CONFUSION, public failure and a compromise that won’t save jobs or lives were the issues discussed by columnists and contributors in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Janet Street-Porter said dividing the country into zones had left people confused about what status their area was in.

“The zones are based on health authorities which span very mixed areas, so if you’re a careful single person living in the countryside outside a city with a high student population like Newcastle, Durham, Liverpool or Manchester, you’re going to be treated a teenage super-spreader,” she said. “Of course it’s unfair - a badly designed blunt instrument that’s doomed to failure.”

She argued that the fragile consensus between Labour and the Government disintegrated on Tuesday night when Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer ‘chucked his toys out of the pram’ and held a press conference to propose a two to three week total lockdown for everyone, and ‘sod the tier system.’

“Boris, the self-styled reincarnation of Churchill, has turned into the ultimate ditherer,” she added. “A universal lockdown has the undoubted brilliance (unlike any other plan devised by Boris and co) of being simple and easy to understand, and horrible for everyone equally.”

She said the tiers were so complicated it lessened the chances of the public complying with the rules for their area.

“Instinctively I’m against a strict lockdown, but as infections rise and the death toll climbs, equally I can’t bear to see the country divided into North versus South, the posh versus the terrace dwellers,” she said. “There’s a lot to be said for the whole country doing something ghastly together. It cuts through class, age, social strata and geography.”

The Guardian

Joel Golby said a YouGov poll found that most people blamed other people for the spread of coronavirus and not the ‘succession of calamitous cronyism and policy failures on a thrice-weekly basis since March’ by the Government.

“It’s hard to know, really, who has mucked this up more: is it me, the man who didn’t get a bus for five months and has adopted a hand-washing routine that a panel of reclusive 1920s millionaires has deemed “a bit weird, mate”?,” he asked. “Or is it a government that spent a summer posing in Wagamamas instead of developing a working track-and-trace system, lost a substantial amount of public health data due to an Excel oversight and keeps making up public policy?”

He said the situation felt critical now, ‘looming on the horizon of the threat of the least jolly Christmas.’

“So far the government’s only big plan is: some places will have a little lockdown; other places (if your mayors agree to it) will have a lot of lockdown,” he said. “It does feel odd that we are still blaming each other for this mess, after we’ve all spent months together watching the people in charge repeatedly mismanage the crisis,

“It will affect those, who, for example, love and want to see their families. Still, I suppose this is the management we voted for. And when it comes to that, I definitely do blame the public.”

The Independent

Andrew Grice said Starmer’s call for a two or three week circuit breaker was a clever move.

“In the short-term, it makes it harder for Johnson to go down this route,” he said. “He will not want Labour to cry “U-turn” (again) and say “we told you so” (again).”

He said it also drove a wedge between Boris Johnson and the public, with 54 per cent of people supporting the idea according to a recent poll.

“Starmer chose the right moment to end the political consensus on the pandemic,” he said. “He certainly scored a media bullseye, leading last night’s TV bulletins and hitting today’s front pages, not easy for an opposition during a national crisis.

He said Johnson’s problem was that, despite his initial rejection of Starmer’s proposal, he might well end up with no alternative to it soon because the figures were rising ‘worryingly’.

“The government will almost certainly have to go further and soon. Some ministers think a “circuit-breaker” clampdown around the October schools half-term is very likely. Otherwise Johnson would risk the wounding charge of repeating his mistake at the start of the pandemic by acting too slowly. “

He said Johnson was stuck in a rut of his own making, ‘with a messy compromise that won’t save either lives or livelihoods.’