The government continues to scapegoat the public to cover the fact that it’s useless

Boris Johnson
Eliza Egret

As #BorisTheLiar trends on Twitter, people are outraged that the government is scapegoating the public as coronavirus (Covid-19) figures rise again.

From Monday 14 September, gatherings in England of more than 6 people who are outside of your household will be banned. The government has stated that:

[It] will be against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble). The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.

You can gather, but only when there is money to be made

The government, as usual, appears to be prioritising the economy over people’s lives. As it vows to “reopen the economy“, people are being forced back onto packed tubes and buses, and into offices, so that big business can carry on as usual:

While we can’t gather outside in groups of more than six, pubs and restaurants are going to remain open because we’ll be spending money. Kevin Blowe, coordinator at Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), told The Canary:

The new rules are intended to crack down on unlicensed music events, not least because people (especially from Black and working class communities) enjoying themselves has historically been seen as a public order threat. It doesn’t matter to the government that pubs are just as likely to spread infection.

Scapegoating

In an attempt to cover the fact that it is actually really useless, the government is scapegoating young people for spreading the virus, while at the same time sending them back in their masses to schools and universities.

The Canary spoke to one senior university lecturer who didn’t want to be named. She said:

The current policy saying that a gathering of more than 6 people is not allowed, while leaving universities open, shows how arrogant and irresponsible the government’s approach is. They put the lives of students and university staff under unjustifiable risk for money and political gains.

But, of course, there’s money to be made from sending students back to school. Parents can get back to the office to continue their roles as dutiful workers. And as Steve Topple wrote in The Canary:

universities generated £95bn for the UK economy in 2014/15; nearly as much as the entire NHS budget for the same year. What’s more staggering, perhaps, is that the UK hospitality industry was worth around £130bn a year in 2018; not that much different from universities. It’s therefore of little wonder that the Tories are hell-bent on the education system getting back to normal, regardless of the consequences.

Stifling dissent

We have known for sometime that the government is using coronavirus as a distraction to introduce controversial new powers. And now, as Black Lives Matter protests continue, and as activists block Rupert Murdoch’s printing presses, these new government restrictions are set to affect all protest, effectively criminalising those who take part.

Blowe told The Canary:

The new rules threaten protests, despite assurances that they can continue. It is almost impossible for a protest organiser to know if a risk assessment is strict enough to avoid arrests. The police aren’t qualified to advise and, anyway, refuse to provide assurances when asked. What we are left with is the police having sweeping discretion to impose enormous fines, at least until someone decides to challenge these powers in court.

The Canary’s Tom Anderson argues that we need to fight for our freedom to protest:

it is more important than ever that we collectively fight back and don’t allow the state to use this legislation as a protest ban. While we all need to take action in response to the pandemic and look out for each other, our freedom to demonstrate is non negotiable. We need to defend our freedom to act collectively and to defend ourselves and our communities.

The government continues to wash its hands of blame

Right from the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the government prioritised capitalism over people. While other countries locked down at the beginning of the year, the UK government toyed with herd immunity. In February, it was reported that Dominic Cummings said that herd immunity was about:

protect[ing] the economy and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.

In the first crucial weeks of the virus’s spread, the Tories’ solution was to advise handwashing for 20 seconds. In March, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty advised against wearing masks. Meanwhile, there was no way that any of us who had symptoms could get tested. And even the government’s list of coronavirus symptoms was wildly incomplete, protecting the economy over lives.

It comes as no surprise that the government is subjecting us to another cringeworthy slogan. This time it is “Hands. Face. Space“.

Wear a face mask and wash those hands, while piling onto tubes, sending kids to school, and cramming into university lecture halls. That’ll do the job, Boris!

Featured image via Screengrab/ YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. Capitalism just does not mix with pandemics. We have to have a new way of doing things. A citizens income, paid for by proper taxes on the very rich would be a good place to start. Also, we can survive without the “hospitality industry”. We can put this second spike down to tourism and the pubs opening up. The only businesses that need to be operating are food supply, infrastructure and health. I am very angry that the pubs have re opened and I have still not heard about my hospital appointment that was cancelled in March. And the Scottish Government is not much better ( I live in Scotland).

      1. So, “Hospitals before hospitality”?

        Might work as a slogan, but there will be (i.e. is) a small elite army of influential assett owners lobbying expensively to ensure no such thing occurs. Moreover, that will continue until either the structure of power and influence is fundamentally reversed or the hospitals are so fully ‘privatised’ as they can expensively counter lobby.

    2. Wrong. Capitalism hasn’t been involved at any point. Putting the country under house arrest and closing small firms, so that the big corporations alone can rake in billions, is fascism. The government hasn’t been prioritising the economy, or if it has, very belatedly – the economy collapsed by 20% during the lockdown. Why is the writer so concerned that people are being forced to return to offices and universities but doesn’t seem worried that people were ‘forced’ to stay away from relatives and are ‘forced’ to wear masks in shops.

    3. The contradiction in stating you will be fined if you visit with more than 6 people while on the tube really shows a low, and barely functioning regard for reason.
      Punishing people is so crazy but its the only way they know how to rule I guess.
      End of Times are here.
      Very dynamic reporting.

    4. The complete thing from the start when we should have banned flights from highly infected Countries, to the Cummins farce and Boris holidaying in a tent with an en-suite mansion, has been nothing short of a shambles.

      These Tory Mp’s were hand picked because they pledged to do what they are told and that’s all, not for their brains

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