Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
"Spoonful of sugar may not help" Boris Johnson's optimism may be too soon
27 April 2020, 14:58 | Updated: 27 April 2020, 15:57
After Boris Johnson's speech on the success of the UK's coronavirus response so far, many were wondering if it is the right time for positivity.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to Downing Street after recovering from coronavirus and tried to instil positivity in the British public after their coronavirus response.
Tom Mctague is a Staff Writer at the Atlantic and wrote today on the issues that the PM's continued optimism may bring. "He always wants to not only project optimism, but instil it in people" Mr McTague began, adding that Mr Johnson's speech "was actually quite a sombre message" to the public.
The journalist told Shelagh that the fact the PM was "highlighting the hope at the end of all this" has is a strategy he's used in the past.
"It's been a potent weapon for him" Mr McTague stated. He listed the London Olympics when he was Mayor of London as an example of how hope and positivity has proved effective for him before.
Shelagh argued such optimism is "one thing to run alongside the Olympics and Brexit" but pointed out to the Atlantic writer that "this is a different order of magnitude that a spoonful of sugar isn't necessarily going to help".
Mr McTague agreed, pointing out that "optimism can help but only if it can inspire people" he added that "through the admission that something has gone wrong, then the optimism can come through". The journalist worried that because there has been no address of mistakes this far it could come up to bite the government.
"By the public, the optimism is seen as shallow or covering up something" Mr McTague believed.
"That's going to be a political problem for him after this when the evidence is in black and white" the journalist added, believing that once the numbers come in and questions are asked after the crisis passes, the government may not look good.
Shelagh took exception with the point where the PM insisted that phase one was a success, arguing that "the success isn't necessarily down to government". She added that it was NHS trusts that were "delivering capacity to cope with what is coming" but at the expense of other services.
Mr McTague agreed, pointing out that with the economy on life support and hospitals struggling it is hard to see where the success is.
"Compare us to France or Germany then we don't look very successful" he added. The journalist concluded that "it's very very early to say whether anything has been successful" and it will be interesting to see how it develops.