Scottish Daily Mail

Why is Boris treat­ing us like CHIL­DREN?

- Boris Johnson · Winston Spencer-Churchill · United States of America · John F. Kennedy · David Spiegelhalter · Cambridge University · Cambridge

Well, that’s scup­pered my plans for Christ­mas. I knew there would be a limit to the num­ber of peo­ple I could in­vite, so I came up with the rip­ping wheeze of invit­ing the virus in­stead of the rel­a­tives.

All of it. No prob­lem with the seat­ing plan. Some sci­en­tists have cal­cu­lated that the amount of Covid-19 virus in the world is so small you could fit it all into a large spoon.

But now I can’t do it be­cause the Prime Min­is­ter told the na­tion this week that the virus ‘doesn’t know it’s Christ­mas’. Who’d have thought it?

I know I’m be­ing silly but there’s a se­ri­ous ques­tion here. Isn’t it time Boris John­son stopped treat­ing us like chil­dren?

It’s not hard to see why he does it. His harsher crit­ics would say it’s pretty much all he’s good at — hence the scorn he’s been at­tract­ing with his lat­est re­stric­tions.

It’s cer­tainly true that he made the most of it in his previous in­car­na­tion as a jour­nal­ist. He has also stud­ied Win­ston Churchill, of whom U.S. Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy once said: ‘ He mo­bilised the english lan­guage and sent it into bat­tle.’

In the dark­est days of the war, Churchill told the Bri­tish peo­ple that all he could of­fer them was ‘ blood, toil, tears and sweat’. No boos­t­er­ism there. Just the harsh, bru­tal truth.

The charge against John­son is that he’s all boos­t­er­ism and no bat­tle. He makes a lot of empty prom­ises and treats us like id­iots. Or like chil­dren who have to be jol­lied along.

What he should be do­ing is treat­ing us like re­spon­si­ble adults and sim­ply giv­ing it to us straight.

When the graph showed in­fec­tions ris­ing steeply in the spring, he vowed to ‘flat­ten the som­brero’. Af­ter that, he would ‘ send the coro­n­avirus pack­ing’.

In May, he promised a ‘ world-beat­ing’ track-and-trace sys­tem would be up and run­ning by June.

Ever won­dered what be­came of that? Or his as­sur­ance that a sec­ond lock­down was a ‘nu­clear de­ter­rent’ that would never be needed? Now he’s telling us we must avoid ‘tak­ing our foot off the beast’.

Boos­t­er­ism would be just fine if all it re­sulted in were a know­ing smile and a ‘ there goes good old Boris again’. But chick­ens have a habit of com­ing home to roost.

From day one of the pandemic the Gov­ern­ment has failed to treat us as re­spon­si­ble adults. In­stead we have been in­fan­tilised.

In the words of the em­i­nent aca­demic Pro­fes­sor Sir David Spiegel­hal­ter of Cam­bridge Univer­sity, the Gov­ern­ment has been de­vel­op­ing a track record of us­ing ‘spu­ri­ous’ data to frighten us into ac­qui­esc­ing to the re­stric­tive poli­cies it was im­pos­ing rather than gen­uinely in­form­ing us.

You might say that doesn’t mat­ter so long as the end re­sult is that we do what we are told. But it does. Fear is what par­ents some­times use when they’re try­ing to get chil­dren to do some­thing they don’t want to do.

It’s jus­ti­fi­able on the ba­sis that chil­dren have not yet learned what the pru­dent ac­tion might be in the face of dan­ger — and no one is deny­ing that Covid- 19 is dan­ger­ous. So if it takes a few dodgy statis­tics to scare us into do­ing the right thing, why not?

Quite sim­ply be­cause if we are treated by those in power like chil­dren, we be­have like chil­dren. We be­come de­pen­dent. We stop see­ing our­selves as re­spon­si­ble adults who make our own de­ci­sions and must live with the con­se­quences. We stop ques­tion­ing.

I’ve had to duck through a hole in a fence around my local astro-turf on th­ese dark morn­ings be­cause the gates have been locked ‘for your own safety’. re­ally?

Who ex­actly am I harm­ing by run­ning around an empty as­trot ur fin the dark? And why shouldn’t some young­sters play foot­ball there later in the day?

The harm lies in meekly ac­cept­ing what­ever we are told by those in power, even when we are be­ing fed non­sense.

RE­MEM­BER when our lead­ers were quot­ing the ‘ e x per t s ’ who warned of the pos­si­bil­ity that 500,000 might die from Covid-19? You prob­a­bly do.

re­mem­ber the apol­ogy of­fered by John­son and his min­is­ters for hav­ing mis­led us and scared us half to death? You prob­a­bly don’t. For the very good rea­son that it never hap­pened.

Per­haps we should cut them more slack. Af­ter all, we don’t know ev­ery­thing we need to about the virus. True, but we do know a lot.

In the words of Sir David there is ‘good data avail­able’. And yet, as he says, at some point the need to ‘in­still a cer­tain emo­tional re­ac­tion in peo­ple’ seems to take over at ‘ re­ally quite a high l evel of de­ci­sion-mak­ing’.

He was choos­ing his words care­fully.

An­other word f or ‘ cer­tain emo­tional re­ac­tion’ is fear. The great­est fear is al­ways fear of the un­known. So let’s have less of the Boris boos­t­er­ism and let our lead­ers treat us like adults.

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 ?? Pic­ture: AN­DREW PAR­SONS / I-IMAGES ?? An ed­u­ca­tion: Boris John­son vis­its a class­room dur­ing last year’s elec­tion cam­paign
Pic­ture: AN­DREW PAR­SONS / I-IMAGES An ed­u­ca­tion: Boris John­son vis­its a class­room dur­ing last year’s elec­tion cam­paign

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