MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Ignore the playground squabbles – and let the PM guide us to freedom 


MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Ignore the playground squabbles – and let the PM guide us to freedom

On the eve of a crucial Cabinet meeting on the path back to freedom from lockdown, you might expect all those who work in Downing Street to be earnestly engaged on this most important of all current subjects.

You might expect an air of deep seriousness and diligent research, and of co-operation among colleagues directed at a common end – a successful reinvigoration of society and the economy, and a definitive end to the NHS crisis.

But in fact we find that some of the ambitious men and women employed on large salaries to advise our leaders are engaged in a series of petty squabbles and rivalries that make the average school playground fight look dignified.

What are normal people supposed to make of these backbiting rows about the lack of house-training of the Prime Minister’s dog, Dilyn, and the ambition-fuelled, futile leaking and counter-leaking about who is senior to whom? 

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Ignore the playground squabbles – and let the Prime Minister (pictured) guide us to freedom

Parents struggling with home-schooling and praying that teachers’ unions won’t stop the schools reopening on March 8, must gasp at the irrelevance and time-wasting.

Chefs and waiters, wondering if their jobs will ever return, and pub landlords, restaurant owners, shopkeepers and staff longing for business, life and wages to begin again and afraid that they never will, must be revolted to discover that this is how some of those whose salaries they pay have been spending their time.

Fortunately, there are still some grown-ups at No 10, led by Boris Johnson himself. And it is a relief to know that they have been taking these great issues seriously. For the first time, something approaching a cost-benefit analysis of lockdown from all angles has been done.

This has fully examined such things as the damage done by missed cancer and heart-disease diagnoses, the toll on mental health, the economic and social impact of lockdown measures, as well as their effectiveness in fighting the virus.

And out of this has come a tentative but definite plan for a cautious liberation, based on high hopes of vaccinating almost everybody over the age of 18 by the end of July.

The reopening of schools is very much on target for March. There is a good chance that pubs and restaurants will be able to offer service outdoors by the middle of April. 

Other steps will follow, carefully and in the awareness of the risks involved, as we move towards full freedom. This time the Prime Minister is determined that there will be no going back to lockdown. 

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: What are normal people supposed to make of these backbiting rows about the lack of house-training of the Prime Minister’s dog, Dilyn, (pictured with Carrie Symonds) and the ambition-fuelled, futile leaking and counter-leaking about who is senior to whom?

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: What are normal people supposed to make of these backbiting rows about the lack of house-training of the Prime Minister’s dog, Dilyn, (pictured with Carrie Symonds) and the ambition-fuelled, futile leaking and counter-leaking about who is senior to whom?

But to ensure that, he will not rush any relaxation. Crucially, the Government is accepting that it will be necessary to learn to live with Covid, as we have learned to live with other coronaviruses in the past. 

The idea, pursued by some advisers, that we should aim for Zero Covid – its total elimination – has been rejected. Such an aim, which is almost certainly unattainable, might keep us closed down for the foreseeable future.

Mr Johnson’s plans will undoubtedly frustrate those who are hoping for a faster and fuller reopening of society.

But they will alarm others, who believe that continued caution is still called for, and fear that too much relaxation will fuel yet another wave of Covid.

It is simply not possible to please everybody in such circumstances. But this policy comes from a serious, calm study of the facts, combined with a readiness to take responsibility.

This is how Government should be done.

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