The Dark Arts: Or a Dance to the Music of Time

The task with which British politicians are currently confronted is inordinately challenging and plainly immense. However, to offer care workers a badge, and not the personal protective equipment they need, is politically inept at best and, at worst, derisory, merely adding insult to injury.

To be fair to the current UK Government, infrastructure in the country — at political, medical, educational, social, business, economic and so many other levels — started to crumble decades ago, and politicians can only work with that which they inherited. But if ever there were a time in which conspicuous honesty would be the order of the day, then this is it. Perhaps they might seize the chance to convey to the population just how parlous is the state of nation.

Whether the coronavirus will bring any good to the country is controvertible. What it does do is highlight how much certain professions are valued, or not, as the case may be. I would like to think that the British are, deep down, good people — like all of humanity —, and are still willing to give and give and give. But at some point this virtual treasure chest will become empty, and politicians will no longer be able to rely on this ingrained altruistic response. Of course, the health market (terrible term), like any other, is subject to the whims of supply and demand; thus, as long as there are enough Filipinos to be exploited as cheap labour, British medical care, its NHS will, creaking at the seams, somehow continue to operate — no pun intended.

On another note, it is surely to be resented that the Government has resorted to the rhetoric of warfare: doctors, nurses, and care workers are not on the front line. There is no front line. We are not at war. This is cynical Churchillian language, redolent of a final linguistic hideaway inhabited by politicians caught on the back foot. As for the claim by politicians that the Brits are ‘world leaders’, and ‘lead the way’ in dealing with the pandemic, this is so patently not true. They should count the dead.

Finally, the televised UK Government press briefings are a caricature of the relationship between journalists and politicians. But before I raid the thesaurus for words even more exotic than derisive, misanthropic, sardonic, sneering, scornful, insolent and supercilious, and transform myself into another superfluous, nay supererogatory, keyboard warrior, I shall simply sign off, having vented enough steam.