There are so many ‘if only’s about at the moment. And these regrets increase and multiply. If only we hadn’t had an administration that allowed a lot of politically well-connected people to invent companies, or use existing ones, to sell Covid-related materials (PPE as they call it), we wouldn’t have a long line of claims appearing in court. If only the British and US secret services had not undermined Mossadegh, the legally elected prime minister of Iran, and installed the Shah – leading to the revolution of the Ayatollah 25 years later – we wouldn’t have female and male protesters being killed in Iran today.
If only the west had played fair when the Soviet Union collapsed, rather than raiding it as a soft place to make money, we would arguably not have built up such an anti-western Russia determined to regain its former power.
If only we had challenged poverty before Covid hit, rather than going through all of the horrors of austerity thrown at us by the Coalition, we might not have filled up our hospitals with people suffering from illnesses related to food poverty. And we would not have seen the ever-increasing growth in the need for the NHS if we had hit poverty squarely on the chin, and declared a war on it as some of us advocated.
Of course, if only we had not had a majority vote for Brexit that split the country and filled the political agenda with its debate, and stripped us of thousands upon thousands of NHS staff, we would have been in a better NHS space. But then, if only we had addressed the many social ills and not simply turned to austerity to pay for the bankers’ crisis, payrolling the banks to return to their former antisocial ways, there might not have been the millions who felt left behind by the shenanigans of Westminster.
If only we had rebuilt and redeveloped industry post Second World War, rather than creating a Welfare State based on a continuing poorly waged working class, then we might have skilled and waged people up from the poverty and needs of the current working poor. If only we had not done so many wrong things in the past, then of course, we would not have the problems and regrets that now fox us, that trip us up, and that make the current UK riven with need.
If only we had reformed our education system to make us sharp participants in the political world, rather than mostly observers in a crisis of thinking and doing, of bloated egos riding roughshod over the public finances, which still add up to the biggest pot of money in the game.