Futile gestures and crocodile claps

Did you go to your door  at 8.00 pm yesterday and applaud health workers? Hold up a sign at your window saying how wonderful they are? I didn’t. For a start, I have an inbuilt aversion to producing an emotion at the bidding of others – I prefer when it comes from within. But there are deeper reasons.

What kind of con-trick is it that expects health workers on what has come to be called the front-line to battle the coronavirus without proper protective clothing? The editor-in-chief of The Lancet  was on the B(ritish)BC’s Question Time last night, and he was merciless in his flaying of a Tory minister misrepresenting the situation for health workers. The British government, he said, had essentially sat on its hands during February, making attempts to combat the virus infinitely more difficult. He spoke of health workers having gloves that extended as far as their wrists, leaving their bare arms just about begging to be infected.

If the Tory government cared about the NHS, it wouldn’t have run it down for ten years,  pointed it to the place signposted “Privatise”, while continuing to say they admired the service no end.

Here’s an alternative way they could have saluted the health workers risking their lives for us: double their salary for the next five years. Make their monthly cheque tax-free when you’re at it. Get the equipment they need – must have – if they’re going to save the lives they can save. And for God’s sake stop clapping and put your hand in your pocket.

As someone said on Twitter today, the sight of Boris Johnson last night clapping outside No 10 was like a man applauding the dog he has just been kicking to death.

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