The UK will change after the coronavirus. But we must fight to make it a change for the better | Owen Jones | Opinion


IIt may take a serious national crisis to fire a flare, revealing the ugliest features of a society defined by injustices that the rich and powerful would rather forget. It took WWII to realize what Jarrow’s hunger marches in the 1930s were hard for: to illustrate the national shame that millions of people called to make great sacrifices were afflicted by poverty and malnutrition. As the evacuated hungry children arrived at the door of the wealthy, the other Britain could no longer be overlooked. “A revolutionary moment in world history is a time of revolution, not patchwork,” said William Beveridge, laying the foundation for the post-war welfare state. The state’s unprecedented leadership of the economy meant that the ambitious nationalization program was no longer as scary. The old order perished in the rubble of war-torn Britain.

The coronavirus has done two things: it has amplified existing social crises and has proven that government can act decisively when the will is there. Millions are just one package away from misery; self-employed workers and workers in the concert economy lack security and basic rights; private tenants are at the mercy of their owners; our welfare state is woefully inadequate; and many designated “key workers” are desperately undervalued and poorly paid. Who, in good faith, can now blind these sinister truths?

A party that has scorned the idea of ​​a magic money tree may discover an entire forest, in the form of a multi-billion pound stimulus, 350 billion pound aid and write the paychecks of millions of workers. A government that has overseen the rise in homelessness can suddenly order the abolition of brutal sleep by decree. Years spent reducing the welfare state give way to a unilateral increase in universal credit, albeit from a paltry sum to a paltry sum; and decades of worship on the altar of the market come to an abrupt end as the rail franchise is suspended – halfway through public ownership – while the fragmentation of the NHS is reversed and there is even talk of partial nationalization airlines.


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