'Something Must be Done' fails, again

  fourm member 12:45 12 Apr 2014

Governments all round the world often adhere to a four point doctrine.

  1. This is a thing.
  2. Something must be done about this thing.
  3. This is something.
  4. We'll do this.

The latest example of the flaws in that is, of course, confirmation that the £500m spent on stock-piling Tamiflu was a waste of money. The Cochrane Collaboration report found that Tamiflu made only a small difference to the course of the illness and that it sometimes produced side effects more unpleasant than the flu itself.

Some people have blamed Roche, the manufacturers, for not making all its trials data available before but I would have thought that anyone thinking of spending £500m would want a clause in the contract where the supplier said all information had been provided.

The report is timely because the current stockpile is nearing its expiry date and the government has to decide whether to replace it.

But will the government be brave enough to emulate Knut and say there are things that are beyond its power so it is not going to waste more money just to give the impression that it is doing something? 1]: [click here

  Forum Editor 13:50 12 Apr 2014

"Something must be done about this thing"

Which brings me back to one of my favourite hobby horses - David Cameron's irritating habit of saying 'we need to ...'followed by a statement of the obvious, as in 'we need to ensure that this doesn't happen again'.

He says it as though the mere statement is enough - the solution is something that others can handle. he thinks that by saying something is wrong, and saying it in an assertive way, often reinforcing the statement with a decisive chopping action with his hand, he'll come over as a man of action, someone who really can get things done.

Subsequently, driven by the understanding that he may be called upon to back his statement up with something more positive, he'll move on to your points 3 and 4. A minion will identify a course of action that might please the electorate and say ' here's a way out'. Cameron will adopt the idea and say, on the record 'we're going to act, and act decisively, we'll do this'.

Often 'this' will turn out to be a complete blind alley, and he'll say something along the lines of 'we thought it was better to take action, rather than allow the situation to continue. Now we'll modify our action to fit the changing circumstances. Our policy is working'.

In reality there was no policy. Weak political leaders don't govern by a predetermined set of policies, they react to circumstances on the ground. It can be a successful way to solve problems, but it isn't the way to steer a nation's course on a permanent basis.

Weak political leaders exist all over the world, because electorates and media have entered into a pact - the media will decide what the electorate thinks, and the electorate will provide the 'public opinion' reaction that pressures governments. Political leaders have become slaves to public opinion as expressed in the media, and they court it shamelessly.

Perhaps we're all too liberated these days, and a good old benevolent dictatorship might be the way to go.

  caccy 14:03 12 Apr 2014


Unfortunately "good old benevolent dictators" seem to, at best, become just dictators.

  fourm member 14:29 12 Apr 2014

'a good old benevolent dictatorship'

That's my fear, unless people start to behave in a more mature way on political matters. Because, as caccy says, benevolent dictators don't always stay that way.

FE's quite right about Cameron, though it was Labour who spent the Tamiflu money so he's far from being the only one.

The electorate seems to want only two things; to be lied to about what a government can do and to be distracted by trivia.

It would be wonderful if, just once, a politician's answer to 'What are you going to do?' was 'Nothing, because nothing I do will make any difference to the situation'.

  wiz-king 15:53 12 Apr 2014

Never mind - 'Lessons will be learned.'

  spuds 16:28 12 Apr 2014

Perhaps off subject, but this isn't the first time there was a stock of very expensive anti-flu vaccine that the government didn't know what to do with it.

I seem to recall a few years back (2008?), on visiting my GP for the annual flu jab that the 'wrong type' of vaccine had just been withdrawn. Not sure now (fading memory) but I believe is was the era of 'Australian' flu or something like that, but it was found to be another type of flu supposedly heading for the UK?.

  fourm member 16:52 12 Apr 2014

'it baffles me that they think the electorate is so stupid as to believe it '

But the disappointing thing is that they seem to be right.

The electorate likes being lied to.

  Forum Editor 16:57 12 Apr 2014


Imagine yourself in the position of the people who have to make decisions about which vaccines to buy or produce for a virus that mutates on an annual basis and kills thousands of people in days - wouldn't you feel under considerable pressure to act?

If you did nothing and people died you would be pilloried, and if you buy the wrong vaccine you will be pilloried. It's a difficult task.

  Forum Editor 18:31 12 Apr 2014


"The British tend to sit back and allow our politicians to continually get away with telling us anything they think we want to hear."

I think you'll find it is much the same the world over. Human nature being what it is, we like to hear good news, and we don't like bad news; in a political context we tend to shoot the messenger who brings bad news. That's why politicians try to spin up everything so the good aspects show.

Saying they don't give a damn about what we thinks is wrong - they care very much, because they need us to vote for them, come election time.

Find me a country where people don't like being told good news and I'll show you a country full of dead people. It simply doesn't exist.

  fourm member 08:24 13 Apr 2014


'The British tend to sit back and allow our politicians to continually get away with telling us anything they think we want to hear.'

That's where I get the idea that the public likes being lied to.

It's like scam emails. If it didn't work, they wouldn't keep doing it.

To take one example, Nigel Farage can't open his mouth without lying. Ti give just one example, he claimed that more Bulgarians and Romanians would come to Britain than the combined population of both countries.

Does the public say he's a liar and want nothing more to do with him?

If the public laughed Farage off the political stage other politicians might begin to think that voters could be trusted to recognise the truth.

  john bunyan 09:45 13 Apr 2014

I, also, have little love for politicians. However, if I look at Cameron, Clegg and Milliband (and the last two PM's, Brown and Blair, I find it hard indeed to think of much difference between them. Cameron seens no better and no worse. Those who criticise him may care to nominate a successor?

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

Elsewhere on IDG sites

Huawei MateBook X Pro review

8 digital brands that designed custom typefaces to save millions

How to speed up a slow Mac

Comment résoudre des problèmes d’impressions ?