What the papers have said in the week ending April 18th 2020
These extraordinary times reveal heightened awareness and perhaps changing values in this country and around the world.
Monday’s papers included references to the communications we mentioned at the end of last week from Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby and Queen Elizabeth
We are reminded of the consequences of deaths in great numbers, especially for the poor and homeless: communications from the USA cite the burial of 25 bodies per day in trenches on Hart Island, New York City’s potter’s field. This is five times the rate on a normal day https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/video-shows-giant-trench-getting-built-nyc-s-hart-island-n1181056
Not all deaths are a direct consequence of the infection – many are experiencing stress from fear of the unknown or anticipated or imminent hardship and this is likely to be translated into stress-related illness and deaths. The most awful and dramatic include murders within family settings – domestic abuse killings have doubled within three weeks https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/apr/15/domestic-abuse-killings-more-than-double-amid-covid-19-lockdown
Polly Toynbee looked below and behind the current losses, to the weaknesses in life-style, education and resourcing of services – blind eyes are being opened. Hopefully lessons will lead to better use of our privileged wealth from here on – for and by those who survive https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/14/coronavirus-social-care-crisis-andy-burnham-nhs
The bizarre reporting of deaths from coronavirus in the UK, which has excluded deaths in care homes and the community, was finally called out. This has led to an equally bizarre spectacle of contortions by senior officials seeking to deny this, explain this, and belatedly to acknowledge that care homes and care of people at home are just as important and to be valued, as NHS hospitals. Our Thursday 8pm clapping now appreciates care staff and all other essential workers as well as the NHS. Letter writers made powerful points on this: Professor Chris Philipson of Manchester asks for the pay of care staff to be trebled! https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/13/callous-neglect-of-people-in-care-homes-is-a-scandal
Captain Tom Moore showed that people in their nineties have ideas and will put them into practice – raising more that £20 million for the NHS by a sponsored walk around his garden https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/16/coronavirus-capt-tom-moore-raises-12m-nhs-completes-garden-walk
This fitted uneasily with the report from The Social Market Foundation (SMF) which has turned quickly on ‘the elderly’ in its search for funds to pay for the consequences of the covid-19 crisis: ‘scrap the triple lock’ they urge while suggesting that all this expense is devoted to saving older people from an early death and at the expense of the working-age population. Christians on Ageing is alarmed at this quick-fix reflex response from SMF and so were most of the letters in the Guardian next day: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/apr/14/scrap-triple-lock-uk-pensions-coronavirus-crisis
‘The claim that society is making sacrifices to protect its elderly sounds ‘tin-eared’.’ (Following on from the scandalous revelations of failures to support care homes, nor even to count their deaths.)
‘SMF’s proposal is a thinly disguised attempt to force those who have already contributed throughout their younger lives, to pay twice.’
‘I remember pensioners living in poverty when I was younger. I don’t want to see the return of such suffering.’
Ian Watson of Glasgow identifies the report as: ‘an intergenerational divide-and-rule tactic.’ He points out that the current UK pension compares poorly with others: UK pension as a proportion of average earnings: 29%, Netherlands’ pension as a proportion of average earnings: 100.6%, Portugal pension as a proportion of average earnings: 94.9%, OECD average pension as a proportion of average earnings: 62.9% https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/15/it-shouldnt-be-pensioners-who-have-to-pay-for-this-crisis. We have more to say about this
Meanwhile suggestions that NHS staff might receive a campaign medal were not met with enthusiasm, but a Guardian editorial asks for the establishment of a Royal College of Care Work PressReader.com – Your favorite newspapers and magazines.
This might have benefits in the medium and long term
Losses this week included: Stirling Moss, Joe Brown, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Norman Hunter