BBC’s Emily Maitlis has once again certified her place as a national treasure and broadcaster for the people.
In November, the Newsnight presenter gave Prince Andrew a royal ass-kicking over his relationship with convicted sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, and on Wednesday night she addressed viewers with the conviction of a broadcaster who is unafraid to challenge the status quo.
‘[Covid-19] is not a “great leveller”; the consequences of which everyone, rich or poor, suffers the same.
‘This is a myth, which needs de-bunking. Those who have been on the front line right now, bus drivers, shelf stackers, nurses, care home workers, hospital staff and shopkeepers are disproportionately the lower paid members of our workforce. They are more likely to catch the disease because they are more exposed’.
Emily’s critique of the language used to report on the coronavirus outbreak is absolutely necessary.
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The virus itself is indiscriminate. It doesn’t care about your wealth, occupation or social status; it is a microscopic parasite incapable of prejudice.
But make no mistake, the fiscal, social and financial impact of the pandemic is far greater if you are poor.
The virus has impacted each and every one of us, but we will not all suffer in the same way.
We are all in lockdown, but the experience of the wealthy in sprawling countryside mansions will be far different to citizens living in high-rise apartment blocks, who are gradually being denied access to green space.
The country’s key workers: delivery drivers, nurses, care workers and supermarket staff are some of the lowest paid workforces in the country and yet they are the most at risk of exposure.
This is not a ‘great leveller’ for them.
Yet, coronavirus testing is already available, if you’re rich.
Private clinics are offering symptomatic testing kits for those who can afford to cough up the £375 charge, while NHS staff are being taken away from the frontline for showing symptoms without knowing if they are, in fact, contagious due a lack of adequate testing.
Yes, we are all making sacrifices, but they are by no means equal
For many people, staying at home to save lives means risking their own.
Home is not a safe place for everyone. Victims of domestic violence who once had the saving grace of leaving the house to go to work, to see a friend, to seek refuge with a family member, are now trapped indoors with their abuser.
The National Domestic Abuse Hotline has seen a 25 per cent increase of calls and online requests since the lockdown.
Disabled and ‘vulnerable’ people continue to be disproportionately affected by lockdown rules, while able-bodied, physically capable people take up precious home-delivery slots.
Wealthy folk with garden decking to rival a cruise ship cast their moralistic authoritarian judgement by photo-shaming those in the park who dare to sit for a moment to take a break from their daily exercise before heading back to concrete bedsits.
People in big glass houses shouldn’t go stoning others until they’ve walked a mile in their workout shoes.
Yes, we are all making sacrifices, but they are by no means equal.
Outrage over access to benefits and government funding is nothing new, but it is a novelty for the middle classes. They haven’t been waiting in an online queue for Universal Credit, let alone had to make a midnight dash to an ATM to pick up Jobseeker’s Allowance.
The Great British spirit will prevail, but it will not replenish a deficit of 40,000 nurses on its own.
Our kingdom may be united against a common enemy, but it’s hard to drool Britannia if you have been consistently ignored or abused by the British system.
Immigrant hospital staff have faced prejudicial racist judgement in a post-Brexit Britain but are some of the country’s most valuable assets. Homeless people have only been afforded accommodation in hotels in the wake of the virus.
While I commend the actions of the government in seeking a fair financial model for all of us affected by the impact of the virus, inequality remains.
It feels like the resources were always there but it was just the wrong people who needed it.
Last night we applauded in unison for the National Health Service, but less than six months ago we collectively voted for a political party whose austerity policies have hindered the NHS’s capacity to keep up with demand.
Thinktank IPPR found that these cuts have resulted in 130,000 preventable deaths in the UK since 2012, not including deaths from Covid-19.
Nurses need better pay, not just applause. But in 2017 every Tory MP bar one voted against scrapping the one per cent pay-rise cap for them.
‘Best case scenario’ leaves us with 20,000 deaths due to coronavirus. The dead will include otherwise healthy NHS workers who struggled to access basic PPE.
The aftermath of World War II led to the creation of the NHS, I can only hope that our government’s response to coronavirus leads to its salvation.
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