Lockdown is creating new social divides far deeper and more troubling than the split between the have-gardens and those who depend on local parks for recreation. The uncomfortable truth is that, for a large proportion of the population, social-distancing isn’t much of an imposition at all, barring a few tiresome queues at the supermarket.
Wealthy professionals in full-time employment, who haven’t yet noticed the economic calamity reeling towards us, can do their jobs from home with little disruption to their working lives, and with the added benefit of spending more time with their families. Some furloughed workers – particularly those who never much liked their jobs to begin with, and on salaries of £20-25,000 a year – are being paid to do nothing, albeit while taking a pay cut. They may even be saving on childcare costs.
Public sector employees, meanwhile, are shielded from much of the economic impact; I know of teachers on full pay who are being asked to work just a couple of days a month. The long-term impact on their careers of a period in semi-employment will be negligible. MPs have just received a pay rise.
Obviously, I don’t wish to force these groups to share in full the sacrifices of the self-employed, the flat-dwellers, the newly-unemployed, and furloughed workers who have seen their incomes collapse because of the penny-pinching failures of the Government’s support package.
Incidentally, the devastation wrought by lockdown on all sorts of people is being overlooked: households that depend on one larger salary that has evaporated, or entrepreneurs who only recently set up shop. But it does perhaps provide part of the answer to why so many have surrendered their liberties so willingly – and have so little sympathy for those who find it tougher to abide stringently to the lockdown regulations.
We are seeing an epidemic of snitching. Hotlines set up to allow members of the public to shop friends, colleagues, neighbours and strangers for breaking the rules have been inundated with calls. Social media is full of misleadingly shot photos三级成人视频 of people sitting in parks or going into work on the Tube, accompanied by snide little comments about the “selfishness” of those who have dared go outside and attacks on companies that still expect their staff to come into the office.
Where is the common-feeling and unity of purpose we are told is our national strength? If those who are enjoying a relatively comfortable lockdown are unable to “check their privilege”, then these restrictions will not be sustainable much beyond the end of the month. The police cannot be expected to enforce the rules more strictly.
While some officers are no doubt enjoying the opportunity to boss around otherwise law-abiding people三级成人视频 rather too much, most I have spoken to are anxious not to overstep the mark. They are mindful that, unless a consensus can be maintained behind the rules, then we can add civil disobedience and a collapse in faith in the rule of law to our list of woes.