My Election Notes 2019: E-Day – 7

by Pseud O'Nym

I’ve just this minute found the time to share a thought that struck me at 5am this morning and I know that you’re gagging like an excited gimp to read.

But before we get to that, a confession. The title of this series of blogs is ‘My Election Notes 2019’ and I measure off the days until election day with what I imagine to be entertainingly idiosyncratic observations. No matter how delusional that might be, it struck me this morning that I’m a day presumptive, that in fact my timeline is wrong. This got me thinking. What days would we like never to have happened?

For some inexplicable reason I thought of Grenfell Tower and the appalling loss of life, the reasons why the tower refurbishment had used that cladding, the scandalous way the survivors have been treated – some  are still living in ‘temporary’ accommodation – and the general lack of any political urgency bought to bear on avoiding a repeat. We know, for example, that a number of similar blocks have been covered in that cladding, but has anything been done? Did the government immediately seek to identify other premises so affected and insist that the work be done, with the threat of prosecution a very real possibility? We know the answer and we also know that if a similar tragedy had happened at Glyndebourne, then there would have been a greater urgency by the authorities, swifter action and less inertia.

And then I thought of Legionnaires Disease and Randy Shilts ‘s powerful account of the early days of HIV/Aids in America ‘And the Band Played On’. He draws the comparison between the American political and medical establishments reaction to Legionnaires Disease and it’s response to HIV/Aids. It only got its name because a few – 25 – attendees of an American Legion convention died. Lots more fell ill because of this medical mystery. That was July/August 1976. Six months later, the Center for Disease Control had identified the cause, a form of pneumonia, spread through poorly maintained air conditioning units. Legislation was passed to prevent this happening again. At about the same time young men were dying of a mystery illness. But in this case, it took years before a comparably urgent response was forthcoming, indeed the first time the US president Ronald Reagan mentioned the word Aids was when he spoke of Rock Hudson. By then thousands of young American men had died.

But they were the wrong sort of Americans, just like to victims of Grenfell were the wrong type of victims. Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others?