There are certain things that become mantras over on the left. Not particularly thought out positions – and yes, clearly, the right is guilty of much the same thing – which become the fashionable buzzwords to use. A fully planned and integrated transport system for example. Something we’ve seen around for a couple of decades now. The bit that’s never really examined being, well, yes, but…..how? Even, what? Do we mean trains meet buses at their stations, or are we talking trams to the suburbs, or what’s not integrated about cars?
Similarly, the democratic control of production. Well, yes, but how, or even what? Do we all vote, as a country, on what colour cars are to be? Or is it only those in the paint shop who decide that all cars are to be orange today? Or, even, what’s not democratic about individuals expressing a preference for what colour the car they’re about to buy should be?
The latest of these is test and trace. Here’s Paul Heaton:
It seems throughout a soul-sapping 2020, Heaton has managed to retain his position as one of life’s optimists. “I’m vociferously anti-government and I strongly believe this government would have fallen if we’d had the right journalists and critics,” he says. But, “let’s not fall out about wearing a mask, let’s direct that energy of argument against the government and say: ‘Well, neither of us should be wearing a mask, it should be over and done with, we should have had test and trace’.”
The bloke can definitely write songs but, this test and trace. Exactly what is meant here? And how? We see the same phrase popping up in the likes of Owen Jones’ output. We should have had, could have had, test and trace. That would have solved everything!
Well, yes, except, well, how?
Which leads to a question to you dear readers. Among countries that actually had significant infection rates who has had efficient test and trace? How did they do it? How would we have, should we have, adapted that to our own situation where we’ve that notably unresponsive NHS in the system? How much of this “test and trace” is just a mantra, like “democratic control of the economy” rather than a plan of action?
There are things about Mr. Heaton that are simpler though:
It was obviously not the first time – so what other acts of stealth altruism has he been carrying out. “That’s a secret!” he says coyly. But he is willing to say that, sitting in his inbox, is an email from his accountant that he finds particularly amusing. “It’s just him despairing, ’cos he’s saying: ‘We can save money this way,’ and I’m being opposite and contrary, which is how I was brought up. If he says: ‘Here’s a way of saving money,’ then I say: ‘Well, I want to pay more tax on it.’ That’s how I’ve been and that’s how I’ll remain.” Heaton once even tried to nationalise his back catalogue, but was turned down by the former business secretary Greg Clark. Undeterred, he is now in negotiations to pay a higher council tax.
Why negotiate? Why not just send in a cheque?
Cheques, by the way, should be made out to “The Accountant, HM Treasury”, and sent to 1 Horse Guards Road, London SW1A 2HQ. A 2nd-class stamp is sufficient
Anyone who knows Mr. Heaton might like to advise him of this.