I am sure most of us have worked out by now how politics works under this government. If there is bad news to impart, then start leaking it to journalists slowly but surely. It’s been a tactic used throughout the COVID-19 crisis and they’re at it again, this time by the government’s own Private Pike, education secretary Gavin Williamson. You see, the government’s scientific advisory committee, SAGE, has been telling the government to lock down because of the dramatic escalation of new cases caused by a variant and, more worryingly, a new strain. SAGE has told the government it should not reopen secondary schools in January and Williamson has started the spin exercise.
The Tory supporting Telegraph reported that ‘Williamson had told allies that he faces an “enormous battle” to keep secondary schools open next month.’ This is to plant a seed in the minds of parents that bad news is on the way and today the human slug Michael Gove added to spin by saying, “It is our intention to make sure we can get children back to school as early as possible,” he said. The heavy lifting being done by the words “it is our intention”. Years 11 and 13 first and all other children later in the month. Then, all matter of factly, he says, “But we all know that there are trade-offs.” We do?
Don’t read into that what you will. Read into it what the government actually means. The clear intention is to open schools to a minority of students at the normal time whilst telling everyone else to stay at home. And the trade off? Well, that will surely be the hardest of hard national lockdowns, far in excess of the two half-arsed efforts we have had to date.
I wish they wouldn’t do it this way, but I’m afraid this is the way most governments work. Rather than straight talking, everything must be heavily spun in order to preserve the government’s popularity. If there is bad news, then sugar-coat it if possible, or else drip it out gradually so the bad news does not come as a shock.
So expect a full national lockdown within a few days, which will doubtless be called Tier 5. That’s just spin too: anything but calling it another lockdown. I hope to see you sometime in the spring.