The phrase ‘Be Prepared’ keeps floating into my mind these days, as I realise on a daily basis how very unprepared we are for all the crises that are now assailing us.
This present Government has excelled at being unprepared, either for the consequences of Brexit, or for a Pandemic. They were constantly warned of the dire consequences of the former, but brushed the warnings aside with accusations of scaremongering. Brexit isn’t yet done, but the lack of preparation in all quarters is now becoming apparent. The Northern Ireland dilemma isn’t going to be resolved any time soon, with the government threatening to break an International Treaty in their desperate attempts to sort out the Protocol which they themselves set in place. Brexit consequences are seen everywhere, not just in Ireland. Beautiful Kent has become one giant lorry park and holiday makers have to wait in 7 hour car queues to get their passports stamped, for want of the extra staff needed at the port of Dover. Fruit is rotting in the fields for want of foreign pickers and frustration and anger is growing at the airports with inadequate staffing in all areas. As for the NHS, lack of staffing is causing huge problems with hospitals, no longer able to recruit doctors and nurses from Europe.
All this should have been foreseen – but it wasn’t – because the Government wasn’t prepared for the consequences of its action. It was very happy to declare Brexit ‘done’ but the fact is, it isn’t and we are all suffering from the lack of preparation.
The Government like to blame their Brexit problems on Covid – but these are two separate issues.. With Covid, the Government yet again was not prepared – but they could have been. Plans had been drawn up for actions to be taken in the event of a Pandemic. But these plans were abandoned by this Government a few years back, so when Covid hit, they were not equipped to deal with it. Panic set in and bad decisions were made, especially over shortage of equipment in the hospitals. This will all come out in the Inquiry – too late to be of help to the thousands that died.
In spite of Baden Powell’s slogan of ‘Be Prepared’ for his Boy Scouts, the adults never seem to learn this lesson. I have been reminded of this lately when reading an excellent book, written in 1941, which has just been re-published. It is by Virginia Cowles, called ‘Looking for Trouble’. She was an extremely brave and brilliant war correspondent. The book starts in the Spanish Civil War in 1937, where she went to the fronts of both sides in the conflict. After Spain she travelled through Europe, meeting Hitler on the way. It was obvious to her that Germany was bent on war and mass invasions, but the rest of Europe refused to prepare against the Nazi invasion and one by one the countries were over-run. Back in England Churchill was a lone voice in his shouts to be prepared for war. When war became inescapable, the British were totally ill prepared for it.
It is a lesson that none of the world’s governments seem to learn even now. Putin is doing the same with the invasion of Ukraine. We were warned it would happen but nobody would believe it.
In my very small way, I have been doing my own version of ‘Be Prepared’ and that is against the problems of getting older.
But that is for another time and another blog.
If you are travelling on holiday, I hope your problems are few. If you are staying at home, be prepared for more heatwaves! But happy holidays to all!