As most people fight to save lives, some on the right are showing truly barbaric priorities

Coronavirus and Toby Young

The coronavirus response from eugenicist attention-seeker Toby Young has been utterly disgusting, as you’d expect. But it’s perfect for summing up the hard-right’s barbaric, even sociopathic, priorities right now.

In new comments, Young has criticised the government’s “economic bailout”, saying:

Spending that kind of money to extend the lives of a few hundred thousand mostly elderly people with underlying health problems by one or two years is a mistake.

He essentially argues for ending the UK’s coronavirus lockdown in order to avoid economic crisis, and suggests that people who die as a result will be “acceptable collateral damage”.

If Young’s argument sounds familiar, meanwhile, it’s because it basically sums up the devastating political choices the Tories have made in the past decade.

A familiar story of ‘economy over lives’

As The Canary detailed previously, decades of right-wing ideological dominance in Britain has created extreme inequality, with the ultra-rich taking home more and more of the country’s income. And the last decade of Conservative-led governments was no exception.

At least 130,000 people died as a result of just one aspect of the Tories’ ideological austerity. This unnecessary programme from the billionairebacked Tories and their allies starved the NHS and other public services of funding. The health service in particular has been left in crisis. Austerity also sparked a rise in poverty, foodbank usage, and widespread suffering for some of the country’s most vulnerable people. One recent report, meanwhile, revealed that the rise in life expectancy in England has been ‘slowing dramatically’.

This was all a political choice. It was not a necessary result of the 2007/8 capitalist crash. Political elites chose to bail out the banks and inflict crushing austerity on ordinary people. As 163 economists wrote in late 2019, the “UK economy needs reform” because:

We have had ten years of near zero productivity growth. Corporate investment has stagnated. Average earnings are still lower than in 2008.

It’s all about political choices

Toby Young argued:

When economies contract, life expectancy declines, due to, among other things, a rise in poverty, violent crime and suicide.

He also referred to:

a 15% drop in GDP which will inevitably result in more loss of life.

Nothing here is ‘inevitable’, though. Unnecessary loss of life is a result of political choices. Tory-led governments have essentially told us that widespread suffering is necessary to help the economy. But a meaningful recovery never came in the 2010s. So the suffering they inflicted was basically pointless.

Today, amid a government coronavirus response that some have called a “national scandal”, warped elitist priorities are clear again. The Tories first tried to downplay the crisis to protect the economy:

And although it’s something people like Young seem to have no problems with (much like NHS cuts), the UK has been splurging massive amounts of money unnecessarily on the military while NHS workers continue to express serious concerns about lacking protective equipment:

As comedian Omid Djalili summarised:

Young may no longer be a representative of the Tory government. But his barbaric coronavirus response perfectly sums up the priorities of Britain’s elites.

We all deserve better. And now more than ever, we need to stand up and demand it.

Featured image via Flickr – NIAIDFlickr – Jason Michael

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  • Show Comments
    1. Spending that kind of money to extend the lives of a few hundred thousand mostly elderly people with underlying health problems by one or two years is a mistake.

      Yes, he supports Johnson / Cummings….

    2. To be the master race you’ve surely got to have a full head of hair. (A bald master race? Get out of here.) You’d also have good eyesight and not need glasses, and you’d have very good teeth. Has he got fillings? Most people do, from childhood, so even as a young healthy kid you’d no longer be master race.

      It’s strange how many people who talk as if they’re some master race don’t look like they could breed one. If I was a woman I wouldn’t want this turkey’s seed, and certainly not from Dominic Cummings. (I think the Nazis would have sterilised that one.) To me they’re all just greedy, nasty, reactionary scum.

    3. Young’s view, risible as it is appalling, is based on a false assumption: society is an efficient sorting mechanism which allots people their rightful place according to their genetic endowment. It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that Young is still fighting to escape his father’s influence. The Rise of the Meritocracy (the origin of the term) says the exact opposite of what Young purveys, which is part of the reason he purveys it. Michael Young satirised the notion of a genetic elite, of social mobility, and the creation of a class of technocratic-managerial rulers whose eminence flows directly from their innate superiority. His view was in keeping with R.H.Tawney’s that the benefits of civilisation should be shared by all, that democracy meant the breaking down of class barriers and the emergence of a condition of rough equality in which what matters is the liberty and well-being of the masses. Young jnr is still in adolescent revolt against his father. He is deliberately outrageous to shock those who share his dad’s perspective. Of course, Young pere didn’t get it all right. He made a mistake over Toby’s education. All this aside, Young has surely now burnt his sinking boat. That “the economy” is more important than a single human life is morally abject. “The economy” is an abstraction. It isn’t a thing, it’s a set of relationships and what are they for if not to ensure everyone’s well-being? The choice he establishes is false. We are a very rich society. The wealthiest 1,000 have their hands on £500 bn. That’ll do the trick. Yet we haven’t seen Richard Branson or the Duke of Westminster or Paul McCartney rushing to offer their wealth to the NHS or the care sector. Why not? Doctors are risking their lives, why shouldn’t the rich risk their money? When Young and people like him talk about saving the economy what they mean is the system that serves the rich. The NHS serves everyone. That’s because it was established by a socialist. That’s what we need: an economy which serves everyone. There is no shortage of wealth, but there is a complete absence of moral judgement, of sensitivity and of simple rational thinking from the likes of Toby Young. Imagine Johnson appearing on the tv to say: “I’m afraid to tell you that if you are over 70 and you contract coronavirus or if the same is true of one of your family, we are going to let you or them die without treatment.” I think social distancing would end immediately as hordes of enraged citizens stormed Downing St. Majority of 80? Worthless. Young has shown himself to be a ludicrous fantasist. You almost feel sorry for someone so deprived of the ordinary human feelings. But only almost.

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