The State of our Nation: What Coronavirus has Revealed about Modern Britain

Locked up; socially restricted and, in most instances, highly concerned, the British people are now facing challenges that are unprecedented in modern times.

This has prompted a highly positive response from the community, with several heartwarming stories of collective spirit and philanthropic gestures. Volunteering schemes have been set up throughout the nation on a community level, with neighbours looking out for one another to ensure that nobody is left behind.

Conservative Associations up and down the country have joined in this endeavour, and the contribution of certain people has been very impressive. None less so than Matt Vickers MP, who has personally been travelling to North Tees Hospital, to ensure that the NHS staff there feel appreciated and recognised for their hard work during this time.

Bishop Auckland’s MP, Dehenna Davison, and her Constituency Team have also been working incredibly hard, setting up a volunteering network to help the most vulnerable. As the Scheme Coordinator, I am happy to say that we have managed to help 100% of those who have contacted us. This, however, would not have been possible without our fantastic volunteers, who are the real stars of the show.

Those who continue to work to provide crucial services, sometimes in very challenging environments and despite their own anxieties about the situation, have been particularly impressive. The Queen rightfully acknowledged the dedication of these heroic individuals, reassuring them that “every hour of (their) hard work brings us closer to normal times”. These people should be especially recognised as embodying what it means to be British – a sense of duty and responsibility, despite facing great personal adversity. This is indeed “the quiet, good-humoured resolve” that the Queen referred to on Sunday evening.

I had feared that, in time where social media dominates our daily lives, that these values had been diluted, having been replaced with narcissism and superficiality. As much as social media has undoubtedly changed who we are, with many of us managing an online persona as well as a macroscopic frontier, it is reassuring to see that the majority of us continue to display the fundamental British values that have made our nation resilient and great. Now, more than ever, it is these values that will see us triumph – this crisis will end and, when it does, we will have earned Her Majesty’s commendation for the steadfastness we have displayed.

This is most definitely not the right time to encourage division in our nation, especially along party political lines. This is why I welcome Keir Starmer’s offer to “work constructively with the government”, providing ideas and criticism, where required.

This is in sharp contrast to Jeremy Corbyn, who offered no new ideas whatsoever and seemed be perpetually behind the curve when it came to supposedly holding the government to account. Much like the marionette representation of Hans Blix from the film, Team America, Mr. Corbyn’s secret weapon was to write a series of angry, inconsequential letters to the Prime Minister, akin to an overzealous pen-pal who has long overstayed their welcome. No new ideas offered; statements of the painstakingly obvious: symptomatic of a leader who, as Theresa May put it, “can lead a protest”, whilst the grown-ups lead the country.

We can but hope that the current incarnation of Labour, now under new management, can push forward and restore their status as a credible opposition.

As Her Majesty has highlighted, now is the time for us to come together as a nation to support each other in these difficult circumstances, and in advance of the distressing times yet to come.

George Brade, Coordinator for the North of England for Conservative Progress