I have already discussed the end of what we have thought to be normal this morning.
And I have discussed why on occasion protest is vital, in this case in the context of Black Lives Matter.
Then I had this tweet drawn to my attention, for the editor of The Lancet, the premier medical journal in the UK:
I don’t understand the passivity of my fellow countrymen and countrywomen. Why are you not more angry? Why are you allowing this government to orchestrate the deaths of your citizens, your families, your neighbours? This is a mass delusion. Resist. Resist. Rebel.
— richard horton (@richardhorton1) June 9, 2020
The evidence of the Black Lives Matters protests suggests that people in this country are not passive. However, they are not as yet angry about coronavirus.
I admit that I share Richard Horton surprise on this issue. Why is it that despite overwhelming evidence that the management of this crisis in the UK has been much worse than in other countries we do not seem to be angry about that? There is no doubt that we care about everyone that has been lost, and yet we do not seem inclined to blame the government for so many unnecessary premature deaths. That baffles me and it clearly baffles Richard Horton. However, I think we have simply not yet reached the point where this anger will become obvious.
The fact is that we have faced a health crisis, and it has been possible for the government to pretend that this has been a universal problem, faced by all countries around the world. And, of course, it is true that almost every country in the world has had to tackle the coronavirus crisis. This has been an incredibly convenient cover for the government: they have been able to say 'it's not our fault, guv', and to an extraordinary degree people have accepted that. This is why I think that there has been very little anger to date.
However, I also think that is going to change. It is only geeks and nerds have noticed comparative death rates, and if you have, take it as a compliment. Most people will note the absolute numbers, and quite candidly not worry about what is happening elsewhere. Far too many are, instead, sheltering (whether necessarily or not) at home, locked down in fear - which is one reason why so few children have returned to school. It is their belief that by doing so they can manage the consequences of this crisis, and for some that is undoubtedly true.
That said though, some deeply uncomfortable truths are about to become apparent. Some countries are, for example, sending their children back to school without difficulty. And that means economic as well as social lockdown can end vastly quicker in those countries than we can manage, because whilst children are off school, our economy remains paralysed.
And in other ways many countries are very clearly managing this crisis better than England, in particular, is. So, for example, their deaths are under control. Their health services, which have had less of a battering than ours has, are as a result in better shape than the NHS is. And they are much closer to coming out of economic lockdown than we are.
But, most importantly of all, when many other countries come out of lockdown they will do so vastly more successfully than we will because their risks from doing so will be much lower than ours will be. That is because the chance of getting coronavirus in those countries will be lower so that not only will they be able to permit greater social contact, but their populations will also believe that they can accept this risk, which it is very clear that people in the UK do not present. And as a result their recovery rates will be much higher than ours, in economic terms.
What coronavirus has done is, because of this government's mismanagement (which will be massively compounded by Brexit), to put us at a massive competitive disadvantage to many of those countries that we are used to comparing ourselves to. Only the US is in as bad a state as we are. And when people realise that the economies of other countries are not collapsing in the ways that ours will be, and that whilst those other countries will be suffering stress their unemployment rates might be nothing like those we will have to endure, then the anger will really grow.
There will be no ready solution, except that a lot of people will die until we have herd immunity - which is what our government always aimed for in the most inappropriate way possible - but the disparity will be so glaring that nothing will then hold back the frustration. Things are going to be bad everywhere, but they are going to be much worse here. And that is what will trigger the rebellion Richard Horton is surprised is n0t already happening.