A fascinating moment awaits us. On Tuesday, all members of the UK Parliament will vote on the government’s proposed new tier measures to control the virus.
There is such dissent within the government ranks that the Prime Minister might need votes from his enemies on the Opposition benches to pass his new plan. The news media is full of speculation, and one commentator says something especially interesting. They say that within the Labour Party there is much discussion about whether to support or reject the new tier system that seems to many both unfair and unnecessarily tough. This, the commentator says, is a golden opportunity.
Recent experience tells us that the public will follow the guidelines but also bend them. Their opposition towards heavy-handed authority is understandable given the recklessness and obvious cluelessness within the government itself.
So this is a fragile moment both deep within government and in the community generally. It is a moment when, with clever amendments, Labour could “bounce” the government into doing the right thing, which is handing out the vast sums it has borrowed to deal with crisis to local authorities rather than to its rich donor marketeers who are ever happy to profit from public misery.
A coordinated dispensation of a vaccine is in sight, test and trace, health and social care provision at a local level. Success in dealing with the pandemic here at home needs the help of the institutions closest to the people. Barking orders from Westminster will not work. A return to some sense of normality is the prize to be won on Tuesday – if Labour plays its cards right.