Boris – Pinball wizard or political tribalism

Pinball Game

I always liked pinball. Some people love it. For me, I tried to keep the ball in play for as long as I could. It's that’s simple. Let random chance handle all the bells, lights, ricochets, and points.


No matter, how good you are there is always the chance of miscalculation- that could change everything. Creating a new unpredictable chain reaction causing you to lose the game. That's the really worrying thing about the political pinball that's being played at the moment - the potential to create chaos with balls ricocheting unpredictably.


Claim vs counter-claim. Conservative vs Labour.  Scientist's vs the economist's. The devolved nations vs England, and the North vs the South. The Government refused to bend to a labour mayor over £5m yet spent countless billions on a better financial package the following day. The Government obfuscating over labour's demands for free meals for kids out of term. One minute they've talked to Marcus Rasford, the next they haven't.


We all know that politics can be a brutal game - but never more so than in the last few weeks. The balls are ricocheting from bumper to bumper.  With the political pinball bouncing around in a completely uncontrolled fashion it's hardly surprising that there is a lack of trust or credibility. It’s inevitable that decisions are being taken on the fly but this is no excuse for the bitter exchanges.


Initially I thought the Government had a good handle on the situation and managed the communications well. Lately I’m not so sure. I understand it’s a delicate balancing act but with the pinball ricocheting around I think political tribalism is taking over from the science or economics.


The outcome is a lack of clear messaging and a lack of consistent information. Ministers are caught out on almost a daily basis. Even the rule of six is becoming unclear. And taking into account that Scotland and Wales are pursuing different strategies to contain the virus, it’s hardly surprising the public are confused and there is a lack of trust in the actions of the Government.


Private media briefings, leaks and I suspect briefing against others have replaced the daily press conference- which is sad. I thought the daily conference had real value. If only to watch the grimacing faces of the medical advisers.


There has been little clear explanation of Rishi’s latest cash injection and no firm update on the progress towards a vaccine. Rumours persist, that the NHS staff will be vaccinated in weeks - I hope it's true and not more needless media speculation. Or the actions of a Government trying to take control of the media agenda.


What we need is the Government to act with new skill and intent. We need a return to simple clear messaging and a more informative media campaign. Above all we need an end to the political bickering. We cannot survive the random ricochets caused by political tribalism and its unintended consequences.