The Prime Minister announced a raft of measures yesterday which to all intents and purposes sounded like the signal to the end of Lockdown from the 4th July. (BBC Summary of the Measures)
It has felt from the start that political decision making has dominated this crisis whilst Ministers have tried to hide by the awful phrase – led by the Science. You will have seen over the last week or so that even this has changed subtly to informed by the science.
As a family we have been ultra cautious throughout as we are shielding because of Sarah’s medical condition, so we have taken the Science a lot more seriously than Ministers it appears. We moved into Lockdown a week or so ahead of the formal government announcement and despite the announcements yesterday we won’t be rushing to our shops, pubs and restaurants just yet. And this excellent article from Stephen Bush in the New Statesman explains why this may not just be us?
Why restoring trust is the most important economic challenge the government faces
Reopening could be hit by two blows: a second spike in infections, or the fear of a second spike of infections.
This question of Trust is at the heart of the next stage. Do we trust the government. For me it is an obvious no. Not only have their decision making been woeful but their ability to deliver projects like the App or a Tracing system leave me wary of believing anything they say. even yesterday their lies permeated every part of the announcements. And second do I trust the general public to stay safe and observe all of the new rules? That’s where I am torn. I have seen great public spirit and the determination of many to behave during this period. I have been warmed by what I have seen and the stoicism of so many who have obviously put themselves under great mental health strain to maintain lockdown. But at the same time I have seen that very British ‘I’m alright Jack’ mentality.
As Health experts are warning today the UK needs to prepare for a second wave given the measures taken yesterday. In Germany we have seen lockdown re introduced in some areas after spikes were found. These lockdown measures have been re introduced when their death rate is still far below where we have managed to get ours down to.
At the start of this crisis the public didn’t want this to be political. Whilst I knew it obviously was VERY political it is understandable that a country wants to rally round at times like this and not for anybody to ‘play politics’. Of course as somebody who follows the day to day details of politics and policy of course it has all been deeply political from day one. With Cummings at the helm it was always going to be.
Coming out of Lockdown is as political as the decision not to go into a proper lockdown in early March. But I will admit I don’t have a feel of how this poor handling of the crisis will play out politically. The levels of Trust and favorability in Boris and the government have plummeted and Labour is now back in touching distance in the polls. But these don’t mean that much 4 years out from an election and in such strange times.
Yesterday Boris sent a very clear “back to normal” signal to the public. It is a massive health and political risk. The next few weeks and months will be the judge of this gamble