The recent dramatic scale of flooding in the UK, with its obvious links to climate change, and the spread of the Coronavirus worldwide, has seemed to catch the government by surprise. A marriage of the apparent slow reaction of government machinery and intense scrutiny by social and mainstream media suggest to many people that Whitehall is incapable of dealing with major emergencies. The country appears to stagger from one crisis to the next. If it is not bed places in the NHS it is issues over migrants crossing the English Channel. The range of apparent emergencies just grows every day.
It is small wonder that the Whitehall machine becomes laboured in its response. A simple question for ministers to ask is that when the media suggests that such-and-such a topic is an emergency, why are there always people who will jump on the prevailing bandwagon of the moment?