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Covid-19; What Next?

April 5, 2020 8:00 AM

Chris Burton-Johnson

Way back in the coronavirus innocent days (four weeks ago) of early March I developed a cough, felt rather weak - and had to lie down… The following morning I had a significant cough, a temperature of 39.3, no energy, scratchy eyes and no appetite.

As I hadn't travelled abroad or knowingly met with someone identified as having 'the bug' I was able to make an immediate appointment with my GP - who diagnosed a chest infection, prescribed antibiotics and told me to take the maximum dose of paracetamol - with the caveat that if my temparature didn't revert to normal within a couple of days I should contact the 111 service.

Two days later, I had a most frustrating 111 experience which gave me absolutely no help. I made a descision to self isolate. After six days in bed I began to feel much better and my temperature reduced. I still don't know if I've had Covid-19 - and maybe never will - but the latest consensus is that I probably have!

Four weeks of staying home, enjoying the intellectually calming influence of Radio 3, reading The Guardian on-line and exercising with a bit of energetic gardening has given me lots of thinking time… As I began to feel better, I developed a feeling of pessimism: We were heading to mid March and our Prime Minister and his cabinet were clearly unqualified to provide disciplined leadership.

Two main themes began to dominate my thinking; the first was medical; the second is food security:

Whilst the past ten years of Tory government policy has left the NHS woefully under-resourced to deal with a pandemic, this will probably be addressed.

What concerns me more on the medical front is the question of increasing liklihood and frequency of new disease, as human population pressure pushes us to the limits of habitable territory, and simultaneously brings man into much closer contact with other species - and the medical conditions to which they have some sort of immunity - whilst we humans don't…

That, in turn develops into thoughts of interdependancy between nations, species - and human tribes and cultures.

In my view, the short term greed which drives our species means we're not doing too well in terms of long term sustainability, and, if it isn't brought under international control fairly quickly, the sustained economic effect of the current pandemic may well make the last ten plus years of austerity seem like ten years of excess and frivolity.

So what might be next - and what might LibDems do?

Whilst food supplies have come under pressure from panic buying in the past few weeks this situation is clearly being addressed.

What concerns me much more is the question of our small countries food security in the medium and longer term.

I've had an interest in food and farming for as long as I can remember. In the late 1940's my grandad had a large, productive back garden - whilst dad (a schoolteacher) kept hens in a corner of the village school playing field - and used their muck to grow mushrooms in a loft over the henhouse.

Mum and grandma cooked together, and I enjoyed helping all four of my adults!

Seventy years on (after a fifty year career which was always close to food) the concept of retirement is anathema! For the past six years I have been supporting an organic dairy farmer; that means a lot of first hand experience of the difficulty of engaging British nationals in the hard but essential slog of food producion.

Our reliance on eastern Europeans at harvest time looks pretty dodgy at the moment.

What our country clearly needs is what we had in the early years of my life - a LandArmy!

And maybe thats where clear LibDem forward thinking might come in.

Our hard working MP's must remain totally engaged in the short term problems of their constituents for the forseeable future, but the mindset of LibDem members and supporters surely positions us to create a 'LibDem LandArmy'…

If you live close to an agricultural area, have you thought of approaching a local farmer to check if he or she will have sufficent access to the human resources needed to gather the asparagus, salad crops and vegetables currently growing?

Local or national promotion of the concept of a 'LibDem LandArmy' could give our party a very positive image!

Think about it - and please contact me (or the farmer in Tarleton) if what I have said above 'strikes a chord'

Chris Burton-Johnson

07770 120039 / chr15j@outlook.com