Friday, May 01, 2020

The popularity of Boris Johnson

There have been a series of baffled articles in The Guardian recently, speculating as to why the Prime Minister remains popular.

The latest article on this theme has been by the excellent (except for Israel) Jonathan Freedland who lists a number of persuasive factors including the insanity of Donald Trump which makes anyone look good in comparison. This was my comment beneath one of the articles:

I think Boris has done OK, not great but OK.
This crisis would have taken any government by surprise. The United Kingdom is one of the most densely populated countries on earth, and major transport hub. It was inevitable that we were going to suffer from this epidemic.
The initial strategy, that of herd immunity, made logical sense, and who knows it may have even worked. But the modelling and experience of other countries meant that the government showed some flexibility and abandoned it.
Of course, when you criticise anyone or any organisation with the clarity that 100% hindsight gives you, you're going to find mistakes. A sharper more switched on government might have anticipated worldwide shortages of PPE. They might have initiated the lock down a week or two earlier.
But some of the response has been impressive. The Nightingale hospitals appeared within two to three weeks. The lock down was started just early enough to avoid the horrible scenes in Italy where doctors had to decide who got a ventilator and who was left to die. The government's finances were in comparatively good shape, which meant that we can go on a spending spree without dangers of default.
So overall, the government had done OK, not great, but OK, and I'm glad that the Prime Minister has first hand experience of this disease, it will help his decision making in future.

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