Having listened to umpteen daily briefings of the COVID-19 pandemic (it does help to fill the time during lockdown) one overriding omission strikes me. That of bare faced honesty. There are clearly many things governments cannot reveal to the wider public, that is a given, but in this particular matter, which is described as being a national endeavour, Bristling Brock urges the various spokespeople at these briefings to say it as it is.
We have a coterie of journalists asking almost the same inane questions every single day - to the point where you might wonder whether their objective is supportive or destructive. The reality is that nobody, not even our government (whom we mistakenly believe to be superhuman and imbued with limitless resource), has been faced with such a unique and challenging set of considerations as those posed by COVID-19. The further reality is that it is almost impossible for any government to react to and cater for the needs of every segment of British society. There are going to be winners and losers - although those terms don’t really express the emotional and pragmatic complexities of decision making - and we need our leaders to openly admit that they are undoubtedly doing their best but will not be able to react to every single demand upon them simultaneously - be that logistically, economically or politically. Over time, that may be possible, but no government, and BB means no government, has the resource and capability to universally address every shortage, every questionable choice or decision which may be made in good faith at a point in time. Mistakes will have occurred and will continue to occur - there are human beings making these impossible decisions - and it is therefore incumbent upon out leadership to be open and realistic about this. If we are all in this together, as the strap lines urge us to believe, then let us all be in the know. Most of us are adult enough to handle the reality of such a declaration for we have never voted for automatons to rule us, rather we vote governments in that reflect our national character, our values and our way of life and our future prospects as a nation.
Let governments be open and honest on COVID-19. This is unprecedented territory and we, as thinking adults in the population, should acknowledge the enormity of what our government is faced with. But truth and openness is a more realistic basis for support. Briefings that focus on generalities, repetitive mantra’s and obfuscations are not the right recipe. (All that said, the decision to proceed with Phase One of HS2 is absolute madness - someone needs to rethink that one pronto...)
China continues to be looked upon with suspicion and not a little bad faith, be that related to COVID-19 or its blatantly expansionist foreign policies. There is clearly an agenda being followed by Xi Jinpeng which is hugely different in direction and emphasis to his immediate forbears, but China relies upon Western business to supercharge its economic growth. Without the West sourcing vast amounts of production from Chinese factories that growth will wither, as will the Chinese economy as a whole. It is one thing to have expansionist vision, it is quite another to bring it to fruition without upsetting quite a lot of other nations who directly and indirectly sustain the China miracle that has characterised the last decade or so. Post COVID-19, the world is likely to be a very different place. China should step carefully.
By contrast, Trumpy is leading America into a right old dogs-dinner mess. When you get gun-toting citizens (though BB uses the term ‘citizens’ with some misgivings) moving about the streets to protest their constitutional rights (against lockdown and social distancing in this instance) then you see the beginnings of an anarchic swell of rebellion against the federal and state legislatures. Trumpy knows no shades of grey (not in this context at least) as he sees everything in black and white definitiveness and his gauche and aggressive behaviour in public characterises a man who has lost the mood of the people on a very large scale. Bombast may win the occasional moment - and we must recognise that Americans do like a good measure of boastful bombast - but it is no recipe for pragmatic, we’ll thought through strategies that really don’t nark vast swathes of the population off. As in Britain, the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in America also, and their federal and state governments will unquestionably be battling with many things hitherto unknown, so we should perhaps slacken the critique a little. That said, critique of any description is anathema to Trumpy. Their ride will be an interesting one - unfortunately for the rest of the world, their ride is one we have to endure as well.