Trouble spots and natural disasters all over the world often benefited from the benign and calm reassurance of British Service personnel backed up by, but probably never given much attention to, the ships and crews of the Royal Navy, didn’t the Ark and Illustrious still rule the waves? We all knew that the R.A.F was a force to be reckoned with, either defending our interests, protecting our assets and countrymen or flying in to help with a humanitarian crisis.
Senior officers looked and sounded calm and professional. They knew their professional duties, were confident and in control, not in that showy way of many of our neighbours, not for us the over-use of flags and medals and anthems, but in that quiet understated way that was, well, ‘us’, the Brits: steadfast, not taken with hysteria and panic, quietly confident, reliable and good in a crisis, calm in adversity – but then came 1997.
They’ve gone haven’t they, those reassuring signs, equipment, uniforms, discipline both self and otherwise, senior officers who knew what they were there for and actually had experience of life, well able to cope with ‘events’ as Harold Macmillan was credited with saying.
Their successors, the millennial generation, the woke generation, are faced with a real emergency for the first time. We will see how their emotions, their memes, their selfies and videos, their virtue signalling, gender education, total lack of practical skills and common sense, lack of self-discipline, their fear of everything, are going to cope, because, for the first time in generations – and many ‘baby boomers’ are just as clueless – there is an emergency, and virtue signalling celebrities, emotions, and talking and throwing money at it is just not going to cut it.
We’ve got an emergency being made worse by the media, the highly paid broadcast media stars, the legends in their own bubble, but it’s not going to be dealt with or solved by them. Who do you want? Them telling you to volunteer to do some unpleasant job in a hospital or emergency service, or somebody that actually knows what they are talking about, who has actually been in situations where they themselves were at risk and have the qualifications and experience, men such as Chris Whitty for example.
Perhaps many would prefer to rely on the pundits and personalities to tell them what to do or show their leadership to their ‘followers’ by being first in the queue to volunteer to assist, say in a hospital or care home, not for the duration of a News bulletin, or the Breakfast Show where they continue to virtue signal and pretend to know all the answers, but days or weeks because this is going to be different (well they say it is) and long-term volunteers will be needed. I won’t be holding my breath as they say.
You or they won’t get your moment of fame as a mortuary attendant , bodies don’t get to the morgue by themselves you know, neither do patients magically get to ambulances, they have to be carried, soiled linen, soiled floors, areas will need to be deep cleaned, as will vehicles and public lavatories.
The Prime Minister has been criticised for not ‘doing enough.’ He presumably didn’t show enough emotion, which, as we know in the parallel reality of the media, is what is required.
I’m still waiting with interest to see the legions of ‘luvvies’ turning up, helping to clear debris, hose down sewage contaminated water, fill skips and the rest in the aftermath of the recent floods, and I’m still waiting for some ‘luvvie ‘ to stand on stage and lecture us all on what in their opinion we should all be doing to counter the biggest threat to our lives (they mean theirs) in a generation. So far all we have seen and heard are inane questions by journalists trying for their ‘gotcha’ moment with local senior emergency workers, or some politician trying to use the situation to score political points. The stench of hypocrisy at such times is often worse than the stench of sewage during the flooding.
Now we are hearing cries that ‘Boris’ is taking powers that will never be rescinded after the emergency is over, ‘it’s a plot’ goes the narrative to take dictator-like powers. It’s all about power. Oddly these people don’t seem to have any sensible or practical ideas on how the emergency can be handled, they criticise Boris or anyone else for not knowing enough about the virus and its effects, they criticise the Chief Medical Officer because apparently he has ‘poached egg’ eyes and sounds, well, boring while last week the same people were telling us that the civil service was packed full of people totally professional, totally trustworthy and who were the font of all knowledge on everything in the universe.
What a pity it seems they have little knowledge of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 which gave sweeping powers to Ministers at both national and local level. It requires organisations in the health system (emergency services, local authorities, NHS bodies) to prepare for adverse events and incidents. It also gives powers over movement, Highways, Railways, Airports and Ports along with police fire and ambulance service, the utility companies, and various laws can be suspended. Up to thirty days or longer if parliament agrees. All this under and led by the then deputy Prime Minister of a Blair government John Prescott. No outcry about civil liberties then by the self-important media influencers who seem to assume, from what I’ve seen and read, that this is something that ’Boris’ created from nowhere and just for himself.
There is one thing that is now obvious. We are not, and that is daily more and more evident, a country that does not panic, a country that is pulling together, (the armchair experts, immune as they all are in their ivory towers, media bubbles and newsrooms will see to that) or all in it together, or one that, when the chips are down, will see it through.
The millennium generation feeds on the oxygen of social media coverage, self-created for their own political or economic advantage for the few, well it remains to be seen, having sown the seeds of change, if they are prepared to reap the whirlwind.
‘Steady the Buffs’ – a message from the distant past and maybe soon a different country, but is still relevant and needs to get through.
Photo by Leo Reynolds