Vaccine nationalism is a dangerous and nonsensical game

Vaccine nationalism is a dangerous and nonsensical game

IT IS quite clear, from here inside the EU, that Boris Johnson wanted to win Covid.

Even in the darkest days, when Covid took Johnson himself into intensive care, we were told he would beat the virus because he was a fighter.

He would survive while others didn’t. Johnson was a winner.

For the British Conservative Party, a political party more than ever riddled with small nationalism and the patriotism of Empire nostalgia, a global pandemic is still an occasion to wave the flag.

You might be surrounded by death but if your mind is best encapsulated by Last Night of the Proms you still only see Union Jacks.

That is not to say that the UK have not got the vaccine rollout right.

It seems they have. At least by comparison.

And that is not to say that we in Ireland have not got it wrong. We have.

The delays, mistakes, and inefficiency of Ireland’s vaccine rollout cannot simply be explained away by difficulties with supply.

That has only added to a government that has just not managed this stage of the epidemic well.

Since Christmas, and the misjudged relaxation, we have stumbled along and Ireland’s people have stumbled along too, coming closer and closer to despondency.

We can hold our hands up to that. We haven’t managed these recent and current stages of the pandemic well.

Our Minister for Health is out of his depth. Our coalition government is a mixed bag of simmering hostility.

That is something different, though, than our neighbours.

Quite clearly the UK’s response, so tragically wrong in the early stages, has been far better recently.

More and more UK citizens are being vaccinated. That is a good thing. But it has been accompanied by a belief. A belief that winning is the aim.

Not in terms of beating Covid, beating the disease, but in terms of simply winning. Of Britain being the winners.

Johnson and the Conservatives want to be top of the vaccination table, even if it is only half vaccinations, because in the immature mind, the prep school mind, Blighty’s only Blighty when it’s winning.

Two World Wars, one World Cup, and one world pandemic.

Rule Britannia, the flags are flying.

Not only is this entirely depressing, that the UK is ruled by such minds, it is also nonsensical.

Not only is it nonsensical, it is also dangerous.

What is the point of the UK being exclusively vaccinated?

Lockdown has already proven that restricted life, with no interaction and no travel, is a poor life.

Of course, there is sense in the UK concentrating on its own population, but vaccine nationalism soon makes a fool of those involved in it.

Especially when it is accompanied by a belief that Europe should watch vaccines leave Europe for the UK whilst not a single vaccine goes the other way.

Even Johnson, with his King of the World dreams of trade deals across the planet, must see the contradictions inherent in winning a game no one else is playing.

In a global world, as we are always told, in a global pandemic, national victories are stunningly hollow.

The danger aspect lies, of course, in a fact all those Tory nationalists seem to miss, despite their Union Jacks.

That is that the UK is not just England. Indeed, and my God we shouldn’t really need to point this out, the UK has a land border with Europe.

A land border with its neighbour. A land border on this small island. A land border with this State.

A disputed border that, in the hope of maintaining peace and keeping violence at bay, is an open border.

A border over which people pass, backwards and forwards, every single day.

A vaccine nationalism that extends to that border and no further is clearly nonsensical. Nonsensical and dangerous.

It is not, admittedly, the fault of English nationalism that the EU and the Irish government have made a mess, so far, of the vaccine rollout.

That’s not the point. Incompetency is frustrating and, in this case, unacceptable.

But vaccine nationalism, winning Covid, is puerile and dangerous.

I know it will be hard for the likes of Johnson, a man who never seems to have gone psychologically further than the tuck shop queue, to believe this, but here in Europe, where the grown ups live, we haven’t been trying to win.

We’ve just been trying to keep each other alive.