In a crisis, a cover-up is disastrous. It will always be uncovered. Its cousin is secrecy and it is equally dangerous.
In a court of law, one is asked to swear to tell the ‘truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. And that is the best rule in a crisis. Even if the truth is difficult or uncomfortable.
So why the emphasis? Surely the truth is the truth. Not quite. Holding back key facts through secrecy is wrong hence the phrase ‘nothing but the truth.’
The UK’s strategy on coronavirus is being advised by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies with the pithy acronym of SAGE which sounds like it was conjured up on a HR away-day.
No one knows who sits on the group or what their qualifications are and the government refuses to divulge any information. Not even their qualifications.
The reasons for not publishing the names of the eminent (well, I presume they are eminent) experts is that they may face death threats.
Well, given that we are all facing a death threat if we go closer than two metres to another human being, this is a bit rich. And how about those nurses, doctors and cleaners in hospitals? Are they not facing death on a daily basis? And we know who they are.
The result of the secrecy around SAGE: mistrust and suspicion.
We do not know anything about the members of SAGE or, more importantly, their deliberations. How are they reaching their conclusions to advise the government (ie you and me) on the biggest crisis in a generation?
Truth shares its first three letters with Trust and they are both essential in crisis communications.
If the people on SAGE are wise (sorry, I couldn’t resist that), then they would let us know who they are and then we might trust them.
Have a good week.