I echo the words of the Prime Minister when he praises our fantastic NHS staff. He says that his experiences have changed his view of the NHS. When he returns to Number 10 I expect he’ll find that our country has changed too.
When this pandemic ends there will be important lessons to learn for Government and those in public life, many challenging the accepted orthodoxies of recent times. The advocates of permissive legislation – nudging people’s behaviour – came to accept that that compulsion was necessary as we moved to an unprecedented lock down. Some who argued for a smaller state who now see the critical need for the state to plan and step in when the free market struggles to provide essentials like PPE. The early advocates of herd immunity forced to backtrack as the decency of ordinary people rejected a Darwinian trade-off between lives and economic wellbeing. And even as nations strive to fend for themselves, the recognition that national economic recovery will need international action and cooperation. Last but not least we are beginning to look differently at who essential workers are as people previously underpaid and undervalued step up to the plate.
After an age of unfettered individualism we have seen a glimpse of collective endeavour which explains why the clap for our heroic NHS staff, carers and key workers is so profoundly moving. Until these terrible times are over, please stay home, protect our NHS and save lives. And when it’s over – as it will be – let’s make sure it’s a country worthy of all the effort.