After the Virus

This book presents a manifesto for change post-Covid-19, arguing that we need a new morality both to recover from the pandemic and to prepare for future crises - and that Britain’s own history points a way forward. In a damning critique of the UK’s government’s response to the pandemic, After the Virus shows how decades of neoliberalism and austerity took poverty and inequality to new highs, with most of the gains flowing up to a wealth elite and precious little ‘trickling down’, while at the same time leaving the UK dangerously vulnerable to an event such as Covid-19. Public services, including health, were pared to the bone and no effective preparations made for the clear and known risk of a global pandemic. The botched and corrupt response once Covid-19 arrived meant vulnerable groups such as care home residents and front-line health workers were exposed to a vastly increased risk of dying which, in the case of the panicked discharge of elderly patients from hospitals into care homes without testing for Covid-19, was later ruled unlawful.

In looking to the future, After the Virus shows how important history is for public policy if we are to have any prospect of reinventing an empowering state and empowered citizens. Going right back to Elizabeth I’s Poor Law Acts of 1598 and 1601, the book argues that investing in the population’s well-being was - and continues to be - the essential precursor to economic prosperity, as is evidenced by the story of our own industrial revolution. The book concludes with practical proposals, inspired by this history, that will promote a morality of nurturing, not exploiting, both people and the planet - something which will be critical for all our futures.