“Mightn’t it have been an idea for the Government to have used the “good solid British common sense” Boris Johnson is now advocating when it drafted its new lockdown rules?……..
….Team Johnson is not just decidedly blokey, but as inexperienced as his Government, staffed by Cummings’ Vote Leave acolytes who know how to win campaigns but not necessarily how to govern. Few of them appear to have run anything before.”
Camilla Tominey Associate Editor 12 May 2020 www.telegraph.co.uk
If the Prime Minister urging people on Sunday to go back to work “from tomorrow” without releasing further instructions until 19 hours later wasn’t nonsensical enough, we were then presented with a roadmap with half of the directions missing. Women swiftly came to the conclusion that such an omnishambles of a plan, full of blind spots and obvious pitfalls, could only have been drafted by men. As one working mother texted me after Mr Johnson’s TV address, which left more questions than it answered: “Does this Government think the only people who go to work are men with stay-at-home wives?”
Unfortunately, the answer to that question, when you make a brief assessment of the current “alpha” cohort running No 10 is probably, yes. So testosterone-fuelled was the guidance that the first form of exercise it thought to mention was “angling”.
Men say women can struggle with directions, but I’d guarantee at least 51 per cent of the population could have foreseen the fundamental flaw in a proposal that only allows parents of children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to work. What was missing in a roadmap more akin to a spaghetti junction was an understanding of the nuts and bolts of how people actually live their lives. And while we can all sympathise with plumber Ryan Price’s demand that we “behave sensibly”, one man in his van does not represent the entire population.
Had no one in No 10 thought about childcare, as they instructed those who cannot work from home to return? The PM’s recommendation that people should cycle did not appear to take the suggested quasi-school run into account, either.
Parents would ordinarily turn to grandparents for help in such situations but the advice on the over-70s remains harder to pin down than jelly. First Dominic Raab said we could meet both grandparents in the park. Then Downing Street said we could only meet either Mum or Dad. Then Mr Johnson reminded us that pensioners are still considered ‘clinically vulnerable’, regardless of their health, so we were back to square one again. And we are still no closer to answering that most common-sensical of questions: “When will I be able to hug my grandchildren again?”
Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock went on This Morning to confirm that we could see our parents 10 minutes apart, as long as it’s only “one at a time.” Speaking for the nation, Phillip Schofield asked: “But don’t you see that is utterly bonkers?”
But the trouble is, Downing Street wonks, largely in their 20s and 30s, spearheaded by uber-geek Dominic Cummings, don’t take a daytime TV view of anything. Which is a shame, because if they did they would learn more about the British people than the choreographed focus groups upon which they appear so reliant.
The average This Morning viewer would have been able to tell the PM that saying we can invite cleaners into our homes but not relatives sounds about as rational as expecting five and six year olds to socially distance.
A woman might have had the balls to point this out, but unfortunately female ministers have been conspicuous by their absence from the all-male Covid-19 sub committee that is making the decisions. Remarkably, Home Secretary Priti Patel is the only woman in Government to have been entrusted with a Downing Street press conference (only twice, mind), and even she hasn’t been let into the coronavirus “war cabinet quad”.
Meanwhile the Cabinet, hand-picked for its loyalty to the PM, has been rendered so supine by the overly centralised approach that they didn’t even get to see the roadmap before he pre-recorded his special broadcast.
Team Johnson is not just decidedly blokey, but as inexperienced as his Government, staffed by Cummings’ Vote Leave acolytes who know how to win campaigns but not necessarily how to govern. Few of them appear to have run anything before.
Mr Johnson might be minded to heed the words of his predecessor Margaret Thatcher when she said: “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.”