On Wednesday this week, scientists at Imperial College London published a significant study, conducted with international partners, on the impact of the Covid epidemic in 21 industrialized countries around the world.
Friday October 16, 2020, 7:00 a.m.
The statistic the study focused on was the number of deaths in excess, over normal rates, in the first four months of the pandemic, from February to May; and the results, for most of the UK, have been brutal. England and Wales, taken together, rank alongside Spain as the countries with the highest death rate, with around 100 additional deaths per 100,000 population; and Scotland was not far behind.
The Imperial team also did not hesitate to point out common factors among countries that have done much better at controlling the infection. Countries that were doing relatively well were those that were willing to lock down quickly when the need for restrictions became evident, or that already had high levels of public health provision and preparedness in place, or where both factors were present.
Covid: UK inaction and Scottish government incompetence cost us dear Ian Murray
The UK, by contrast, clearly had neither. The same ideological fixation on low public spending and free markets that has drained local government departments over the past decade, and drastically reduced the number of NHS hospital beds, has also caused us to waste money. vital weeks of wondering how a freedom loving nation couldn’t be stopped from going to the pub or shopping, as the infection spread through the community. Our inevitable foreclosure, when it came, was therefore harsher and more prolonged than in most other countries, and the economic damage much greater; and as the second wave of infection spreads across the UK, we are still making the same mistakes.
All of this begs the question whether there has been a time in the past 75 years when the UK has been less able to meet the challenge of such a pandemic or a similar crisis. The growing impact of austerity in public spending has regularly corroded vital services and infrastructure, especially at the local level; and it has been accompanied, after more than 30 years of neoliberal dogma in Britain, by rapid growth in low wages and precarious jobs that have left millions of people suffering from constant economic stress and anxiety, with inevitable consequences for both physical health and mental resilience.
And then in 2016 came the Brexit kick, a fundamentally rotten idea that won a brief flash of majority support across the UK after a ruthlessly targeted campaign based on outright lies about l ‘EU. It is evident that Brexit, at least in the extreme form pursued by Tory leaders since 2016, has marred Britain’s economic prospects for at least the next decade.
The years of government chaos that followed also diverted essential attention from the practical affairs of government; the UK government even failed, with historic bad timing, to implement the recommendations of its own 2016 world-class Cygnus pandemic preparedness exercise, including the purchase of emergency stocks of protective equipment individual.
And beyond these impacts, the Brexit debacle marked by a brutal majority attitude on the part of those who won, and absolute marginalization of those who lost also resulted in a final collapse of the one commodity which, in a pandemic crisis, is even more valuable. a well-funded health service; namely confidence in the government and the willingness to accept and respect its emergency measures. The Johnson government has also failed to respond by cleaning up its act in a way that could start to regain that trust.
Instead, he made a mistake with policies that could still lead to the hammer blow of a no-deal exit from the EU, made repeated displays of his contempt for British decentralized administrations, did not managed to fire the prime minister’s senior adviser when he blatantly violated lockdown rules. , and passed emergency legislation that allowed it, without tendering or competition, to distribute a mind-boggling series of lucrative Covid-related contracts to companies with little or no relevant expertise, often run by the wealthy. friends of the Conservative Party.
The pandemic crisis, in other words, has sidelined the UK government, for the long-term failure of its economic dogma, the growing corruption and incompetence it has engendered and its grim human consequences and social; and therefore it is not at all surprising that an Ipsos Mori poll released this week shows that 58% of Scots now intend to vote for independence, if and when given the chance.
The British media, of course, immediately started talking about a rise in nationalism and how to avoid it. Still, those really looking to understand what is going on in the UK should make it clear; that if Scotland finally leaves the UK in the next decade, it won’t be because of nationalist sentiment or a surge of patriotic passion for makeup.
Rather, it will be because of a deep and growing political difference of opinion on all of the above; and it will be because of the inability of a Tory-dominated Westminster system, backed by an outdated and sclerotic constitution, to fully take into account any Scottish, remaining or simply Social Democratic perspective that does not match its own .
Faced with the challenges of the 21st century, Scotland generally wants to take the Nordic route successfully followed by so many European nations of similar size; the UK, in its current state, is an entrenched obstacle to this ambition.
And unless the growing rebellion of these weeks in the cities of northern England turns at historic speed into a serious movement to change the current order of things in Westminster, then this feeling that the future of the Scotland is elsewhere can only grow; and the recognition that we need the powers of an independent nation to achieve this may soon become irreversible.
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