British Public is taken a Worst Opinion Of the Week
Story: People are raising money for NHS workers.
Reasonable take: A lovely sentiment, but I really wish the NHS wasn’t treated like a charity and instead funded appropriately.
Brain rot: “Okay, let me just transfer those donations over to the NHS workers after I’ve deducted our middle-man fee!” – Virgin Money Giving
As the coronavirus pandemic whittles away the notion of social interaction being anything more than a lip-folded smile at a fellow citizen on their state-sanctioned daily stroll, we’re all finding ourselves glued to our social medias feeds in an even more desperate search for social validation than before. It’s got to the point where our weekly “Screen Time report” amounts to cyber bullying.
So it seems a safe bet at this point – as you’ve tapped your way through the Instagram stories of best mates, co-workers, cousins, all the way through to the dregs of that one-off smoking area acquaintance you inexplicably still follow five years on – that you’ll have come across someone, somewhere, doing the “Run For Heroes” challenge.
Like many noble viral challenges in our recent history – the “ice bucket’ challenge”, the “cinnamon challenge” – the “trying not to die of COVID-19 in a mass herd immunity experiment” challenge involves participants doing something somewhat unpleasant and then nominating a friend to follow suit.
The “Run For Heroes challenge” is more wholesome than those mentioned above, as it involves people jogging for 5 kilometres, posting a screenshot of their route and time as proof, before donating £5 to the NHS and nominating five other mates to follow suit. The challenge has so far seen lockdown runners raise £2.7 million for NHS Charities Together.
There’s nothing wrong with that, obviously. The NHS needs money due to a decade of being stripped to its bare bones, and people are trying to make up the shortfall. We’ll come to whether or not they should be in a minute, but for now let’s talk about Richard Branson.
Branson’s Virgin Money Giving platform is being used as one of the primary platforms to collect money for the NHS, which has inspired this week’s mass Richard Branson-directed antipathy (impressive, given Virgin Orbit also announced that it was going to help Donald Trump colonise space). In 2016, Virgin Care sued the NHS after it lost out on an £82 million contract to provide children’s health services across Surrey. On top of that, all donations on Virgin Giving are subject to “a 2 percent platform fee, and a 2.5 percent payment processing fee”.
Virgin Money Giving has since clarified that it doesn’t make a profit on donations, but sometimes you’ve got to say fair play to how much groan-inducing bullshit a single man can help facilitate.
In the Tony Blair “golden years”, Richard Branson was the poster boy for British businessmen, his overfamiliar toothy grin and floppy hair indented into the psyche of aspirational Britain. He was the David Beckham of hot air balloons.
The original Stelios of record shops. His laid-back demeanour, rich dude lifestyle and shit blue jeans won over the hearts of a million British business dads, while stories of him personally responding to customer complaint letters on GMTV won over the respect of a million British mothers.
So why has this Knight of the Realm – who consciously paints “virgin” on everything – become so uncool and unpopular? Perhaps because people are right to speculate whether a man who has paid no corporation tax on his £2 billion worth of NHS contracts is the right dude to oversee charitable donations to the NHS.
You don’t have to be Archimedes to work out that 4.5 percent seems like absurdly excessive fee for running a website that hosts donations – and let us not forget how perversely staggering it is for a billionaire’s “non-profit organisation” to not simply hand over the cash without skimming some cream for themselves.
Can you imagine attempting to deduct 4.5 percent off your bills and explaining that you had to use your broadband to “process” the fee on your “platform”, i.e. your NatWest banking app? Once our “eviction holiday” is over you’d have your head kicked in by a bailiff before you could enjoy your first post-lockdown pint.
For me, it’s an alarming trend to see our most fundamental and important institution treated as some sort of charity.
As heartwarming as it is that 99-year-old veteran Captain Tom Moore is currently zimmering around his Bedfordshire back garden 100 times as he approaches his 100th birthday, and has raised more than £17 million for the NHS in the process, it simply shouldn’t need to happen. We shouldn’t have to be relying on the benevolence of private individuals to plug the gaps the state has created.
elated: Britain’s obsession with platitude pin-badges and gestures. On Thursday, Carrie Symonds was “clapping harder than ever” for our NHS while the police inexplicably created mass congregations on central London bridges in a show of “respect”, ignoring the singular job they seem to have right now.
Let us all just take a fucking breather.
When you consider Britain’s standing as the sixth richest country on planet Earth, you wonder how a place with so much money and considerably smaller populations than the United States, China, Japan, Germany and India has such a bollocks infrastructure and a festering health service?
We already “donate” to the NHS through a little thing called “general taxation”, and if our tax isn’t reaching our critical public services then it seems like that should be the point to focus on, not clapping at the Woolwich Ferry spinning doughnuts on the Thames.
This fetish with a “show of respect” versus “running the country properly” is exactly why someone like Branson, who hasn’t paid personal income tax since moving to the British Virgin Islands 14 years ago, feels totally at ease going to the British government and asking for a £500 million tax-payer bailout for his airline.
Britain right now feels like the world’s largest pyramid scheme, in which the public funnels wealth up to a set of cunts who hate us. We spend our taxpayer billions on refurbishing the “important stuff”, like the Queen’s gaff, or providing extra expenses for MPs, while our key workers have to plow on in shoddy conditions.
By rights, our hospitals should look like the inside of Saddam Hussein’s palace, with gold taps and fucking marble arches, but really I think our NHS workers would be happy with the simpler things, like more facilities, better pay and actual PPE instead of bin-liners.