The “economy vs lives” narrative is a myth
The current crisis has upended the status quo. The ideas that we as Greens have been championing for a long time, have come to the forefront of public and political thought. We have seen socialist economics come to the fore.
First off, I should say I support the idea of lockdown, we should have done it sooner and more forcefully as in New Zealand. Had we done this, we would have been very much out the other side of this crisis with minimum loss of life and economic damage. The government has failed the nation, every front bench cabinet member should be resigning and manslaughter charges brought against them when this is done.
One trap we must not fall into is one I have seen peddled a lot recently, the argument of economy vs lives. The situation is not as black and white as some would like to paint it. The longer we continue to have the economy put on hold, the longer the suffering will be at the other end. Poverty is a very real killer, and it will rear its ugly head when this is all done. It is vital we try and protect the country from this, and that will mean avoiding a prolonged lockdown, and an attempt to get the country moving sooner rather than later.
I appreciate these are tough decisions, but I and many others have genuine concerns about the damage we will see from a lockdown that lasts too long. We have already seen the chancellor announce that 1 in 4 businesses in the UK have ceased trading since this started. Four million workers have been furloughed and with all of this, there is a very real chance of mass unemployment. If we had a socialist government willing to enact a universal basic income, then this would be far more easily mitigated. But we do not have that in this country.
Mass unemployment without the protections the country would need, would see a fall in life expectancy, a rise in suicide rates, a rise in poverty, this would all be catastrophic. With these issues on top of our impending crashing out of the EU, the country could be at the very real risk of a collapse unseen in several centuries. There has to be a balance between saving lives now and saving lives in the future.
If we had a government we could trust in, we could rely on them supporting the country through the difficult next chapter we face. The Conservatives are not these people, we have to take the very difficult decisions to ensure we give the younger generations a future while protecting the vulnerable now. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to how we achieve this, but we must find a way to save lives, save jobs and look to the future. Suffering now to suffer for the future will not help anyone, so we have to start planning how we come out the other side of this crisis. With Labour in disarray it will be down to the Greens more than ever to fight for the most vulnerable in our country. Let’s relish this task, put to the people a truly modern plan to support the workers, protect the vulnerable, save lives from the virus and from economic devastation.
PS. Bright Green has big plans for the future, but we need your input. Take 2 minutes to see what we’re planning and tell us your thoughts.
Image credit: David Iliff – Creative Commons