Welsh Lockdown – reply from the Education directorate …

Dear Geraint ap Iorwerth
Thank you for your email to the Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams MS, and for sharing your thoughts with us. I have been asked to reply.
As I am sure you will appreciate, Covid-19 is a new virus; we are learning and adapting our strategy for managing this quickly evolving situation constantly, based on our improving scientific and technical knowledge. We have passed your thoughts about messaging on to our communication colleagues for consideration.
We fully appreciate that people in Wales and across the world will be seeking conclusive and definitive evidence in relation to what to do next. Given the unprecedented nature of this pandemic, and the virus at the heart of it, we unfortunately do not have the luxury of absolute certainty about the evidence required to make our decisions. We have, however, throughout the pandemic made decisions based on the very latest scientific and technical advice available, which in itself requires an assessment of the balance of evidence.
Please be assured that the health and well-being of the people of Wales, young and old, has always been, and will continue to be at the heart of our decision making.
Yours sincerely
Claire Smith
Education directorate
Welsh Government

9 October 2020
Dear Claire
Thanks for your reply.
All of us know that Covid19 is a new virus. I appreciate that governments the world over are learning as they ‘go along.’ Making mistakes in some areas and having successes in others.
That was not the point of my letter.
You mention the’ science’ and the ‘technology’ - the medical aspects of the crisis. The scientific decisions you constantly make, based on the scientific model (there are many) that you have decided to follow. Ultimately, it is a gamble. A gamble based on statistics etc.
That was not the point of my letter.
As for the ‘luxury of absolute certainty.’ Totally agree, there are no ‘absolutes.’
That was not the point of my letter.
Naturally, you and your colleagues want the best for the people of Wales.
That was not the point of my letter.
Maybe my fundamental point will be answered when one of your colleagues gets back to me on ‘messaging.’ I hope so.
Whether you call it persuasion or propaganda, your strategy appears to be failing in terms of keeping the majority of the public on board. People who have willingly supported your guidelines.
What’s more it appears that the core of this UK wide strategy is going to extend for another six months, at least.
And maybe even beyond.
A year of LOCKDOWN!
That is my point.
People may not want, or get, absolute certainty, but they want and deserve ‘some sort’ of a long-term plan. Dare I even say ‘vision’ for the future.
That is my point.
Your current strategy, in both practical and propaganda terms, is not working.
Here in the SE corner of Wales, for example, which is basically a conurbation of 1.5 million people, people are not only confused with all the ‘variations’ but also amused.
As for ‘Health and well-being’? Then improve the standards of care in hospitals and care-homes, for they lie at the heart of a good pandemic strategy.
If it is to be LOCKDOWN – in whatever form – for the foreseeable future, then be upfront about it. Let people know. Let them plan ahead. Stringing the public along week after week, briefing after briefing, is doing serious damage to their mental, emotional and spiritual health.  
Or, and I come back to my fundamental point …  
You can change strategy and plan an alternative approach to tackling this serious pandemic. One that does not treat the public as automatons. One that is creative. One that will consider the holistic needs of our children, young people, parents and grand-parents in the coming months: health and fitness initiatives, youth programmes, Christmas and New Year events – we have streets aplenty, playing fields, rural fields, beaches, nature trails etc.
But it’s not just about the ‘messaging’ or ‘optics.’ It’s about the substance behind.
Our government’s public persona is mind-numbingly boring. Predictable Unimaginative. Day after day after day, briefing after briefing after briefing …
and it’s beginning to rub off on the public.
The creative industries should be at the heart of your strategy.
Without doubt they would help banish the dark lockdown mentality blues.
It’s like the opening graphics of ITV Wales evening news. The general ITV intro is innovative but the Welsh ‘bit’ is stale, boring, same old pictures, same old music, evening after evening after evening.
It’s a pity, because the news team itself is great.
Let’s hope we can say the same about the ‘Team-in-the-Bay’ in six-month’s time.  
Yours sincerely
Geraint ap


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