Ron’s Rambles August 2020
Covid 19 It was a brave decision on the part of Boris and his team to ease as many restrictions as they did, it is too early to say if it was a wise decision but I imagine they are holding their breath waiting to see the data on infection rate etc. At the end of June the UK death rate since the beginning of the pandemic for those with confirmed corona virus was 65/100,000 of the population. The death rate based on the number of deaths in excess of the usual number for that period was 96.8/100,000. Corresponding numbers for Germany were in single figures. There has to be an explanation for this outstanding difference and one day I hope we will learn what it is. Whatever the reason it does undermine our confidence in our government and civil service and forces us to realise that we are not as smart as some other nations and not as smart as we perhaps thought we were. One minor aspect of our government’s behaviour has puzzled me throughout, and that is their reluctance to make the wearing of face covers in enclosed spaces mandatory. It is one thing that could possibly have reduced the number of infections One can understand the need to get people back in work but I must confess the way in which the economy works is a mystery to me. How does people going to pubs and restaurants, hairdressers and beauty salons, gymnasiums and swimming pools and going on holiday in aeroplanes to foreign parts make us wealthier as a nation? Can someone explain? Housing I don’t think there is any other topic that I have written about as much as housing. Successive governments have promised to tackle the problem, but it has got worse. House prices and rents have outstripped earnings for a long time. Before Covid 19 we were building a little over two homes per thousand of the population, Germany, once again, was building at three times that rate. Yet again we have a prime minister promising to ‘Build Build Build’. Easing planning restrictions might help to remove one obstacle, it might be acceptable if the intention is to make it easier to convert existing buildings, change of use or build on new land and to prevent nimbyism from stopping building. But if easing planning restrictions means lowering building standards that would be very wrong. Already homes are being built that are too small for family life with individual rooms uncomfortably small. In 1951 the Conservative government under Churchill declared “Housing is the first social service ……………… work, family life, health and education are all undermined by crowded houses. Therefore a Conservative government will give housing a priority second only to defence.” Certainly they did carry on the extensive building programme started after the war by the Labour government and very large numbers of homes were created. Churchill understood the importance of housing, Boris’s promises are nowhere near the scale required and do not suggest the required national priority that should be second only to overcoming Covid 19.
Police I did comment last month that there was some concern over the number of deaths that have occurred of people in custody over the past 30years. Nevertheless, I do believe that we are fortunate to have the police force that we do have. We are dependent upon them to protect us and our property and to maintain public law and order. On occasions they have the most unenviable task in their efforts to maintain law and order, recently they have ben asked to disperse gatherings for illegal raves and to prevent protesters from violent expressions of their anger by smashing windows and starting fires. These events have resulted in the police confronting large numbers, often much greater number than the police, and finding themselves the victims of fairly extreme violence, they have suffered petrol bombs and large bricks being thrown at them as well as violent personal attacks. They do not deserve this sort of behaviour, they are trying to do a job, nobody should be subject to that sort of attack whilst doing their job. It does seem as though there is an element in society that thinks that fighting with the police is fair game, the same element will attack firemen attempting to tackle a fire, even, it seems, starting a fire in order to lure the fire service into an ambush. They will even go so far as to attack an ambulance crew. Society cannot tolerate that sort of behaviour, there should be severe punishments available to the courts to deter others and to indicate to the culprits the seriousness with which their actions are viewed.