Coronavirus Briefings # 10: Respect the Script and Hope No One Will See Your Nose Grow | Catherine Bennett | Opinion


NOTot all locking masterclasses involve unwanted efforts. By now, anyone who has watched the daily press briefings on Downing Street coronavirus, even intermittently, should have acquired enough escape skills and excuses to present one, if not on a professional level, certainly as convincing as the average British cabinet minister. The following technique can be mastered in as little as six weeks.

1. Praise the Prime Minister if he has produced another child, wish him a good recovery / vacation if he is inevitably absent. Aware or not, he is in a good mood. Introduce your scientists. Pray that they will include Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Physician from England, whose deviation methods are second to none. Recall, for example, his wish for a “more mature conversation” about personal protective equipment, following evidence that shortages put lives at risk.

2. Make a firm voice, before updating the government’s step-by-step battle plan to defeat the virus. Recite the five tests slowly and clearly. This should take at least five minutes. Let us repeat, as ministers have demanded since March 9, that the government is making the right decisions at the right time, based on the latest scientific advice.

3. Solemn face. Report the latest infection and death figures. Condolences. Reflect, informatively, that these grim numbers are a reminder of how bad the virus is, showing that your five-point plan is correct.

4. A more positive note. Congratulate the heroic front line, ditto for the sacrifice of the British people, by taking up the challenge. You are proud of their determination to turn the tide and win the war. Beating this enemy is a team effort. (The next press attacks therefore amount to siding with the enemy.)

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson “applauds the caregivers” in Downing Street on April 30, 2020. Photo: Ben Stansall / AFP via Getty Images

5. But admit there are challenges. Cannot coat with sugar. Unprecedented times. Select all or part of the following: you work day and night, 24 hours a day, you fight tooth and nail, you relentlessly move the sky and the earth and you stretch each tendon while you move mountains in a Herculean effort and gigantic to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

6. Don’t mention nursing homes.

7. Today, the government can announce that it is accelerating something. On the beat. Budget of millions. On everything, looking badges. A jingoistic comparison is recommended at this stage. Although it may not be the fantasy of Boris Johnson, as of March 16, that the UK “is waging a global response campaign”. Substitute: “Our world renowned scientific experts. “

8. Finally, recite the approved slogan (on the front of the desks, if you forgot it) and it’s up to a scientist for the latest curve flattening data. Given that the UK figures will be among the worst in the world, stress that the comparisons are meaningless.

What follows – press questions – is not always so straightforward, even favored civilians are, in a rare loan from Jeremy Corbyn, invited to use their time and, being warmly congratulated, to introduce the journalists. “Even in our darkest times,” as First Secretary Dominic Raab recently said, “the crisis has also brought to light the best of us. Come on, Lynne to Skipton.

Fortunately, the virtual configuration of the plague offers some defense against hostile interrogation. Observe how the Secretary of Health, Matt Hancock, learned intelligently to introduce the next speaker, closing a boring one. And remember that some journalists will always ask, roughly, “Are we almost there yet?” Take at least three minutes to review the five tests.

Even death-obsessed hacks, repeating Britain’s fatal delays during Johnson’s “singing happy birthday” period, may feel embarrassed to associate a minister with failures, unforgivable negligence. But deploy accompanying scientists, in the event of such attacks, like your custom-made personal protective equipment. We followed the science and always made the right decisions at the right time.

Try to answer one difficult question with – Raab’s specialty – the answer to another. How many tests completed? Do journalists still talk about Johnson’s commitment of 250,000 a day? Also irrelevant. We are accelerating. Herculean effort. The best military planners in the world.


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