If you believe a map that is doing the rounds at the moment the latest outbreaks of the virus appear to afflict mainly Labour voting areas. Being full cognisant of confirmation bias, I nevertheless say, of course, what else would you expect? The leafy suburbs of prosperous commuters, now working from home and continuing to earn a decent living, give ample opportunity to isolate. Why, I have never even had a conversation with the neighbours, let alone any wider community.
But if you live cheek-by-jowl with the consequences of your chaotic social activities it is little wonder that you resemble a virus playground. Born into poverty, into a world where everybody you know has some familial connection with you, how else are you expected to navigate your life. The man who sleeps with your mother is not your father and the sisters and brothers you grow up with are only half-siblings. Your ‘aunties and uncles’ may or may not be blood… but they are probably not very far removed.
Whereas skilled professionals tend to have a social life that extends way beyond the immediate family, with acquaintanceships regularly sacrificed along the road to success; house moves, job moves, etc, the lives of Britain’s working classes are often lived entirely within the tribe. From school into work and a social life lived very much within a small geographical area, it is little wonder that such huddled communities have their own history and their own folklore.
Labour knows this and exploits a fierce tribal mythology that says all your problems stem from the hated Tories and all the solutions lie with Labour. Despite Labour strongholds serially failing to improve the lot of their constituents – often presiding over the corruption and decline which accompanies such nepotistic structures – it is still Boris Johnson who personally kicked the forkful of food from your mouth.
It is no surprise that certain Labour MPs have been exposed as gleefully exploiting the pandemic for political ends. And it will be no surprise that it will work, and the denizens of our crowded cities will return Labour MPs at the next election; there is so little the Conservatives can do about it. When generations have experienced the same privations, regardless of who was in power, why would they vote for people they have been brought up to see as rapacious ogres? Labour MP Jess Phillips even said as much; that in her family Tories were just regarded as evil.
Even if the current government were to pursue a ruinous policy of showering riches on these unproductive communities it would just be seen as naked bribery. As unpalatable as this message has become, ultimately it is not the job of government to make you rich or healthy. Or happy. Only you can ultimately do that. But if you have been brought up to expect failure and embrace mediocrity, it is unlikely you will participate in any new economic opportunities.
No. You will huddle closer together, tell yourselves that the Tories hate you and ignore the injunctions to socially distance, to maintain vigilance. But what other choice do you have? You will have to go to work to make ends meet – no WFH for you – and the virus will run riot through your ranks. It will just become another episode in your long history of being stuck at the bottom.
The chances are extremely high that you will survive, develop immunities, and carry on breeding. You will blame any suffering on the Conservative government and carry on with your miserable lives convinced that a Labour government would have done things entirely different. But as harsh as it sounds, your plight is neither caused by the Tories nor can be solved by Labour. Only you can do that… but will you?