I’ve written recently on the necessary lies being told by the Government to enable public policy to carry on smoothly. My Mum reminded me that she did not want to know the Government was lying as it could do her no good and could do the country harm.
So news from The CMI that the number of COVID-19 deaths is 55,000 and from Club Vita that it’s 60,000, doesn’t mean that we should through bricks at 10 Downing Street. Right now the official figure (6th May) is just over 30,000, the second highest reported figure in the world but still close enough to other countries trajectories to keep my Mum happy and safe.
But at some point, we have to be impacted by these deaths in terms of our day to day lives. I say “we” because there are two “we”s. I happen to live in a little haven of green but I’m surrounded by neighbouring boroughs where the death rate is four times mine.
Most of the people “we” know live outside the main geographical concentrations of the pandemic and so we do not know what the other “we” are doing. The other “we” not only live in more densely housed areas with higher BAME populations, but they have care homes a plenty – which are the main source of death.
And every death matters.
So at some stage, the “we” representing society as a whole, catches up with the “we” that represents the light green areas on the map.
Because no matter how the lucky ones might feel to have gardens and rural space and low population densities and private transport, ultimately everyone is going to have to pay the economic price of the human tragedy and it is not right that the economic price is loaded on the areas where the human price is highest. Hackney should not subsidise the City, nor the North East subsidise the South West, economically we are all in this together.
In fact it should be the other way round. For these concentrations of deaths seem to be determined to a great degree by the care (or lack of it) that exists in society for certain groups. It is becoming increasingly clear that the care for the old, who are dying in numbers in older people’s homes, has not been supported by the public purse. It is clear that places like Ilford, Hackney, Brent and Southwark are suffering disproportionate deaths to more prosperous boroughs and when we come out of this pandemic , these facts should not be forgotten.
The work of the ONS, COVID-19 actuaries, CMI, Club Vita and all the other groups who are collating numbers on deaths, infections and hospitalisations will build a map of Britain that will show the deep differences in the levels of living standards and health in Britain. We must work in decades to come to bring all up to the standards of the best.
The data we collect today, though it may not appear on our TV screens, is the data that will drive changes in society tomorrow.