This piece was kindly published by The Bruges Group
Sajid Javid’s decision to pull back from forcing frontline NHS staff to be vaccinated or leave their jobs is a victory for the Health Trade Unions, NHS100 and belatedly common sense.
It is mendacious to claim that the evidence before the Health Secretary on COVID-19 is materially different to what was known in December 2021.
Angelique Coetzee, the South African General Practitioner who first documented the Omicron variant, confirmed based on her own albeit modest data, that it was highly infectious but rarely life threatening.
This was borne out in empirical data as weeks passed yet the Health Secretary held off from his “consultation” (kicking the ball 80 yards into the elephant grass) until just 4 days before the estimated 78,000 unvaccinated staff affected would need to have had their first jab.
This policy is an act of sabotage. It has destroyed trust between staff and management at individual hospital level that may never repair. It has also opened the floodgates to a slew of claims for compensation and reinstatement from up to 40,000 workers in the Social Care sector who lost their jobs in November.
Once again, the government is the creator of its own demise. Bodily autonomy should not even be a conversation piece in a free society. It is telling that Dr Steve James and the Together campaign are still pursuing their judicial review on the legitimacy of the government’s mandate.
Given the other “difficulties” (also of its own making) the government is facing from departures in 10 Downing Street to mounting letters of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady, along with things it will claim are not it’s responsibility (an energy cost crisis and roaring inflation), one might think that Mr Javid might have avoided the ignominy of a “consultation” by not pursuing this policy in the first place.
Adding 78,000 to the 100,000 vacancies already in the NHS would have been an act of folly. Mind you, adding up to 40,000 vacancies in Social Care due to mandatory vaccinations in a sector with 10% vacancies also lacked wisdom.
Better late than never? Of course but once again the government has given itself an avoidable bloody nose. No surprise that the Tories move ever closer to the beginning of the regicide of Boris Johnson as they see that despite a weak Labour opposition, they are well on their way to ensuring that they lose power for (at least) a generation at the next General Election.
The Tories’ credibility for economic management responsibility was blown with breaking manifesto promises on taxation. Get Brexit Done has been exposed as a fallacy by Edwin Poots of the Democratic Unionist Party and the lack of deregulation that will ensure the real dividend of Brexit is not delivered.
Recognising we are over 40% of the way through a full parliamentary term, it would be easy to dismiss the Tories plummeting poll ratings as “mid term blues” and cite their 9% support (and 5th place) in the European Parliament elections 7 months before winning an 80 seat majority in 2019.
That would be ostrich mentality at best. The Tories are heading for a massacre in May’s local elections. They have only themselves to blame.
© justchrisdavies 2022