First it was the Chinese. Then it was holiday goers returning to the UK. Europeans, refugees, even event attendees traipsing back from Cheltenham could not escape the scorn of our country’s government ministers. The general public have been lacking in the common sense department, illegal migrant camps are a hotbed for the virus. The staff at Granny’s care home that camped out in tents to protect their residents instead of going home? “Too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have,” says our darling prime minister.
Basically, if you have a pulse, you’re likely to have been held to account for at least some portion of the coronavirus’s tragic wave of destruction. Unless you're a member of the Conservative cabinet, that is.
It’s not uncommon for a country’s government to look to potential scapegoats during times of crisis and civil unrest, in fact it’s a tale as old as time. Antisemitism, anti-immigration and Islamophobia are all cultural phenomena which recognise the prejudices historically faced by certain minority groups; groups that are also common victims of scapegoating by the social elites.
However, meeting the requirements of being a scapegoat is not limited to only the most typical of victims, as the Conservative Party have so generously proven over the last six months.
It is an undoubtable truth that Britain failed spectacularly in containing the deadliest virus since Spanish Flu, a century ago. Despite the lockdown and social distancing measures implemented in March and April of this year, the latest daily confirmed COVID cases as of the time of writing has risen to 6,874; barely behind the peak of the virus at Easter where cases hit 7,860 in a day.
"The pitiful reality of the pandemic in the United Kingdom is that there is hard evidence to support that our government, elected by the general public to support our country, did not act quickly enough."
The pitiful reality of the pandemic in the United Kingdom is that there is hard evidence to support that our government, elected by the general public to support our country, did not act quickly enough. Distracted by Brexit and failing to react to growing warnings, the government’s hesitation to close borders and enact lockdown has cost the lives of tens of thousands. The powers that be in the Conservative Party have blood on their hands, and they themselves are to blame. At least, so you’d think.
Despite consciously refusing to act whilst having the Rule of Law and authority on their side, the Conservatives have seemingly still managed to place the blame on anyone but themselves. Rather than admitting defeat and ultimately providing the respect and leadership the general public deserve, the Tory government have sought to turn its electorate against each other.
Families have been encouraged to slate their relatives’ care staff, distracting them from the fact that care homes were inexcusably left behind by the government in the months when COVID rates began to rise. Even beach-goers who were only following government guidelines were shunned by many creating crowds, despite travel bans being lifted. Likewise, and close to home to those of us at Surrey and various universities across the UK, students have now become the latest target in the government’s desire to scapegoat its citizens.
Despite the hugely popular Eat Out to Help Out scheme implemented in August which aimed to coerce the general public, and in particular young people, into spending their money, when the rate of infection predictably began to rise, we were the ones blamed. Similarly, when the government commanded young people be sent back to schools and universities, it was once again us that were flouting the rules.
Perhaps most insensitive of all, Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s ‘don’t kill your gran” comment was the lowest of blows; suggesting that young people take responsibility for the deaths of their loved ones, a devastating dig at those who have already lost grandparents at the hands of their government’s incompetence.
At the end of the day, the Conservative Party can sacrifice a minority of young voters as collateral damage because they feel they don't really need us. Ultimately the Tories can spare students when their primary voter demographic is typically made up of older generations; that’s why we are next in line to take the brunt of the blame.
In an era of extreme uncertainty and fear, generations turning against one another will do nothing but hinder the recovery of society in years to come, when COVID-19 no longer haunts our day-to-day lives. This government, not even a year since its election success, is looking for who to blame, rather than accepting fault. The Conservative blame game is an unforgivable COVID strategy, one which will only drive an already divided nation further apart. We can only hope than in years to come, we as a country will be able to heal and to forgive, but never forget.