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Boris Johnsons masterclass on how not to respond to an epidemic

 


It turns out that health authorities in Britain have a lot of skills, but they work in a public health system that has been starved of resources for a decade of government-enforced austerity, coupled with an exodus of Thousands of health workers as a result of Britain's exit from the European Union, where many nurses and doctors from the health services come from.

Johnsons Government floated the possibility to encourage retired local health workers to return to color, including quite a few mixed feelings in response: withdrawing from an overworked, underfunded and stressed system, they feel the irony of being necessary now when they have been ignored before. They also believe that, as retirees whose age makes them most vulnerable to the ravages of Covid-19, the demand to move to the front line is not particularly pleasant.

One of Johnson's main problems as a leader in a crisis is that he is a swagger, well known for making his way through interviews and speeches, lacking in technical mastery and details, mainly able to distract the public by sudden and irrelevant changes of subject and attempted jokes, as he did in a notorious interview of 2013 by answering questions about whether he hoped to become Premier oddly minister reply: I would like to be the lead singer of an international rock band. I mean, that was my goal. It goes without saying that he ended up assuming this role, but he has maintained his previous approach since his recent coming to power. At a Brexit meeting last year, for example, he would have retorted with Brexit almost all the questions you asked him.

It is not reassuring at a time when people are really concerned and looking for an authoritative reinforcement of the advice that agencies issue on precautions. An indicator of its lack of effect to reassure the population is the panic purchase, which empties supermarket shelves of basic necessities like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as people nervously expect general quarantine to become necessary if the epidemic breaks out. Worsens.

Governments face an obvious dilemma when an epidemic threatens their country: the imposition of restrictions on movement outside and within their borders has an effect on the country ;economy. The stock markets have already slipped into panic mode, not preparing themselves, but expecting the worst. The feeling of a broker is an unmanageable thing; no government can prevent its effect on more general national mood. When billions of dollars fall on stock prices, it's no wonder that supermarket shelves start to drain.

Nevertheless, a leader of stature and calm, a strong presence in the minds of the public, fulfilling the symbolic and practical function of speaking to the nation and for it, as well as directing its administration, can have a moderating effect on worry. Britain lacks such a leader, and I dare add that the United States too. Gusts and bluff on one side of the Atlantic, and bloviation coupled with disdainful misunderstanding on the other, are of no use in the circumstances. The appearance of incompetence and weakness aggravates each bad situation: the domino effect exacerbates a period of danger.

Johnson likes to think of himself as a Winston Churchill of the last few days, adopting the arched pose and jaw profile of the Bulldog in imitation. The effect, under the circumstances, is comical. Churchill had to be retained by his military advisers in the dark days of war because he was not a strategic genius, but he had a personality who could strengthen the nerves of a nation, and his defiant posture was toned. Johnson has an entirely different character, and his postures, when they are not comical, are simply appalling. In an appearance with two government scientists last week, he clumsily tried to reassure, forcing experts to deliver a cold dose of reality, as the Guardian says. And, in a widely mocked appearance from This Morning, he said: One of the theories is that maybe you could somehow take it on the chin, take it all at once. And allow the disease, so to speak, to move through the population without taking as many draconian measures. Although he continued to suggest that this potentially disastrous approach did not align with his own intentions, his stumbling block delivery practically ensured that no one could follow his more reasonable policies, leaving the position official government unclear. Nor does he trust his chief political adviser, Dominic Cummings, known to satirists by the name of Cominic Dummings, who is even more finicky and eccentric than Johnson.

In the case of Johnsons, the Covid-19 crisis could therefore prove to be an important moment in his political career. It is a tainted career, and it is far from popular with everyone. Yet in the general election three months ago, his party, under his leadership, won a huge majority in the House of Commons, thanks to the dysfunctional electoral system that we share with the British with our American cousins: plurality, or first past the post. , system. With 29 percent of the total electorate, it won a majority of 80 seats over all the other parties which, among themselves, had won the majority of the votes cast, but were divided.

Covid-19, at that time, was still quietly building in Wuhan, China, and reflections on the desirability of stable, sensitive and mature leadership capable of understanding the facts relevant and courageous enough to make difficult decisions, were already in the minds of people in relation to Brexit. British American cousins ​​know what it's like to have a very questionable individual turned over to the levers of power; now that a serious leadership test is in order, we can all know what it's like to have such an individual who pulls them. In this regard, confidence in Johnson should be as low as concerns about covid-19 are high.

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