There was a time when most of the population listened to something called the ‘wireless’. There are films showing concerned families listening as Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told everyone with regret that the nation was at war with Germany. How that felt to many I can only imagine, coming, as it did just 20 years after what many who were in thick of it and had often lost close relatives, often referred to as ‘the last lot’. As far as I can tell the newspapers and the wireless reported the news in a factual way, did not spread doom and gloom or berate Cabinet Ministers or waste everyone’s time with inane comments about how they looked or sounded and how much better everything would have been if Halifax and his cronies had been in charge. I can find no footage of a retired Great War general lecturing and hectoring that he himself, given his outstanding experience and 100% hindsight, should have been consulted and that preparations made years ago as all this could have been foreseen and that the shortage of plans and equipment to defend protect and feed our nation were totally inadequate, slow to be implemented and was all the fault of some minister or civil servant.
These days we have the media doing its best to undermine the efforts of a government voted into power only a few months ago, obviously to the annoyance of its mostly 30 to 40 somethings, the product of a left wing educational system clutching their media degrees which obviously give them an in-depth knowledge of microbiology, statistics, supply chain logistics and everything else.
Unfortunately the reality is somewhat different as the quality of their reports to camera outside some government department or hospital (for some reason almost always in the London area) must leave viewers wondering if their research is done in virtual internet chatrooms, or their researchers are self-isolating and working from home without internet connections.
The print media is even worse; generating often hysterical click-bait headlines reporting the opinions of ‘witless celebrities’ or ‘Mr Angry from Purley’ ranting and raging on breakfast TV and radio phone-in slots as if this health emergency is a purely British emergency and how we must be grateful for the heroic doctors and nurses of the National Health Service, as they and they alone are working hard under dreadful heart-breaking conditions, leading the way, the few that are owed so much by so many.
So much so, kind-hearted people are rallying around collecting millions of pounds or working to produce protective wear for hospital staff which should have been provided by the managers of the many hospital trusts, all of which are led by highly paid executives and chief executives and apparently scrutinised by a board of directors. Reporters and journalists should be asking searching questions, one would have thought, but it seems they are incapable of exploring or even asking trusts or chief executive officers to explain why, having just been given £12 billion pounds by this Tory government, these debts were accrued in the first place and why, all we are hearing is this could happen, this may happen, if this does or not happen and it’s not our fault that we don’t have enough protective gear intensive or high dependency beds available. Mostly it’s implied that this is due to Tory cuts, or central government ineptitude, complacency or whatever. Cue centre stage – John Humphrey, from his article in the Daily Mail:
It’s obviously too early for a final verdict. That will take years. But there are two accusations that need answering. One is a worrying level of incompetence; the other is treating the public with condescension at best, disdain at worst. They are linked. Do we really need to be told in every other sentence of every ministerial interview that we must ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’? If you haven’t registered that simple (and sensible) message by now, you never will.
It’s called reinforcing the message, John. You above all people should know that; haven’t you and your colleagues at the BBC been doing that for years on the news and current affairs programmes?
He continues with this long rant, mostly against the government, and puts forward the case that other people are also key workers. Goodness! That wouldn’t be the little people in their hundreds of thousands that the BBC has talked down to and treated with disdain and condescension for years, particularly when talking about (or not as the case maybe) Brexit and immigration but whose views should now, according to John, be treated with reverence and acted on, would it?
The public, like juries, frees itself of political concerns to make judgments based largely on common sense. Will we find out that the Government floundered, but the public got it right?’
Words, in my view, cleverly crafted to set doubt in the minds of many people as the economic and financial cost begins to have an effect on that part of the population which is not protected by generous full pay provisions, or £10,000 gifts to ‘help’ or £325 a day to watch and take little or no part in a ‘chat room’ conference for the entitled.
The comments following the article were, in the main, neither particularly flattering nor in agreement with his comments and most could be summarised as ‘watch out there’s a Humphrey about’ a slogan which older readers may well remember.
It wasn’t always like this. Now beyond living memory there were some fearsome health epidemics that ravaged communities and really frightened people – people who had little health provision save the local doctor whom they paid for consultations, or local hospitals funded by subscription and whose knowledge of what they were facing and what they had to work with was, by our comfortable know it all standards, basic to say the least.
Part 2 will be published tomorrow.