By Martha Kool, Senior Associate
Before I get into this – partisan politics is less important than ever right now – and politicising the situation is not helpful. But – seeing as most of us are stuck inside and there’s nothing else to write about – I’m going to be a hypocrite and give my take on how the Government has managed its communication with the public over the last few weeks.
There have been wildly differing views on how Boris has handled the Coronavirus outbreak in Britain. Some feel he has risen to the challenge and proved himself to be the leader the country needs. Others, not so much. There have been contradictions and periods of silence that have failed to put the public at ease as panic rises across the country.
Let’s talk about herd immunity. Is it the Government’s goal? Was it ever? Less than a week ago, Sir Patrick Vallance – Chief Scientific Adviser – said on Radio Four: “our aim is […] to build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease.” There were reports that the Government wanted 60% of the population to become infected. There were also less verifiable rumours that placed the number above 80%. People did the maths and realised this level of infection would – according to mortality rates – result in hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Just days later, Health Secretary Matt Hancock denied that herd immunity was part of the official plan, insisting the goal is “to protect life from this virus.”
Opposition politicians, including leadership candidate Lisa Nandy, have specifically condemned the Government for its communication during the outbreak – although those in opposition rarely line-up to praise those in power regardless of the situation.
But, in the interest of fairness, let’s look at some of the things the Government has gotten right. Rishi Sunak had already started gaining popularity with his first Budget, and his announcement of measures to help businesses and people through this crisis only added to that. It can’t be denied that it’s an impressive – and well delivered – set of measures that will make a huge difference for a lot of worried people.
Some do believe the Government’s campaign has already been effective in holding back the virus. Realistically, only time will tell if we have managed to “flatten the curve”, but I think we can all agree it is good to see the Government take this seriously, even if many hoped they would have done so sooner. As more measures come into place each day, hopefully the communication keeps going from strength to strength and we can look back at this without regret. Maybe in a sunny beer garden where we can all be less than two metres apart.
Meanwhile, we at Nudge hope you’re looking after yourself and your loved ones. We’ll be blogging regularly to ease the isolation boredom – let us know what else you’re doing to pass the time!