We cannot afford another day of this government's patronising refusal to say anything other than to 'stay home'. We urgently need to plan, prepare and communicate our exit from lockdown, argues Matthew Patten

The next 3 weeks of lockdown are going to be far more troublesome than the last. People understand the logic behind the extension, but are losing faith in the daily platitudes from our political leaders. Six weeks of economic and domestic inactivity are going to have a far worse impact on our financial and personal health.

Come early May, the darkening national mood and scale of impending economic crisis will make scaling back the lockdown inevitable, whatever the scientific advice. When it comes to the nation's well-being, the political narrative, which has put protection of life as the only priority, will be subtly shifted to the preservation of economic life.

The challenges of exiting lockdown are clear. How to avoid a second wave of infection and accelerate economic recovery. But unlike the blunt decision to put the entire population under house arrest, getting back to something like normal is going to be far more complex.

Write for us.

We're always on the lookout for talented writers and welcome submissions. Please send your opinion piece or pitch to: editor@commentcentral.co.uk

Given that we have just 3 weeks to prepare, you would have thought that the government would be full steam ahead on readying the nation for re-entry. Our experience of lockdown so far has taught us that a highly centralized decision and command process can be blind to key areas, like social care. And the public sector cannot solve this crisis alone, for example the failure to provide enough testing and PPE.

We also know that the key to successfully exiting the lockdown is mass testing of the population on a scale way beyond the Health Secretary's wildest dreams and the return to tracking and isolating infection. This is what enables schools to go back, businesses to restart, pubs to open, families and friends to get together and the NHS to remain in control of the situation.

Mass testing and tracking are not simply a matter of procurement, production or digitisation. They require an army of people to implement and monitor in towns, villages and communities across the land. In short, while our nannying government can for a short while inflict lockdown on its respectful and intelligent population, it cannot escape from this mess without us.

We cannot afford another day of this government's patronising refusal to say anything other than to 'stay home'. We urgently need to plan, prepare and communicate our exit from lockdown, beginning in just 3 weeks time. The Westminster elite simply doesn't have the resources, structure or time to do this alone; it needs to fully engage the resources of the private and civil sectors. The return of the Prime Minister cannot come soon enough to lead the response. He must give confidence to his colleagues to trust and delegate to regional government to organise local solutions and resources.

We're doing worse than many other nations because a few weeks ago we did too little too late. Let's not make the same mistake again. We've got just 3 weeks.

20 votes

Sign-up for free to stay up to date with the latest political news, analysis and insight from the Comment Central team.

By entering your email address you are agreeing to Comment Central’s privacy policy