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.