Why did so many traditionally strong Labor seats in the north of England turn Tory in the December 2019 election?
In the North East and Yorkshire, the Tories won 14 constituencies from Labor, while in the North West, including Manchester, they snatched 12 seats. It was a revolution.
Hope was the reason. Hope for a better life. Hopefully after decades of scarcity relative to the South, the North would finally get its just deserts in terms of public spending. I also hope that Brexit will usher in a new era.
The question is: to what extent will the draconian new measures unveiled in the Commons yesterday by a pugnacious Boris Johnson who was in a bulldozing mood, unwilling to engage with constructive criticism, will destroy hope in the hearts of the elders. Labor Party supporters?
Sections of the North, including Liverpool, are set to be subject to new lockdown rules, but what impact will this have on the hearts of former Labor supporters, asks STEPHEN GLOVER
Could the new restrictions lead to the collapse of the so-called Red Wall, which the Prime Minister and Dominic Cummings brilliantly constructed with their appeal to patriotic Labor voters voting for Brexit who could not stand the dogmas of the far left? by Jeremy Corbyn?
A myth must be sealed. The government is attacking the North by almost punishing it. This is obviously not the case. Infection rates are much higher in much of the North than in most other parts of the kingdom.
It is highly likely that the most severe restrictions, the so-called very high-risk level three, will soon be introduced in Covid-19 hotspots in the south, like Exeter.
London, where infection rates are on the rise, could be heading towards level two, although it still remains at level one.
By the way, this new three-fold system, which is supposed to be so much simpler and more user-friendly, makes my head spin when I try to figure it out.
I can’t believe I’m the only one.
No, there is no discrimination against the North, no deliberate return to the policies of the 1980s which many considered harsh.
What there is, however, is the application of brutal and sometimes illogical measures which can be seen by many former Labor voters, and others, as unfair.
Following Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday, asks STEPHEN GLOVER, is the government dishonest in suggesting that Covid-19 poses the same threat to the nation as it did five months ago?
A strategy crafted in Whitehall that takes little account of local conditions has been criticized by Labor mayors in northern cities and Tory MPs with seats in the north, on similar terms. They have been largely ignored.
Requests by former Conservative Cabinet minister Esther McVey, MP for Tatton in Cheshire, to avoid another lockdown have been brushed aside.
The same goes for Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s warning that northern economies will be wiped out by the new measures.
I appreciate, of course, that some Northern Labor politicians use an often confused approach of ministers to make political capital. But, my God, isn’t the government making it easy for them!
Nor can he ignore the fact that members of his own party, like David Greenhalgh, the Conservative leader of the Bolton Council, are raising objections indistinguishable from those of regional Labor politicians.
Why is the government so certain that its approach is the only one? Why does he ignore the well-meaning criticism of witness Boris Johnsons who yesterday sacked Iain Duncan Smith in the Commons?
The former Conservative leader pointed out that the death rate for people with Covid-19 has dropped significantly. The PM did not consider this correct observation, repeating the mantra that there was no choice but to continue these policies.
Judging by what the authorities are saying, you think we were back in the dark days of spring.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam and NHS Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis gave a presentation yesterday in Downing Street and said the number of hospital patients was now higher than when the lockdown national was imposed on March 23.
Panic! But thanks to new treatments, the proportion of patients dying in hospital intensive care units has fallen from around 30% to less than 20% since April.
The decline in the death rate as a proportion of all patients admitted to hospital dropped from the peak 6% to around 2%.
In addition, governments have the worst fears of just a month ago have not come true.
On September 21, when there were around 4,000 infections every day, dismal officials Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty warned that the number of cases could continue to double every week.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has expressed fury over lockdown plans in his city, but rumors the government is going after the North should be ignored, says STEPHEN GLOVER
Sir Patrick imagined that we might end up with 50,000 cases by today. The health ministry said there were 12,872 positive tests on Sunday.
Meanwhile, deaths from Covid-19 stand at around five percent of their April high.
It is perfectly true that hospitals in Liverpool, a city consigned to level three, are said to be under pressure.
Three makeshift Nightingale hospitals, created to ease pressure on the NHS, in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate are on high alert to reopen.
But the government is being dishonest (or is it fooling itself?) In making the pandemic appear to pose the same threat to the health of nations as it did five months ago. The situation is more favorable than we are told.
This is why it is so depressing to see a series of restrictions reintroduced to swathes of the North in a way that can only undermine already weakened businesses in the hospitality sector and threaten thousands of jobs.
Is there really no alternative, as Boris Johnson and the ministers endlessly say, scorning all arguments to the contrary?
Or is there a more nuanced approach that does not doom many workers in already economically damaged communities to even more suffering?
I strongly suggest the latter, as do many political leaders in the North, who are much closer to the realities of life than the boffins and ministers of Whitehall. The same is true for a growing number of scientists.
While Nightingale North West, in Manchester, remains on hold for Covid-19 patients, there is a risk that restrictive measures will cost Boris Johnson the same votes that helped him win the general election in December.
The Prime Minister, despite his generally open mind, has become oddly dogmatic. He cut himself off from any discussion.
How ironic it will be if these new restrictions result in a loss of support among the very people who contributed to his election.
It is truly the measure of his unique spirit. He is so devoted to the beliefs into which he was educated by a coterie of scientists that he is willing to risk damaging his party’s future electoral prospects by alienating his new supporters.
We already have a disunited kingdom, with Nicola Sturgeon commanding the land in Scotland as if she is its sole ruler, though Westminster is still taking the note.
Now the government risks a divided England, with the economically vulnerable North potentially at odds with the more prosperous South.
Even though the new restrictions are still spread across England in the coming weeks, as they sure will be, there may be a continuing impression of them and us.
And what will happen if, despite the strong medicine imposed on the North, the number of new infections does not decrease significantly?
How will workers who have lost their jobs and owners of bankrupt businesses react if the health gain turns out to be negligible?
It was heartening to see so many regular Labor voters supporting Boris. He offered them hope. The misery of it all is that it now seems to be removing it.