Worst Take of the Week: Concerned About Coronavirus? Get A Life!

To be fair to Tory MP Pauline Latham, this is perhaps the most transparent government response to the outbreak so far – even if it was an accident.
by NEO
20 March 2020, 11:17am
Pauline Latham get a life
Photo credit: Chris Bethell
Welcome to The Worst Take of the Week – a column in which NEO, AKA @MULLET_FAN_NEO, crowns the wildest hot take of the week.

Story: The government urges people to work from home as coronavirus continues to spread in the UK, but many are understandably worried about where this will leave those who are self-employed, on zero-hours contracts or in generally precarious work.

Reasonable Take: Extra support has been allocated for businesses and individuals affected by Coronavirus, including Statutory Sick Pay for up to 28 weeks paid by those with an employer, but i) what if you don't have one and ii) SSP in the UK is £94 a week which seems... not good.


Anyone remember life before the coronavirus? Like getting out of bed and just going about your day? Purchasing food in the supermarket based on a variety of factors other than their perishability and shelf life? Or leaving the house without the spectre of a deadly virus lingering on every surface we touched? That was pretty good, wasn’t it.

Alas, those hedonistic days of being able to go to the pub are behind us. Now all we have is the intoxicating wave of uncertainty the pandemic is washing over the British public, who are naturally concerned that our piece of shit economy being in a death spiral will affect livelihoods.

Proles of Britain needn’t fear, however, because Tory MP Pauline Latham spent this week logging on to address people's concerns about whether anyone who can't take a private jet to their disaster bunker will have enough money to make it through a lockdown.

For example, in response to a constituent who asked wether UK statutory sick pay of £94.25 was “enough to live on” during the coronavirus outbreak, Latham advised that they: “get a life”. When another constituent pulled her up on this unsympathetic scalding by suggesting this was "a hostile response to a legit question from someone you are meant to represent”, the MP for Mid Derbyshire double-downed and said she “won’t be responding” and that they too should “get a life”. Rekt lmao!!!

Latham offered a defence of her comments, first saying that she had erroneously attempted to shut down online trolls but her lack of technical skills caused her to tell two separate constituents raising valid points to “get a life”. She later explained that she had wrongly perceived these two people as “keyboard warriors” who had “pushed her over the edge”, adding that she was "in a sate of distress" having just visited her brother in Spain, who is suffering from acute dementia. Due to coronavirus, the family is unable to bring him home to the UK, which is of course a very sad and stressful situation. The MP eventually apologised and said she was “very sorry” for reacting “so hastily” and that she was “entirely sympathetic towards those in receipt of statutory sick pay.”

Hopefully a lesson was learned here by all (i.e. the most appropriate response to someone online, especially if you are an elected representative who is literally paid to at least pretend to advocate for members of the public, is: no response at all). However, let us contemplate the equally sad and stressful situation the vast majority of Britons may find themselves in soon, as people attempt to feed a family, pay rent and utilities with £94.25.

As Labour’s Dawn Butler pointed out, the average rent across the UK is “£220 per week” and our sick pay “doesn't even cover the rent”. It’s not as if you need to ask some bean counting Martin Lewis nerd to deduct that when your income doesn’t cover half of your week’s rent that you are monumentally fucked. In a pre-COVID-19 Britain you couldn’t make due with £94.25, so fuck knows what the Tories are expecting any one to do in the survivalist sales when all the supermarket shelves are balder than Iain Duncan-Smith’s dome and all essentials are becoming black-market fodder, unless they expect people’s entire income to basically become landlord tokens whilst we harvest rats from the sewers.

In classic Tory fashion, the UK’s statutory sick pay is amongst the lowest on the continent, with our closest European neighbours in Ireland paying out £266 a week in SSP. David Lammy called on the Tory government to introduce “lost earnings protection for all affected workers, including freelancers, for the duration of this crisis." Anything less, he added, "will lead to mass bankruptcy".

With their heads finally out of their arses, the Tories finally attempted to put in place some measures to stop the economy transporting us back to the medieval period, and address the precarious financial hardships that people in the UK are set to face. One such measure was extending a three-month “mortgage holiday” to buy-to-let landlords, but nothing in the way of relief for renters except a three-month suspension on evictions.

Ignoring the blight of millions of renters with these half-measures is just going to leave us all with conundrums like: “what is it I should do with my Government pittance this week? Eat nothing but corned beef, finally wipe my arse with paper, or incur the wrath of my landlord who will then turf me out as soon as my ‘eviction holiday' is over?”

Even if the Tories introduce a “rent holiday”, it still wouldn’t be enough within the current set of circumstances to mitigate the crisis we find ourselves in. Just imagine the impossibility of your landlord asking for three whole months of arrears in one go when you’re so deep in your overdraft that you have to pay attention to the decimal points and the only work you’ve been able to do in months is organise your sock draw and complete Death Stranding.

Is really so shocking the British public are turning to their elected officials for solutions to these broken policies during a national emergency? The last thing concerned citizens need right now are toffs basically calling them all “sad dole cunt” for wondering what the fuck anyone is meant to do with a small fraction of what it costs for them to live.

I suppose in some way we should be grateful the Tories are finally coming around to acknowledging that the global health crisis isn’t just a funny thumping sound under the car bonnet they keep meaning to get checked out but just hope it goes away by itself. But it seems like each new Conservative cabinet is visibly more inept than the previous, to the point where you start to think even David Cameron or Theresa May wouldn’t have fucked it this badly (they would have, of course).

It was only a fortnight ago Boris Johnson was bragging about shaking “many hands” at a hospital when every other country in the world seemed to bracing for the end of days, and our ministers were sporadically divulging public health advice behind paywalls and drip-feeding Government pandemic strategy to their stooges in the media like a game of whispers.

It was just a week ago our Government had to abandon its strategy of “taking it on the chin” when they realised “the science had changed” – by which they presumably meant "the public weren't entirely happy with our initial suggestion that 250,000 of them would simply have to die."

In the coming weeks we will all probably find ourselves in a tense bidding war on eBay for some wet wipes because every cunt with expendable income has already hoarded a lifetime’s supply of toiletries in their conservatory, so you’ll end up appropriating a tea towel as a “toilet towel” and alternating between which side has the least skid-marks. All the pubs will be closed and a load of cabin fevered narcissistic celebrities will probably start Twitch streaming their enemas. But realistically the only thing that will truly matter at that point is our already stretched NHS will be overrun, and there will be avoidable deaths on the hands of the Tories, who have spent the last decade decimating our health service to the point we have 17,000 less hospital beds since 2010.

But sure – if there is any semblance of a "life" left in this wretched country by Monday, Pauline, I'll be the first in line for one.