Fighting a pandemic with trust or fear?

From BBC UK today:

Matt Hancock suggested to an aide that they “frighten the pants off everyone”, messages published by the Sunday Telegraph show.

It appears the former health secretary discussed when to reveal the existence of the Kent variant of Covid, to ensure people comply with lockdown rules.

In another exchange, the head of the Civil Service, Simon Case, suggested the “fear/guilt factor” was vital to the government’s messaging.

Why has that message become necessary?

Because the Conservative UK Government had delayed measures and, particularly in the comments by PM Johnson, had been inconsistent in that messaging.

Scaring the population rather than gaining its trust is the mark of failed government.

A few months earlier, I’d been able to report:

Over the six months of the pandemic, the infection level in England has been more than 30% higher.

Why has this happened? Well, obviously, greater compliance with the government guidance is largely the answer.

If there has been greater compliance in Scotland, why would that be?

Lots of answers have been offered but researchers from UCL surveyed over 70 000 people and have one simple answer. On BBC 4’s The Briefing Room last night, we heard that a decline in compliance is not due to fatigue, is partly due to confusion and for some, to financial problems, but is far more to do with trust. The lead researcher is clear:

There is only one very clear predictor of compliance and that is confidence in the government to handle the pandemic well. That they believe that the rules that are being set for them are the right rules and are being set in an informed way.

Those of us who watch the First Minister’s briefings will recognise that.

Asked how that has changed, the researcher points to a dramatic fall in confidence, only in England, and that followed on from the earlier end to lock-down in England and the Dominic Cummings events. Since then, confidence has not recovered in England.

At the same time, September 2020, we could read:

From the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey by ScotCen Social Research, based on a sample of 2 790 adults, published today:

In 2019, 61% of people said they trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland’s best interests, compared with 15% who said they trusted the UK Government to do so.

Substantially more people thought the Scottish Parliament was giving Scotland a stronger voice in the UK (61%) than thought it was giving Scotland a weaker voice (5%). Similarly over half thought the Scottish Parliament was giving ordinary people more say in how Scotland is governed (56%) than thought it was giving them less say (6%).

Satisfaction with the NHs has increased from only 40% under Labour in 2005 to 65% in 2019

Click to access scottish-social-attitudes-2019-attitudes-government-political-engagement.pdf



5 thoughts on “Fighting a pandemic with trust or fear?

  1. As you say, trust is of vital importance. So, what did BBC Scotland, the print media and the unionist politicians do? They spread lies about the Scottish Government’s management of the Covid epidemic with the intention of destroying any trust the people of Scotland had.

    And, of course, they demand we trust THEM!!!

    PS a fine example of BBC Scotland accuracy of reporting: They lead with ‘Teacher union urges members to reject ‘paltry’ pay offer”. They are speaking of the NASUWT, the smallest and most reactionary of the Scottish teaching unions. The largest union, the EIS has recommended its members accept the offer. The photo accompanying the NASUWT rejection is of EIS members, as can be seen from the placard. Accuracy? Honesty?? Lying bar stewards???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Similarly the March 2nd, “Beer firm hits out at bottle deposit scheme” article on the BBC’s Scotland webpage –
      Only in the final paragraph does it become clear Innis and Gunn are one firm in the 10% not signed up to a scheme still open for another 5 months.


  2. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Nicola Sturgeon did a fantastic job informing us about covid infection and steps to take to avoid catching it and spreading it, across the U.K. , across the world her marvellous briefings performance was praised , my sister and her family in Calgary Canada regularly commented on how marvellous Nicola was .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And let’s not forget a further disgusting strand to that “wheeze” was folks stranded at Dover etc going home to family on the continent for christmas when the balloon went up.
    IIRC several EU governments had to send over assistance to help get them on their way, having been sustained only by local volunteer groups helping out with food and water.

    Totally avoidable disruption and distress, all for the sake of some headlines….


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