The impact of COVID-19 still lingers on, quieter perhaps than at its peak in April and May but still capable of a twitch that sends ripples of renewed fear through our establishment. Therein lies something of an oddity - the establishment versus the populace - and the reactions to 'twitches' by the perfidious virus.
Perhaps a majority in the population now see the virus threat as receding. Folk are cheesed off with hibernating in splendid isolation, losing income and not being able to freely move about or associate with others. The relaxations of lock-down have emboldened the view that the danger is rapidly passing, albeit with an occasional, waspish re-appearance at local levels. So it is probably no surprise that we see more and more people on the streets, businesses back up and running, traffic at almost pre-lock-down levels with only a token recognition of threat through the wearing of face masks. By contrast, the establishment, principally government itself, is still treading with enormous and often knee-jerk caution over the relaxation of freedoms that the country as a whole is generally seeing as being back in swing. When COVID-19 twitches, the government react like a stung mule, itself twitching in all directions and without any clear sense of purpose or co-ordination. Their fear of COVID far exceeds the fear that throughout the population is lessening day by day.
But is this true of all of us ? Seemingly not, for the emerging outcome of this pandemic is a significantly changed cultural landscape with society quite prepared to shift into a new mode of socialising, working, travelling and spending. What existed before is unlikely to re-appear, the virus has created an attitudinal change to just about everything we took to be normal at one time, but likely no more. Within this change, positive as it sounds as an aspiration, there are countless casualties, not least those who have lost their lives to this plague like intruder. Businesses have closed, jobs have been lost and livelihoods crippled, public borrowing has soared to an eye-watering level of debt that is difficult to see being redeemed within a generation. There will be a legacy to this episode in our history and, as always, there will be winners and losers. It will be a testament to our new society as to how we manage this legacy - with steely fortitude ? with frugality ? with a renewed bullish attitude toward investment and growth ? or, perhaps, a resignation to the fact that the divisions amongst our communities will appear more pronounced, defined and intractable as camps of 'I'm all right, Jack' protect themselves from the camps of the ruined and dispossessed.
There clearly are no absolute rights and wrongs and despite the whiny voices of some opposition politicians (who generally complain about everything and anyone) the government need to settle down on the new course to get the country back in action in as equitable a way as possible. It's a gargantuan task and, as with COVID-19, mistakes will be made, judgements incorrectly drawn and seeming injustices promulgated alongside many others that will be necessarily and rightly made to mitigate the effects of the virus upon recovery plans. Nobody in living memory has been here before, there is no rule book and there is no wise old sage sat on a cloud to guide and direct. The government need some leeway in this. They will make some bad calls but they'll also make some good ones and we as the population of Britain need to accept that as things edge towards significant social, economic and political change there will be some ups and downs, some painful, some less so. But there is little merit in constantly whining and sowing the seeds of negativity. If we carp about our governance at this time we will slow the process of government down, slow down the change and slow down any chance of some resumption of economic well being. The government should always be held to account, but for the next few years, let us pray that the harbingers of doom are kept firmly in a dark corner somewhere and that the spirit of recovery wins the day.