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With Covid infections rising, the Tories are conducting a deadly social experiment | Andy Beckett

The ‘personal responsibility’ mantra has gone hand in hand with more deaths. Why has England gone along with it?

A pandemic is a political event. It exposes who is vulnerable and who can afford to escape, who is prioritised for treatment and who is neglected. The politics of a pandemic are both large-scale and intensely personal. How we behave towards each other, what balance is struck between safety and freedom, how blame is distributed, what a country considers an acceptable level of illness and death: questions that may once have been philosophical have become frighteningly real.

In Britain, the politics of Covid have been thought about and discussed almost entirely in party terms: the relative caution and competence of the SNP government in Scotland and its Labour counterpart in Wales; the recklessness and lethal mistakes of the Conservatives in England, and whether Labour can make the Tories pay for them. The pandemic has been seen as a potential turning point for all the main parties.

Andy Beckett is a Guardian columnist

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