Illustrations by Hannah Robinson
Was it not Matt Hancock who declared the importance of remembering that we are all on the same side in the fight against COVID-19? This very same Matt Hancock spent last week constructing a narrative that almost exclusively holds young people accountable for a new rise in coronavirus cases. Unlike Matt’s perpetual pink tie, this blame game cannot stick.
Adopting an inappropriately facetious tone, the Health Secretary took to Newsbeat to warn the nation’s youth: “Don’t kill your gran by catching coronavirus”. Naturally the media followed suit in tone; decorating ‘RISE IN CASES’ headlines with images of young people socialising in parks and pub gardens.
Have young people actually done anything to deserve this bad press? The answer is that Johnson is right. The ‘complacent’ youth have taken advantage of their ‘patriotic duty’ by going to the pub, eating out to help out, and worst of all, going back to work. How dare they.
It only seems right to punish this group of rapscallions for following government policy. Isolate and scapegoat all 17-25 year-olds is Number 10’s new brief. Let no-one discover the thinly veiled truth; that it is in fact government policy that has allowed for a spike in cases. The 100 million meals sold over the last month, busy trains and tubes at rush hour and bustling offices can in no way be behind this new wave of infections.
It is simply out of the question that Johnson and his minions might take responsibility for their own decisions. Instead, a well-oiled routine of distancing and blame has been implemented. Grumbles from Westminster about illegal raves and house parties attended by literally every single young person in the country reverberate through the tabloids, creating just enough noise to distract the average Joe from the truth.
As the UK sits on the precipice of another lockdown, thousands of university students are flocking back to their overcrowded accommodation. They will be attacked and blamed. I urge Mr Hancock and Mr Johnson to stop creating division and stirring the pot: people are angry enough already. Your attempts to avoid personal culpability are feeble. If you continue to endorse this narrative you will lose your already dwindling numbers of young voters. I hope you remember their value as you prepare for the next general election.
Over the past six months, we have too often seen the government sidestep responsibility to the detriment of others. We should not allow it to happen again. . Force a narrative change before more of us are falsely condemned by those whose own incompetency propagates this pandemic.