Deaths and COVID-19: Talk, silence and alternative realities

Sim, Joe and Tombs, Steve (2023). Deaths and COVID-19: Talk, silence and alternative realities. Law & Policy, 45(3) pp. 373–391.



This article critically considers the UK Government's insidious attempts to control the narrative around COVID-19 deaths through using the interrelated strategies of “talk and ‘silence’ in order to socially construct a definitive ‘truth’” around the virus. The article traces how these strategies worked in practice and the shift which took place from numerous press briefings and Parliamentary debates to an ominous silence around the number of deaths, in particular. At the same time, as the article illustrates, the government's truth has not prevailed. Their twin strategy has been contested and resisted by grassroots organizations and radical lawyers who have demanded that Ministers should take responsibility for the tens of thousands of preventable deaths which have occurred. Rather than government talk and silence prevailing, it is the voices of the haunted relatives of the dead, demanding accountability, which are creating an alternative narrative.

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