As the world’s economies grind to a halt, the numbers of unemployed people continue to rise. Coronavirus cases approach 3,000,000 and the number of deaths is forever rising, now at 200,000. It is times of crisis that require true leadership. Leaders that have integrity and government institutions that stay strong during times of politicisation. It is during this crisis that people have not been given the leadership that is required and the integrity that leaders should have.
It is important however, that during this crisis, people must come together for the common good but we must also hold to account those leaders who have put their political ideology and self-interest before the greater public interest. In the UK, we have seen the Prime Minster didder and delay at the early onset of covid-19. The UK’s government failed to respond effectively in implementing restrictions allowed the UK economy to continue on as if it were a regular business day. The consequences of such inaction have been a high mortality rate. As I write this, there have been 20,000 hospital deaths (possible death toll in the UK is expected to be much higher) related to covid-19. In the month of April, 25 days, the UK has had 18 days were the death toll was greater than 600, of those 18 days, 9 of which has had over 800 deaths.
Boris Johnson and his Cabinet have been heavily criticized for their refusal to be part of the European Union procurement process during the covid-19 pandemic. The decision not to participate was a “political decision”, said Simon McDonald, who is the under secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, during questioning at the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. What he means by a political decision is, the ideology of the brexiter Prime Minister and his cabinet took priority over the practicality and public interest of being part of the process. The hard line brexiter Prime Minister could never be part of an EU programme just weeks after officially leaving the European Union.
The ‘go it alone’ attitude has potentially put many lives at risk in the UK and the delay in bringing in restrictions on movement and restricting large crowds from gathering has progressed the number of deaths and the spread of covid-19.
The Prime Minister attended an international rugby game on March 7th and the following week, the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup went ahead with 3 days of festivities starting March 16th with a crowd of 150,000. These two occasions are central to the understanding of how slow the UK was in taking action and making decisions. Cheltenham has since issued a statement which citied the Prime Ministers attendance at a rugby game a week earlier as one of the reasons the festival went ahead but there’s no doubt that profit making was central to the event going ahead and a sheer disregard for public health.
What is now required is a public inquiry into the decisions that were taken, when they were taken, who knew, who decided on what and why. The high death toll in the UK is a direct consequence of the Boris Johnson government and they should be held responsible.
2016 was the year of two major events that would change two nations and the world as we knew it. In Britain, just over 50 percent of voters, in a referendum, voted in favour of leaving the European Union. The Vote Leave camp used blatant lies and fear as a tool to persuade people to their side, garnering huge media coverage with their divisive slogans and divisive characters. The Remain side lacked energy, slogans and the characters that would be required to rally the public to their side and keep Britain within the European Project. The main underlying problem for the remain campaign, was it’s refusal to accept how frustrated Britons had become at the EU and how years of austerity had created a hunger for change.
Europe has been rocked by the referendum in Britain and soon enough we will know if a deal is agreed in the House of Commons (British Parliament) as we await Theresa May to put the Brexit Agreement to a vote. An earlier vote was pulled in December 2018 as the Prime Minister did not have enough support within her own party or in Parliament to win. Britain will crash out of Europe on March 29th if a deal is not reached or an extension is not granted. A no deal scenario could be bad news for the European Union and other Global economies and even worst news for the Island of Ireland as a possible hard border could be erected, in breach of the good Friday agreement. The Good Friday Agreement brought peace to the island following decades of the violence in Northern Ireland. This period in Northern Ireland, known as The Troubles is extremely complicated and embedded in the history of those who live there.
On the other side of the pond, in the United States, Donald Trump was elected to the office of President. Trump had beaten Hilary Clinton. Clinton, simply as a name, is one of the most famous political names in the United States. The differences between Trump and Clinton are; Trump lacks the capabilities, knowledge, temperament and political experience that Clinton has. During the 2016 election, Trump lost the popular vote but The United States has a system in which the popular vote means nothing in terms of being elected, therefor Trump won the election because he won enough States which had the most electoral colleges. and reached the magic number of 270.
Trump has imposed tariffs on China and other goods from other nations. He had pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, rescinded on the Iran Nuclear Deal (The JCPOA) and continues to fire staff while also being under the spotlight of special Counsel Robert Mueller for collusion with Russia in the 2016 Presidential campaign. Trump and the Republican Party continue to undo much of what Barack Obama spent his 2 terms implementing. The only thing the Republicans stands for is nominating a sexual predator to the Supreme Court and undoing Obama policies, other than that, they have become the self serving party driving by deep ideology. On the other hand, the Democrats are in disarray, trying to understand themselves and what the heck they represent. The Democrats, like Labour in the UK are divided between the new era of left wing politics as a challenge to the far right and the old centre ground politics that Hilary Clinton and Tony Blair represented. The sooner the Democrats get their house in order the sooner they can be effective in the House of Representatives.
2019 will be a year in which the pendulum swings back, how far? only time will tell. The fight against nationalism and far right extremism is building as the resurgence of a united liberal front is taking place around the globe.
By Jonathan Myers.
Recently I seen the movie ‘The Giver’ …
In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world.
This movie is fascinating. It debates the idea of equality, brought in through a system of sameness. A community where there is no war, pain or famine. A community where people have no choice in life, from choosing their family to their careers.
In the movie, the character played by Meryl Streep says “when humans are given choices they always make the wrong ones”.
It made me think a lot about our purpose and what we do with our time. The average life in Ireland lasts 81 years. When you consider that from the ages of 4-21, which is 17 years are spent in full time education, then the average person works until the retirement age of 65. That then leaves you with 16 years of your life, that’s 44 years working full time.
What is it all for ?
when I visualise this in my head I automatically think of a conveyor belt. The start of the journey is similar for most, but the turns you take, the levels you rise and fall are determined on the situation your family are in. Most likely their financial situation. The more money they have or make the more choices that become available to you as you continue this conveyor belt journey from play school, through primary and secondary school, then into university. To be “educated” in one of the course choices you made on your CAO application, or so you thought! The course you chose can only become available if you attained the required number of points on your leaving certificate, this can be greatly influenced by the school you attended, whether you had an option of support out side of school hours and the educational level of your parents and family at large.
So to cap, you’ve studied for a long time, to get a course you didn’t particularly want, to become “employable” to work a job/career you have zero passion for, to buy lots of overpriced material goods, properties and services. To live through a number of financial recessions only to see your pay decline, taxes increase and public services stripped to the bone, even though you’ve contributed your earnings (tax) to them over the decades.
Now at the age of 45, the income you’re bringing home after years of working hard is now equal to or less than the income you started with on day one. If you’ve been lucky to keep your pay at the level it was before then the new taxes and tax increases will have gotten you, plus you’ve to pay a lot more to use public services like the bus. Did I forget to mention that you’re in negative equity. The 350,000€ home you bought 10 years ago is now worth 265,000€ thanks to the property bubble created by a bunch of lads and some women who don’t seem to have been affected that much, they’re now back in business, buying, developing and selling.
So now you go on your way and be a good citizen, work harder, longer hours, less pay, pay more in tax for reduced services so the government can pay back the billionaires that lost money and blame it one you, the citizens.
So I ask myself again, what is it all about?
If you are like me And sometimes wonder why certain things happen, what the UN Security council is about and what’s more important in the eyes of governments all over the world well you Dont need to think hard because its happening right in front of your eyes.
The worlds powers do not hesitate to save banks in Europe while the people carry the burden of reckless greed, society is reshaped to lower wages of workers to suit the cost of business but when it comes to intervening in Syria they have no action. This is because each country has their own interests and will act according to them and not in the interests of those who are actually struggling.
The US calls Russia and China disgusting for their veto of a resolution but yet they seem to forget it was the US and Britain who ignored the council when they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is the world we live in and I must say its not one which gives me pride or happiness.
- UN’s options in Syria are poor to nonexistent (theglobeandmail.com)
- Syria Sees Mass Protests Following Bombings (blogs.voanews.com)
- In Syria, the U.N. Security Council Fails the World (The Kochi Shimbun, Japan) (themoderatevoice.com)
- Rising Democracies Take on Russia and China (nationalinterest.org)
- UN head sees possible crimes against humanity in Syria (arabnews.com)
- Annan: Syria Could Plunge Into Civil War (israelnationalnews.com)
- Resolution on Syria passed by UN General Assembly (rt.com)
- Assembly chief: End Security Council veto (upi.com)
- MID Official Sez Russia Will Veto Any Military Intervention in Syria Raised at the UN (02varvara.wordpress.com)
- China’s Troubling Syria Veto (the-diplomat.com)