Photo by M. B. M. on Unsplash

Watchet, Somerset, UK, 3rd April 2020 21:35

My dear friend Pedro Granell brought to my attention a study conducted by Imperial College London, available from

In this report they look at different models of how the pandemic could evolve, depending on which interventions are enacted by governments and society. The report uses the US and UK as ‘case studies’ but it says to can be applied to any high-earning first world country.

There are three clear messages: first, stricter measures equal lower deaths and less pressure on healthcare systems. Second, loose measures will result in higher death rates and healthcare systems are very likely to become completely overwhelmed. Third, stricter measures would cause very significant social and economic damage. It looks like one of those dammed if we do and dammed if we don’t situations.

I think that this report highlights the fact that our leaders will have to make extremely tough decisions in the coming months and that, potentially, they will have to make choices over who lives and who dies. It will take strong and decisive yet caring and compassionate leadership to see us through this pandemic.

Let’s look for a moment at the current crop of leaders in the two countries the report focuses on: Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Do they fit the job description required for this situation? The answer will only be known in the long term but we can glean some of their attributes from their previous actions and behaviour. Let’s take a look:

Boris Johnson comes from an upper-middle-class background. He studied at Eton and then Oxford. He went on to become a successful journalist before launching his political career, eventually becoming Mayor of London, Brexiteer-in-chief and, finally, Prime Minister. He has lived a life of privilege and he is not known for having a clearly defined political ideology. He could be described as a populist, relying more on his personality than on his beliefs for advancing his career in politics. He doesn’t come across as compassionate or empathetic. He has been described by many as dishonest, self-serving and narcissistic. On the positive side, he is popular with the average Joe on the street which might help him to carry the government’s message. And lately, he seems to have allowed the grown ups in the room to take charge.

On the other side of the pond we have Donald Trump. I don’t think this guy needs much introduction but, like Boris, he comes from a background of privilege. He was the epitome of hubris and greed of 1980’s yuppie America. He made and lost fortunes in real estate several times over before diverting into so called Reality TV (I prefer the term Surreality TV) and eventually into politics becoming the President of the United States in a way that still puzzles me. Trump has no ideology apart from himself, cares about no one but himself and measures his actions only by how they will impact him. He is clearly a narcissist and has shown total unwillingness to take any responsibility for his actions throughout his presidency. The only positive thing I can think about Trump is that he has an uncanny ability (and money) to manipulate the public discourse to his advantage.

These are the guys who are in charge at the moment. I don’t know how other people might feel but I am not filled with confidence by these two, or by a majority of the leaders of Western democracies. I think that this is a direct result of the lack of trust that people have in politicians and in ideology. It is also a direct result of the celebrity culture which permeates our society. Achievement is judged on amount of social media likes, earnings and TV ratings. Our role models are self-serving celebrities taking selfies of themselves and their wealth for the masses to envy and attempt to copy. We buy into this game so it hardly surprising that we get the leaders that we deserve.

So what are we to do when we are in a situation where we have to trust governments to have our best interest at heart? And what happens when the people in charge of those institutions are self-serving narcissists who will not take responsibility for their actions and who will blame us because we didn’t follow their half baked advice properly?

I think there are two possible outcomes for this situation. One where there might be a major breakdown in law and order and we end up with riots on our towns and cities. The other is where people start taking the initiative at a grassroots community level. This latter is already happening; community support, compassion and empathy are on the rise. I am seeing that every day. People want, no, they need change from politicians. They need to know that people are being put before profit, especially the profit of the few.

I really hope that the government listens to the citizens and communities of this country. At the heart of every human revolution and conflict is a group or community who feels unheard. And when faced with death and hardship, communities will make themselves heard. The claps for the NHS heroes could turn into cries for change very quickly. I think it is time to put politics and ideology aside and to focus on coming together as one humankind.

Good night all

OneLove, OneHeart

Tonight’s choice of music is by Bill Withers, who sadly passed away today: I Can’t Write Left Handed (Live at Carnegie Hall)

World-wide confirmed cases: 1,088,878

World-wide deaths: 58,773

World-wide recovered: 225,438

UK confirmed cases: 38,688

UK deaths: 3,605

UK recovered: 205


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