The failings behind the UK’s abysmal death toll | Letters

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Inadequate lockdowns, incompetent ministers and indifference to suffering are all factors behind the government’s disastrous handling of the Covid pandemic, write Prof Joe Sim and Prof Steve Tombs. Plus letters from Val Mainwood, Brendan Martin, Adrian Cosker, Jane Deighton and Fiona Collins

The specifics of the failures of the UK government to manage a public health crisis have been long documented and are well-known – notwithstanding the fact that they continue not to be addressed, crucially, for example, in the still lamentable test-and-trace system, the disastrous inadequacies of financial support for isolation, and the misleadingly labelled “lockdown”, under which in fact millions are still effectively forced to travel to work and school (‘I’m deeply sorry’: Boris Johnson faces questions over UK Covid death toll’, 26 January).

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More broadly, we observe that Boris Johnson’s government has presided over a lamentable political and moral failure. The systemic indifference and collective incompetence of ministers, and the evasions and half-truths at regular press briefings, have been legitimated by the pseudo-scientific gloss of many experts and allowed to pass relatively unchallenged by media seemingly committed to working towards some mythical “national interest”. Whatever public inquiries or legal actions follow, many of the 100,000-plus deaths so far officially recorded in the UK condemn the government to being guilty of what Friedrich Engels called “social murder” – forcing sections of the population to live in conditions which have inevitably led to avoidable, premature deaths, and will continue to do so.
Joe Sim Professor of criminology, Liverpool John Moores University
Steve Tombs Professor of criminology, The Open University

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