When two senior police officers were confused last week about the current lockdown rules, I was not surprised.
The different regulations and tiers across the country are bewildering and, what’s more, they are changing from area to area, day by day.
And if senior police officers are unclear, the public must be, too.
Of course, confusion is a very serious problem when lives are at stake. Yet this is by no means the only concern.
I sense something worse. With the Government and the people diverging in their views of how to get Britain out of this crisis, I fear we are witnessing the beginning of the steady disintegration of democracy itself in our country.
A man walks past a poster amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Manchester earlier this week
The crumbling of a political system that has held this country in good stead for centuries.
As the public mood becomes increasingly fractious and impatient, those values that normally act as the nation’s glue are losing their power to hold us together.
We are witnessing evidence of a growing revolt against the coronavirus lockdowns. Many people think the rules won’t work and are prepared to defy the law if necessary to see their loved ones. They believe it is time to ‘get Britain back to normal’.
As The Mail on Sunday reports today, millions are now more worried about not being able to pay their bills than they are about losing a family member to coronavirus. This is indeed very sad.
Without a consensus, democracy becomes fragile.
It was the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke – who was a witness to the overthrow of King James II in 1688 and the evolution of modern English parliamentary democracy – who said: ‘All power is derived from the consent of the governed.’
We are witnessing evidence of a growing revolt against the coronavirus lockdowns, writes Lord David Blunkett
In other words, democracy depends on consent. Good government relies on law, not force.
And in today’s context, that means the British people being onside with their Government’s coronavirus policy.
But I don’t believe that can be guaranteed. As each new day passes, a lot of us feel that official policy is not merely confused, it is also arbitrary and futile.
I include the recent Tier 3 lockdowns in Manchester and my home city, Sheffield, in much of this.
There is a lack of leadership from the Government.
I can understand why perfectly reasonable, law-abiding people are talking openly about defying lockdown regulations.
We can be in no doubt that, as distinguished former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption wrote in these pages last week, large numbers of people will continue to meet friends and family behind closed doors, whatever Health Secretary Matt Hancock decrees.
People who are meant to be in quarantine are continuing to go to work – often because they have to in order to pay the rent or put food on the table.
There has been a reluctance to sign up to the Test and Trace system – which is understandable considering that public trust was damaged last weekend when people discovered that the Government had handed data obtained from the app to the police to check if individuals had been told to self-isolate.
What is more, the 24-hour turn-round rate