Opinion with Christine Tongue: Thanet and Tunbridge Wells – in it together?

In it together?

Apparently Tunbridge Wells is a bit disgusted at being put into the same covid tier as much less classy places like Medway and Thanet.

We (Thanet) have got virus coming out of our ears and they (Tunbridge Wells) haven’t, they say. They want their freedom to go to their local hostelry and have their friends to catered dinner parties or whatever posh folks do.

And they are posh – as I know from bizarre personal experience. In the 1980s I lived in a tiny space in a block of Victorian flats in Westminster. Upstairs lived the MP for Tunbridge Wells in a huge flat with his wife and three children. I was teaching at the college round the corner; he was working in Parliament, also round the corner. He was in Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet and had a police guard.

Their kids were all away at boarding school and of course they had other properties, mansions, elsewhere.

We used to meet on the stairs and exchange pleasantries.

His wife was a lovely friendly neighbour and we often had long chats and met round the shops.

But one day it came home to me with a bang how different we were. Class and privilege raised its ugly head.

We both had family problems and one night when hubby was in “the House” Jean invited me for tomato soup in her kitchen so we could share our worries. She was worried about her eleven year old unhappy at his fantastically expensive public school. I was fretting about my old granny who was ill and getting confused, and we didn’t know why.

She was sympathetic. She had an aunt who had had a confused episode, too. She’d gone into the street “in her peignoire” (her nightie I think she meant), but, thank heavens, she said “the servants had found her and taken her back – to the castle.”

Honest! She was a countess or something. The class system hit me in the face.

I finished my soup and crept back to my cubby hole downstairs feeling I’d located my place in the world. I might be an educated teacher – middle class – but definitely not one of the ruling class.

We were in the same block of flats but we lived in different worlds.

Meanwhile, here in Kent it’s a similar story. We, in infected Thanet,  have nearly ten times the amount of positive covid cases than the wealthier bits of west Kent. Unfortunately for them we share the same political boundaries – Kent County Council is in charge of all of us.

So why have we had it much worse in Thanet than in Tunbridge Wells? I think it’s pretty obvious.

Poverty and deprivation are factors in getting the virus, just as it always has been for most pandemics. Poor nutrition, overcrowding, inability to self isolate and poor education (so the increasingly complex guidelines are not understood), all help to spread the infection.

We in Thanet have an elderly population, a lot of care homes, schools for children with disabilities and special needs – these are all “underlying conditions” that affect immune systems.

We also, I’ve noticed – and heard anecdotally – have a significant number of people who don’t really “believe” in the virus. Like Nigel Farage, they think lockdown was unnecessary and many think mask wearing damages your health. They think the vulnerable should be protected by being kept away from the rest of the population and let “herd immunity” grow.

So put it altogether and it’s not really surprising that the disgusted of Tunbridge Wells are disgusted at being subjected to the same covid restrictions as the disgusting people of Thanet.

It’s not fair, they say.

What I say is that it’s not fair Thanet is poorer, worse housed, worse educated, worse employed than Tunbridge Wells.

We live in the same county but we live in different worlds. Instead of trying to build a wall around themselves the posh bits of Kent need to start working to make things better for EVERYBODY in Kent — including the downtrodden people of Thanet.


    • I do agree with this letter. I live in swale and when I heard what the mp from Tunbridge wells saying not many people from his area would go to the isle of sheppey it made my blood boil. Who does he think he is. The isle of sheppey is a lovely place to live and it is outsiders who come here who bring the viruses. snobs they certainly are.

  1. It’s interesting that when you look at the more densely populated wards (read poorer) in Tunbridge Wells the Covid figures are far higher than in the more affluent regions. The same applies to Tonbridge and Sevenoaks.

    We can’t all afford to isolate and it’s a damm sight harder to do it in a flat than a big house with ample grounds.

  2. What else reduces immunity ? PFOA a toxic chemical of residue of firefighting foam. Abstracting water supply from an aquifer under foam laying runway and fire school was never a bright idea.

    PFOA also reduces vaccination effect.

    • How on Earth do you know that? The Pfizer vaccine has only just been approved for public use? Who on Earth has had time to see if its efficacy is reduced in fire fighters?

  3. I don’t know anyone in Tunbridge Wells who is disgusted. Isn’t that an old cliche well past its sell by date?

  4. I rather think that “poor education (so the increasingly complex guidelines are not understood)” is a bit thin. The message started off quite simply: “stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives”, and got even simpler: “hands, face, space”.
    Even people who read the “Sun” newspapers can understand that.
    I think people choose not to follow this advice. Partly because of misleading stories and opinions doing the rounds of social media and the more sensational newspapers, and partly because of the appalling examples set by people who should know better.
    It’s quite simple, really.
    Don’t mix and mingle. Keep your distance.

    • there are plenty of well-educated people who break the rules… and poorly-educated who follow them. As someone who was raised poor and left school with no qualifications, I find this blame culture very insulting indeed.

      • I agree with you Peter.

        Thanet dinosaur Lefties cast themselves in the role of defenders of the poor, the ill educated and the ill and the downtrodden. Their virtue signalling indulgence of blame as a justification distorts their reason.

        They blame “Racists”, “Far Right”, “Privileged”, “Institutionalise racism” ad nauseum.

        Yet did Thanet Lefties ever protest against League of St George or Thor WMD chemicals ? Perhaps too busy getting apoplectic about blue plaques.

        Their leftie cognitive dissonance has done harm in Thanet. The stroke units ill informed judicial reviews, Karen Constantine and her rivals “SONIK”.. The column dodging re QEQM maternity tragedies. Their column dodging re statutory reporting duties of Health and Social Care Act 2012.

        In 2009 Steve Ladyman Labour MP was asking TDC about highly toxic polychlorinated bi phenyls buried at Westwood and at Pegwell. Where was his Thanet trades union support ? Where was his loonie left support ?

        Had those PCBs contaminated water supply along with hundreds of tonnes of cyclohexanone leaked to aquifer from Sericol?

        Thanet biggest health inequality remains environmental and waterborne toxic hazards to health.

        Has Tunbridge Wells had a water supply for sixty years that fails to meet wholesome water requirements of law ?

        The SoS Health has a duty to address health inequality. IE to increase Thanet NHS provision to meet the increased risk of disease of the area. The loonie lefties are still failing to embrace and pursue the cause

        I reported to Dr Kirkup expert inquiry QEQM maternity tragedies resulting in their scheduling research into PFOA and PCBs … which both carry foetal damage risk and PFOA also carries foetal morbidity and pre-eclampsia risk.

        I did this whilst Thanet Labour, Thanet loonie lefties and Thanet trades union cravenly clung to silence on the environmental hazards issues.

        Now we have Aram Rawf wanting a TDC motion for everyone to check under their beds for racists …… Jesus wept.

        • Your comment is rude and irrelevant. I am not a “loonie” of any sort- yet anyhow. And this way of combining attitudes to the virus with attitudes to racism is an affront on logic. Richard please tell us why Thanet is more infected than Tunbridge Wells in your scientific view.

          • Oh no. You’re encouraging him to launch another of his conspiracy theory rants, involving Thanet based IRA cells and attempts to assassinate local politicians.

    • The virus doesn’t no boundaries rich or poor, remember we had some of the lowest infection rates in the summer.people have stopped listening to the advice unfortunately,other areas of the country are canceling Christmas markets because too many people are mixing just as we decide it would be a good idea to have one on Broadstairs prom.

  5. We’re in this together, people. Its a global pandemic. Lets not make it about local (or even European) issues.

    Concentrate on saving the world as a whole, becuase one day Covid-19 will just be a tiny footnote on the journey to armageddon.

  6. I think any discussion shout be aimed at Johnson and his group of incompetent hooray Henry’s and henrietas. Complete shambles.

  7. Tunbridge Wells had a 50% increase in Covid rates,over the past week.Now upto 250 per100,000.Thanet was the only area to go down.
    T W,don’t moan too soon about being banded with Thanet!

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