Friday 8 January 2021

Size doesn't matter - attitude does


A couple of days ago, Boris Johnson apparently told his backbench MPs that, if the SNP had had their way, not a single vaccine would have been delivered in Scotland. He didn’t suggest that the SNP were in any way opposed to vaccinations, merely that – as one attendee reported – delivering vaccines at scale “needed the clout of a big government”. In essence, he was arguing that small countries like Scotland just can’t do things like secure supplies of vaccine and run major vaccination programmes. It’s a pity that no-one explained this to Israel (population 8.9 million) which has secured enough vaccine to inoculate all over 16s by the end of March. If only someone had told them that they’re too small to do something like that, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble. If only they had understood the limitations imposed by their lack of size, they too could have had a death rate of 1.4 per 100,000 rather than falling behind with a mere 0.4.

It’s not the only thing that only big states like the UK can achieve, apparently. Only states the size of the UK could ensure that there was adequate PPE from the outset, only big states like the UK could build a track, trace and isolate system that works, only big states like the UK have the international clout to close their borders and prevent more spreaders from entering, and only big states like the UK can keep their death rates at a very low level compared to the rest of the world. Oh, wait; something's not quite right there. In the real world, any international comparison shows that the main determinant of success is nothing to do with size at all, and the PM was simply making things up. Who’d have thought it?

It turns out that more important factors are studying the facts, understanding the science, a willingness to act early and decisively, and an ability to learn from what happens elsewhere. Conversely, a jingoistic belief that ‘we’ know better than anyone else, and that ‘our’ approach is axiomatically the best is more of an obstacle than an asset. Again, who’d have thought it?

1 comment:

dafis said...

Well written John. I notice that none of the big names of the Welsh political pond turn up here to comment, I wish they would make a contribution. Perhaps they all read it. They should as that will give them a rational criticism of what is going on in the U.K and how it affects this corner of these islands. There again too many of our politicians are confined to listening to their own bubble's output and fail to take on board a bit of clear thinking from outside.