The resurgence of the experts? What impact on consultations?
Right in the middle of the current health emergency, many commentators have observed that at a time of national crisis, people tend to cling to the words of people they believe to be ‘experts’. It is worth recalling that a few years ago, a leading politician claimed that we had all had rather too much of ‘experts’ and that the British people were right to disregard much of what they said.
Michael Gove came in for much ridicule for that comment, and he was largely unsuccessful in explaining it away. Indeed, his words garnered support in some circles, particularly in economics, business and planning where conventional wisdom has, on occasions proved, over time to be wrong. The usual examples include the policy switch to favour diesel cars, the privatisation of railways or the consensus that thought that universal credit was a great idea for welfare payments. Also let us remember that recent years have seen an erosion of trust in many of the great institutions of the state, from the church to the media and even Parliament. Scepticism reigns!