The government is proving good at only one thing during this pandemic: cover-ups. So on Tuesday, Sunak explained that he put people’s lives ahead of economic interests, so lockdown should continue. But then he proceeded to devote most of his press conference to the post-lockdown economy!
Of course, this was a response to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)’s “shock” forecast that GDP could shrink by 35%, should the lockdown last until the end of June. Never mind that hospital deaths had just risen to 12,107 and new figures showed that Covid-19 accounted for a 60% increase in the general death rate!
But let us take Sunak at his word: just how does his government “put lives first”? By ignoring the growing death toll among elderly in care homes? Their deaths haven’t even been counted in the overall daily death toll. Yet the virus has spread like wildfire - 2,000 of these homes have had outbreaks so far. And no wonder. Not only have staff had to supply their own PPE, if they were able to, but they couldn’t even get tests. In fact out of 1.6m social care staff, only 505 have been tested for the virus to date!
Of course the truth won’t be heard from the mouths of the 3 government “illusionists” who appear at the daily press conferences. In fact their aim has never been “saving lives”, but saving face.
Lies damn lies....
Is anything at all turning out as government ministers promised? There is no “antibody” test. The 100,000 virus tests/day, already postponed to the end of April, don’t look likely to happen even then! And as for the only Nightingale Hospital (ExCel) so far “open”, NHS England fails to answer why fewer than 20 patients have been admitted to its 4,000 beds - or why its staff are still waiting to be called up.
The most criminal official lie of all, is to keep telling NHS staff that they have been given ample supplies of PPE! An Intensive Care Unit doctor from London appeared on ITV on Monday, saying that protective kit is still missing on the frontline - and that half the beds in his unit are occupied by seriously-ill NHS staff with Covid-19!
Will Matt Hancock try to duck his responsibility yet again, by daring to say that medical staff who die, did not catch the virus at work?!
In the wake of the scandal raised over care home deaths, Hancock has now said he is "determined" to ensure everyone who needs a test has access to one. But who will qualify is anyone’s guess, given the rationing of testing!
This is the same kind of answer given by NHS England when asked if the elderly are being denied hospital beds: “at no time will the NHS not accept a patient who should be admitted”. Tell that to the family of Thomas Harvey, who nursed a Covid-19 patient in Goodmayes Hospital, got symptoms of the virus, and died at home in his toilet - after the same ambulance which was called when his breathing started failing, brought him straight back!
It seems that the government and its officials will go to any lengths to avoid taking responsibility for their failings. They still claim that there is “no conclusive evidence” that masks might help protect against viral spread. Do we need “evidence” that closing a door stops a draught?
Bounce them back
So what about the “big story” on the economy? Of course, the OBR's 35% cut in GDP is just an estimate, not a prediction. But it would be unprecedented - worse than the Great Depression, in fact the worst in over two centuries! The real problem, though, is what will come next: the 1930s was a decade in which the capitalists' attempts at bailing out their failed system resulted in unprecedented hardship for the working class, before paving the way for all-out war!
Today, who knows what the bosses and their Sunaks might provoke with their bailout policies? Their aim is to end the lockdown as soon as possible, so that companies can resume their profit-making at workers’ expense. And it is going to be at a much greater expense!
At least 2m more workers will join the ranks of the 1.4m who are today (still!) waiting for their Universal Credit applications to be processed. Because many bosses have already cut their losses, declared bankruptcy and/or closed shop and cut jobs. Never mind that Sunak handed over billions to them in the form of 80% government-guaranteed loans and the Job Retention Scheme which pays “furloughed” workers’ wages...
And what exactly will happen when the furlough scheme ends? It may only pay 80% of wages, but that is a lot more than millions of workers can expect on Universal Credit! Yet that is precisely the future Sunak has in store for the working class, once the economy recovers, or in his words, “bounces back”. This means that the only option for the working class, if it is to recover, will be to bounce the bosses back.