Saturday, May 23

The Clap Trap

I do hope this business of people standing around banging pots and clapping every Thursday at 8pm comes to an end soon. I mean as some sort of national requirement that makes a top or second to top news item each evening two hours later. I have nothing against anyone showing their appreciation for the good work done by others, although I am quite relieved that there is not an out-of-work opera singer or bagpipe player living within earshot who wishes to do so. Everyone should be free to say thank you, draw rainbows or whatever. What seems to have developed, though, is criticism of those who do not participate.

It seems that it is necessary to be seen clapping and that has become as important a feature of the procedure as the sign of appreciation itself. It is like praying to one's God or whatever similar activity a person may wish to do in line with his religion or belief. Some people need to demonstrate that they are praying, attending church on Sunday or whatever when most religions I know about refer to being modest and not making any obvious outward show of intent. To pray quietly in the peace of one's own home seems far more genuine and desirable than to do so noisily in public.

Although everyone's clapping is not praying the two activities are similar in many ways and I think there has been enough public, organised 'thank you' activity. Indeed, just the one would have been extremely effective, as would, I suggest, celebration when we finally get something definitive by way of an all-clear of the virus or a vaccine produced.

I like all my neighbours. I do appreciate the hard work put in by many, many people in all walks of life to help keep me and my friends and family safe. I would just feel uncomfortable standing outside my door at a set time on a set day clapping. It's not something I feel at ease doing. It would be unnatural and the sole reason I would have done so would have been to have been seen doing so. Now I have to put up with the niggling thought that one or two people will be asking themselves, or each other, why I was not out there clapping or banging a spoon on a pan.

Things were going well for a while but now the virus and events around it are getting political. We have seen several efforts to make the Government ministers feel embarrassed, possibly hoping they might resign and slowly build support for the opposition. First blame for some shortages of protective equipment is placed on various ministers. No-one seems to ask what part the very well-paid and numerous senior executives running the NHS and other services might have played. They were, indeed the people whose job descriptions will have included ensuring the adequacy of supplies - and that would, I presume, include more that just asking for them and moaning when they don't receive them.

Secondly, blame for our either being locked down too late in the day or, bizarrely on the other hand too, for actually being locked down at all is placed on various ministers. None of them are experts in this field. There may have been scenarios played out in years gone by when the country's response to different types of threat were conducted and weaknesses here and there shown up. Whether any of our ministers were familiar with these or recommendations when all this blew up I don't know but I doubt anyone was particularly well-briefed personally and will have relied heavily upon the advice provided by those who, again, are paid handsomely from the public purse for doing so.

I maintain that, whoever had been in Government, whatever their political affiliation. then there would now be blame placed on them and the same amount of whingeing and journalists constantly asking questions about whether they should have done this or that several weeks ago when the public want to know what will be happening tomorrow and in the months ahead. I think we all largely accept that there may well have been better decisions taken at different times but we want to know now what decisions are being taken for the best outcomes in future.

I get the impression that most of the ministers directly involved in making decisions about my future are intelligent and sensible. I don't get the impression that they are being at all 'Conservative' but doing what they believe, after listening to advice from experts, is right. In contrast, we now have teachers' union officials stirring up great unease amongst a group who have tended to be Labour or Liberal voters in the main, in relation to the proposals to get children at certain ages to return to school soon. We expected that there would be parents who will be reluctant to move out of the security blanket that staying at home provides and I have talked before about those idiots who seek a guarantee that their child will not get the virus. Now, though, it is harder to get past a union decree that their members should not work until their representatives have been satisfied that it will be safe. Quite what these union officials can do that the people running the schools can't do is beyond me, especially as most, if not all the schools have been open ever since the damned virus first appeared.

Yes, it will be ruddy complicated. Yes, there will be times when it will be simply not be feasible to be 2 metres away or 100% certain that a surface does not harbour contagion. But all the experts I have heard talk about this, without any obvious political leaning in either direction, are saying that children appear to be far far less likely to suffer as a result of catching the virus and the numbers affected in any serious way are minute across the nation and that the risk to teachers in the school environment is no greater than in any other work environment.

You have expected our local supermarkets to be open and staff to be on duty. You have queued to buy non-essentials at a Garden Centre with staff there hauling plants and decking around for you but now you don't want to go into a classroom or you want to keep your child effectively locked in her room on the 7th floor of an apartment until September. Actually, I wouldn't mind betting that many of these left wing complainers and moaners are the same people who will be driving to some beach or barbecue area at the weekend and probably leaving their litter behind as well as their shit in someone's garden as they made no allowance whatsoever for public toilets being closed.

The Government cannot really win, whatever they do. It only takes a nurse to die and they'll be blamed for her PPE not being adequate. One child will get ill and they'll be blamed for encouraging a return too soon. Old folk will die in Care Homes and that will be their fault too, whether it is from the virus or not. Many businesses will collapse because they will have been shut for too long and unable to get going again. That will be the Government's fault for the length of lockdown. Almost everything that goes wrong will be their fault and it will be virtually impossible to argue against the opposition's complaints or journalists' insinuations that then become headlines in our newspapers and on our screens.

Boris Johnson might just as well hold his hands up now and say "OK. It's all my fault. Vote Labour in 2024."

Except it isn't. And you need to realise something. China is where this all started. The people to blame are the Chinese Communist Party. And no-one gets to vote for or against them. Indeed, in Hong Kong last week, those members of parliament who were objecting to a change in regulations being introduced by Chinese Communist Party representatives in Hong Kong were forcibly prevented from returning to the voting chamber. The rules state that only those present can vote and so a raft of changes became law against the wishes of, I suspect, the vast majority of Hong Kong citizens. When we ceded control of Hong Kong to an arrangement between Hong Kong and China there was supposed to be respect maintained for the independence of Hong Kong. This was enshrined in agreements made between the United Kingdom and China at the time. These agreements are now being eroded to such an extent that it is quite wrong to sit back and not object.

Perhaps those people so keen to moan at the UK Government might use their efforts better by focussing on what China is doing. Now there they would have good cause to argue, moan, whinge and shout. Why don't you? The virus has conveniently led to our taking the eye off the Hong Kong ball. And it will be Hong Kong citizens who will pay the penalty.

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