The British government aimed to “frighten” the general public into obeying the lockdown regime during the COVID pandemic, leaked messages have revealed. The messages seen by the British press have revealed how the British government aimed to use “fear” and “guilt” to force mass compliance with the country’s lockdown regime.
According to a report by The Telegraph, the 100,000 leaked WhatsApp messages have shown how those inside Westminster and Whitehall aimed to twist data into making the pandemic look more severe, seemingly hoping it would increase voluntary compliance with lockdown rules and even increase support for further restrictions.
In one exchange sent in December 2020, Hancock discusses how best to replace talk of the Conservative Party’s Brexit failings within the media with fear about the pandemic, seemingly suggesting a strategic drop of news regarding a new variant of the virus in order to heighten people’s fear response.
Simon Case, who as Cabinet Secretary is Britain’s top civil servant, appeared to display similar sentiments in other messages, telling Hancock that “ramping up messaging [with] the fear/guilt factor [is] vital” at the beginning of 2021.
Early on in August 2020, Johnson was reportedly sceptical about pushing lockdowns, saying that even the elderly would likely prefer for England to remain open considering the suspected mortality rate of the disease. However, the PM is later seen agreeing in messages with officials supporting greater lockdown efforts, with Johnson ultimately being responsible for multiple serious COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.