The health secretary’s finger-pointing at young people does not comprise of smart, stable and confident leadership. Rather, it reeks of desperation and campaign-like attempts to retain some form of dignity and once more, shift the blame from the ever-growing, all-encompassing abominable mess this government has created.


Mixed messages

‘Don’t kill your gran by getting Covid’, said the health secretary last week.

Not exactly the confident statement you’d like to hear amidst the most uncertain times in living memory.

Perhaps, had things been different, one could calmly nod along with Hancock at this statement with a tranquil acceptance and feel somewhat assured by his blunt honesty. This could have been the abrupt wakeup call needed to stun young people into following the Covid guidelines more rigidly. It could also have persuaded us all against going out altogether.

But it didn’t accomplish any of this. The statement and babbling tirade of finger-wagging came just a week after an audacious attempt to get everyone out and about again. It is verging on offensive that this government can one week run a campaign calling on people to fulfil some sort of moral duty to reignite the economy amidst an unparalleled pandemic, and the next, blame them for a rise in infections.

A wobbly cabinet

The theme of haphazardly blaming and isolating a certain group of people for their own failings, has been a prevailing feature of this government. It highlights an inexperienced, ill-equipped and insecure cabinet that is completely and utterly out of its depth.

The more experienced and statesman-like governments across Europe have not turned on themselves. Their respective cabinet members in charge of health have not sighed, eye-rolled, laughed or stumbled through interviews with obvious disdain for normal, working-class people. In France, Macron has not attacked ‘young people’ — in fact, he has once more called for unity:

‘The only way we will succeed in stopping this epidemic is if all of us are vigilant and stick together’.

In Germany, Angela Merkel has not played on everyone’s moral duty to spend cash in pubs and bars only to then chastise people for doing so. Instead, the chancellor has erred on the side of caution: ‘caution is the order of the day, not overconfidence’, she said in April and has stuck by this ever since. Merkel has remained transparent, restrained and accepting of the virus, without pointing fingers at any one group.

The German Chancellor’s modest approach is the complete polar opposite of Boris Johnson’s. Our zany Prime Minister visited a school earlier this month to highlight that it was safe to reopen. He stood, mask-less, in front of sceptical students packed side by side and said:

‘Quite frankly after all that time — 159 days — the risk to your health is not from Covid, because statistically speaking your chances of suffering from that disease are very very low. The greatest risk you face now is continuing to be out of school’.

This school has since closed and ordered students to self-isolate after one if its pupils tested positive. You couldn’t make this up …

Divide and Rule?

To be young is to vote left. That’s the new order of the day. Gone are typical class divisions, gone is the power of unions and gone is the pull of the left for working men and women. Now, the biggest indicator of voting intention is age — to be young, is to be Labour. So, is this government branding the young as a dangerous force to further its own agenda?

We’ve already suggested that Boris’ cabinet is insecure and vastly out of its depth. Based on the entirety of this Brexit fiasco, they would jump at any chance to further their cause. So why not pick at the least influential voting group?

The accusatory messages have already had an effect. Two pubs in Yorkshire have banned under 25s amidst fears they will spread the disease. This to me, feels like the start of ageism.

Though I recognise that the figures of late have indicated a greater infection rate for 17-24-year-olds — I firmly believe this isn’t entirely their fault. The government called on us to ‘Eat Out, to Help Out’. It encouraged us to drink, eat, restart our lives, and to socialise. It has then turned on us when the obvious effects of all this activity has come to fruition.

This government denies accountability and absolves itself of blame by accusing others. In this case, young people who could challenge them. Well, that’s just Tories being Tories and their historic bid for power at all costs.