The BBC and Boris Johnson just f**ked over every seaside community in England

Boris Johnson and BBC logo
Emily Apple

On Sunday 10 May, Boris Johnson changed the lockdown rules. Speaking before guidelines had been published, Johnson caused confusion with new rules and new messaging. A large consensus of people across the political spectrum found the government’s “stay alert” messaging muddled and meaningless.

In fact, the new rules were so confusing that even Dominic Raab and other Tory MPs couldn’t get their heads around them.

But one of the measures announced could have a devastating impact on seaside and rural communities across England. Because Johnson has now decided that people can drive to other locations for their exercise. And instead of doing this in a measured way that would protect small communities across England, both Johnson and the BBC made sure people living in these areas are truly fucked over.

Enter the BBC

In the BBC News Special prior to Johnson’s press conference on 11 May, chief political correspondent Vicki Young set out her interpretation of the new rules in England:

So in England, for example, from Wednesday, you’re going to be able to drive to the beach. It doesn’t matter how far away that is. But of course you can’t drive into one of the other countries in the United Kingdom.

In other words, seaside towns and villages across England, often places where there are small rural and elderly populations, are likely to see an influx of tourists given the green light to travel by the government and the BBC. And given the much more sensible response from governments in Wales and Scotland, where daytrippers will still face fines, the pressure will increase on beauty spots in England.

Enter Boris Johnson

But it’s not just seaside places which could see an influx. During the press conference, Johnson was asked a question from a member of the public about visiting the Lake District. But anyone who was hoping for a bit of clarity on the issue would have been disappointed by Johnson’s response:

While Johnson clarified that people shouldn’t be “staying in places”, this was the extent of his advice other than repeating his mantra that it had to be done with “social distancing”. So, no limits on people driving to beauty spots. And no suggestions on how beauty spots can possibly introduce social distancing.

This was the reaction from Cumbria Tourism:

Protecting rural communities

Those of us who live in rural communities get it. We’re incredibly lucky. I live in Cornwall and access to the sea is within walking distance. I know this makes lockdown easier. And criticising these statements from Johnson and the BBC has nothing to do with being selfish and wanting to keep places for local people.

But it does have everything to do with protecting our communities, our friends, and our loved ones.

The NHS in Cornwall cannot cope with additional people. Before the coronavirus pandemic took off in the UK, our one major hospital was already at breaking point. On 3 January, the BBC reported Royal Cornwall Hospital was taking the “unprecedented” move of turning away people with minor injuries. The hospital stated:

We have had patients waiting in the emergency department for beds for up to 12 hours and queues in the corridors

This is the only critical care unit we have and that unit only has 15 beds. According to the Telegraph, the situation is the same across the southwest:

The south west looks most vulnerable in terms of ratios. It has the oldest population (so highest expected mortality) and lowest number of critical care beds per head of population. The modelling suggests it needs six times more than currently exists there (600 per cent).

Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, also encouraged visitors to “stay home”. Bell told Sky News:

There is nowhere to stay. There are very limited places to eat, other than takeaways. We do not believe that this is staying alert – to undertake a long, unnecessary journey.

He also said:

At this time we ask you to stay away, and in the comfort of your own home, plan a future break to Cornwall when it is safe to do so.

Class war

As Fréa Lockley argued in The Canary on 11 May, Johnson’s new rules are nothing short of a “twisted class war”:

There’s no pretending that lockdown is easy. But, yet again, it was even more difficult for the poorest, most vulnerable people. Lockdown as a single parent, living on Universal Credit in a city high rise or in overcrowded poor housing bears no correlation to those who sipped gin during Zoom chats in large gardens of the houses they own knowing that (at least) 80% of their high income was secure. Let’s not ever fool ourselves about that. And now it’s primarily the people who faced the harshest conditions under lockdown who’ll be forced back to work first. And we know they’re less likely to be offered proper protection. That’s not how capitalism works.

And this is exactly the case with the new rules on driving to rural areas. It’s not those who’ve faced the worst conditions of lockdown who’ll be able to do this. It won’t be the single parent on Universal Credit who can jump in a car and head to the beach, let alone afford a car in the first place. It’ll be the rich and the middle classes who can take advantage of this.

Moreover, it’ll be the rich bringing infection to some of the poorest parts of the country. Cornwall, for example, is the second poorest place in northern Europe. And, as the BBC reported, coronavirus disproportionately impacts those in poorer areas:

Office for National Statistics analysis shows there were 55 deaths for every 100,000 people in the poorest parts of England, compared with 25 in the wealthiest areas.

Stay away!

So for anyone thinking of taking advantage of the sunny weather and driving to Cornwall or other beauty spots across the country, the message is simple. Stay away. Fuck Johnson and fuck the BBC. The government can’t be trusted to give us sensible advice. And it certainly can’t be trusted to give advice that benefits the poorest people in society.

Make no mistake, you will not be welcome. This isn’t because we’re not lovely people or we don’t want to share the beauty of our local areas, but because we are worried our loved ones will die if you come here now.

So please don’t be selfish. Please stay at home.

Featured image via screengrab – BBC iPlayerFlickr – Tim Loudon

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  • Show Comments
    1. So i live in rural Lincolnshire , we are a holiday destination its a big part of the local economy . We have hundreds of chalets and residential caravans that will now doubtless be filling up with “second homers ” . First big problem will be food , a couple of tiny food shops that have barely with heroic efforts from the staff kept the shelves half filled , we also found that all the online supermarkets stopped delivering rurally , a slot a month ahead is the best they can do and half of it is missing . There are no public toilets open , so people peeing in every farm gateway for miles is going to be lovely . We have barely any medical facilities it has all been centralised years ago …the list is endless

    2. UPDATE
      I have emailed Boris on this morning
      I am awaiting a response from him personaly
      Not Mr.Cumming/Tory Whip/or a backroom staff member in No 10
      this post HAS GONE go on over websites has well for public to read.
      ///////

      Email sent to help N.H.S. staff plus taxpayer public money Dated 13.5.2020

      Dear Roy,
      Thank you for emailing Boris Johnson calling on them to give a pay rise to NHS and care workers.
      Now will you chip into the campaign? Your donation will mean we can keep up the pressure on the government to give NHS and care workers the pay rise they deserve. You can make a secure donation here: https://38d.gs/pay_rise_for_nhs_workers
      Thank you,
      Yvonne and the 38 Degrees team
      ———- Forwarded message———-
      From: Roy Jenkins
      Date: Wed 13th May 2020, 8:28am
      Subject: Kill off residents + N.H.S. STAFF
      To: Prime Minister Boris Johnson

      Dear Prime Minister Boris Johnson,
      Morning Boris
      firstly hope you are now FULLY C/19 Virus free .
      Question here you SIR needs to answer truthfully –No lies they will not go away
      just because you Boris /Hancock/H/Minister refuse to answer them.
      Q-1 if Tory Govt member know about the virus in October/November 2019
      why was P.P.E. + Ventilators not stocked plied then??
      Q-2 Why was the Dec G.E. held in 2019 wasting our taxpayer money that
      could have been used for C/19/Virus outbreak??
      remembering the Dec G.E. was Tory govt chores and your Boris ONLY.
      ///
      Now to the cash problem for staff of all public serves including N.H.S. staff
      Point-1 see all Govt member got their big rises 17% in April 2020 why?
      Point-2 remembering this true ‘fact you know about the C/19 Virus coming our way Boris.
      but sow fit to give Govt member a big pay rise in April 2020 –and 1% to N.H.S. staff
      when cash was needed for C/19 Virus outbreak why?
      Point-3 Our public cash(Taxpayer money) wasted on all your new party members in Dec G.E.
      plus pay rise in April 2020 for them all never in a Govt job before (local area M.P.) was wasted SIR
      Point-4 after C/19 Virus is over or under-control will you Tory Govt be giving the N.H.S.
      staff wages increase yes or no?? (Fact to remember Boris they saved your life)
      at the risk of their own lives as you failed to give the right P.P.E. protection they need just
      to save cash for (Tory Govt -needs)
      Point -5 like for the H.S.2 C**p privately being built by rich business,
      people from outside the U.K. area. this money wasted on H.S.2 C**p rail link could,
      give all the N.H.S. staff their pay rise they need —plus over public services staff as well.
      FINALLY!
      Just this very in-portent Point Boris we voter put you in full power for Brexit ONLY in Dec G.E. 2019
      now that is out of way fully.(we will leave E.U. fully end of 2020 Boris)
      we voter come next G.E. can remove you SIR + Tory party members just as fast.
      If your party doesn’t change its way to the poor areas stop poverty now– plus look after our N.H.S. staff plus put more & more funding into our N.H.S. the peoples + voters of the U.K. own not Tory Govt Boris — ALL you in Govt JOBS seem to forget you are our PUBLIC SERVANTS ONLY to all us voters + residents so start listening to us public( Not Mr. Cumming or rich party funders) you in power now may or could lose your job next G.E. it’s that simple Boris your Tory party members are ALL public servant to all the voters that are poor/ disabled/mentally ill/ old people/ low-paid workers/Benefit uses/ including N.H.S. staff (remember this true statement we all vote Boris)
      parties into power –we can also remove them for not listening or understand you are public servants ONLY –in a Govt job we voted you into to do our wishers–Not yours Boris or your rich party funders wishers (my wish is fund the N.H.S. fully and please return(back date) all the cash stripped of it under Tory Party rule over the years and pay N.H.S. staff £12.00 + per hour not c**p wages if you wish to keep them look after us all Boris —I personally would like a full response from you Boris personally as our Prime Minister (your words ONLY)
      Not Mr. Cumming or your party WHIPS or backroom staff member on this email.
      Tell the truth to me plus public come clean and start a fresh after the C/19 Virus is under control Boris last chance here to keep power Tory govt members.
      //////////
      This email was sent by a member of the public through 38 Degrees. If you have received this and would like to know more about this campaign, or 38 Degrees more generally, please get in touch with Holly Maltby on 07548771631.

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