Whilst trying to put it as politely as possible, it’s still difficult to put it any way other than: ‘What the f**k did they expect?’ If you as the powers-that-be spend the best part of a year and-a-half persuading people that coming into contact with their fellow man in an enclosed space could very well lead to their imminent death, should you be surprised that, after eighteen months of ingesting a relentless stream of Project Fear propaganda that has reduced every Lucy to a Linus, they don’t all rush back to that enclosed space? After all, they’ve foregone bidding farewell to loved ones on their death beds; they’ve foregone funerals, weddings and gatherings of every imaginable nature; and they’ve done all this whilst being exposed to the fact that Matt Hancock and his wandering hands – not to mention St Obama and his birthday bash – have ignored said propaganda and have carried on regardless whilst continuing to preach the mantra of mask-wearing, double-vaccinated social distancing. The powers-that-be seem to have forgotten that trust is earned, not God-given.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s entreaties to Britain’s workforce to return to its traditional workplace now that the pandemic has been jabbed into a mask-free safe space appear to be mysteriously falling on deaf ears – I wonder why? As has been pointed out previously, there are many amongst our cultural commentators and political movers & shakers who have enjoyed a ‘good pandemic’ – those metropolitan, cosmopolitan sages whose regular missives from the North London frontline have been dispatched to the barbaric provinces as a design for life in the wake of their own belated realisations that filing copy from a gated community is preferable to commuting on pleb-polluted public transport.
As long as essential deliveries to their doorsteps continued to be carried out by the great unwashed under the guise of ‘key workers’, this lockdown thing wasn’t such a big deal after all. If anything, it opened their eyes to the possibilities of an economic model in which the old-fashioned workplace could be reserved for the minimum-wage proles and they themselves could issue each fresh proclamation from the comfort of their family-friendly suburban enclaves. The problem now beginning to surface is that they’re not the only ones in the country who’ve had the veil lifted.
Unsurprisingly, the Freedom Day message has failed to connect with the majority of the people whose blood, sweat and toil ordinarily keeps the economy ticking over. The naive anticipation of a rush back to the public workplace post-19 July has not materialised, funnily enough. The furlough scheme probably helped, but there’s a little more to it than what was effectively a newfangled state benefit paid out to those in actual employment. Could it be that those expected to return in their droves after over a year of forced adjustment to a lifestyle in which the work and home environments have become interchangeable have actually realised the futility of their working lives as they existed pre-2020? Or could it be that permanent exposure to a 24/7 tsunami of pandemic propaganda via media of both the mainstream and social variety has left them terrified of their own shadows – a dubious wartime government tactic that is proving difficult to shake-off in this brave new post-war world?
Most sane folk regarded the lifting of lingering lockdown measures in July as an overdue necessity, though we shouldn’t forget that many had been so severely psychologically affected by the experience of the past year and-a-bit that the thought of suddenly setting foot in mask-free, overcrowded environments has been received with abject horror. Visiting the local supermarket is now a scary enough prospect; the thought of returning to an office full of people that requires a journey on a mobile sardine tin is a bridge too far. Government and its irresponsible advisors only have themselves to blame. Yes, some of us view all media outlets with scepticism and thinly-veiled contempt, but the majority accept the broadcast message as Gospel; this Gospel preached the same mantra for well over a year and the mantra was absorbed to the point whereby the unvaccinated are now regarded as unclean or selfish (© Michael Gove) and a threat to the future security of the nation; to therefore expect those who have unquestionably adhered to every edict to drop everything and pick up where they left off at the beginning of 2020 by mixing and mingling in a contaminated social situation is a tall order.
An anonymous Cabinet Minister quoted in the Daily Mail has criticised workers who have shied away from a return to the workplace and has aired his/her opinion that anyone preferring to work from home rather than the office now that it’s no longer mandatory should have their wages deducted and that failing to do so means they’re enjoying ‘a de facto pay rise’. ‘People who have been working from home aren’t paying their commuting costs,’ declared this expenses-claiming voice of reason. ‘If people aren’t going into work, they don’t deserve the terms and conditions they get if they are going into work.’ Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a shock that Ministers are especially affronted by this lacklustre response to Freedom Day because it’s directly affected them on account of civil servants being noticeably reluctant to toe the government line, leaving Whitehall short on Bernard’s if not Sir Humphrey’s. Even old IDS has been prompted to comment, ‘Civil servants need to get off their backsides and into the office, and they need to do it pretty quickly.’
‘Hybrid’ is the current terminology to describe those workers who split their working lives between the office and home. Rishi Sunak is apparently not keen on ‘remote’ workers or ones with a foot in both camps, urging the young to resume their places in city centres as the impact of their absence is beginning to be noted by the Treasury. But why should they? If the past twelve months or so has shown anything it is that a vast swathe of professions that were always deemed to require workplaces can be undertaken from the comfort of home – mid-morning pyjamas and all – and the inbuilt fear of coming into contact with strangers (vaccinated or no) has left many workers reluctant to heed the Chancellor’s call. Again, whose fault is that?
The great working-class moniker of Zachary Gauge belongs to someone whose job title is that of UBS analyst. ‘You can’t operate offices at just 10 percent occupancy,’ Zak observes. ‘From September time, we’ll start to get more of a feel of what that actually looks like. Most people will have had two jabs and that’s the point – the corporate world will start to take more of a hardline approach to people coming back into the office.’ Zak shouldn’t neglect the impact of the so-called ‘pingdemic’ when it comes to his forecast either; the effect of Smartphone commandments ordering workers to abruptly self-isolate at the drop of a hat is playing its part in the economic fortunes of the nation at the moment, of course; any cursory glance at sparse supermarket shelves will tell you that, extending any expected recovery well into the autumn and beyond. But, as I so succinctly put it at the beginning of this post, what the f**k did they expect?
According to the stats, near enough a quarter of the working population worked from home in the month of July, whilst those who made the journey from home to workplace for at least one day in the week dropped from 61% to 57% – and the whole Freedom Day hype probably won’t alter the stats much in the coming weeks. Too much terror has been drilled into the work-age population to expect them to revert to the pre-2020 default position when it comes to earning a living. In order to ensure compliance, their heads have been battered by ‘The Science’, and wiping those heads clean of all that SAGE scaremongering so that they will resume drone-hood like nothing ever happened is pure pie-in-the-sky. Reaping and sowing – it’s a funny old game, innit.
© The Editor