The government’s COVID19 performance and the PM’s in particular were blasted this morning from a source unexpected (to me, because of the normally pro-Tory Murdoch ), the Sunday Times, which detailed the trajectory of missed opportunities and delayed actions. In Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain walked into disaster, the authors show how the PM missing 5 COBRA meetings, the failure to order PPE and the ignoring of scientists’ warnings (or perhaps listening to too many inconsistent ‘experts’) formed the foundations of the domino effect outcome over the months which followed.
‘But it took just an hour that January 24 lunchtime to brush aside the coronavirus threat. Matt Hancock bounced out of Whitehall after chairing the meeting and breezily told reporters the risk to the UK public was “low”.’
Nevertheless, the PM still has a 66% approval rating for his handling of the crisis. A business leader tweeted: ‘Sadly there will be those that still think “they’re doing their best in tough circumstances”. We live in a country full of sycophants.’
If you want to hear some truly rigorous discussion about these issues, tune into Stephen Nolan on BBC Five Live at 11 pm on Saturdays, when Stephen is joined by former Tory minister Edwina Currie and broadcaster Mohammed Shafique.
Meanwhile, a new phrase has entered the English language – ‘lockdown shaming’. Police have been inundated with reports of alleged lockdown breaches, thought mostly to be mistakes or attempts to settle ‘vendettas’. West Midlands police, the UK’s second largest force, revealed it had been receiving up to 2,000 Covid-19-related calls a day – up to half of its daily total. The Guardian reports how some areas have ‘enthusiastically embraced “corona shaming’, eg Norfolk over the Easter weekend. This phenomenon suggests the surreal situation we’re living through is leading to the emergence of our more primitive sides beneath the veneer of civilisation.
At today’s press briefing, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced another 596 coronavirus deaths in hospitals, taking the total to over 16,000 and the number of cases to over 120k. At least 86 health and social care workers have died of COVID19, many of whom simply did not have adequate PPE, making it especially shocking that the gowns promised by the weekend will not arrive till tomorrow at the earliest. And yet Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, says “the U.K….has been an international exemplar in preparedness.” It seems very unfortunate, then, that the gowns promised by the weekend will not arrive tomorrow at the earliest.
All this news contributes further to the feeling that we are not being psychologically ‘held’ by a team of authentic, competent or consistent politicians and policymakers, with the potential for exacerbating anxiety and uncertainty.
On a cheerful note, ICYMI, you might like to catch up with the inspiring and chirpy fitness guru Joe Wicks, interviewed at 11 am on BBC Radio Five Live, where he talks so engagingly about the importance of exercise and diet at this time. This is especially helpful because so many were deterred from exercise years ago, having felt humiliated by early experiences of bossy or bullying games teachers at school. A key part was when he clarified the mental health benefits of exercise. As the presenter said, ‘his positivity is contagious’. There are great workouts on his YouTube channel (The Body Coach) at 9 am each weekday morning and if that feels too tough, there are others on offer eg several 10 minute ones for seniors. And no, I’m not getting paid to promote it, lol !