Not for the first time, I find myself counting my lucky stars I am not in the UK at the moment. More than ever before, I am saddened by what is happening in my home country.
Like many, I watched the Prime Minister’s speech last night, laying down the guidelines for the easing of lockdown.
It was like a party political broadcast, full of soundbites and carefully constructed straplines, and most people watching were left in a state of confusion like never before.
The news this morning was full of it, and even Piers Morgan had an angry outburst. I’m not usually a fan of his, but I feel he echoed the thoughts of the large proportion of viewers who are also frustrated by the important questions not being answered.
Again, the country is in a state of “cognitive dissonance”, that feeling when you don’t know which way is up.
Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours, which leads to feelings of mental discomfort. All the graphs, the new “alert” system that’s been created, all give the impression that there’s a clear strategy, and the new strapline was delivered as if it was some ground-breaking new solution to it all.
Here’s an idea (one which should possibly have been considered at least 8 weeks ago): Why not look at what has happened in other countries, and perhaps construct a strategy based on what has worked in places where the virus has been contained?
Oh no, “we know better” is the answer. Just like Trump and the US, our arrogant Government decide to waste weeks making sure they’re OK, whilst everyone else suffers, in particular the most vulnerable.
I’m not surprised people are angry. I am a great believer in “keeping your face to the sunshine”, but there is also a time and a place for anger, and the time is now.
I can’t help feeling that this new strapline was purposely drawn up to instil yet more fear in a society that is already anxiety-ridden. Whoever is coming up with this stuff clearly has a background in marketing – they know the power of a strapline, and they also know the power of words.
Whereas “Stay At Home” was a very clear message, almost comforting in it’s simplicity and it’s connotations, “Stay Alert” invokes feelings of being under threat, and having to stay in a state of hypervigilance the whole time.
It also confused a lot of people.
Put fear and confusion together and what do you have? A collective that is easy to control, to shift blame to, and to detract from the very real truth which is that this crisis was dealt with appallingly by our so-called leaders.
Good leadership does not involve confusing your people, scaring them, and scapegoating them. It involves getting a clear message out there, gaining understanding, engaging people in the process, and getting people onboard.
Here in Croatia, where we have had less than 100 deaths, in spite of being neighbours to Italy, due to early lockdown measures, closing the borders, insisting on tests and quarantine for those coming in, and having enough safety equipment available.
Not only did they manage to contain the virus, but 94% of the Croatian people (according to a statistic I read) are supportive of the Government and how they responded. A very different story, and I am grateful every day I am here.
There is cohesion amongst the Croatian people, because the message was loud and clear. It wasn’t full of marketing jargon, nor saying “hey, didn’t we do a great job?”, it was honest, authentic, and instilled a sense of safety through it’s clarity.
In contrast, I am dismayed every time I hear BoJo, Raab, Hancock, et al speak. The worry is that so many are just being tricked again, like they were before the referendum. People don’t realise it’s because instinctively their bodies don’t trust what is being said that they feel so fearful. They fight amongst themselves instead of directing the anger where it is due, and this is heart-breaking to watch from afar.
The rest of Europe seem very clear on what’s happened. The UK have aligned themselves with Trump and the US.
I just hope the British people come together at last, and that this disaster wakes people up to what is going on, so the country can begin to heal.