Wheel of Misfortune

Originally published by Manchester Communists here – https://manchester-communists.blogspot.com/2020/09/wheel-of-misfortune

Manchester communist Allison Fewtrell looks back on the last six months and reminds us of some of the u-turns forced on the government by unions, campaign groups and furious members of the public.

What an absolute mess this government has made since taking office. Quite apart from the Brexit fiasco which threatens to keep us locked in a transition period forever, their handling of the pandemic has been nothing short of criminal.

The Tories like to give the paternalistic impression that they are a safe pair of hands, that they ‘get things done’, but they are nothing more than a bunch of butter-fingered buffoons.

Millions fell through the sizeable cracks in the various government support schemes. People on minimum wage who were furloughed are now struggling on 80% of that.

Mums working from home had to juggle their workload with homeschooling. Tenants are desperately worried about evictions after falling into rent arrears. Key workers are still battling on, with poor provision for PPE and putting themselves and their families at risk.

Many large companies have been shedding staff at an alarming rate even after taking advantage of government grants, others are using the crisis as an excuse to fire and then re-hire staff on worse terms and lower pay.

Both the Track & Trace and testing programs have proved to be unmitigated disasters, orchestrated through a system of nepotism and ‘jobs for the boys’, with private companies raking in huge amounts of cash for doing very little except making the situation worse.

Just a few of the u-turns from the topsy-turvy Tories since March…

Primary school children back to school in June – head teachers consistently said getting all pupils back to school a month before the end of term was not a practical possibility. Some reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils went back on June 1st with classes split so that numbers were 15 or less per class, but other schools simply did not have enough space to open safely.

Migrant Health Surcharge – after suggesting the financial contribution this surcharge raised for the NHS was too important to lose, the risk of a commons defeat with a Labour amendment to the immigration bill forced Boris to remove NHS and care workers from the controversial visa surcharge.

NHS porters, cleaners and social care staff were excluded from the Home Office scheme, granting families of health workers indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they die of Covid-19. Again after much publicised criticism of the inhumanity and unfairness of this, they decided to extend the scheme to all NHS support staff.

School meal voucher scheme was extended over the summer after a high profile campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.

A-level results were initially going to be weighted through an algorithm but huge inconsistencies caused a public outcry and they were forced to allow teachers’ predicted grades to be used instead.

Ban on evictions for tenants was due to end on 23rd August, but after constant pressure and campaigning from tenants unions and tenants themselves, at the very last minute, the government extended the ban until 20th Sept.

The fact they’ve been forced to re-think is surely good news, but it’s terrifying that we have a government which simply reacts to situations on a day-to-day basis, while at the same time looking for somewhere else to lay the blame for their own incompetence.

The latest bright idea is to restrict public gatherings to no more than six people, while insisting those of us who still have jobs should be back in our offices, saving the economy and buying posh sandwiches at lunchtime.

What we needed was carefully considered long term planning combined with incisive immediate action formed in conjunction with advice from WHO and countries who had experience of managing these types of scenarios.

The extractive nature of capitalism, the greed and callousness of companies and the inadequacies of the hollowed out welfare state are now laid bare for all to see. It’s up to us to continue the fight and force yet more concessions from this privileged group of incompetents who are not fit to govern.

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