Saturday 14 March 2020


by Richey Edwards

We live in troubled times for sure, but as a nation we've been through worse.  Sadly, the reaction of a few will make things worse for the many.  Suddenly everyone is an expert who knows better than the actual experts.  This phenomenon is being exacerbated by news media, celebrities and social media.  24 hours ago politicians from all parties were united behind UK government policy, from the Labour government in Wales to the SNP in Scotland.  Now Labour politicians in England are jumping on the bandwagon of the self-appointed 'experts' and have defaulted into finger-pointing party politics that helps no-one.  We are in a national emergency, we are all in this together and will get through it only if we act together as one big team, regardless of political ideology.

When news first broke of health minister Nadine Dorries' Covid-19 diagnosis, many on the Labour benches sent their best wishes.  Party politics were put on hold.  Most of the MPs sending those regards have so far restrained themselves from the same criticism expressed by some of their colleagues.  Once again it is the MPs of the hard left who are so consumed by spite and hatred that they cannot see the bigger picture.  Jon Ashworth is clearly a mouthpiece for Corbyn at this stage, still making amends for his pre-election phone gaffe.

Corbyn himself will come off the fence in the next few days and will certainly launch into Boris at the next PMQs when Covid cases are in the thousands.  Rest assured, regardless of whatever action the government would have taken - his poisonous, divisive and unhelpful response would be the same.

Corbyn, his ilk, the mass media, Piers Morgan, Kay Burley and countless others are happy to ferment panic.  It sells newspapers, keeps people glued to the TV and, in the case of Corbyn, furthers an insidious political agenda.  But how panicked should we actually be?  Not at all, really.  Panic is not something we, as a people, are known for.  Most of us by now are aware of the self-centered bog roll hoarding morons, but they are a minority.  Sadly, their actions may well have a knock-on effect to the many sensible people who do not engage in such short-sighted and shameful activity in a time of national crises.  When one grabs all the hand sanitiser so that there is none left for others, it makes all those others all the more likely to catch the virus and pass it on.  Remember that most carriers will not necessarily show symptoms.  Once they have passed it on to you all the hand sanitiser in your cupboard at home cannot help you.

Panic buying hinders, it does not help.  We are in this together.

I'll level with you right now.  I have asthma.  I am concerned.  However, I am not running around grabbing bog roll from the nearest store.  For starters it's a respiratory illness, so if you're worried about your arse then you're worried about the wrong end.  I consign myself to the reality that I will almost certainly contract Covid in the coming weeks or months.  There isn't a great deal I can do about.  As many of you know I work from home and have done since I quit my regular job to run BTLP full-time.  That's fine, I can self-isolate very easily.  Problem is my partner works in a role that brings her into contact with dozens of new people every day.  She comes home every night and, well, you know the rest.

I'm sure I'll be OK and like pretty much everybody else right now I'm more concerned about my elderly relatives.  My dad is in his eighties, but still works a five day week and comes into contact with a lot of people.  He's fit, healthy and this obviously stands him in good stead.  He's also not at all bothered by the outbreak, which may or may not stand him in good stead.  Time will tell, for all of us.

What does put my mind at ease is the fact there are currently thousands of elderly folk around the world who have not only contracted the virus, but are beating it.  I just happened upon an example of this while juggling between this article and tweeting.  The Hollywood actor Tom Hanks and his wife are currently in self-isolation due to coronavirus and are in good spirits, even posting a selfie on Instagram.  Their son also posted a video informing fans that he's spoken to them on the phone and they "both are fine, they're not even that sick, they're not worried about it, they're not tripping".  Watch below (especially if you like topless guys and tattoos - it's not my cup of tea I hasten to add).

Tom Hanks and his wife are both 63.  That's not particularly aged, but the very fact they appear to be breezing through this affliction should give comfort to some.  It does to me anyway.  So does the case of Nadine Dorries' mother.  She is significantly older than Tom Hanks.

On Tuesday the infected health minister tweeted that her 84-year-old mother had developed a cough.  On Friday she confirmed that the old girl had tested positive , but was "doing ok".

Fingers crossed that she pulls through, although it sounds as if she very much will.  Again, this is a promising sign for our elderly relatives.  While those with additional health concerns will be more vulnerable, Covid is not necessarily a death sentence for pensioners.  Please don't panic.

Panic is not cool, it's not helpful and it's just not British.