Once there was the conservative party and the labour party. One was far right, the other far left. One wore blue, the other red. They were at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Is this still the case?
Within the UK, people are discussing a north south divide and accusing the Conservative Government of making this happen. MP’s from across the North are calling on Boris Johnson to implement a nationwide lockdown so that people are once again unable to mix with others.
For myself there is a great deal of confusion about what the labour MPS are calling for as they appear to be changing their minds daily. I have recently been following the Twitter accounts of local MPs and have been surprised at the lack of consensus about what they want from the current government.
In one moment, Boris is being accused of using his emergency powers to enact laws that are not necessary, which are considered to deprive human liberty. The next he is accused of being too lax with the laws. Is there any way for him to win?
It is without doubt possible to say that Boris has made mistakes and created animosity within politics, however his underlying message has been public knowledge from day one.
Boris Johnson has made it very clear from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic that he will only take control of things that are vital and will not take our liberties away without excellent reason. As far as I can see, this has been what he has done.
Through this train of thought he has implemented the new three tier system which can be applied as and when necessary. What is apparent from every speech that Boris makes, he is not just thinking of the pandemic but of the long-term plan for the country to come back together again and to be a UNITED Kingdom. He has discussed mental health and the effects that a national lockdown would have on this, he has discussed the schools as being the safest place for many children during such strange times, as has been confirmed by all research into childhood during the last few months (Children’s Commissioner., 2020).
As someone who resides in Greater Manchester, we have been in the equivalent of Tier 2 for the last three months. Unable to meet with and socialise with people indoors, unable to have a brew after the school run and unable to ask each other for help with the children. People who have depression, anxiety disorders or other mental health issues are suffering and any routines, support networks and back up plans have been taken away from them. It has been painful at times. It has certainly not been easy. According to this new tiered system the least amount of people as possible will be affected by this. Surely it is better that a couple of regions go through this at any one time, than the whole of the UK?
On the other hand, labour have questioned the Governments decisions at every turn, in some ways this is the role of a democratic state, to ensure that all sides are accounted for and heard, that the government is held accountable for its actions. However, there is a clear divide on what stance political parties are taking. Where the Conservatives are now the party that is attempting to keep the kingdom united in a movable tiered system, the labour parties are attempting to separate us. This is evidenced in a few simple examples.
Where Boris Johnson has initiated the three tier system to ensure that as many people can still get the social support available, so that families can be together in as many cities as possible and so that the country continues to hold everyone in the same regard, Kier Starmer is calling for the nation to be put into lockdown for a so called circuit breaker. During which time, no one will be able to see others, children will not be at school, miss out on socialisation skills and will be once again stuck in homes that are not always safe and victims of domestic abuse are left to fend for themselves. The nation will once again be separated, and the fear of meeting new people will become further ingrained.
Example two, is that the Welsh Assembly have decided to ban people from parts of England crossing their borders. With a high suggestion of imminent lockdown. The Labour led Assembly have chosen to close their borders and reinforce that they are not united in this fight but are prepared to shut themselves off from us. This reminds me of zombie apocalypse films and dystopian futures where social movement is impossible. Leaving one country to fend for themselves so that the other may continue to strive.
Nicola Sturgeon has of course offered to support the Welsh in their decision. This has come as no surprise as the only time she tends to discuss anything within the public realm is when it is about making Scotland separate to England. Removing the overarching title of our land so that we are no longer a UNITED kingdom but merely several small countries that happen to be placed near to one another.
How is it that the tides have changed? How is it that the political parties have changed sides? To see the Conservative government fighting to keep us all together, to fight this pandemic as one nation, with strength in numbers and supporting one another. To see the labour government calling for us to be locked down again and closing borders. Was it not labour who opened our borders to the world? To bring us into a globalised, transnational society?
Their answer now is to lockdown and throw money at everything. This has always been a labour thing and was why debt within the UK was so high, while the conservatives have always been trying to reduce it. This is therefore no change in political standing for either the conservatives or labour.
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not saying that the current government is doing the right thing in all aspects regarding the pandemic. Neither am I saying that Boris Johnson should or should not be agreeing to pay more money for everyone to go into tier 3.
Where I am disappointed is that the arguments that I have heard so far are merely based on economy and have little emphasis on the mental health of people; which is where my passion lies.
In fact, the only time I hear about mental health is from Boris Johnson when he reassures us that he will only lock people down when it is absolutely necessary. Labour have recently decided to throw this into the equation but seem to think that mental mental health will be supported by more money for businesses forced to close. If they are concerned about the mental health effects should they not be asking for extra money for those services?
The main point however, is that I am very intrigued at the very clear change of stance of the political parties involved and wonder if there is a hard right and hard left party anymore.