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A political effect… February 23, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Andrew Rawnsley had a good piece at the weekend on the British government’s repeated miscalculations in relation to Covid-19 and the management of the pandemic, and in particular the mistakes about too weak and too partial lockdowns. As he noted:

The [danger of having to have a fourth lockdown] has made him more receptive to the counsel to ease with great care that he is receiving from Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser. The two men have had to endure some torrid periods during the crisis, notably last autumn when the unrepresentative, but noisy, libertarian faction of the Tory party and their allies in the rightwing press were beating up the senior advisers for correctly forecasting that the virus was getting out of control. The monikers “Dr Doom” and “Professor Gloom” were the least of a campaign as vicious as it was ignorant to try to discredit them. The advisers have since had the vindication, albeit a grim one measured in the wave of fatalities that they warned was coming, of being proved right. The let-it-rippers, liberate-us-nowists and other varieties of anti-lockdowners have had repeated experience of being on the wrong end of the argument, but that has not stopped them from shouting as loudly as ever. The self-named Covid Recovery Group of Tory backbenchers and their media megaphones are as clamorous as ever for the lockdown to be lifted to a timetable of arbitrary dates of their inexpert choosing.


They still exert a gravitational pull on a prime minister who would probably be one of them himself if he were a Tory backbencher, but there are some indications that their baleful influence on Number 10 is weakening. “The success of the vaccination programme has given Boris enough political space to face down the extreme libertarians,” remarks one senior Tory. The prime minister appears to be less resistant to taking scientific advice, even when it isn’t what he wants to hear, than he was a few months ago. He has lately adopted the mantra, one originally minted by the scientists, that decisions about easing will be determined by “data not dates”.

His point about the vindication of those who sought tighter controls is, sadly given the numbers who have died due to the recklessness of government and business, correct. But as he notes, they haven’t gone away. Any Guardian article, or one in the IT, is swamped BTL by deniers and so on even now. Indeed one of the real puzzles is their attachment to ‘living with the virus’ and ‘opening up’ with it running rampant when Zero-Covid, and near Zero-Covid measures have been seen to work and work effectively. What is the psychology of those folk? Any thoughts? 

And what of Ireland, or the ROI in particular? Sandra Hurley on RTÉ notes that despite criticism over the confusion as to loosening some restrictions in the next number of months:

And while the opposition has pounced on the Government for sowing confusion, there is no resistance to the planned extension of severe restrictions.

No party is advocating a swift reopening and many are now pushing for a further tougher lockdown to eradicate Covid.   

In addition, backbenchers have also gone quiet in calling for any rebalance between protecting public health and the economy.  This marks a contrast to late last year when several were voicing concern that the Cabinet was being too cautious.

With limited political resistance to maintaining the current measures, the Government just needs to focus on communicating this clearly and levelling with people using one voice.

That holds the key to retaining the essential public buy-in for longer shutdowns.  And without that, there will be no suppression of the virus.

In that, that there is essential unanimity, post-Christmas and the lethal debacle of that period, as regards constraints remaining until vaccines allow for them being loosened is perhaps one of the real positives at this point in time. But, one can hear even this weekend some of the voices of some groups pushing to soften the government’s resolve.


1. NollaigOj - February 23, 2021

Very prominent among the antilockdowners were and still are the Sp!ked crowd who sad to say have significant numbers with an Irish heritage.

Liked by 1 person

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