Boris Johnson is right on the money when he credits greed and capitalism with the UK’s runaway Covid-19 vaccine success. Greed is Good is back in fashion and there has certainly been a lot of it about lately.
“The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends,” said Boris Johnson last week to a triumphant meeting of his cabinet.
The UK vaxx’ing fest has probably more to do with the NHS rolling out the programme themselves, rather than mirroring the staggeringly inept “NHS” Test and Trace programme, which incidentally has nothing to do with the NHS. That programme is the proud property of Serco, the accident prone outfit that so very nearly brought the London 2012 Olympics to a juddering halt.
Boris Johnson is correct. But why stop at the vaccines? Why not highlight the long line of events during this past 12 months, all entirely down to greed and capitalism?
The March 2020 Cheltenham Festival and the football at a rammed Anfield stadium both went ahead with a government seal of approval the very same week that the shadowy breath of Covid-19 descended on our land. And how about the pile of multimillion pound failed contracts for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), or the bright idea of Eat Out to Help Out, the 1% pay rise for nurses and the poverty pay for carers in for-profit care homes, to name but a few.
All can be laid at the door of greed and capitalism, no more, no less. Without greed and capitalism, our Covid journey would have progressed very differently and thousands of our fellow citizens would likely now be looking forward to that pint down the pub with their families and friends.
Of course, our Prime Minister is a master of spin, selective evidence and sleight of mouth. Attributes that win him prizes.
But the rest of us will not forget in a hurry. We will remember that at the very moment when everyone else was locking out Covid-19 by locking down their countries, Boris Johnson decided to be off to Cheltenham for the races! Yes! Let’s all 250.000 of us don our top hats and outlandish outfits and go for a big bet bonanza. Kerching! To greed and capitalism!
Besides, Tory darling Dido Harding (she of Test and Trace) sits on the board of the Jockey Club, which is responsible for the Cheltenham Festival. Who knew?
Let’s throw in another 60.000 tightly packed Liverpool and Atletico Madrid fans at Anfield for a raucous game of footie. Wouldn’t want to upset scores of football fans by cancelling that. They all vote and millions of them inhabit those precious Red Wall Seats. To no one’s great surprise, two weeks later, cases of Covid-19 mushroomed close to both venues and beyond. Oops!
The ensuing tsunami inundating the country’s hospitals brought with it the urgent need for mountains of PPE and millions of test kits. Who do you call?
A 10 Downing Street panicked conversation might have gone something like this: How about that bloke who lives next door to Matt Hancock? He might like to have a crack at that multi million pound contract. Ok, so he has no experience whatsoever, but neither does any of our other mates who we’re giving contracts to, so that’s ok. Keep it in the family.
After all, that’s just how greed and capitalism roll.
And so we all careered whack-a-mole-fashion through 2020, mingling merrily for Christmas and on into 2021, with hospitals and cemeteries running out of space, shops and hairdressers opening and shutting and opening. And shutting.
Tens of thousands of friends, neighbours, grannies and grandads, mums, dads, aunts, uncles and young children dying – alone. At the time of writing that’s the equivalent of the entire city of Gloucester – annihilated. Hundreds of front line staff sacrificed on the alter of the bungled provision of PPE, as supplied by a random selection of ministerial mates.
The economy tanked – obviously. But never short of a novel solution, our government performed a breathtaking handbrake turn, flipping their daily message effortlessly from Stay Home, Save Lives to Eat Out to Help Out.
Gagging for a pint and a burger, everyone piled in down the boozer and a vacant restaurant table became more scarce than a lateral flow test kit.
Tick…tock…tick…tock BRRIIING!! Two weeks later, rampant infection spikes all over the place. We were back in the death spiral, the only shot in the arm going to greed and capitalism.
So, Boris Johnson, what do you think of the greed and capitalism show so far? You forgot to mention that, had it not been for greed and capitalism, we would now be in a very different place. As it is, exactly one year since our first lockdown, we have the fourth highest number of covid deaths in Europe and the third worst economic downturn on the planet.
We also have a select band of newly minted millionaires. Now would be an ideal moment for them to give us back our ball. They should not be hard to find. Boris Johnson has them all on speed dial.