Raab’s assertions are crass, insulting and imply some are better than others
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Raab’s assertions are crass, insulting and imply some are better than others

IT is sadly reassuring that even as everything changes that some things stay the same.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s recent assertion that Boris Johnson would ‘pull through’ his  coronavirus illness because he is a ‘fighter’ was crass and insulting.

Did those who did not ‘pull through’ not fight enough?

For a man currently acting as the head of a country in the Prime Minister’s absence, in a time of such crisis, to express himself in such a way is almost beyond parody.

Of course, it does betray an older core value of Conservative thought, that some people are just better than others, that there is a deserving poor and an undeserving poor, that some are stronger than others, that some are better than others.

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You may dismiss that as my aching, Irish, left wing values if it weren’t for the fact that Raab’s and Johnson’s initial idea of herd immunity was clearly willing to sacrifice a certain amount of the population.

That is, by going for herd immunity, that they knew some of the herd would die but that they would be, presumably, the weakest and sickest, the least economically productive, those, in effect, unable to fight.

But Boris Johnson didn't pull through because of some innate, superior qualities he possesses. He has pulled through the virus because of excellent medical care and luck.

He has pulled through because of the qualities of others, the doctors and nurses and hospital cleaners, not because of any qualities of his own.

Here in coronavirus Ireland I’ve just been pulled over by the Gardaí and asked to explain where I’m travelling to and why.

This is because we have our own crass and selfish cohort here too, those to whom entitlement is second nature.

The Gardai are on the streets and there have been numerous roadblocks checking vehicles because the Easter Holidays meant the second home crew were preparing to decamp.

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The government, judging this very well again to be fair to them, introduced emergency measures to prevent people dispersing all over the country just when we are all in the middle of a prolonged stay in our own homes.

Even those towns and villages reliant on tourism begged with these people to stay away but it seems it took the Gardai to enforce what seems obvious to us all.

Unless, of course, you think your individual rights out trump everyone else’s.

Unless your values are above everyone else’s.

Unless you are just that little bit better than the rest of us. More of an innate fighter, perhaps.

Another dispiriting example of nothing changing just as everything does was the recent appearance of former Tory MP Edwina Currie on RTE responding to a report predicting the UK would end up being the worst hit by this terrible infection.

Currie proceeded to display an utter lack of empathy and compassion as she sought instead to convince us all that the UK would still do better than Ireland, as if the coronavirus were a sport the British couldn’t contemplate losing.

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She was so devoid of fundamental humanity that it was hard not to feel a sense of despair.

The passing of time, the advent of an horrendous global health emergency but those dreadful Tories, they haven’t gone away, you know?

My Irish immigrant father, as classy a man as you could meet, died last year at the age of 89.

He fought to stay alive not because of his superior qualities but because he had a life full of love and he didn’t want to leave it.

Edwina Currie, then a high ranking MP, once dismissively told him and his workmates that she’d give them a fiver if they cleaned her car.

That tells you all you need to know about those like her and Raab.

But do you know what?

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When all of this is over there will still be many men and many women of my father’s age and ilk who are still with us.

They will still be passing out love and wisdom like sweets to grandchildren, all people in their 70s and 80s and 90s who we didn’t want to sacrifice to herd immunity, who are still with us not because they fought more than others but because, like the rest of us, they got lucky, got cared for, and never stopped knowing they were valued.