Which is the overriding consideration when tackling a pandemic emergency?
Today, 26 January 2021, the UK passed 100,000 deaths, a grim statistic. Did it have to be this bad? How have others countries done?
Of course, any pandemic will also cause peripheral damage, cancer or heart operations missed – possibly causing deaths– businesses wrecked, mental health damaged, etc. Any eventual report will include so many factors in the argument as to whether the UK has done significantly better or worse than similar nations. Its complex conclusions will be heralded as success by the government and a failure by the opposition
Osborne and Cameron’s response to the banking catastrophe, which can be traced to 15 September 2008 when the investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, sending shock waves through the global financial system and beyond, was to cut costs and freeze public sector pay to balance the budget or at least minimize the increase in the deficit. The pain fell on the low paid. Crudely, you could say that capital (the bourgoise) won, labour (the proletariat) lost.
A century ago, my grandfather fought in a Great War from which he never returned. Not only did the war change my family forever, but it also changed the world. In Russia, the Bolsheviks took over. Germany faced not only the greatest inflation ever seen but also the resignation of the Kaiser. ‘I commend the German Reich to your loving care,’ he said when abdicating to the new Chancellor of republican Germany. In Britain strikes reached and all-time high in 1921, only to be bettered in 1926, and the Labour Party gained an unshakeable position in British politics.
In less than a generation, the world was at war again. My father survived and went on to live a full life. Determined to stop future world wars, nations bound together by forming the United Nations within six months of the war’s end.
Today, and past my allotted span, the world faces a new global war, but this time we are all united against the common foe, a virus named SARS-Cov-2. We have had global pandemics before. The word quarantine derived from the 40 days used to try and prevent spread of the Black Death in the 14th century. In 1918, Spanish Flu, so called because the Spanish press reported it, caused Britons and Germans to die in the hundreds of thousands but neither side wanted to confess its existence lest it weaken their position in the eyes of the enemy. They were at war. Spain was neutral. Continue reading “How the world changed after global wars and might change this time”