CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Has Boris Johnson got the Singapore Grip?

24 September, 2020

Boris Johnson is warning that we have to put our heads down for the next six months

THE backdrop to the latest ITV drama The Singapore Grip is the military disaster of the Second World War when the British generals assumed the Japanese would attack Singapore from the sea when, in fact, they marched through Malaya and took the city from the rear.

The nation lost 30,000 soldiers who were made prisoners of war – thousands died in Japanese camps, thousands never recovered after the war. Churchill lamented the defeat – and the colossal mistakes by the generals.

Today, we are witnessing the government making equally catastrophic mistakes. In the first lockdown they introduced precautions too late and then released thousands of elderly patients with Covid-19 into care homes where they died.

Generally, the media play this down. The government has never denied it. It just doesn’t shout about it.

Now, Boris Johnson is warning that we have to put our heads down for the next six months – back to working at home, if possible, shops and pubs to close early etc.

Meanwhile, the vital work of tracking and controlling the virus is being handed over to government cronies – big companies given contracts worth billions that used to be done efficiently by local public health departments.

In a current edition of the British Medical Journal these companies are named – the culprits who have made a mess of the system so that thousands cannot be checked and families are asked to travel hundreds of miles for a test.

Sir Keir Starmer rightly attacks government incompetence but does not put forward a detailed alternative plan, though his shadow chancellor is more focused on a necessary strategy.

We succeeded in the Second World War because we had a wartime centralised government control – the very thing Boris Johnson abhors.

He and fellow Tories put their trust in private companies which so far have messed things up… government bodies are wound up. Company friends of No 10 are rewarded.

A false hope is being dangled in front of the nation. A vaccine, when it comes, and that will not be for a year or so, isn’t the magic bullet.

It will fail here, and succeed there but the virus will persist just like the flu virus has over the decades.

Only planned and equitably balanced government intervention, with the protection of our liberties, will corral the virus, with the backing of the nation.

If that doesn’t happen, rumbling protests will take place and cries about the threats to our liberties will be heard more and more.

In the process, perhaps we may change from a consumerist, individualistic culture to a more collective one – and face the climate disaster still waiting in the wings.

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