Saturday, 9 May 2020

Time to press the reset button on all we know.

"Normal life" is on hold. 

For many of us the 'pause' button has been pressed on all we know. The all consuming,  news dominating B word 'Brexit' has been replaced with the C-word 'Corona' or 'Covid19'.  The physical places where we once came together as a society, where we met, collaborated, planned and had a darned good time on occasion, are all closed. Workplaces, cafes, restaurants, pubs, churches, mosques, temples, schools are all empty. The treadmill of everyday life  has stopped for the first time in generations. The machine has stopped. We can't simply start it again without asking some serious questions about what is important to us.

It is a time to reflect, to think about the things that we value and all that we want to see changed for the better.

We have relied on the Public and voluntary sectors like never before. They are valued like never before and so is what they can do to protect us and provide for our everyday needs. This is something the private sector simply cannot and would never match.

The NHS's future has to be secured, but it has got to go way beyond the warm words that all politicians say. Those who supported a market of NHS services need to reflect on whether the likes of Richard Branson have any place making a profit from our health services.

A positive out of this awful situation is the benefit to our local and global environment. The "engines of death" no longer leave their trails across the sky as planes are grounded at airports,o ur roads are uncongested and cycling has become a much safer option. The air is cleaner than ever before with the knock on benefit to climate change and public health.

Millions have discovered the joys of video conferencing apps for meetings, conferences or even simply meeting up with friends for a drink. That will not disappear when lockdown ceases. The need to travel and meet face to face will be much less.

Our sense of community has grown. People have been confined to their homes largely and many have helped their more vulnerable neighbours through difficult times. The Thursday night clapping rituals for the NHS have brought many together as never before.

With local government and the NHS having been at the forefront of the fight against COVID 19 there can be no return to austerity economics. Boris Johnson professes to have opposed Conservative austerity (but there is  little evidence for that in his voting record). So now we have  ensure that the vision we have for a clean environment, a more equal society and one that has support for community at the heart of its thinking is supported by the economic choices we make.

So now we must provide the space for a public debate on the future for the UK so we can press the reset button on all we know and have a new consensus about the better future that can be achieved for us all.