The UK’s Tory government has a lot of supporters over their handling of the coronavirus crisis. I am not one of them – and, in many cases, because I’m a relentlessly cynical person, I rather suspect the support comes more from a desire to upset “The Left”, or at least to demonstrate continuing support for the ideologues who pushed Brexit, than it does from a measured and objective assessment of their performance. Still, despite their claims to be ‘following the science’, it’s clear that the scientific opinions they’re acting on are those they’ve chosen that best match their political aims. There are strong suggestions of politicised interference in the SAGE committee, including input and influence from the unelected “advisor” Dominic Cummings, who has no virological or epidemiological training as far as I’m aware.
But the simple fact is that by no sensible measure can the Westminster government be said to have reacted capably to this crisis. Whether by design or simple ineptitude, they have taken wrong turns at every stage. At best, they’ve followed the proper steps far behind the curve. For example, having initiated our relatively lax lockdown, they claimed to have done it at the right time. They didn’t. As other countries were recognising the danger and taking these basic steps, people in the UK were isolating themselves of their own volition. while the Government cheerfully allowed Cheltenham Festival to go ahead.
So the Westminster Government’s new advice to (sigh) “Stay Alert – Control The Virus – Save Lives” is not something I’m inclined to trust – even aside from the fact that it’s self-evidently incoherent, irrational and doesn’t constitute any kind of instruction or guidance. “Stay Alert”? For a microorganism?
Health being a devolved responsibility in the UK, the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have soundly rejected Johnson’s gibberish statement and, with the UK death toll the highest in Europe and still no clear picture of the extent or speed of spread in the community, have insisted that their advice remains STAY AT HOME.
That’s advice I’m inclined to put more faith in.
Much as I would like to be able to trust that our Prime Minister has the knowledge – or at least the advice – and the desire to keep the population safe, I think I’ll take my cue from his more competent counterparts in these other countries. I will be staying at home as much as is possible until I see good evidence that Britain is starting to make… No, until Britain HAS made the progress that other countries have already made in slowing and dealing with this thing.