The Weeks Roll On

As lockdown rolls confidently into week six, it is apparent that this crisis will not be resolved easily, or quickly. But what can we take from the past week?

The Government is largely getting it right

Faced with what is simply an unimaginable health crisis, Johnson, who himself has been hospitalised with the virus, and his team are doing the best job they can in the circumstances. Now faced with the coherent opposition (at times...) of a former barrister in the red corner, they are unfalteringly following the science, and making their decisions based on the advice of the many specialist committees set up to tackle the crisis.

In the face of Labour questioning why one of the government's top advisors is attending these meetings (of course, why could it possibly be acceptable for a top Downing Street advisor to attend meetings of a scientific advisory committee for the government which he helps to guide?!), we must be prepared to face the fire on some issues, and that means admitting our mistakes, but also promoting our successes.

What should the Government do next?

I'm not a medical professional, so I'm not going to start issuing medical advice. In terms of politics, it is time to take a number of steps to keep the public filled in as to what is going on at the top level.

First, the government must publish a rough guide covering the potential end date for the lockdown. Several senior Tories and Opposition members have called for this, and whilst the government may not be able to give an exact date for anything, a rough timeframe would certainly be welcomed.

Second, the government must encourage the police to enforce the lockdown. This means giving full clarity over what powers the police have, and where and how they should be used. The fact that people are still making unnecessary journeys and exacerbating the risk to those most vulnerable by doing so is prolonging the crisis.

We're all sick of the lockdown. But it will be over sooner if we follow the official advice.

Third, the government should include within official figures those who recover from Covid-19. Whilst we see the total number of infections rise day on day, these figures do not actually include a reduction quantified by those who have recovered. It would make the official statistics more representative (and actually, more visibly positive) if this were to happen.

Fourth, the government should highlight the progress it has actually made. We are on the verge of developing a vaccine, with human tests having started already on Thursday. We are at the forefront of the world's immunisation fight against Covid-19, a fight which will end the threat completely when it is won, and we should be shouting this from the rooftops.

Fifth, we have one of the best health services in the world. We should take heart from the monumental efforts from those in the health service, as well as those outside the NHS who are keeping our country going whilst they take the fight to Covid-19. They are all doing a fantastic job, and we will never be able to thank them enough.

Society is adapting

Whether it be Zoom conferencing in our Parliaments and businesses, community groups stepping up in huge numbers to help or restricting our day-to-day contact with others, Britain is fundamentally changing to tackle this crisis.

There are many environmental benefits to the huge reduction in travel, many efficiency benefits to online conferencing and much of a reduction in health risk to limiting contact with others.

Whilst I suspect some things will inevitable stay after the pandemic, such as the increase in teleconferencing and the fantastic work of pre-existing and newly formed community groups, most things will go back to normal. They will have to, people have to travel and socialise, Parliament must be there to carry out its legislative duty and businesses will have to have people coming back through their doors once again.


Finally, we will have to re-assess our relationship with China. This is not for vengeful reasons, but for those of common sense. During this pandemic we have watched PPE being flown in from China and Turkey, worldwide enterprise being ground to a halt over disruption in supply lines and our economy damaged beyond belief as a result of the outbreak.

Even Emmanuel Macron, the poster boy for globalisation, has said that he wants to see France become more domestically sustainable.

So why shouldn't we?

We stand to learn much from this crisis and our recovery from the same. But as we move forwards, we should not be afraid to shout about the success we are having in tackling it right now.

Jack Rydeheard, Editor for Conservative Progress

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