Alan Simpson: A word of advice, don’t listen to advisers

ACCORDING to the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge Taylor: ‘Advice is like snow – the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.’

If this is indeed the case then many of the public health experts who are officially advising the various UK governments must be shouting far too loudly for the advice to sink in.

As Covid cases rise exponentially, so too does the number of public health experts.

There appears to be so many members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) that it must blow out the wifi every time they all get together for an online meeting.

It is also becoming increasingly clear that SAGE does not talk with one voice and this is leading to misleading messages and unnecessary alarm coming out on a regular basis.

The latest comes from Professor Stephen Reicher, from the University of St Andrews and a member of the SAGE subcommittee on behavioural science, who has warned the country is “in danger” of making the same mistakes as last summer.

He says lessons must be learned from opening up too early last summer if we are to avoid another lockdown.

The public now has a legitimate reason to ask who to believe in the ongoing pandemic.

Politicians say they are always following the science, while scientists are increasingly saying the decisions being made are political.

This then begs the question, why are there so many advisers in the first place and what are they actually advising and to whom?

Put many experts in a room and the chances of finding a common viewpoint is absolutely nil.

However, the list of Covid advisers breaking ranks and popping up on the airwaves every day is growing so is it any wonder that mixed and confusing messages are being delivered.

If SAGE seems confused then it’s understandable that the public is too.

Government advisers seem to have a much higher profile than they used to and that is not good.

Some even seem to like their roles a bit too much and use it to try and affect people’s behaviour to suit their own agendas.

Last week the Climate Change Committee, whatever that is, warned politicians that in order to hit stark climate change targets, the average amount of meat consumed should be cut by 20%.

Now veganism is not my cup of herbal tea, but what people eat is entirely up to them. It is not up to advisers to tell us any more than it is politicians.

If I want a burger I’ll have one, too many in fact judging by my waistline.

Ministers seem unable to think on their own any more and set up increasing numbers of advisory groups, committees and even ask the public to help them decide.

This is not how democracy works.

We elect a Government and leave them to make the big decisions – for which they are all paid handsomely.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992