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Now isn't the time to criticise government

In a time of crisis we should be unified, right? It's our patriotic duty to get behind the government so we can unite to beat this pandemic. Criticism of the government at a time like this amounts to political point scoring and that won't do.

Wrong.

History has shown that in a society where criticism of the government is taboo, it makes for bad government and bad decisions. It makes people reluctant to tell the truth, and in certain cases that can cost lies. If you haven't already, everyone should watch the incredible Chernobyl miniseries, which brilliantly exposes how it was ultimately a political culture of flattering power which caused the tragedy. The haunting quote - "Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid" - came back to me when the news filtered out about Wuhan and how local doctors who raised the alarm were initially persecuted by the authorities for spreading panic.

Thankfully, we live in a rather more open society where we do have a culture of criticising the government and we are allowed to point out things that are going wrong (even if much of our partisan media is reluctant to amplify this criticism if it's aimed at a government it happens to support). Let's think about the events of the last few weeks.

- The UK government took a laissez-faire approach to the pandemic compared to most other countries and contrary to WHO advice, based on its own modelling. The scientific community raised serious concerns, demanded transparency about the modelling and the assumptions it was based on. There was significant questioning in the media and wider society. The government subsequently abandoned this approach and fell in line with the international community.
- The UK government was harshly criticised for its communications strategy, which experienced crisis comms people said was falling short of established principles (clarity and consistency of message; introducing a very restricted number of figures who will be the recognisable and trusted public face of the government during the crisis). Within a week or two, the government had vastly improved its communications operation and a lot of people were saying that Johnson's address on Monday was far more effective than anything that went before.

...Would those errors have been acknowledged and reversed if we were operating in a culture of subservience? Who knows.

A few minutes ago on the radio I listened to a doctor who is dealing with corona right now, telling us that not only is protective equipment in short supply, but the UK government guidelines diverge from international ones by stating that healthcare professionals do not require masks covering their eyes. She was pointing out that infection of doctors and nurses is one of the key factors in the failure of healthcare systems to cope with the pandemic. Moreover, many staff having to cover both their own specialism (she was a cardiologist) and corona patients. So failing to adequately protect them risks reducing staff available at a critical time, and spreading the disease more widely around already vulnerable people.

Let's be clear. It's our collective duty to ask questions about this, to make sure the government knows we have listened to people like the doctor, the dissenting epidemiologists, the communications experts, and we demand that they look again at their policies, strategies, guidelines. This definitely isn't a time for political point scoring. We can draw our conclusions about the overall handling of the crisis later. It's not a time for political tribalism - but that cuts both ways. Now is a time for all of us, Left and Right, Remain and Brexit, to come together, do what we can. Through our personal behaviour (supporting the lockdown, and helping the vulnerable people in our communities survive it) and with our public faces reinforcing the government's appeal to comply with the lockdown, while scrutinising its policies and raising alarm where necessary, like good citizens.

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

comment by Red Russian (U4715)
posted 16 minutes ago
comment by Diafol Coch 77 - A Reputable Poster (U2462)
posted 2 minutes ago
comment by Red Russian (U4715)
posted 1 minute ago
Thanks Diafol. I'm well aware this is an all too common experience and sadly I think it's likely that quite a few people on this forum will deal with bereavement in the coming weeks and months.
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Doesn't make it any easier though and I really feel for you and your family as this virus is just going to make it even more difficult for families to pull together in difficult times.
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Yes, the heartbreaking thing is the social distancing. When my mum needs me most, I can't visit because there's a reasonable chance I'm carrying a virus that could easily kill her.
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When you put it like that it's frightening. Stay safe and hope all will be OK. Places like here will be a help in a way to help us keep sane. I'm starting homeworking tomorrow so I'll be going a bit stir crazy apart from taking the dog for a walk.

We could really do with a best of Barry thread or something!

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

A few minutes ago on the radio I listened to a doctor who is dealing with corona right now, telling us that not only is protective equipment in short supply, but the UK government guidelines diverge from international ones
++

This is certainly the case that our frontline healthcare professionals are experiencing in the 'war' against Coronavirus.

The UK GVT was lambasted some years ago for not preparing soldiers adequately on tours of duty in war zones. In fact many soldiers had to supply their own equipment best they could.

To say you can't criticise or question the incumbent GVTs policy during a state of emergency such as this one, is very dangerous and irresponsible thinking.

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

comment by Dave (U11711)
posted 5 hours, 50 minutes ago
My missus was thoroughly bemused at the regulations around weddings and funerals. Which parent misses out, and why do dead people deserve greater attendance than living ones
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Yeah that too. I guess that could be a compassion thing but there's no logic to it. The facking thing with the ship full of sick people is just twilight zone stuff - anyone involved in that decision is not fit for their job!
I saw a comment that made me think, something along the lines of the party who prides themselves on "stopping the boat people" couldn't stop a monster cruise ship carrying a deadly disease from docking in the heart of Sydney harbour

All good on the email, looking forward to it

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

I'm starting homeworking tomorrow so I'll be going a bit stir crazy apart from taking the dog for a walk.

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I've been working from home since last Wednesday. Not going too insane yet and feeling more productive / focused on some days than others, but the prospect of keeping this up for weeks or months is terrifying. Video conferencing is a godsend though. Above all for the social contact with colleagues. You don't realise quite how important the non-work chats and banter are until it's gone.

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Red Russian, hope everything goes well with your parents - my mum is a 40 a day smoker who has an aversion to doctors and hospitals and is living in the second most dangerous part of the world for all of this so I’m not hopeful.

Let’s hope that we all get through this unscathed and can get back to debating relatively pointless things like who should be United manager etc

You’re a good guy 👍

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

comment by Bryan ROBBson (U22311)
posted 7 minutes ago
Red Russian, hope everything goes well with your parents - my mum is a 40 a day smoker who has an aversion to doctors and hospitals and is living in the second most dangerous part of the world for all of this so I’m not hopeful.

Let’s hope that we all get through this unscathed and can get back to debating relatively pointless things like who should be United manager etc

You’re a good guy 👍
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All the best to you and yours too Robb.

I share your hope that we'll soon move past this unifying tragedy and can all get back to hating each other based on obscure differences in opinion.

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

There was never any hate 😉

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

comment by Bryan ROBBson (U22311)
posted 49 minutes ago
There was never any hate 😉
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From you....

Best to you both (and families), we are in terrible times.

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

It does diverge from who can say that from personal experience. The guidelines change every day in hospitals mainly based on what’s available and basically the PPE is being rationed. When we go to intensive care we put on the most PPE but other times it’s less

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

I've come here late, but really good article

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