Whatever the outcome of the American Presidential election, and as I write it appears that Joe Biden will win, there is no doubt that Donald Trump performed much better than any pollsters or pundits predicted – and he did so because the priority issue for a huge chunk of the electorate was the economy.
So, a President who had suggested that injecting bleach may be an advisable way of fighting off Covid-19 has made the 2020 race for the Whitehouse a ‘too close to call’ contest.
There is a lesson for our politicians at home here. Currently, it seems that moving the dial on the debate about how to contain coronavirus and have a more balanced approach that would enable us to protect the economy more effectively is not gaining much traction.
However, as we move into national Lockdown 2, we can confidently predict that a steep drop in the infection rate by January will coincide with an equally steep spike in job losses and businesses going bust.
The failure of political leaders from all sides to address this economic timebomb is both baffling and negligent.
Apparently, an economic impact study of lockdown has been commissioned by the government. But they will not release the results. It’s farcical.
Although MP’s from all sides have been quick to call for an extension of the furlough scheme, they have failed to articulate a map out of the coronavirus crisis that suggests they have a plan that will result in us being able to protect the economy as well as we hope to protect people from the dreaded virus.
The big miss from our decision-makers in regard to furlough is that salaries are only a proportion of costs to a business. Indeed, if wages account for more than 40% of a company’s expenditure, it’s unusual. So, without addressing the issues of commercial rents and business rates, for example, many business owners and businesses will be screwed, furlough or no furlough.
The slow strangulation of our cities, our country’s economic and creative growth hubs; the wider health implications of lockdowns that are becoming increasingly apparent as we head towards Christmas; and the total absence in some industry sectors of that crucial emotion that all entrepreneurs need – hope – are the issues that our leaders, in Westminster and in our Combined Authorities and Town Halls, must begin to address during this next period of enforced inertia.
The other thing that the US election unearthed was the phenomena of ‘shy’ Trump supporters. I am sensing from the many conversations that I have had during the past week that support for this second national lockdown is far less enthusiastic than for the first.
COVID-19 -martyrs scream at anyone who dares question putting our lives in aspic on the basis that anyone with such a view is an uncaring killer.
In the echo chambers of social media platforms and perhaps polls, the political parties believe they are following a plan that has broad public support. I think they may discover that this support, such as it was, is fast evaporating.
Shy anti-lockdown advocates may not be as bashful moving forward.