Further Thoughts on The Pandemic
NB Please note that if you have reached this blog through my Home Page you can access over 30 earlier blogs by clicking on 'BLOG' at top of the page.
There's more information floating about on the Internet than one person can ever cope with. Some of it is accurate, some false. and some opinions with which you may agree or disagree. My piece below is best thought of as my opinion. I don't expect you to agree in whole or in part, because as an adult educator my interest is in getting us all to think about these issues and come to our own conclusions. That is what our democracy is about, open and free discussion.
Some of the thoughts below I have blogged about earlier, but in response from some of my blog readership I am having a go, as of 27.4.20, in setting down my thoughts once again:-
1. Questions raised re our governmental infrastucture and functions
a. In the light of the furore around Dominic Cummins' attendance at meetings of SAGE, we need to look at formalising the role of SPADs within our constitution.
b. In the light of some/majority of Ministers appearing to be less than in control of their briefs than one might wish, a need for rigorous on-going professional training (let alone initial training) for all MPs.
c. In the light of confusion over the role of First Secretary, there is a need to clarify the difference between the roles of First Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, and the need to have the post of Deputy Prime Minister written into our constitution. This is not a matter that should be left to the whim of the PM of the day. Specific training for Ministers, Senior Advisers, and Senior Civil Servants in communication skills. The daily government briefings (with their inadequate and frankly often misleading graphs, tame questions, poor performance of Ministers) are demonstrably below what the Private Sector today expects of its Chief Executives. The City Lit was providing such training thirty years ago.
2. Questions raised about the future funding structure of The NHS
How can/should The NHS be properly funded in the future and cease to have its funding kicked about like a political football? We need to look at other models and ask ourselves why/how Germany, for example, manages to fund their Health Service at such a higher level than our own.
3. Questions now raised about the future of Work and related issues.
a. Working from Home now seems a viable alternative to the 19th century Office model, which has been costly in infrastructure expenses and in transport damage to the environment. Germany is already ahead of the game, having said it will seek to make WFH a legal right for all Germans.
b. Review of the level of the minimum wage for 'key' workers and of the morality of the basic unemployment pay.
c. Review of the robustness of our internal food chain from the gathering in of crops, to supermarket food reserves, to supermarket delivery systems. This is arguably the most urgent problem of all with Brexit coming, according to the Government, on 31.12.20. How prepared are we?
4. Social issues
a. The question of rough sleepers was resolved within a matter of hours whereas before there had been no answer for decades.
b. The question of children at risk raises the question of how we deal better with identification and answers in the future.
c. Some form of co-ordination and planning on at least a regional level is urgently required for the Elderly Care Home Sector.
d. Review of policing policy as practice has differed markedly over Lockdown from one Force to another.
a. Clearer view of what 'Government Transparency' means in the third decade of the 21st century
b. Is Parliament (specifically, The House of Commons) and The Media (both Press and Broadcasting) up to the job of holding the Government of the day to account?
c. Should there be constitutional rules on when a National Government of Emergency needs to be formed?
d. How can the Government be prevented from seeking to censor the news, eg the attempt to change a Sunday Times Report.
6. An Independent Judge-Led Commission of Enquiry
a. It is difficult to see how this will not be set up.
b. It needs to seek answers to some fundamental questions, but the core question must be:- Why are the death statistics in the UK (on present figures) going to be the worst in Europe?
Followed up by specific questions, such as:
Why did the Government act too late on PPE?
Why did the Government act too late on testing?
Why did the Government act too late on tracing?
Why did the Government act too late on Lockdown?
Why was the Government so slow to accept offers of help. especially as regards PPE, from the Private and Public Sectors?
Why did the Government fail to see the emerging catastrophe in the Elderly Care Home Sector? Why was the Government slow/refusing to act on WHO guidance, especially in relation to testing?
Is the Government right 'to follow the science' when other scientists, In Britain and elsewhere, have other views, and our SAGE Committee had Cummins on it, who according to some sources spoke, despite being neither a scientist nor an elected official? Can we have confidence in this system?
I am sure there is much more that could be said, and I am sure many will disagree with me, but please address these and similar issues and come to a personal judgement.