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  • Lawrence Bailey

Those in power should lead by example



There’s a definite mood swing out there as this coronavirus crisis continues.

Alongside the deep pride in our public services, you can feel a growing scepticism as to whether those in charge are up to the task.

A widespread perception is that the number of UK deaths is under-reported because care-home figures are not included. People are fearful that the trajectories could be steeper than official statements admit.

There’s also the scandal of a lack of adequate protection for front-line carers.

As regards that last point, it’s claimed that we shouldn’t blame bureaucracy. It seems several firms ‘doing their bit’ now route equipment supplies to the highest bidder rather than the area of greatest need.

Anxious people understandably look to their government to lead by example.

As such, they don’t expect spokesmen to urge citizens to stay indoors and then sneak off themselves to a second home 160 miles away for weekends.

Nor do they like the idea of cabinet members discharging themselves early from self-isolation to go jogging around a public park. It’s not just that common sense is nowhere near as common as you’d think among ministers; behaviour like this comes across as privilege and double standards.

French president Emmanuel Macron has admitted that his country was not sufficiently prepared. His honesty stands out from that of other western leaders who fall back on patriotic bluster when put under pressure to account for similar shortcomings.

It’s been alleged that journalists have been told to go soft at the UK daily press briefings. I suppose there’s little value in some journo shouting “Will you resign, minister?” from a television screen.

Even so, I get mildly offended by the insensitive media focus on the passing of ‘notable personalities’. I don’t need reminding that in their eyes we’re regarded as no more equal in death than we are in life. The same goes for some news outlets who report fatalities like cricket scores.

I don’t know if it’s too early to be talking about exit strategies. What I do know is that the aftermath is not simply going to involve matters returning to normal.

In many instances, it will be about finally getting answers. For others, the aim will be obtaining justice.

I think those in power around the world have already figured this out. Even so, I’m betting we’ll find them just as unprepared for that eventuality as they were for this present crisis.

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Simple steps to help to beat the fraudsters

Fraudsters are using the coronavirus outbreak to try new scams by email, call and text. They’re even using online marketplaces to sell goods like face masks and hand sanitisers that don’t exist.

Based on what people are telling me about their experiences, I think it’s worth repeating advice from a few weeks ago.

If you get an email with an attachment, like a PDF or a link that offers advice or a cure for the virus, it’s likely to be a scam. So the rules are simple:

  1. Don’t open emails if you don’t know who sent them.

  2. Even if you know the sender, don’t reply if an email looks odd with spelling mistakes and a messy layout.

  3. Don’t click on any links or attachments unless you know they’re safe.

  4. Before you buy anything online it’s best to do some research and check reviews to make sure a seller is genuine.

  5. Pay by card when you shop online - that way you protect your cash.

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