As part of our regular “Remember their Audience” series, we examine Matt Hancock’s Green Badge – a gift to carers suffering through Coronavirus on low wages and with a lack of safety equipment.
The background: Coronavirus is ravaging the UK. Even the official figures suggest the UK will be the worst hit country other than the poor old USA, and there’s growing recognition that thousands of deaths in care homes have been statistically ignored. Carers in homes have not been provided with sufficient safety equipment, government failed to isolate care home patients, and frankly everything care home related is a mess. So the Government has announced a badge for carers.
The claim: “This badge will be a badge of honour in a very real sense, allowing social care staff proudly and publicly to identify themselves, just like NHS staff do with that famous blue and white logo,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
He continued: “I know that many businesses will want to offer the same recognition and benefits as they do wonderfully to the NHS.”
Who he isn’t talking to: (Carers, or people who care about care home deaths)
As usual in this series, I now take the opportunity to remind you that many things in politics are misunderstood because most of us think we are the audience when in fact we rarely are.
Carers in the UK – who reportedly earn a poverty-trap wage of below £9 an hour on average – may appreciate a badge that gets them a free coffee. But in comparison to a proper wage and meaningful effort to save them and those they care for from Covid deaths, a badge is obviously a rubbish substitute.
Likewise, if you are someone angry and upset that only today is the government starting to bother trying to save care home resident’s lives, a badge will seem a hollow nonsense. Weeks of dumping Covid patients un-isolated into the general population of care homes has killed residents and staff alike, and you won’t be easily dissuaded from your anger.
So who is he talking to: (Less interested voters)
As we’ve said before, much of the public are not readily engaged in political matters. Details about missing data on deaths, and details about missing protection for various types of worker, just don’t find their way to most voters’ ears and eyes as we undertsandably watch more entertaining TV, listen to music, and get on with our lives.
Many politically-motivated people disdain of people like that, but they should not. People have diverse interests and a lot else going on in their lives. Politics is a balance between that freedom to not worry, and the work of the press and others to scrutinise government.
And the green badge is for these people. It is a simple feel good gesture that that gives the impression the government cares about carers – without keeping attention on just how badly carers and residents have been mistreated (including before Covid).
So it will distract people from the deaths the government has caused and it may turn a few headlines in the papers from government failure to a feel good gesture, while many voters will simply look well towards the Tories for doing it.