This article is by Charlie Mullins OBE, founder and chairman, Pimlico Plumbers.
With this latest lockdown the business community has been sold down the river by a government that is supposed to be on our side, and I thought understand that the wellbeing of the nation depended on the survival of the economy.
Sadly, Boris has lost track of these basic Conservative principals and has crumbled under the pressure of the job and the scientific voices whispering in his ear.
He also looks like he’s playing politics with the livelihoods of the south of England by imposing a national lockdown instead of adding a fourth tier to the worst parts of the country. The government is so desperate to curry favour in its newly won over north that it is chucking a net over us all to avoid being accused of favouring London and the south, over the areas where the virus is truly out of control. Boris would do well to remember where his constituency is.
From the beginning the strategy, if you could call it that, was to run and hide, from the first lockdown to today’s disastrous new shutdown of the economy. This is a foolish measure and one that flies on the face of history and common sense.
This virus is going to be around for years and we need to get used to that, and that means figuring out how to work around it, and not running and hiding away as we continue to do.
We spent more than £100 billion keeping the economy alive in the early months and by closing things down again we might as well have flushed the lot down the pan. The economy bounced back once and that was quite amazing, but this didn’t happen without casualties.
There have been hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, and unemployment is at 4.5% and rising fast. A figure of 1.5 million will soon be two million and who knows where it will end?
Industries like mine have always had to be cautious of contagious diseases and have over the years worked out ways of working through. We have been working continuously for more than 40 years, including throughout this year.
We have done it by sticking to our usual safety measures and beefing them up where necessary. But the point here is that over the years we have worked out ways to operate in the face of viruses and bacteria, without incident, and that includes during this current virus emergency.
By locking things down and running away from Covid we are not only cutting people’s ability to generate incomes and support their families, for business to stay alive, and the government to generate income, but we are also putting back the date when we are able to operate as a society in the face of a foe that is not going away any time soon.
It also seems to make no sense to keep schools and universities open for in-person teaching. The latest resurgence of the virus can be seen as following the migration of students across the country to their dorms and shared accommodation in university towns.
And while we’re thinking about the damage caused by the student migration has anyone considered what is going to happen in six weeks when middle England wants their sons and daughters home for their family Christmas?
If anything, you’d think shutting face-to-face education down and keeping businesses open makes more sense. All I’ve heard for the past eight months is how great working from home is, so how about applying that mantra to education, and giving shops, hospitality and other so-called non-essential businesses a chance to survive?