of this irresponsible capitalist class which owns - and corrupts - everything today!