An Independent Coronavirus Pandemic Review, Despite Chinese Protests – Conservative Article
Without a doubt, there needs to be an international review into the pandemic we are currently experiencing. This is not the first pandemic. But, it is the first to occur in a world as interconnected as ours. We can get to anywhere in the world in a matter of a day or two. Also, be under no illusion, it will happen again.
This is not about pinning the blame on a Chinese shaped donkey. Nor, chasing conspiracies. Not at all. It should neither be to feed a Sino-American Cold War narrative. Rhetoric such as “[China is] the enemy of mankind” (Steve Bannon), is hardly productive. It is about making this global experience, and each personal loss, count for something. Yet, an unavoidable fact is that the start of any future investigation will be: Wuhan, Hubei province, China.
China doesn’t like this very much. For example, tensions between China & Australia have escalated, as the latter reiterates calls for an international investigation into the Coronavirus pandemic. China has recommended to its citizens that they should not travel to Australia. Australian imports such as beef and barley have also been targeted.
I find it highly unlikely that China will allow free access to Wuhan — if it hasn’t destroyed any incriminating evidence already — unless the proposed international coalition materialises and stays firm. One positive is including the Kremlin’s voice in this call. This is an important step in making this a global call, rather than archetypal tension of East vs. West.
COVID-19 is not the deadliest disease that we could be facing. Should a far stronger opponent rear its head in the future, we better make sure that we’ve taken every possible chance to learn. Scientists, health-workers, production & logistics operatives have worked tirelessly through this crisis. We owe every single one of them a great depth of gratitude. And the global political class must arm them with all possible information to be better prepared next time.
China is certainly going to flex its geopolitical soft power to mitigate whatever it can. Again, this is not about painting China as a villain in a Cold War mark II. Yet, some questions need answering. For example: why did China stop internal, but not international, travel from Hubei province?
I would rightly be a hypocrite if I did not also call for a national review. Any government should be held to account for its actions. My support for a given party does not override this. But this cannot degenerate into bickering through hindsight, or what people ‘would have done’. This virus would floor any sitting cabinet.
Democratic politics is dogged by short-termism, and incessant partisan undercutting to get elected. I have no doubt that Labour will use this crisis to try and club the government out of office. I also think the Conservatives would do the same if roles were reversed.
An independent body — not salivating at the thought of office— should be the sole voice on this. Neither Conservative mitigation strategies, nor Labour snipes, but a group of experts, reasonably taking our leaders to task.
Putting the world on hold, the coming economic downturn, and individual losses shouldn’t be for nothing. Learning how to be better equipped for the next one, has to be a priority for both national & international bodies.
Written by Conservative Writer, Alexander Dennis
Point of information
This cannot happen again – a Labour response
I agree with my Conservative colleague as to the necessity for an independent, exhaustive review into the incredibly varied responses to the coronavirus pandemic nationwide. From assessing the effectiveness of different strategies, such as Sweden’s questionable herd immunity objective, to exposing the obvious corruption behind China’s suspicious statistics.
Asking the important questions will result in China further escalating things. It is unavoidable. But mechanisms of accountability will always cause strong reactions. They should not be deterred to pursue the truth.
However, as even Alexander pointed out, the British government is far from innocent and deserves intense scrutiny for the disgraceful blundering of the virus response.
I understand Alexander’s justifiable cynicism regarding politicising inquiries and support the idea of a politically impartial investigation, but I take issue with the notion that “the crisis will be politicised by the Labour party”.
If we can’t hold a government’s life-threatening incompetence accountable and campaign for their removal from office – then what can? Yes, coronavirus was unexpected and was guaranteed to cause deaths. But having the third-highest death toll in the world, over 50,000 including suspected deaths, is abominable.
Something has clearly gone catastrophically wrong, and I agree that an independent inquiry is essential. This cannot happen again.
Written by Labour Writer, Max Ingleby
An international effort – a Liberal response
I believe, like my Conservative and Labour colleagues, that the government’s handling of the pandemic needs independent reviewing. Holding those in power to account is a cornerstone of any democracy. Just because we are in extraordinary times does not mean that the government can rule without scrutiny.
Whilst an independent review is necessary, it is the job of the opposition parties to scrutinise those in power. Yet, Labour and the Lib Dems faced multiple challenges to do this effectively: the recess of Parliament; the Prime Minister’s illness; Labour’s leadership election. So, in the aftermath of the outbreak, it is important to hold the government accountable for their actions. Alexander calls this “partisan undercutting”. Yet, it is part and parcel of politics. I hate it, but this doesn’t mean that the opposition should no longer be allowed to do their job.
I also take issue with Alexander’s scepticism of China and the international response. The WHO has agreed that an independent, impartial inquiry will be set up. Despite recent criticism, it is still our best shot to learn from previous mistakes and better prepare. We have seen countries return to nationalist policies during the pandemic, and rightfully so. But, in the aftermath of the pandemic, we must have faith that the international community will do its job.
Written by Liberal Writer, Fergus Harris