A surreal couple of days with first Steve Brine MP agreeing with me on Newsnight, then Matt Hancock agreeing on the Today program that we must stop blaming the public and rather support them to adhere to COVID regulations.
Warm words.
But where are the actions?
Where is the recognition that most people are out and about because they have to go to work, their employers won't let them work from home and they would have no money if they did. Where is the provision of resource to ensure that everyone can stay home and stay safe?
What about doing more: addressing digital poverty, not only so children can learn but also so all family members, having to stay at home, are able to stay connected. Not threatening us, enabling us. What a difference that would make!
And most importantly, what about all the forms of support that are necessary for people to self-isolate if needed: finance, hotel rooms (if you are in a crowded house), food, medicine, personal support... This is so obvious, so necessary. Why hasn't it been done?
All in all, don't just agree with the idea of treating the public as the solution rather than the problem and of supporting them rather than threatening them.
Do it!

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More from @ReicherStephen

13 Jan
The tale of Trump's presidency starts with the promise of a wall to defend the country against a fantasy 'other' and ends with the necessity of a wall around the country's capitol to defend it from his own supporters. That's where the politics of paranoia ultimately leads you. Image
Why? Because if you invoke an existential threat to the group, then you equally begin to position those who don't join with you as betraying the group and colluding in its destruction. The enemy without creates accusations of an enemy within.
Once your opponents are no longer seen as part of the group (we the patriots, they the traitors) then one cannot accept them as representatives of the group. Their victory in elections is necessarily illegitimate, a theft by those unentitled to office from those who are entitled.
Read 5 tweets
12 Jan
Patel is disastrously wrong in nearly every way:
Lack of public compliance is NOT the problem: by and large people ARE complying and the areas where they are not are more due to practical barriers than lack of motivation.
theguardian.com/world/2021/jan…
Blaming the public only serves to divide us from the government and so undermine trust and compliance. Moreover it implies violation is more widespread than is the case, so creating a negative norm and thereby further undermining compliance.
The real problem is not that people are 'flexing the rules but that the rules are too flexible, meaning that tradespeople and cleaners can go in and out of our houses and up to 60% of people have no option but to go to work.
Read 5 tweets
11 Jan
As ever, the government wait and wait until we are in a crisis and then suddenly impose emergency measures - such as closing schools. While, tragically, that is now necessary, it isn't a strategy. Here is a strategy, now on the @IndependentSage website: independentsage.org/wp-content/upl…
First, while we can only get the pandemic back under control right now if we close schools for all but genuine exceptions, we fully endorse the WHO position that education is a priority, schools should be last to close and first to open. who.int/director-gener…
And this isn't currently the case: we still allow religious gatherings, we allow cleaners and tradespeople in and out of houses, many non-essential jobs are classified as keyworkers and people forced to go out and expose themselves whether they like it or not.
Read 7 tweets
9 Jan
The Government decision on pupils who lack the resources to study at home is emblematic of their whole pandemic response.
First they promised to provide resources.
Then they broke that promise.
Now they have simply given up and told those pupils to return to our 'closed' schools
First, this fails to address the fact that these children still can't study at home to complement their classes, or if they have to self-isolate (as up to 40% of children in deprived areas have had to do). It is a policy of INEQUALITY MAINTENANCE.
Second, this puts underprivileged children at greater risk of catching and transmitting the virus, when those from deprived backgrounds are already much more likely to be infected and to suffer from COVID.
Read 5 tweets
9 Jan
Schools are now closed to everybody, except for... virtually everybody!
The list of those included as 'critical workers' (gov.uk/government/pub… includes not just those working in health and social care but also in:
education
child care
public services
national government...
local government
food
public safety
transport
utilities
communication
financial services.
And the result is, as heads up and down the country are saying, is that schools are still crowded and the whole point of closing them is undermined.
This is yet another example of the government trying to face both ways at once and ending up with a policy that is confused and pointless. If you are going to do something do it properly. That is possibly the key lesson of the pandemic (along with do it early).
Read 7 tweets
8 Jan
Over 1,000 COVID deaths per day!
Why so little outrage?
Well we all know Stalin's famous quote about one death being a tragedy and one million deaths being a statistic.
But how can we counter that and bring home the human cost of the pandemic (and the failures to deal with it)?
The problem is that, while one person is a concrete reality, a whole individual with whom one can identify and for whom one can cry, a thousand or a million is an abstraction. How, then, (to draw on social representations theory) do we 'concretise' the larger phenomenon.
One powerful example we can all recall, is that of Aylan Kurdi, the little boy lying drowned on a Greek beach. No longer just a member of a pathologised migrant category, but a child seen through the eyes of a father. How could you see that and not weep?
Read 7 tweets

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