By Thomas G. Clark (Another Angry Voice)
The United Kingdom is suffering one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world, with the official figures admitting over 20,000 Covid-19 deaths. Research based on figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that the real total is likely more than double once deaths in care homes and the community have finally been counted.
It is widely considered acceptable to talk about the official death rate and to mourn specific individuals who have died in the pandemic, especially front line NHS staff who have fallen in the fight, but once anyone begins asking questions about why the death rate is so high in the UK compared to other nations, the push back is vehement.
The moment efforts are made to establish a cause, the moralising ”how very dare you politicise the crisis?” brigade immediately show up in droves in order to deter any thought processes that may lead back to the party of government or the Westminster political establishment bearing any responsibility whatever.
Decades of wanton self-defeating austerity cuts
The decade of wanton self-defeating austerity cuts to the NHS and social care system; the multiple ignored warnings to stock more protective gear for medical workers; Boris Johnson’s bizarre ‘Superman of Capitalism’ delusion that led him to believe he would actually be lauded for bravely ignoring the World Health Organisation pandemic protocol (test, trace, isolate) unlike all those lilly-livered and weak-willed foreigners who actually acted to combat the spread; the weeks of indolent foot-dragging over the introduction of shutdown measures in the crucial early stages of the outbreak; the glacially slow expansion of Covid-19 testing capacity; the lamentable failure to prevent the virus ravaging care homes full of the most vulnerable people; the deliberate politicisation of the science by embedding Johnson’s tyrannical political henchman into the supposedly-independent scientific advisory group …
Dare to suggest that any of this stuff may have exacerbated Britain’s coronavirus crisis and you’ll be immediately shouted down by the faux-outrage “don’t politicise” mob, as if attempting to establish causal factors is akin to urinating on the corpses of the recently deceased.
These efforts to establish a political taboo about discussing what caused people to die isn’t a new thing, with numerous other examples in recent political history.
In November 2017 the British Medical Journal published a research paper linking an estimated 120,000 excess deaths since 2010 to Tory austerity cuts to the NHS and social care system, and in June 2019 the IPPR published a similar calculation estimating around 130,000 austerity-related excess deaths between 2012 and 2019.
The reaction to both of these studies has ranged from the BBC’s decision to ban their reporters from covering the first study, to increasingly hysterical efforts to portray the idea that austerity kills as outrageous and outlandish “fake news”.
Anyone sane would admit that it’s beyond obvious that there’s a price to be paid in human lives for slashing tens of billions from the NHS and social care budgets, closing scores of NHS facilities all over the country, creating a shortfall of 100,000 NHS workers, and causing the longest waiting times since records began.
But the likes of the Daily Mail and right-wing Labour saboteur MP Neil Coyle are working hard to create the narrative that attempts to highlight these excess deaths are some kind of sickening moral outrage.
Establishing the cause
It’s the same pattern: Vast numbers of people dying unnecessarily is fine, attempting to establish the cause of these excess deaths is the horrifying moral outrage.
Another example occurred after the barbaric Manchester Arena bombing, which left 22 people dead after an Islamist extremist who had been terrorist training in Libya and Syria came back through the UK border to launch a sickening attack on a crowd of innocent people.
This atrocity was one of the pivotal moments in the 2017 General Election campaign, and the faux-outrage brigade were out in force again, decrying anyone who dared to consider the causal factors instead of uncritically treating the attack as some kind of inexplicable and entirely unpredictable horror that occurred completely out of the blue.
Emotionally charged condemnation was hurled at transgressors who pointed out the link between terrorist attacks in Europe and imperialist western foreign policy that led to the creation of vast lawless terrorism breeding grounds in Libya and Iraq/Syria.
How did the terrorist manage to make it through the UK border, despite the fact that the security services knew that he had been hanging out with terrorists, and that he was actively planning a terrorist attack? Did it have anything to do with the huge Tory austerity cuts to UK Border Force funding and staffing since 2010?
Questions like this went unanswered because just asking them was treated like some kind of unthinkable taboo to be instantly shouted down with hysterical rhetoric, rather than the first crucial steps in avoiding similar atrocities in the future.
There’s definitely a pattern, and it’s an extremely convenient pattern for the ruling establishment class isn’t it?
There’s a concerted effort to engineer a perception that the socially accepted behaviour is to address tragedies in an uncritical manner. It’s fine to express emotions like sadness and anger. It’s fine to express sympathy with the victims and their families. And it’s fine to cry out “how could this have happened?” but only if question is purely rhetorical.
Anyone who actually attempts to answer the question is treated as a degenerate social transgressor, and bombarded with emotionally manipulative accusations of “politicisation”, as if discussing the political aspects of a significant event is some kind of unacceptable wickedness.
The strangest aspect of all is the unthinking hypocrisy of those who attempt to emotionally bully others into silence. After all what could be more political than seeking to silence the political opinions of others, purely because you don’t like the questions they’re asking and the conclusions they’re coming to?
In the end “don’t politicise” is just a cry for rigid political conformity using the most powerful political weapon of all; emotional manipulation.