After the PM’s apparent bungled performance on Sunday evening, which was supposedly exacerbated by his “clarifications” on Monday, I thought that I would – candidly – spring to his defence.
Like many people, over the last two days I have been frequently interrupted by the pinging of my phone. Each time, a hilarious Whatsapp meme or Twitter video, sent from a variety of surprising sources, arrived, all mocking Reckless Boris’ for his do work, don’t work; do go out, don’t go out; do see family, don’t see family messages. If anything has become clear during lockdown is that we Brits love a joke.
Unquestionably, RB botched the pre-lockdown period, leading to the unnecessary slaughter of the innocents. Never was he a fit and proper person to hold such high office. But it doesn’t follow that his post-lockdown phase is flawed.
Levelled at Boris by many is the accusation that his recent messaging was confusing when he should have been clear. The messaging was unclear, just as they planned it to be. More effort would have gone into preparing for RB’s piece to camera on Sunday than in any of the previous announcements.
Evidently, somehow, the Government must make the country flow again, just as most European countries are unlocking. Nobody envies those who must make such decisions. The Government must, therefore, edge us, step by step, to the new-normal. But how to do this?
Imagine if the Government attempted to give coherent advice which was to be applicable to each person, to each organisation, would that have worked any better? I doubt it. Such clear advice would have had to be age group-specific; specific to town, city or country; specific to each job, and each sector; specific to people with or without young children; relevant to carers; the list goes on. In that scenario, the instructions would conflict. Our lives are unique: no set of rules could apply to all people. Bespoke rules per family would take eons to prepare, when time is not a commodity we have.
By perfecting obfuscation (a skill RB is endowed with), those who feel most able and most willing will move to the new normal, taking preventative measures. Those who return know what to do. The dog’s breakfast of advice, mostly, self-selects. There is something for everyone to cling to.
There will, of course, be employers who encourage the return of their employees when it is not “Covid secure”, but employees who are able to resist the foolish return to work can, for now, accept furlough. There will be casualties, but there would be casualties whichever way the Government now moves.
Other than voting in a buffoon, we had no personal responsibility for the pre-lockdown failures, but we do have some personal responsibility for how we tentatively get going again. The anger directed at RB now is because of our unforgivably high death toll. Trust in RB is evaporating, even if his approach to the great unlocking is appropriate.