I should probably not blog when I’m angry, but nothing rankles me more than a bully. Punch up not down is my guiding mantra, and I’m always happy to swing a fist to help the underdog.
But onto this blogpost and the fact that the lockdown has eased…
I write this ahead of whatever Johnson will say in the Commons today but the reality is that the lockdown is already falling apart. People have bought the message pedalled by some elements in the press. If you need a measure of how gullible people are, then this is surely it. It’s hard to see how the government reverses this decline. If we see a spike in numbers in a window beginning in 11 to 14 days, we will know why.
Buzzfeed has also confirmed my suspicions of the other day, with a really excellent bit of reporting on Saturday that detailed how the Prime Minister has been resisting pressure from the right-wing press, as well as hawks in his own cabinet and party. Newspaper in particular see the lockdown as being an existential threat to their business. In America, people are risking their lives for Donald Trump’s survival. In this country, people are being asked to do the same so a few red tops can stay afloat.
How – and if — Johnson can row this back is yet to be seen. I wouldn’t blame him if he announced that the lockdown is going tighter, just to teach these people the lesson that you don’t mess around with the coronavirus.
On that score, there’s so much I could write about Warrington and those people dancing a conga because they believed they were adequately separated. This is the kind of muddy thinking I’ve been writing about in one form or another for weeks. The message simply hasn’t got through to some northern working-class communities. Somebody obviously had half an inkling of an idea and thought they could out-logic the government advice. A rope. Two meters apart. Let’s get people dancing! Except, of course, they all expel vapour (shed virus, if you will, if they’re infected) which the next person on the line steps into and inhales… I wish they’d thought it through, but this is symptomatic of a nation bored with lockdown. Perhaps the behavioural science team was right, though in fairness to them, it must be difficult to model stupidity.
This also feels like the Blitz argument that Malcolm Gladwell talked about in one of his books – Outliers, I’m thinking – which explained that there was no such thing as the spirit of the Blitz. It was, rather, people who had come so close to death that it gave them irrational confidence in the face of danger. This is beginning to feel a bit like that: people who survived the first wave and seem strangely buoyant about their chances should there be a second.
And it’s hard to see why there wouldn’t be a second. Our testing remains inadequate, our tracing almost non-existent, and the percentage people with antibodies still in the single digits. I’m sure there’s some good news. I just don’t know what it is.