I came across a phrase yesterday, which I rather liked: We might not be in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm.
We are not all in the same boat, because our circumstances are so different. Surviving Covid is much easier if you are, like me, one of the 17% of Brits employed by the state, able to work from home. For self-employed people, those running small businesses, those now back on furlough the reality is more brutal. If you are young and fit, Covid is far less of a threat than for those over 60 and/or with underlying health issues. Everyone has a different experience. Already email traffic from anxious constituents has trebled since Saturday and my team and I will do our utmost to help.
But we are all in the same storm. We now need to pull together, from our disparate boats and get through this uninvited storm and land safely on the other side.
Here are three ways that might help us do that better.
Let’s all dial down the outrage.
This is a season through which we should cut each other some slack, both politically and personally. Yes, mistakes have been made by our government because ministers and top civil servants are human beings and nobody has experienced anything like this before. Everybody is doing their best. Although government must be held to account by Parliament and the Opposition and the media, it would help to see a much more constructive national discourse about how to beat Covid. I wonder if Churchill would have survived 1940 if social media had been in existence at the time?
Let’s all look out for the vulnerable.
Some people are flying through this, others are really struggling, sometimes financially, but also with mental health issues. Their boats are leaking. The welfare system is there to support people, but it will take more than that. This is where the British people always step up to the plate – I know that many of you have already got your eye on your elderly neighbours or the person around the corner who is displaying signs of distress. We are allowed to walk out/exercise with a friend and that would not be a bad way to assist – a regular walk.
Let’s all travel in hope.
There are encouraging signs on the horizon. Turnaround testing, a likely vaccine early next year, improved medical knowledge, better preparations. We will come out of this in 2021 but when we do many things will stay changed. Necessity is the mother of invention. There will be real advances in how we do government, how we use technology, our care for the natural environment, the focus on mental health, how we shop and work and travel.
In a storm we take shelter. The sun will come out again.