‘The measures’: yet more bland bureaucracy from the government

When the PM isn’t clear on what ‘the measures’ are, how do we know if ‘the measures’ are proportionate, or even sensible?

The increasingly complex constellation of Covid-19 restrictions for various parts of the country, which the prime minister can’t be bothered to memorise, are called “the measures”. The government will not hesitate to take further measures, while Keir Starmer will continue to criticise the measures if he likes.

Our word “measure”, as in to ascertain the dimensions of something, can be traced via Latin mensura to Greek metron, whence we also get the metre and geometry (measurement of the Earth). Since the late 17th century a “measure” can also be a course of action designed to achieve some end, and later a statute too. Other measures might be special, or disciplinary, or proportionate.

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