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Sunday 15 March 2020

Tory Virus Information Shambles

After alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson gave his sombre assessment to the nation last week, telling the public that many of them were going to lose loved ones “before their time”, the initial response from the press, and indeed many of those ordinary people, was to trust the advice, and the information, that they were being given. But in the intervening three days, this frail consensus has begun to fracture.
Why this should be is down to three factors, each of which should cause concern, with all three together having the potential to cause mass unrest and panic. The most worrying part of the triumvirate is the considerable scientific dissent.

As the BBC has reported, “More than 200 scientists have written to the government urging them to introduce tougher measures to tackle the spread of Covid-19. In an open letter, a group of 229 scientists from UK universities say the government's current approach will put the NHS under additional stress and ‘risk many more lives than necessary’”.

There was more. “In the open letter the group of scientists argue that stronger ‘social distancing measures’ would ‘dramatically’ slow the rate of growth of the disease in the UK, and would spare ‘thousands of lives’”. The scientists also warned “Going for 'herd immunity' at this point does not seem a viable option”. Matt Hancock has now toured the broadcasters to stress that the Government’s goal is not “herd immunity”.

Which has reassured not at all. Especially as the second factor is the concern over the ability of the NHS to cope with an increase in Covid-19 cases. The BBC once more: “the prime minister is to urge British companies to join a ‘national effort’ to produce more ventilators and other medical equipment ‘at speed’ to help the NHS deal with the coronavirus outbreak … Work is also under way to buy up thousands of private hospital beds to boost NHS capacity should it be needed”. Will the equipment arrive in time?
Hancock has confirmed that underused hotel capacity could be turned into more hospital rooms. But above all of this is the third factor, and as so often at times like this, it can be described in three words: information, information, information. We need information, and the Government shows every sign of behaving like Number Six in The Prisoner.

How did the “herd immunity” idea gain traction for three days, only to now be shot down by Hancock’s denial? If the over-70s are to be “shielded” from Covid-19 in coming weeks, why not just do it now? What are Government “sources” doing briefing their information to favoured hacks and broadcast journalists? Who is in charge? What is the message? Where are the clear, unequivocal, and indeed regular public information broadcasts?

The problem is that, around Bozo The Clown, we have a team that is very good at information warfare, and not good at all at information provision for all - including openness and honesty. They are far stronger on falsehood and misinformation.

And that’s not good enough. The Government needs to answer the scientific dissent, equip the NHS, and keep the public informed. Because if it doesn’t, it will be in deep trouble.

The more worrying problem is that so will the rest of us. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
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Anonymous said...

The party that claimed via Russian fascist Ayn Rand and lickspittle Thatcher, "There's no such thing as society" now looks even more like a gang of spivs and immoral cunts. Or is it just "herd immunity" this time round?

Christ knows those tory scumbags have got it coming one day. It can't happen soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Imagine my dismay to find in a global crisis how the NHS general inquiry line is closed on Wednesdays.

I left a message for Hancock asking him to resign.

A shambles indeed!

Arnold said...

I know little about modern manufacturing, but can the likes of Rolls Royce and JCB just switch to making ventilators at the drop of a hat?

What I find unbelievable is that Bozo has ruled out extending the Brexit transition period even though some talks have been cancelled. The future is now a foreign country and it's impossible to tell what the world will be like a month from now, let alone a year.

The only rational action is to maintain the status quo until the world can take stock.

RodJ said...

Be angry. Be very angry. And then act on your anger.

Andy McDonald said...

I think that what we're seeing is the point where the "winning" mentality hits a brick wall.

Let me explain. To Johnson, Cummings etc, "winning" is everything. And by winning, they mean not losing. Life is a series of 2 party fights, and as long as the other side is losing, you are by default winning. And we know where this leads us. Race to the bottom, "slightly less shit than the other guy" politics.

Now, faced with an actual crisis, Johnson (and Trump) realise that winning is not going to cut it. They need to be succeeding, which means cooperation, which in the winning mentality is as good as admitting defeat.