Tony Blair's former advisor tells PM to be clearer in coronavirus briefings

23 March 2020, 18:52

By Seán Hickey

Alastair Campbell told LBC that if Boris Johnson wants the British public to obey coronavirus guidelines he must be clearer in his press briefings.

The former press secretary to Tony Blair told Eddie Mair that this national emergency cannot afford to be put up for debate and every conference is vital for the public to act appropriately.

"I understand the scale of the challenge they're facing" Mr. Campbell told Eddie Mair, but he insisted that the Prime Minister has to leave nothing to interpretation when giving his daily news conferences.

The former political aide recommended the PM should take inspiration from the conferences of New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who, at the end of every press conference "gives people a sense of hope without being unrealistic".

Eddie Mair pointed out that it's clear that there isn't enough explanation at these conferences if the Prime Minister is "required to come back the next day to clarify something that wasn't clear the day before".

The PM has been accused of not being clear in his conferences
The PM has been accused of not being clear in his conferences. Picture: PA

Something that bothered Mr. Campbell was the fact that the PM often deflected questions to his two scientific advisors Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.

The former press secretary told Eddie that Boris Johnson should be prepared before the conferences to anticipate all questions that may come up during the event and know the answers to these questions himself.

Mr. Campbell used today as an example of the public's confusion over guidelines. Today marked the day that schools across the UK have closed their doors for the foreseeable future for all except the children of key workers. It was unclear for many what a key worker was and thus many students that shouldn't have been in school, were. Mr. Campbell finished up stating in this instance "there was a lack of clarity that just causes confusion".