I really do not understand why certain issues have become so polarised. Take the row about wearing face coverings. To Des Swain, whom I rather like, it is a ‘monstrous intrusion’. To others it is a gross infringement of their freedoms. To me, in certain circumstances, it is a necessary inconvenience to protect others from infection.
If you ever want a common sense approach on this listen to GMB’s Dr Hilary. He invites us to look at how far our breath clouds reach on a cold day, remember that this virus is carried by droplets in our breath and draw the obvious conclusions. Then there is the argument over whether two metres or one metre’s social distancing is correct. Back to doc Hilary. ‘No matter what the rule is the virus won’t be listening to it’. And he warns that if we ignore social distancing and abandon masks there will be another spike. Spot on.
I have noticed a marked change in public behaviour recently. A few weeks ago when I travelled to London on public transport many people wore masks. Recently this has changed. I last travelled yesterday and only saw one person coverless. Good. The public are using their common sense and being refreshingly socially responsible. But still there is a small body of opinion that genuinely believes that there is not a shred of evidence to show that masks curtail the spread of the virus. And their voices are loud.
Some people are adamant that working from home is ‘destroying the economy and turning the the high street into a ghost town’. The right wing media are dreaming up all sorts of ways to force people ‘back to work’. The underlying theme is that people are just lounging around in their jimjams watching Netflix while the economy drifts down shit creek without a paddle. That it is impossible to get through to your bank, the council and public utilities since lockdown by telephone or email. What short memories people have. It is a well known gripe that it has always been stroke inducingly difficult to get hold of any sentient individual when you want an answer or a remedy. Anyone who has had the stomach churning experience of finally getting through to a Barclays help line will know exactly what I mean. There is nothing new here. If anything I have found it, apart from Barclays of course, a lot easier getting through to great institutions of late. Take getting hold of a CPS lawyer as an example. Before lockdown I would make a call to be greeted with a message that the inbox was full, or that the number was no longer in use, or that the person in question only works on the first Tuesday of the second month when there was a lunar eclipse. At court I would make at least five calls to different numbers in the hope of getting some guidance. And as for emails? Oh dear. Now it is a joy. I send an email and I get a response within hours if not minutes. Sometimes after five pm and sometimes at weekends. As a result I am in a far better position to prepare cases now then I have ever been. It really works well and efficiently. Working from home has led to a culture change. In most cases for the better.
The other day my old banger with 121k on the clock was just about to wheeze it’s last. Time to buy another. But I had lost my log book. So I rang the DVLA. It was sorted in five minutes and a promise that the replacement document would arrive within ten working days. That was misinformation as it arrived within three. And finally I have friends who have applied for a small business grant. Sorted online in seconds and money transferred in under six days.
There is no right or wrong answer to the question of whether it is a good thing or a bad thing to work from home. If it works do it. If it doesn’t, don’t. Rather than Johnson trying to guilt shame people who do work from home far better to let the market decide. It is not surprising to see that many companies have found that this has been a great success for them and their customers. Matt Hancock struck the right note when he said that he didn’t know how many of his department were working from home and what is more he didn’t care provided they were doing a good job. The screams of outrage from the usual suspects were as predictable as they were deafening. You’d have thought he had announced that he was about to sacrifice babies. But that’s probably for the Home Office.
Sadly, the high street has been in decline for a very long time. People’s shopping habits have evolved to what the customer wants not what they are given. I am old enough to remember raging arguments that supermarkets were an evil that needed to be stopped to prevent the local cornershops from going out of business. Both now work in reasonable harmony. The government really ought to trust the market. I thought that is what the Tories stood for. Hang on, I no longer know what the Tories stand for. Well, they won’t stand for much more of Boris Johnson unless he gets his act together. And there lies the problem. People are just cottoning on that it is just an act. The end of most political careers begins with incompetence, transforms into lack of trust and finally before the pearl handled revolver and bottle of whisky are left by the bedside, evolves into derision. We are not there yet. His UN speech and his incomprehensible ramble to bewildered school kids is just the warm up.
I imagine the Sunday Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday will be showing lots of action pics with ‘BOJO gets back his mojo‘, that he is ‘raring to get back to work’. In many ways I feel sorry for him. Before stepping though that black door I bet he thought that being PM was going to be a bit of a jolly. Cracking good lunches with chums, glorious sun kissed trips abroad to be praised by the natives, and letting ministers ‘just get on with it’. Now he has to put up with damn fool impertinent questions from a damn fool lawyer every week. And on the 16th, those jumped up twerps on the liaison committee will have the nerve to ask him questions about stuff he has no interest in nor any inclination to mug up on. Why can’t he just send that girly swot Gove instead? Or just wing it?