I am usually sceptical about claims that the country is in “crisis”. But there can be little doubt that we are in a crisis now. For the second time in a dozen years, it has fallen to government to take drastic action to try to avoid national catastrophe; in 2008 an economic catastrophe and today an even more severe public health and economic catastrophe. It is now clear, if anyone doubted it, that at such critical points it is only government that can take the necessary steps to safeguard our national life.
If the government is to succeed in its vital and urgent task, it needs people to trust that it is acting in their best interests and it is striking to me how much the Seven Principles of Public Life underpin this trust. In the current situation we look to the government and all public servants to act with:
Objectivity - on the basis of best scientific evidence
Integrity, Honesty and Openness - ensuring that the facts and uncertainties are fairly presented and policy responses are for the benefit of all
Selflessness - recognising that this is not a time for political opportunism or special pleading
Accountability - through the normal processes of Parliament and media scrutiny
Leadership - in the current situation only the government can provide leadership to the country, taking the necessary difficult and complex decisions and guiding the country through these challenging times.
We are fortunate to have these long-established standards – written into codes of conduct and pinned on the walls in schools, hospitals and government departments – for all those currently working so hard to serve the public during this fast-moving crisis.
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