As we enter our second month of lockdown, and discourse on phased exit from these restrictions circulates, I felt it was important to acknowledge that our society has changed, and changed forever. For us all, the Covid-19 crisis has brought into sharp focus what really matters. It is a stark, and loud wake-up call for every single citizen.
Gone are the days where it could be deemed remotely acceptable for the Tories to deny exhausted doctors and nurses the decent pay they so deserve. Forever in the past are those times where we let politicians away with looking at the UK’s overstretched, underfunded and understaffed NHS, and saying “We could cut that a little more.” This virus has laid bear exactly why austerity and privatisation are unsustainable, failed agendas; and why it is unacceptable that anyone could put political point-scoring ahead of what really matters – keeping everyone safe, and healthy.
We face a real, present, and deadly threat – fought not with our armed forces, or economic sanctions; but with the skill, compassion, love, and dedication of those working in our hospitals, care homes, and health centres. We owe a massive debt to everyone on the frontlines against Covid-19 – a debt that we cannot possibly hope to repay. Our amazing National Health Service is the bedrock of our collective wellbeing; vital and central to every community in Scotland.
The First Minister said recently that there is a need for us to move toward a “new normal” as we begin to transition to the next phase of dealing with this virus. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the austerity trap yet again. That project has failed. Every one of us must make the case, loudly and for all to hear, for our governments to prioritise the health of everyone, over the personal wealth of those at the top. Scotland is on the right track with this already – and it is imperative that this continues.
We have got to recognise that privatisation, tax cuts for the richest, and the underfunding of our precious public services cannot and must not resume. Public conversations about the economy need to involve everyone, and must promote happiness, health and our collective wellbeing.
I’m not sure exactly what kind of Scotland will yet emerge from the public health emergency that we all face. What I do know is that we will all have a part to play in developing the kind of country that we rebuild. We cannot simply let priorities return to the old order.
For now, we all need to stick with the rules, to keep ourselves, our family, and our nation safe. But this crisis will end, and when it does, let’s use all of our voices to help build the country we know we can be.
Written by Lloyd Melville