In the summer of 1989, the government of Hungary succumbed to popular demand. The cumbersome, bureaucratic and oppressive machinery of the Communist state could no longer keep its people in check. Tens of thousands of refugees were arriving in the country in the hope of reaching the West. Hungarians themselves no longer wanted to be restricted in their freedom of movement. The fence between Hungary and Austria was removed and the entire Soviet bloc began to crumble. It was not a revolution, it was simply people pushing a government over a tipping point.
Having done too little, too late in recent weeks, the British government can only watch news stories from Germany where speedy action and efficient testing mean that the death toll is a small fraction of that in Britain, and that the restrictions imposed are now being lifted. The British government is resolute in its refusal to set forth its own plans to allow the return of freedom.
In the face of governmental obstinacy, and its treatment of its citizens as though they are children and cannot be trusted with information, people are taking their own decisions.
The building industry has announced its intention to return to work on Monday, 4th May. Press reports have suggested that railways intend resuming more normal timetables on Monday, 11th May. Schools will not be returning on 11th May, but there are suggestions that classrooms will re-open on Monday, 1st June.
Whilst the month of May is still a week away, on the streets, people are already defying the lockdown. Groups of men who would ordinarily have sat in a pub garden on a fine, warm evening may be found sat gathered around park benches, cans of beer in hand, the affairs of the day being discussed. The absence of traffic had made the streets places of opportunity for boy racers to test their acceleration, busier streets this evening saw young people driving around with music blaring from their cars.
The lockdown is crumbling because the government has refused to treat people as adults. It will not even be honest with itself, seeking to present statistics in such a way as to mask nursing home deaths.
In a situation of national emergency, there is no reason why the Office of National Statistics could not have streamlined its procedures. Deaths must be registered in five days and there is no reason why numbers of deaths from Covid-19 could not be counted as soon as they are registered. Instead, the ONS figures have a ten day lag and, in presenting statistics in the daily briefing, the government’s line showing total deaths is hidden among the lines showing deaths in other countries.
If the government is guilty of fudge, finesse and obfuscation, it is unsurprising people have grown restive. The trend now is likely to be in only one direction.