James O'Brien caller's reason for UK's 'failing' Covid strategy 'the best he's heard in a long time'

7 October 2020, 12:33

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien branded this caller's reason why the Government's coronavirus strategy "doesn't work" as "the best analysis he's heard in a long time."

Lynn from Worcester said the problem with Britain is "we're not a benevolent democracy nor are we an authoritarian state, the messaging kind of swings from one to the other.

"The key problem is...ten years of austerity and disinvestment, the actual power of the state, the levers that are available for Government just aren't there. We have neither carrot nor stick to enable citizens to behave the way that is wanted," Lynn said.

James branded this the best analysis he'd heard in a long time: "It hadn't occurred to me that one of the reasons we couldn't oversee a really effective strategy is because the instruments of Government have been so eroded over the last decade."

He reflected that the people the UK would need to tackle adherence to guidelines - such as police community support workers - "all of the places, all of the spaces where a truly community led effort would have tamed the virus, where it would have been professionally handled...they've been removed.

"The structure wasn't there," James said.

Lynn said, "There are no levers that the Government's got to pull. All it's got is the social media messaging...there is no trust in the Government."

Lynn pointed out that as people do not know what to believe any more, they are choosing what to believ, thus less inclined to believe the negative.

James reflected that people want to believe the threat to their health is a lot lower than what the scientists say - and because there are "people over there" who do not believe it's a real threat, others think "I'll go and join them."