Opinions in Lockdown: Sorry Boris, this isn’t your Churchill moment

April 30, 2020

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media 

 Image courtesy of The Independent 

 

It’s a well-known fact that our illustrious Prime Minister  idolises the iconic wartime leader, Winston Churchill; but in what may be remembered as our generation’s Second World War, there will be no ‘V for victory’ moment.

 

This isn’t to say that the UK government has got things drastically wrong, I’d far rather be here than in America, injecting myself with Dettol in Mara Largo with Trump. However, this government hasn’t done anything special and this honeymoon period of wartime spirit is about to end.

 

The government should be praised for some things. When it eventually had to install a lockdown, it did so effectively and quickly with strong clear messaging. The huge economic package that Rishi Sunak put into place was expansive and involved tearing up an entire budget he delivered only a week earlier. Where people have been falling through the gaps, the Chancellor has been quick to put in solutions. I think where particular praise should be made is the Nightingale Hospital initiative, the building of multiple huge hospitals which saw an incredible collective effort by ministers, the NHS, industries and the military is incredible.

 

I want to be clear as well, I don’t wish ill on the PM. I’m glad he’s healthy and out of intensive care; if only just to spare us Dominic Raab’s (the world's most lifelike shop mannequin) press conferences . I’m not one of those idiots who believe Tories’ one aim is to kill babies, I’m fairly idealistic about our politicians in fact, maybe even too much so. 

 

However, what we’ve started to see now is the cracks showing in a government lacking ministerial horsepower. Many of us read the Sunday Times piece on the coronavirus response by the government and it was grim reading. It awakened us to the obvious problems with testing and PPE. You got the feeling that ministers have been one step behind on every issue.

 

Ultimately, I really struggle to congratulate a government that has got us into a situation that we shouldn’t have been in in the first place. The warnings of a global pandemic exactly like this have been around for years. In fact, we were better prepared for this twenty years ago than we were in January 2020, but due to years of underfunding in the NHS, things like PPE stockpiles were the first to go. But looking more micro, what was the government doing in February?! The Sunday Times report laid bare there were multiple missed opportunities in those early stages to get on top of this. Ministers not implementing wide scale testing, or talking about social distancing, and the Prime Minister missing from the first meetings.

 

All this paints a picture not of some heroic wartime cabinet firing on all cylinders to save the nations people, but rather of lacklustre ministers who seem way out of depth. You only have to see Matt Hancock gleefully holding up a pin button with the word ‘care’ on it as if to gloss over the major problems to wonder if we really have the best people in charge. This government has gotten too many things wrong to be held aloft.

 

So, no Boris, this isn’t your Trafalgar, no quote from Cicero will pull us through this, there will be no statue. 

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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