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
I know I’m very much in the minority on this but I think the lockdown was not needed. There were more modest approaches we could have taken like Sweden has done and notably that country has whilst still suffering some deaths, been less badly affected than the UK. None of this factors in some of the issues mentioned here that will result from lockdown including economic meltdown, suicides, poverty and unemployment. Unemployment itself will lead to more deaths as economic studies have shown. Not to mention the effect of all those cancelled NHS operations and people being reluctant to go to hospital for essential treatment due to fear of the virus. The global reaction is unprecedented we are participating in a unique socail experiment completely at odds with how we have dealt with past pandemics through allowing each country to develop herd immunity. For sure shelter those most vulnerable but locking up basically healthy people is nothing but madness.
I’m sure you’re right. The wiser response to this pandemic was then and should be now, to equate the cost of treatment with the benefit. We should accept that the lockdown treatment was expensive both in cost and (eventually) in lives. We should be critical about the benefits.
despite its concerns about the lockdown the writer of the article seems to assume that the economy is led by the government. This is not so. If the government led the economy the Soviet Union would have been more economically successful. In fact the communists trod all over their citizens’ human rights while trying avoid the economic and environmental disaster they had created.
First do no harm.
I agree with Ben that the lockdown was needed and should have started earlier but that it now needs to be swiftly lifted, but mainly i want us all to promote the green way forward rather than the disasterous policies of the business as usual governments that dominate most of the world…
Labour as ever seem to provide poor opposition, and i am anxious to bolster the green party and to gain traction