In a comment for The Sun, British politician Sajid Javid has slammed the “tone-deaf and condescending antics” of some celebrities amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
The former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer made reference to a recent video posted by Madonna as a “classic example”.
The pop idol had posted footage of herself naked in a bathtub filled with rose petals, ruminating on how the current health crisis was impacting people’s lives.
Madonna, 61, claimed the epidemic had worked wonders as a “great equalizer”, adding:
"What's terrible about it is that it's made us all equal in many ways and what’s wonderful about it is that it’s made us all equal in many ways… It doesn’t matter how rich you are… where you live, how old you are . . . it’s made us all equal.”
Dismissing the statement by the celebrity as “utter nonsense”, and emphasizing that the ongoing epidemic was particularly dangerous for elderly people, like his own Mother, Sajid Javid also writes that the virus poses a greater threat to men from working-class backgrounds and ethnic-minority communities.
“Coronavirus doesn’t just discriminate when it comes to health. It discriminates according to wealth, too,” writes the UK politician.
Toll on the Economy
The former Chancellor of the Exchequer went on to underscore that the virus has taken an unprecedented toll on the economy, with the Bank of England acknowledging the country was on course for the biggest recession in 300 years.
Plummeting output in March and April has put paid to 18 years of growth, says Javid, with Universal Credit claims soaring by 1.6 million.
The fallout from the pandemic will impact some areas of the country more than others, believes the politician, warning that unlike advertising executives, accountants and lawyers, who are able to work from home, people employed in manufacturing, construction and retail would be hardest-hit by lockdowns set in place to try and curb the spread of the respiratory disease.
Region-wise, Javid underscores that jobs likely to suffer least from the pandemic are centered in London and the South East, while labour-intensive manufacturing jobs are predominantly found in Yorkshire and the North.
Sajid Javid suggests that his own area of West Midlands, where he is an MP, will take a greater time to reboot after the pandemic as its local economy relies on car manufacturing.
Deploring the fact that there were inequalities among the regions prior to the pandemic, with earnings 30 per cent lower in the North East than in London, with life expectancy was nearly three years shorter, Javid emphasized that a pledge to eradicate that unfair situation had brought the UK Conservative Party to its sweeping election victory six months before.
As for measures to remedy the situation, the politician argues that a lack of adequate investment hampers progress and results in a “tragic waste of potential”.
Sajid Javid hailed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan, geared at kick-starting economic growth with a sweeping package of investment.
According to the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is now working with the Centre for Policy Studies, the plans aim to leave no region of the country behind.
Plans will be boosted to “revolutionize” regional infrastructure, with greater investment in roads, railways and broadband, to help businesses grow while creating new jobs.
Another aspect that is believed to be important for enhancing development is introducing much-needed changes to the tax system.
In conclusion, Sajid Javid stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic would bring about many changes, with the case for “levelling-up” stronger than before.
Earlier, in an interview for The Mail on Sunday Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed a spending “blitz” worth tens of billions of pounds to help the British economy “bounce forward” from coronavirus-induced recession.
“This has been a huge, huge shock to the country but we're going to bounce back very well. We want to build our way back to health,” Johnson was quoted as saying.
Prime Minister will reportedly announce his plan in a speech in the Midlands on Tuesday, to be followed-up by an economic statement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak next month.