‘Keep calm and do f**k all!’ - The new coronavirus lockdown anthem

PUBLISHED: 15:11 16 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:27 16 April 2020

Mitch Benn's satirical anthem went viral. Picture: Contributed

Mitch Benn's satirical anthem went viral. Picture: Contributed

Archant

MITCH BENN issues a musical call-to-arms to a country under the coronavirus curfew.

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Mitch Benn's song and video urged people to stay in during coronavirus. Picture: ContributedMitch Benn's song and video urged people to stay in during coronavirus. Picture: Contributed

On the one hand, envisaging into what sort of post-Covid world we might one day emerge, fat and blinking, seems like the most exquisite form of self-torture just now... The terror-flecked tedium of life in a time of coronavirus isn’t in any way improved either by indulging in tantalising daydreams of a post-viral utopia or indeed nightmarish visions of an impoverished wasteland (or, less fancifully, reflecting upon how many of us won’t emerge from this at all).

To keep myself distracted, I’ve been trying to wax satirical; last week I put out a song and video entitled F**k All, a rousing cod-wartime anthem calling upon the good people of Britain to do their patriotic duty by staying in and doing nothing.

It had just struck me as particularly ironic that not only was this the first time in 80 years that the British people had been called upon by their leaders to do anything, the thing we were being called upon to do was nothing, and apparently we couldn’t even be relied upon to do that.

In any event (and with due mordant sense of irony) the song went, as it were, ‘viral’ with people passing it around via all forms of messaging apps and social media platforms (you may have seen it and not realised it was me) and an article on the Daily Mail website, of all places, calling it “hilarious”, which if nothing else raises the amusing prospect of Daily Mail readers visiting my YouTube channel and finding out what else I’ve been saying...

But in all honesty I don’t know what we’re going to do as and when this curfew is lifted. It seems improbable to me that there’s going to be a hard and definitive ending to this crisis anyway; certainly I don’t think we’re in for the hats-in-the-air VE Day-type climax the tabloids seem to be looking forward to.

I think there’s going to be a gradual tentative relaxation of restrictions, with the proviso that they’ll be reimposed again if it turns out we’re still in danger.

One thing we definitely should not do as and when this ends is something we’re already being encouraged to do by the government and their media helpers, which is to forget about how this all went down and “move on”. No. Nope. Nuh-uh. Screw that. Not happening.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, people only object to “politicising a tragedy” when it’s the other side politicising it. The people who say “Now is not the time to ask these questions” are the ones who don’t want the questions answered.

The ones who denounce “the blame game” are, by and large, the ones to blame.

We must not, those of us who make it through this, meekly accept the “no-one could have foreseen this” line, the “nothing more could have been done” line, or the weasly passive-voiced “mistakes were made” line.

We need to ask questions about exactly what was foreseen, how decisions were made, whether they were correct or could have been made more swiftly. Mistakes don’t make themselves, they’re made by people who must be held accountable for making them.

We’re already seeing the government (principally Priti Patel) adopt the “I’m sorry you feel that way” non-apology, which frames the problem as being not one’s own failures, but rather the fact that someone was impertinent enough to point them out.

The reality of what is upon us is slow to sink in because it’s hard to contemplate in its full horror.

Some of you reading this will have lost loved ones already. It’s all but statistically inevitable that every one of us will lose someone close to us by the time this is over.

It’s by no means a given that everyone reading this – or indeed the person writing it – will still be here by summer’s end.

The idea that those of us who survive should “not dwell on the past” and “move forward” is grotesque. This virus has already, at the time of writing, killed six times as many Americans as the 9/11 atrocity, and that incident (and the importance of “never forgetting” it) became the foundational event of our
age.

If nothing else, the prospect of living long enough to see those important questions answered – and to find out if there are individuals who exacerbated this crisis, whether through callousness or catastrophic ineptitude – is all the incentive I need to stay indoors and keep washing my hands.

Remember. And stay safe.

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Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

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