The last six months seem to have flown by, which is probably just as well as most of it has been a nightmare as the government’s spin doctors, aided and abetted by their experts in various bodies that virtually nobody had heard of before March, vied for their moment of glory and pushed whatever Covid 19 model or theory fitted with what vested interest they were supporting or were indeed supported by. As usual, a case of ‘follow the money’ proves to be good advice.
Not that there has been a shortage of advice. As well as the mainstream media, the cognoscenti of social media have had a field day, influencers – and there are many – producing video streams and mini documentaries as good as anything you see anywhere in the main stream and often just as unreliable. Forget comment sections in the ‘quality press’; if you want genuinely to see the public, well a section of it at least, take a look at your local and regional press. It’s like a car boot sale, something for everyone and at a knock-down price.
When it comes to advice about defence, economics, the media, the virus, the NHS and Boris Johnson, experts abound, which is really quite amazing when one looks at the success of the educational establishment over the last 30 years in producing a dumbed-down population with appalling literacy and numeracy levels. Somewhere along the line, common decency and sense, along with the ability to actually question and think about what the media or government is telling the masses, has certainly been thrown away, as the last six months has proved time and time again.
Let’s just take a deep breath for a moment and accept that in the last six months government, civil service and the establishment in general have, after much deliberation, taken actions to ‘protect us’ without, as we used to say, ‘fear or favour’, knowing that sections of our community would pay a heavy price but there was really no other action that could have been taken to protect the majority and the common good.
Well, I’ve taken a long deep breath and, after due consideration, decided, as I would like to think many of you have, that this was just not the case. We’ve heard all the excuses and I’m not going to reiterate them, except to congratulate the government spin doctors, behavioural analysts and media hacks, because they have done such a fantastic job in turning much of the not-particularly-motivated masses, the petulant, the permanently offended, the anti-British political factions and much of the general public into the permanently-frightened people living on a street near you.
“Didn’t they do well?” as Bruce Forsyth would have said. They did indeed, as a recent survey said most are in favour of more restrictions, some even wanting another lockdown, anything it seems for more ‘safety’ as long as they are not suffering in any way and with as yet no financial hardship, and as long as ‘somebody else’ is working to provide all that is necessary for them to have a comfortable risk-free existence. Good luck with that; it’s just not going to happen.
I suppose the gullible people are the descendants of people who spent the second world war listening to Lord Haw Haw, who provided ‘news’ on a nightly basis for his Nazi German masters and was even then, to use the modern ‘woke’ expression, not ‘cancelled’ by the authorities. Many people believed his nonsense but in those days, when the BBC and the national press was thought to be ‘on our side’ and were, more or less, people listened and laughed, even if they had a sneaking suspicion that some of what he said could be true.
At long last it seems that many people are actually starting to get more than a little annoyed by the mainstream media and the BBC in particular. Maybe the events of the last few weeks, together with the publication of the enormous salaries paid to its leading broadcast staff, have opened a few eyes; certainly the movement to de-fund this bloated organisation is gaining ground across the political and social divide, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for any great change as the BBC is one of the last useful vestiges of British ‘soft power’ projection across the world, goodness knows why, but there it is.
The virus though has probably had more effect on the way people view the media, government and business than has yet been realised. Yes, the printed press has probably had a reprieve, with more people working from home or lockdown wanting to start or help fill their day with printed news on a local or national basis. Certainly, the online versions of newspapers are seeing increasing numbers, which presumably explains the number of ‘click bait’ articles. One of the tabloids can boast seven or eight thousand comments in response to an article, but a quick read of these shows few sensible replies for or against, but many more off topic, offensive in some way, or comments parroted from others or those of the commenter’s favourite celebrity politician or media outlet.
Not much different from what can be seen on a variety of ‘blogs’, media platforms or video streams. Moral compass formed from vested media interests, the main ‘news’ channels or video streams. There are of course well-researched articles in much of the alternative media, but that is not likely to be of interest to the demographic of the tabloid or broadsheet press or the broadcast media.
At one time, in factories where up to several thousand worked, there was a sort of community understanding of events, football, political and social for example. This has long since disappeared. In the last few years the office water cooler or rest areas served the same purpose on a smaller scale, but with more people working from home, until the collective return to the office or workplace resumes, that too has become a thing of the past. Socially, views were often formed, for better or worse at work or ‘down the pub’ after work or other community social gatherings, but those too are now mostly a thing of the past for many. Younger people are far more likely to gain their views from activist lecturers or schoolteachers, or social media, where a sort of ‘groupthink’ often rules.
You can often see this, and those working with so-called socially deprived young people will tell you, speak to a group and they will all have some sort of collective grievance – parents, unemployment, the police and authority in general, and also some sort of popular social style; a preference for a particular type of music or celebrity, nothing new in this of course. Witness the ‘teddy boy’ phenomenon of the 1950s, Mods and Rockers of the 60s and so on, but get the chance, or indeed make the effort to talk to individuals, and an entirely different picture emerges of individual problems, or grievances.
‘One size fits all’ actually doesn’t work and current manifestation of this could be seen in the last few days when newly announced government restrictions appeared to have a social hierarchy with lesser mortals being excluded from their favourite pastimes, but grouse shooting and hunting being deemed to be safe, allowable and secure from the virus. Just proving, in case you needed any proof, that we certainly are not all in this together.
Coastal resorts or holiday hot-spots have seen scenes not witnessed in living memory as the masses (you and me that is) took advantage of the brilliant summer after some restrictions were lifted, and visited. We were told that we would be welcome, which proved to be not actually the case in many places, as locals made their feelings quite clear to people staycationing.
Part 2 of Welcome – who are you kidding? will be published