Express & Star

Andy Richardson: Backward behaviour over planning ahead

The winter flu season might seem an eon away as we bask in the memory of the hottest September week ever.

Covid jabs are back again

As the world warms and politicians eschew policies that would help to slow down the worsening of our climate, it may seem an odd time to look ahead to deep autumn and winter.

Yet both will soon be upon us and a new Covid variant is in town, causing concern for at-risk groups.

The disruption of lockdown may seem like a lifetime away, yet those in care homes are now among the first to be offered booster shots.

The Government is rolling out a programme to protect all adults aged 65 or over, people in a clinical risk group, frontline health and social care workers, and others in need.

It marks a scaled-back response compared to 2022, when all over-50s were offered an extra dose.

The aim is simple, to guard against severe illness and death following the horrors of the pandemic.

But the Government is saying too little about their preparedness for a further pandemic or the mistakes that happened during the Covid-19 epidemic.

We were undoubtedly on the back foot when Covid struck, and a lethal combination of poor forward planning and ineptitude at the heart of Government made matters far worse than they might have been, with tragic consequences for vast numbers around the UK.

It wasn’t just Covid that saw us unable to plan ahead.

Brexit continues to haunt many businesses as they face barriers to trade with those across the Channel, whether they wish to import goods and services or export them.

Gradually, it seems, there’s a growing realisation that we lost our political minds between 2016 and 2022 when the UK went into collective meltdown, having previously enjoyed a global reputation for stability.

Tearing up the status quo that had enabled steady growth across 40 years brought down a succession of prime ministers, ate into valuable civil service time that might have been better spent on other matters, and left us with next-to-none of the benefits that such proponents as Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage promised.

The Conservative Party remains in a state of jeopardy over the mess that has been caused.

While Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt face a battle to secure their political futures at the next general election, they have at least brought a period of political stability. Arguments now are about competence and policy, rather than personality, and the nation is better off for that.

There are some pressing issues ahead.

The cost of living crisis is the issue that will not go away.

As we head beyond the warmth of summer, millions will once more face the choice between heating and eating.

Our public buildings are in crisis over the aerated concrete fiasco – what was that thing about forward planning and taking decisions in a timely manner? – while many industrial disputes remain unsettled.

The Government’s view appears to be that we have to accept we’re all worse off – apart from those at the very top, who are swimming in wealth and taking helicopter rides to meetings.

It’s not just the political decisions that are required, it’s also the way in which they are made.

A fascinating interview from former PM-hopeful-turned-hit-making-podcaster Rory Stewart has revealed that a number of politicians came close to suicide while he was in the Commons, such was the strain placed upon them during a divisive era in our recent history.

Parliamentarians experienced total breakdowns in public and found themselves in unwinnable wars as they sought to balance personal ambition with the needs of constituents and the duty to follow party rules.

Such remarks remind us of the need for a kinder politics, one in which we’re able to disagree agreeably, where we’re able to understand the opposing point of view, however much we may dislike it.

We are but a short while from another general election, the public will soon decide whether the politics we have endured has been fit for purpose.