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Twitter Reacts to what the UK Government Apparently Thinks is 10 Days' Worth of Food

By Petr Knava | Social Media | January 12, 2021 |

By Petr Knava | Social Media | January 12, 2021 |


twitter-reacts-british-food-parcel-header.jpg

I’ve spent a not inconsiderable amount of time trying to write a piece detailing all the failings of the UK government’s coronavirus response, but every time I start getting somewhere I collapse headfirst onto my keyboard in a fit of bone-deep exhaustion and fury. The UK. An island nation. One of the wealthiest countries in the world. Top-notch scientific institutions. Had advance warning of the virus. Saw what was happening in China, and then witnessed the carnage in mainland Europe. And with all of that, the country now has one of the highest Covid death rates per capita in the world.

How do you begin to even catalogue the litany of failures that led to that? Sometimes you think, ‘Well, why bother?’ Because at what point do you stop trying to spin things and admit that the so-called ‘failures’ of a certain economic model are actually part and parcel of its nature? How else do you explain £22 billion going to a Test & Trace system that hasn’t worked? How else do you rationalise the fact that the UK has spent more on its Covid response than basically all comparable nations, and all it has to show for it is some of the worst health and economic outcomes of the lot? Or the billions and billions of public money given to private contractors with the use of special legislation that meant that no real scrutiny or competition played a part in the tendering process? Or story after story of so many of those contracts going to the friends, family members, or other connections of ruling party figures? And that’s just scratching the surface.

At what point do you stop talking about failures and start talking about corruption? About crony capitalism working exactly as it should? What’s that saying? ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste.’ What better time to funnel off unprecedentedly large amounts of public money into private pockets than during a historic pandemic? As Naomi Klein wrote in her book ‘The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism’:

When it comes to paying contractors, the sky is the limit; when it comes to financing the basic functions of the state, the coffers are empty.

If there’s one thing that Covid-19 has revealed about economies of the ‘West’, it’s just how hollowed out the state has gotten after forty years of neoliberal economics. In places like the UK the nation state has been transformed from an entity with at least some duty of care for its citizens into an organ whose sole purpose is upwards wealth distribution on one hand and punitive punishment of its citizens on the other. It’ll steal from you, and then chastise and punish you for being poor.

So when it comes to truly disastrous coronavirus responses that have led to tens of thousands of excess deaths, at what point do you stop asking ‘How incompetent can you get?’ and start wondering ‘How indifferent, malicious, and venal can you be?’

On that note, here we have the latest scandal breaking on Twitter. People tweeting pictures of a government-supplied (well, not really: outsourced, of course) packages of food for the children of needy families, which are apparently meant to be worth £30 and last 10 days.

In just the period 2010-2017, since the Tories have been in power, first in a coalition with the spineless, complicit Liberal Democrats and since 2015 on their own, the use of food banks across the UK has increased from 41,000 to 1.2 million.

In the years since, and especially during the pandemic, this has only gotten worse. In just the six months preceding September 2020, a record 1.2 million emergency parcels were handed out to needy people.

More than 470,000 of those went to children.

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Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.



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