No, sexism is to not blame for the ravages of lockdown

The UK’s Covid inquiry is meant to ‘establish the teachings to be discovered’ from the Covid-19 pandemic. It has promised to supply a ‘factual narrative account’ of how and why choices had been made and what influence these had on the general public. Maybe unsurprisingly, this hasn’t occurred to this point.

As a substitute, the inquiry has descended right into a Westminster bitch-fest. The individuals who ought to now be taking accountability for Britain’s failed Covid response are desperately looking for something or anybody to shift the blame on to. And the newest scapegoat that’s been recognized for the disastrous results of lockdown is… sexism.

Final Wednesday, it was former deputy cupboard secretary Helen MacNamara’s flip to present proof to the inquiry. MacNamara was one of many prime officers in Boris Johnson’s Downing Avenue group. She ought to have been capable of shed some gentle on why the system thought it greatest for the federal government to repeatedly shut down society. However as an alternative her testimony focussed on the supposedly misogynistic attitudes of Johnson and his prime group.

Responding to the inquiry’s questioning about Dominic Cummings’s personal WhatsApp messages – by which he known as her a ‘cunt’ – MacNamara criticised the ‘violent and misogynistic language’ used in opposition to her by colleagues. ‘The dominant tradition was macho and heroic’, she wrote in her witness assertion. The ‘feminine perspective’, she claims, ‘was being missed in recommendation and decision-making’.

Since then, the press has sought to painting this former civil servant as a one-woman crusader for justice and equality. In the meantime, her personal errors and shortcomings through the pandemic are being largely written out of this new narrative.

It ought to come as no shock that Cummings and Johnson may not be the nicest folks to work with. However it’s outrageous to attempt to pin the failures of the UK authorities’s pandemic response on not listening to ladies like MacNamara.

In her testimony, she claimed that in her time as deputy cupboard secretary, she tried to lift points associated to the consequences of lockdown on ladies. She complained there was a ‘lack of steerage for ladies who could be pregnant or had been pregnant’. She additionally mentioned she had voiced considerations about rising domestic-abuse incidents throughout lockdowns, however she was not taken severely.

Based on MacNamara, having extra ladies in politics would have meant that these points weren’t neglected. In the end, she is arguing that fewer ladies would have been harmed and even killed through the pandemic if there had merely been extra ‘variety’ in No10.

The extent of narcissism right here is astonishing. The explanation ladies had been extra in danger from male violence within the house through the pandemic was not all the way down to there being extra males in Downing Avenue, or as a result of nobody listened to MacNamara, however due to the lockdown itself. Each single individual in Britain was locked of their houses. And so, presently, ladies in abusive conditions struggled to entry shelters, stick with relations or discover different means to flee their houses. Worst of all, had they left their home with no legitimate excuse, they may have been arrested by the police.

It’s totally miserable {that a} much-needed dialog in regards to the influence of lockdown has become a pantomime of egocentric pursuits. It appears as if MacNamara, like many others, is making an attempt to whitewash the function she performed in taking the nation into lockdown and to shift the blame elsewhere. Maybe she additionally needs us to neglect that she was discovered to have ‘supplied a karaoke machine’ to one of many notorious Downing Avenue lockdown events and was fined for it. Possibly it actually was laborious for her to be listened to over all of the champagne corks and social gathering tunes.

Like lots of these concerned in coverage throughout that disastrous interval, MacNamara has since moved on to larger and higher issues. She even briefly bagged a prime job with the Premier League. It’s no marvel she is painfully out of contact with the actual influence of lockdown.

Swipes on the ‘sexist’ tradition in No10 do little for the atypical ladies making an attempt to catch their children up on years of missed college, or get better their relationships with family and friends. And so they do little for these nonetheless ready for hospital remedy postponed by lockdown, or mourning family members for whom the delays have confirmed deadly.

MacNamara’s tell-all of the world inside No10 has largely served as fodder for the Boris-bashers within the media to relitigate the Brexit wars. This has diverted accountability away from her and from different civil servants, who’re certainly simply as culpable for the UK’s Covid failures as elected ministers and their advisers. Her testimony definitely didn’t get to the guts of what went improper through the pandemic.

The general public is sick of watching ministers and civil servants play the blame sport over Covid. We wish assurances that these years of lockdown hell won’t ever be repeated. That must be the actual purpose of the inquiry.

Ella Whelan is the creator of The Case For Ladies’s Freedom, the newest within the Academy of Concepts’ radical pamphleteering collection, Letters on Liberty.

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