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Saturday, July 04, 2020

Greek eye tests

Having been treated to the spectacle of Boris Johnson chief advisor, Dominic Cummings driving up to Durham and then taking a family trip to Barnard Castle, supposedly to test his eyesight, I don't suppose there was much trust left in the UK Government's lockdown measures.

Nevertheless, as another display of the government's one rule for us, another rule for you approach to the pandemic, the decision of Johnson's father to breach foreign office advice and visit his villa in northern Greece has once more raised questions as to the Prime Minister's efficacy. After all, if he cannot get his father to listen to him, what chance does Johnson have in enforcing the rules on everybody else?

The Independent reports that experts on the Independent Sage advisory group believe that high-profile figures close to the government like Dominic Cummings and Stanley Johnson are creating an impression which reduces public compliance and risks a second wave:

Professor Stephen Reicher, a leading expert in crowd psychology at the University of St Andrews who sits on the committee told a presentation on Friday that the trip would make it harder to rebuild trust.

"Even in the Johnson family I think we can allow that the prime minister is not his father's keeper. I'm not sure he can control his behaviours," he said.

"Nonetheless, the issue of trust is particularly important, and in fact the issue shows that in some ways trust is more important to compliance at this stage than under lockdown. The figures show that erosion of trust undermines people's willingness to use the test-trace-isolate and support system and in particular to give information about themselves to authorities.

"One of the best ways of undermining trust is the notion that there's one rule for them and one rule for us. It divides us from the authorities and there's no doubt that this affects that perception in exactly the same way that the Cummings affair did, and at the very best it's not helpful. You need to rebuild trust and in such a volatile situation I think everybody's got a responsibility to make sure they don't undermine trust."

It is little wonder that the First Ministers of both Scotland and Wales have criticised the shambolic nature of the UK Government's management of this crisis.
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