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How they did it: the most critical news conference of lockdown

23 March 2021

news conference

The irony of the EU’s position on the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab should not be overlooked.

They don’t trust it, but they still want it. Strange. But more than that, their posturing has the potential to completely destroy the brilliant NHS roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the UK.

So there was a lot resting on the shoulders of both the PM and the Chief Medical Officer when the news conference

began. The rigorous and dogged determination to two critical themes formed the bedrock of the event. There was no room for manoeuvre, no chance for ambiguity. Everything had to be clear, focussed and unequivocal. Gone was Boris’s usual fudging bluster.

In response to the ITV News suggestion that the controversy would disrupt the programme, there was no finesse. ‘No’ he said, in the most direct and least conversational way possible. He was hell bent on his strategy: not only must he continually re-state and recycle his big ideas, but his big ideas must not get watered down by mealy mouthed journalists trying to forge another headline.

And the problem with the PM is that he can sometimes fray around the edges leaving a less than defined position on an issue. Not today. Chris Whitty approached it differently. His mantra was ‘the jab is safe, get one’. Even when the question didn’t provide the stimulus, he still said it. Both men displayed steely determination to stick between the

tramlines providing reassurance and confidence to the public.

Every question was met with a brick wall: there was no danger from the jab, the roll out would continue as

normal, we would reach the milestones set out. And if you’re in two minds about whether to get a jab, do it. The benefits outweighs the risks by about a trillion to one. And that’s why it worked. Probably the best press conference hosted by the PM since the start of lockdown.

No gimmicks, no hyperbole, no bullsh*t. Clear, definitive, influential positioning. Why should it ever be any other way?