There’s a favourite topic of conversation where people are asked what they’re going to do “post COVID” or when “life gets back to normal”. I find difficult the relevance and significance of either of these phrases.
Many of us who have been working from home are probably experiencing a better COVID than those who must go out to work. There’s a severe class divide between those of us stuck in front of our screens at home and those working on the front line, especially NHS and key workers, too many of whom have literally given their lives. There also needs to be a better appreciation that COVID will be with us for a long time, especially following Sajid Javid, the new UK Health Secretary’s decision to let COVID rip, with a strong possibility of a third, or it is fourth wave, with its serious implications once more for overwhelming the NHS. The UK is now the only country in the world to reply simply on vaccinations, with almost no other serious mitigating measures. And you’ve probably heard about colleagues suffering badly from COVID, even through they’ve had both jabs!
So I’m a bit fed up with all the stuff about ‘build back better’ from Scotland’s liberal elite in the Wellbeing Alliance or Royal Society of Edinburgh.
And then there is Brexit. I doubt whether Boris Johnson really knows or cares about the Northern Ireland Protocol, or the Withdrawal Agreement’s detailed effects on those who must work for a living. The Scottish fishing industry is gradually disappearing and many who work in exports and imports are desperately worried about their jobs.
As you will see from various postings from others and myself below, that many of us believe that COVID provides a rationale for removing the market and private sector competition from the delivery of public services. I am especially concerned about some in Social Enterprise UK and the wider Cooperative Movement who see no problem in third sector organisations competing against the private sector – though they must cut wages, terms and conditions to win contracts.
I am also passionate about Scotland’s becoming an independent country, though I think there is far too much hype about rejoining the European Union, of whose basic principles I have never been a great fan. The EU is far from perfect, especially with Viktor Orban and Fidesz, the Hungarian Civic Alliance and Jarosław Kaczyński from Law and Justice in Poland. But many of us have far more in common with a range of political leaderships in mainland Europe, including many Christian Democrats, than ever we could have with Johnson’s Conservatives. A good friend in the European Parliament was one of the leaders of the German truck drivers’ union and a Christian Democrat.
Finally, as always, I am concerned about my students at GCU. Like me, many of them are the first in their family to go to university and they need a lot more support. Especially during COVID, I want to see the Scottish Government expanding support for students in both FE and HE, especially for students in poorer areas. We need to find ways of assisting more students with outreach centres equipped with IT and mentoring. Though at GCU we are getting better at online delivery and the University has done well with providing us with more software, it’s still too difficult for many of our students.
That’s all for now, but I wanted you to know where I’m coming from. Hope to see you soon on Zoom if not personally.