Professor Jason Leitch for the Scottish
Government just gave a good interview on the ‘balancing act’ that is the
metrics of a retreat from lockdown. I would recommend it on BBC News player at
7.30 this morning. He explained about the competing considerations: flattening
admissions, readying the NHS versus economic and social harms. When one tips
too far, you reconsider. It got a lot of laughs but in some ways when the US
President tapped the side of his head and said ‘the metrics [for coming out of
lockdown] are in here” he was right. Our Cabinet will do something
similar. Lots of voices will lobby for various things and Boris will decide. It
will be a time to suit them, not us. A bit like a headmistress who arbitrarily
decides on a spelling test at 9am tomorrow, we will all go back to work. There
is no formula, just one massive judgement call. For us as punters on the
receiving end, whatever happens will feel quite chaotic. One minute kids are at
school and then they are back. Our fears won’t have been eased but we will drop
them off and then fill the Whatsapp streams with questions to other mums about
whether social distancing can still be observed? What are the new rules? What
is the strength of Dettol being used?
Bluntly, the UK and our neighbours in Ireland and the Isle of Man locked down early-ish, before we saw the first wave peak. The reasons you are seeing so many questions about PPE and preparedness is that had we the levels of preparedness that the top national risk on the national risk register demands, we could have been read-ier for a first wave. Rode it out longer. We have instead used this lock down to ready for a second wave, steady but unavoidable, and that has to come [as does a third and fourth]. The lock down also allows you to ‘nudge’ the public into accepting behaviours from law enforcement bodies that would never have been countenanced in peace time. However lock downs involve massive societal pain and in the same way that there are models for disease, there are models for those too and they are devastating. It worries me that people are calling those who are asking questions of the state ‘traitors”. They are trying to understand what went wrong. It might feel too soon, too treacherous, but it might also help us prepare for the next 2-5 years better.
The likely “lexit” now will be that as many of us as possible work either in our job, or in a role supporting core services, or in a Land Army. But will still be asked to “shield” anyone unwell or older and limit travel, with no social activities. So we will work but with little emotional or social reward. This is what is called the “social death” part of the pandemic plan.
When I see someone being fined for sitting in the sun, or buying a hot tub from Home Bargains I sometimes wonder if they have read the writing on ‘social death’ too and are just drinking freedom in. One last time.
So if you are a
campaigner or an activist focus your attention on 1. Equipping your communities
for the next phase 2. Lobbying for an effective antigen test which will be the
game changer 3. Continue to ask questions of the legality of enforcement powers
and do not blindly accept all measures as necessary 4. Support all front line
and key working staff. 5. Read at source. So many pay walls removed now for
good journals. WHO; International Fed of Red Cross; Professional bodies; Law
Gazettes, online commentary – the writing has been phenomenal 6. Those of you
of a creative persuasion – sing. draw. act. get your work out there. You know
the two things that have exceeded all expectations in the models? 1. What a
bastard this virus is and 2. How much more connected we have all been by online
means and how wonderfully creative that has been. I like 2 better.
And please remember.
Enquiring is not treachery, it is oversight, it is doing better, it is learning and most of all, it is freedom.