It is common knowledge that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a great admirer of Winston Churchill. He has written a biography of the wartime leader, and it is reputed that his relentless drive to become leader of the Conservative Party, and thus PM, has grown out of a desire to emulate the great man.
Watching his daily press briefings during the current health crisis, I cannot help wondering whether, somewhere in his secret heart, Boris is relishing having a situation to manage which has been described as ‘the most serious since World War II.’
These thoughts were further stimulated by hearing his choice of metaphor in a recent broadcast: according to our national leader at Westminster, we are ‘at war’ with the virus.
Unfortunately, Boris’ rhetorical style does not match up to that of his erstwhile hero. Instead of a clear and measured delivery, our PM provides for us, through often spluttering verbal episodes, messages which can be convoluted, at times even self-contradictory. A notable example of this was his exhortation to the vulnerable to stay at home, but to feel free to go out and enjoy themselves.
Without wishing to be party political, I cannot help but compare his performances with those of the First Minister of Scotland, who has been, so far, a model of honesty, transparency and lucidity in her messages to the public.
As someone self-isolating on grounds of age and health, and therefore not currently participating in any battles, I much prefer her straightforward clarity to his attempt to draw a somewhat inappropriate historical parallel.