Sunday Blog 24: A Time to Reflect

Public Services and Frontline Workers

During the unique (thus far) pandemic emergency it has been striking and heartening to witness how ordinary frontline workers, not just in the NHS,  have kept going, at varying levels of personal risk, to keep the fabric of our integrated and civilised society working. The NHS staff, right at the ground zero of the crisis, have rightly acquired iconic status for their dedication, courage and commitment. Many have lost their lives. All of this has been achieved upon a foundation of years of cuts in the funding of every nook and cranny of our public services, to the point where preparation for, and supplies of, everything needed in a national emergency were run down, inadequate and in the worst cases, non-existent.

The Governing Establishment

Has failed at every level, the government worst of all. Lack of preparation, bad modelling, faulty interpretation of science, ignorance of vital data, fumbling delivery, mixed messaging, clumsy announcements, delay and indecision have been the hallmarks, in England, of the crisis experience. Not so in the devolved administrations where the outcomes have been better and public confidence in the governing authorities much higher.

At the heart of these failures towers the disheveled and bumbling Boris. Surrounded by Brexit junkies, he appointed a Brexit cabinet with very little depth of experience, nationalist and narrow, which has been largely overwhelmed by the magnitude of everything. The outstanding exception in Rishi Sunak. His star is rising so bright that it dazzles. Does he threaten Boris? That depends on how successful his programme to invest his way out of the Covid induced depression turns out to be. If it reduces unemployment and kick starts growth in real jobs, yes, he may well threaten his bumbling next door neighbour. But if he fails and unemployment soars, they will both go down together.


China is a fact. It is not in the general sense a choice. It will soon be the number one superpower. It will never become a democracy on the Western model. It is infinitely more powerful than the original Soviet union because as well as being a Communist State it is also a capitalist one. Its economy is now at least as powerful, perhaps more so although not yet quite as big, as that of the United States.

For many years we have cozied up to China and wrecked our own manufacturing base, by exporting most of our skilled jobs and manufacturing capacity East. We now make almost nothing we use as everyday consumers. China is also technologically very advanced. At first it mainly copied Soviet stuff, then American, but now it does its own and it’s good. Very good. Anyone using a top Lenovo laptop or Huawei phone will testify to that. And in 5G it is way ahead of everybody else. And we need 5G now as part of our recovery plan from the pandemic recession and Brexit reboot.

GCHQ has the capacity to protect against and deter with counter measures any Chinese cyber aggression. The UK has thus far enjoyed excellent relations with China, now deeply imbedded in our economy at many levels. Certainly we do not approve of much of China’s domestic agenda, but we are in reality no longer the power we once were, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. What we have to do is become far more self sufficient in every aspect of our daily consumption, so that we rely less, even for our strategic core supplies, on other countries, including China. And we really do have to start making phones, mobile equipment and much else here in the UK.

But in the end the world will be made up of two sorts of countries. Those who can get along with China and those who cannot. Prosperity will envelope those who can. The rest will struggle. Because the other great truth in the geo-political world is that America has passed its high water mark and is now a waning power. Its inability to offer its own 5G system and its failure to manage Covid 19 are but straws in the wind.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.