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Free money, sunny days of no work and long walks... are we all becoming addicted to the UK’s Covid-19 socialist experiment?

Damian Wilson
Damian Wilson
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
Free money, sunny days of no work and long walks... are we all becoming addicted to the UK’s Covid-19 socialist experiment?
Of course, getting 80 percent of your salary for doing nothing is preferable to a dreary commute and nagging bosses. But we’ll all be shocked when we’re asked to pay the bill for this extreme state largesse.

There is something about sunshine that makes socialism very appealing.

At the start of the 1990s, I spent a lot of time over a couple of years in Cuba as Fidel Castro and his ragtag Marxist Socialist cronies struggled with the demise of the Soviet Empire and the ensuing economic catastrophe that hit the Caribbean island as cheap oil imports and inflated sugar exports came to a juddering halt simultaneously.

Regular life for many Cubans stopped as the factories ran out of fuel and other resources and people were sent home to wait for things to get better. Shops were empty of food and if they did open, customers queued for hours before being told nothing was left.

Those years became known as Cuba’s “Special Period,” although there was very little that was special about it all, other than that Cubans were, quite literally, starving and the black market in everything from US dollars to avocados went crazy.

But the beautiful blue skies, the ever-present sunshine and the lure of the practically deserted golden sand beaches made it all bearable.

Occasionally, a pizza restaurant or ice cream stand would open for a few hours and everyone would happily queue in the heat for a taste of past delights.

Does this sound familiar? (Apart from the sandy beaches and the non-stop sunshine, maybe)

It should, because the UK has sleep-walked into socialism without a single tank bearing cigar-smoking, khaki-clad revolutionaries rolling up Whitehall. At least in Cuba, they had to overthrow a dictator before pursuing their socialism in the sun.

In Britain today, thanks to the generosity of Chancellor Rishi Sunak (he was once a Conservative, I think), you can keep a business afloat without turning a single penny profit or you can hold a job down earning a monthly salary of up to £2,500 and never have to go to work. And he’s just extended the scheme until October!

And if you’re not at working age, then life is still pretty good. School is optional and your own parents are supposed to be your new teachers, but they’re too busy enjoying their new-found freedom and the balmy spring weather to bother with your maths lessons.

The anxiety and worry that usually besets secondary school-going teenagers as they struggle with the demands of GSCEs and A-Levels has disappeared in Socialist Britain.

After a bit of Facetime with your teacher at some point in the next month, you’ll be waved through the past year of education as if it never happened. The reality is that most of it will have been spent at home.

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Elsewhere, university students are now looking at earning their degrees without having to worry too much about attending lectures or tutorials in their final year. While the graduation celebrations may be somewhat muted, it’s the paper at the end that counts.

Meanwhile, when the sun’s out, the parks are packed, golfers are back golfing, tennis courts are full, anglers are fishing, the garden centres are open and you’re allowed to have the cleaners return to your house (okay, that bit is not too socialist). Granted, you’re still not permitted to visit the kids’ grandparents.

Apart from that, life is good. And that is the problem.

While we all languish in our six months of soporific socialism, enjoying the sun and our new lifestyles courtesy of the state, there is no global superpower waiting to pick up the tab to pay what’s owing on everything when this is all over.

It’s like eating at a fancy restaurant on someone else’s tab and stuffing your face with the finest the menu has to offer, only to find that when the huge bill finally arrives after the digestifs, your host has quietly expired at the table.

Cuba always had the Soviet Union as a fallback until that became untenable. The UK only has its taxpayers to pick up the cost.

It’s somewhere in the £300 billion range, comrade, give or take. 

Expensive stuff, socialism. 

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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