If we ever need a reminder of how quickly politicians can go from hero to zero, we were given a perfect example on March 3.
Glowing in reflected glory from the incredible success of its vaccine roll-out and general support for its comprehensive furlough programme, Boris Johnson and Brand Rishi were flying high.
And then came news of a recommended pay rise for our beloved NHS staff of 1%. Really? I mean, REALLY??
How on earth did they think this would play well in the public domain? The Government has been reminding us constantly of the value of our nursing and medical teams and how we should all play our part in supporting them. Boris survived Coronavirus thanks to the expertise and professionalism of the care he received.
My best guess is that BoJo’s director of communications was in a therapeutic isolation tank and could not be contacted, and that nobody else was brave enough to question the Prime Minister’s thinking.
The only consolation for the Government is that Labour cannot decide how much of a pay rise it would give, and one of the nursing unions has suggested a 12% pay rise, which is unrealistic in our shattered economy.
The only way out of this pot-hole is for the PM to explain that this was simply a recommendation and that his actual plan was for a 3% rise. He should tell his ministers to stop reminding us of historical salary increases for the NHS, and just focus on the “now.”
So how has the Government fared overall on the Covid PR scoreboard? Here’s my take on it:
Early attempts to tackle the crisis, including shipping ageing Covid survivors out of hospital and into care homes, put us in the No. 1 spot for the highest deaths per million population.
A new word entered the modern language – furlough. It has helped thousands of businesses get through lockdown, although critics feel the Government should be doing more.
Boris Johnson came down badly with Covid and – thanks to the wonderful care he received from the NHS – he made a complete recovery.
The Government invests heavily in buying prototype vaccines. They placed bulk purchase orders with a number of early-stage trials and hit the jackpot.
Vaccine roll-out moves at break-neck pace. We are seen around the world as a great example of how it can be done. Only Israel has jabbed a higher percentage of its population.
The Government heaped continual praise on the fantastic work of our NHS workers.
Score: 10/10… a slam dunk.
The Government thanks the NHS with a recommended 1% pay rise.
Total: 48/70. Teacher’s comment – “A good effort, but could do better.”