The world is still in the maelstrom of the pandemic with 23.1 million cases and 803,000 deaths. These figures are believed to be much larger with crooked regimes such as Iran, Russia and Britain underestimating their own figures.
In Britain, the official figures show that there have been 41,423 deaths and 325,000 people have been infected. But despite being one of the most advanced countries in the world, Britain still has the 3rd highest death rate per capita in the world. Even the UK’s capitalist press agree that the Tory government have been appalling in its response to the pandemic with the Financial Times calling the UKs strategy as “botched” in its 20 August edition.
To shift the blame for the catastrophic Covid debacle the government has decided to scrap Public Health England and merge it with the Test and Trace operation to create an organisation to be called the National Institute for Health Protection.
This will attempt to copy the organisation that has had success in Germany, The Robert Koch Institution. However while a scientist runs the Robert Koch Institute its British equivalent will be run by, the non-scientist, Dido Harding currently in charge of Test and Trace will run England. Harding is a Tory peer, but her background is in big business holding roles such as in the mobile phone operator Talk Talk. As one critic in the media observed it is like putting England’s chief scientist in charge of marketing at the phone company Vodafone.
Capitalism only adds to the problem
The scandal is, of course, that due to successive governments pro-capitalist policies. Health spending has been reduced with PHE over the past few years suffering a cut of 40% in its funding. As we have reported previously, local authority health teams have been decimated due to cuts. However, what has become clear is that the government’s pro-business policies to deal with Covid have failed, and they have had to fall back on local initiatives to deal with the pandemic.
Local authorities are now being heavily involved in contact tracing, although often relying on unpaid volunteers. This fact is astounding as Dido Harding’s Test, and Trace organisation had a budget of £10bn with the lowly PHE having a budget of £300m. Test and Trace has outsourced much of its work to the private sector, often, with close links to the government such as Serco.
The UK government’s poor strategy has now resulted in a situation where there is a very real threat of a further outbreak. With the national “R” rate on the verge of exceeding 1 and there is every likelihood that Britain will have a further mass outbreak of Covid. With schools about to open in September, there seems little that will prevent another Covid wave. What is striking is that without a strategy of killing off the virus, schools and businesses cannot operate safely.
As everyone knows the government ignored the potential risks and did not take the pandemic seriously. Boris Johnston, with his cack-handed libertarianism pro-profit kept from introducing a lockdown until it was too late. While the whole population cried out for the airports and other routes of entry to be closed
The entire farrago reeks of incompetence and a lackadaisical attitude.
While Kier Starmer has failed to provide leadership or an alternative strategy and Labour metropolitan mayors like Andy Burnham in Manchester, despite his £110,000 salary, has been exposed as an expensive windbag.
If we look at the whole Covid catastrophe closely, we see that the problems directly related to the financial collapse in 2008 and Labour’s plan to save the capitalist banks by indebting the country. This led to the years of Tory austerity, the cutting back of local services and allowing the country to be run by the private-enterprise Tory hoodlums who have proved even less capable than the reform mined Labour Party.
The only solutions
One unsurprising discovery is the fact that the area currently with the highest infection rate, Oldham, has some of the worst housing in the country. This is an indictment of the Thatcherite anti-council housing policies of the last decades. One lesson is that we must insist on the return of council housing and an end to selling off one of the great gains of workers after the Second World War.
Over-crowding, racism, unemployment, precarious work, health and poverty are some of the underlying causes of our problems which Covid-19 has fatally highlighted.
Coronavirus has proved to the world that the working class is the only force that can solve the real life and death problems of the 21st century. But for that class organisation, a revolutionary programme and party are needed. It is what we fight for.