There was a discussion on the old open thread yesterday about last night's BBC News Channel seemingly pushing the 'The Government is not acting fast enough or hard enough' line over coronavirus.
Looking back (with the help of TV Eyes), yes, there was Laura Kuenssberg asking Boris Johnson what she's been asking him and others at the Downing Street briefings incessantly in recent weeks:
Laura Kuenssberg: Many children now won't be back at school this time next week, more people are going to be living under the limits near lockdown, ambulances are queueing outside hospitals and there are more daily coronavirus cases than at any point. Hasn't the government again just been too slow?
And that was soon followed by a BBC-BBC discussion along similar lines:
George Alagiah: Vicki, I read somewhere that now three quarters of the population is under either tiers 3 or 4. I mean, that is going to open up the accusation that, yet again, the Prime Minister has acted too late?
Vicki Young: Yes.
Go back a week earlier, to the moments before a previous Downing Street briefing (23 December), and here's BBC health correspondent Catherine Burns:
Katherine Da Costa: That is the concern about getting on top of it now. And experts have always advised that with a pandemic it is better to go in quickly, act fast, be proactive rather than reactive. And that has been a criticism of the government, that it was too slow to go into lockdown back in the spring, and then again into the autumn. And that is why the pressure was ramping up about restrictions over Christmas, that they felt that originally it was going to be five days of mixing with household bubbles, that has obviously now been reduced to one day for lower level tiers. And even now some experts saying, don't wait until Boxing Day to bring in tighter restrictions, it is going up too quickly, to get it under control, you need to do something sooner rather than later.
I'd tie this into something related. I almost posted this on Monday, but will post now instead, so please see what you make of it:
Monday's The World at One began with Jonny Dymond saying:
The Government still plans to re-open schools in England next week.
My ears pricked up. That sounded to me like one of those uses of "still" which imply that the Government is being stubborn.
But will the new variant coronavirus force its hand?
Advocacy? The BBC pushing the ''The Government is not acting fast enough or hard enough' line again, and pushing for schools in England to remain closed? Or not advocacy, merely posing questions? It would be hard to rule definitively from that, but not perhaps from what came later:
Jonny Dymond: The problem is pretty simple. For all the preparations that teachers have made over the past six months, children at school mix pretty freely and transfer the virus to each other. Chuck in the understanding that the new variant of the virus is as popular with teenagers as it is with older folk and you can see why in regions with hospitals already straining giving transmission a helping hand looks a pretty curious way forward.
And what about this?:
The staggered return with testing was mandated before the Government knew of the power of the new variant, before family Christmases were cancelled, before nearly half the UK ended up in near lockdown. Given the fast-moving circumstances, should the plan change once again?
How do you feel about this at the moment? At the prospect of hundreds of thousands of transmissible children, if you will, returning to schools in a week's time?