close
Covid-19: Heroes, Villains, and a Brighter Future?
‘My children were raised
You know they suddenly rise
They started slow long ago
Head to toe healthy wealthy and wise’

As we end our second week of lock-down I thought it was time to reflect, and to look forward at what might be.

time to reflect and thank those helping others during these troubled times

Determined to start on a positive note, let us all take time to reflect and thank those helping others during these troubled times.

These heroes might be NHS staff, volunteers, food shop workers, or simply neighbours helping others. With apologies to any categories I have overlooked, thank you. This column salutes you

And now to the villains. Unusually, we turn to Piers Morgan but his brilliant comments in the Daily Mail were too good to miss:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8167509/PIERS-MORGAN-20-Cov-idiots-far.html

This column edited list of banal stupidity starts with Gal Gadot who I have never heard of, apparently, she is Wonder Woman.

never one to miss an opportunity, and reduce it to pointlessness

Anyway, she and some other multimillionaires did a rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine. How wonderfully inappropriate the lyric ‘no possessions’ is when you’re loaded.

Then there is Madonna who decided to preach to us from a bathtub full of rose petals. Covid-19 ‘doesn’t care about how rich you are’ she informed us. ‘It’s the great equaliser.’  Good old Madonna never one to miss an opportunity, and reduce it to pointlessness.

Of course, there is always David Geffen who posted pictures of his $590m (£480m) superyacht, on which he is self-isolating, with the caption ‘hope everyone is staying safe’. I can’t help wondering what the great man who made Geffen most of his fortune would say. Perhaps:

‘I wish I was like you
Easily amused’

In addition to the ‘C’ celebs making fools of themselves, the virus has only served to prove we aren’t all equal.

The rich, the establishment, so-called celebrities, all get tests, whist the rest of us, well, we just get along, hoping.

the virus has only served to prove we aren’t all equal

There was Johnson stupidly telling anyone who would listen that he was still shaking hands, only to contact the virus himself, taking half the government with him.

Of course, one can’t forget Prince Charles; it was possibly the happiest moment of my life when I heard he was OK (yes, that was sarcasm). However, it did provide us with a great joke:

Prince Charles is isolating at Balmoral with Covid-19, Prince Andrew is isolating at Windsor with Jennifer-14

Jokes aside, we turn to perhaps the real villain of the piece, one who has treated the NHS heroes shamefully.

Put simply, NHS staff take their lives at risk each day to treat suffers; they do not have enough protective equipment or even access to coronavirus tests: they are merely instructed to self-isolate once their symptoms reach a certain threshold.

They must work extra hours with no pay because they do not have the resources to do otherwise.

This is yet another black mark for the already disastrous Cameron administrations, who consistently and deliberately drained resources and funding from the NHS.

Conservative MPs cheered the result of a parliamentary vote in 2017 that blocked a pay rise for nurses

They took away free training for nurses training, sold off parts of the NHS to private companies, and generally crippled the healthcare system’s ability to deal with the everyday, let alone the exceptional.

And, worst of all, Conservative MPs cheered the result of a parliamentary vote in 2017 that blocked a pay rise for nurses, of which there is a severe shortage in the NHS – 40,000 in England alone.

Hopefully, these same people will go on bended knee when they require treatment.

Which leads me to Johnson, the current incumbent of the party, who is not a person for calm, collected responsibility.

He is a chancer who, in a crisis, seems ever more incompetent with each passing day, the situation deprives him of his one trick: tickling an audience into the laughter he needs to compensate for his lack of substance. Churchill he ‘aint.

He is a chancer who, in a crisis, seems ever more incompetent with each passing day

For too long the Tories have hidden behind soundbites serving up victim for their adoring press to crucify, Brexit is a prime example.

It gave us soundbites; ‘taking back control and ‘getting Brexit done’, allowing their fawning press to concentrate on the politics of division.

Whilst both became fixated by immigration, Muslims, the liberal elite, the traitors in the judiciary and the citizen of nowhere, a pandemic was quietly making its way to us, to be dealt with by an NHS they had all but decimated.

Perhaps the virus will show us how futile Brexit is?

If we had already ‘fully left’ the EU supply chains woud be further disrupted due to the friction at Channel ports, there would be a customs border between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.

And, Johnson’s best-case leaving tactic, the ‘Canada-style’ deal, would have delivered precisely this chaos.

Of course, this obsession with Europe was only a figment of the Eurosceptics imagination. They sold the masses their imagined, somewhat cartoon style version of the EU, exaggerating the power of Brussels and how they impact our island.

In the face of a pandemic for which the only cure currently is isolation, escaping the EU for trivialities seems too banal for words.

The former glories and battles they champion were fought against an enemy you could see, not sitting in isolation watching their hated BBC.

‘Carefully watched for a reason,
Painstaking devotion and love,
Surrendered to self preservation,’

However, the is now a way for the villains to begin redeeming themselves in the shape of the chancellor and his pledge to do ‘whatever it takes’.

For example, workers furloughed rather than fired, with the government paying 80% of their wages. This makes sense and will aid recovery, people keeping their jobs and companies not going bust.

Is this enough? Likely not, so its bailout Mk.II

Unlike Mk.I this time it’s nobody’s fault, but, as this column wrote in its last piece, we must learn from last time, bailouts aren’t free they come with conditions

The Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren has already laid this out in the US, and many of her points apply internationally, for example:

  • Any company being bailed out must maintain their payrolls and use funds to keep people employed,
  • they’re permanently barred from share buybacks, stopping state aid going to shareholders,
  • they should be prohibited from paying out dividends or executive bonuses for three years
  • a minimum of one seat on the board should be given to a representative from the workforce.
  • No union agreement can be renegotiated under the relief programme.

Warren’s proposal also includes a requirement of a $15 minimum hourly wage.

Furthermore, it’s another way to deal with tax avoidance. No company that isn’t headquartered in the UK should receive help from the British government, if you want the protection of the state, you must pay tax to that state. Companies prepare to repatriate their domicile should qualify for help.

This is the ideal opportunity for changes to business culture

This is the ideal opportunity for changes to business culture. Whilst we cannot expect not-for profit business, they equally must accept what their responsibility is to the state, and to workers, to ensure that the future isn’t business as usual and Austerity 2.0.

To do this right must be put firmly in its box, there are already shameful and worrying indication of their thoughts, E.G.

  • The Global Warming Policy Forum of Nigel Lawson is using the virus to call for immediate cancellation of £15bn worth of climate-saving energy costs, such as the renewables obligation and the climate change levy.
  • The Taxpayers’ Alliance wants corona cuts in council tax, in addition to the already crippling 40% cut in local government funds

Surely, this time the lessons we have all had to suffer and learn, won’t be wasted? Idiots such as those need a spell in hospital to get their values right.

Shrinking the state, local or national, leaves nothing else between the people, penury or even death.

The pandemic shows unequivocally that all private commerce relies on the state in the last resort, and that borrowing to deliver ‘whatever it takes’ is possible when most needed.

‘I gave you all I had
I gave you good and bad
I gave but you just threw it back’

An acerbic piece from Philip this week, and one that pulls no punches; he writes in gratitude to the front line heroes that battle through despite chronic underfunding and neglect, and in contempt of those that have got it so spectacularly wrong.

The recurring theme of inequality in this context throws up the have tests and the have nots; the way that minor celebs and royalty are treated is in stark and shocking contrast to those that remain untested labouring at the coal face with inadequate personal protective equipment.

In these challenging times, we’ll certainly permit him a swipe at Prince Andrew; Mr Cameron gets a deserved dig for the role he played and few would rush to counter his statement that Boris ‘seems ever more incompetent with each passing day’.

Philip’s observation of the relative futility of Brexit in the overall context is entirely valid, and it has the intriguing backdrop of the cracks that have appeared in the EU as individual member states have put the well being of their citizens above the collective.

Overall the piece is optimistic in that Philip believes that doing ‘whatever it takes’ suggests that perhaps Mrs Thatcher was wrong to say ‘there’s no such thing as society’ and that the opportunity exists to ensure that business is conducted more responsibly and respectfully in the future.

Postal entries only again this week, and please remember to moisten your flaps with a damp cloth rather than risk transmitting any tongue-borne nasties; I’m afraid I failed to trouble the scorer but now feel enriched by acquaintance with some cracking tracks.

First up, a new band to the column and ‘their finest work, and proof of why they always outshone the Beatles’. Even with the hint in the title, I couldn’t get there but 1 pt for the band, and 3 pts for the song if you got the Beach Boys and ‘Heroes and Villains’.

Next, ‘a welcome return for this band’ – and I couldn’t make the David Geffen connection – 1 pt for the band, and 3 pts for the song – Nirvana with ‘All Apologies’.

Thirdly ‘a truly haunting tune that captures the mood of this article’ – doesn’t it just, a cracking track, and I don’t think we’ve ever had one more relevant; 3 pts for Joy Division and ‘Isolation’.

Last, but by no means least, ‘a brilliant duet with the bands singer’s wife, who, herself, fronted a band! The sentiment fits the summary of this piece’. It sure does – 3 pts for Jesus and Mary Chain and ‘Sometimes Always’. Enjoy – and if you did, please share.

 

Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

Click on the link to see all Brexit Bulletins:

brexit fc

student debt

Maintenance Loans Fuel Student Debt

isas in crisis

Dos and Don’ts for ISAs During a Crisis

Leave a Response

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Be informed as this exciting sector develops and receive DIY Investor Magazine free to your inbox – take control of your financial future