It is time to be nice to Boris Johnson.
After all, we've tried bollocking, and it hasn't worked. Nor has wheedling, hoping, shouting, protesting, statistical slapdowns, or light rioting.
It's been rather like trying to get a facial reaction out of Melania Trump without pliers: futile, and not much fun.
So, fine. Let's be kind. He's the Prime Minister, and he plainly needs help. The advice he's had to date has only helped him make a dog turd sandwich for the country to munch on. We can, and must, do better.
It is imperative for all of us that Britain bounces back from coronavirus. To culture and the arts, to office cleaners, train drivers, manufacturing, restaurateurs, even journalists. We do our worst work when bored, and for 6 months the headlines haven't changed: disaster followed by chaos, descending towards catastrophe with an outlook for continuing despair. We haven't even had Silly Season as light relief.
But how can we bounce? We're broke, depressed, frightened either by the bug or the sheer number of tinfoil hats. We're worried about impending financial collapse, hoarding our cash, staying in our bunkers.
Someone needs to put a spring in our step. All the evidence shows that Johnson is excellent at enthusiasm. He needs to spread it about, ping around the country, abandon his photo ops on building sites which have been open all year anyway, and start having fun. Go to a hairdresser with a camera crew in tow, invite journalists to interview him in a Union Jack sandwich board while advertising sausages.
We need a zipline moment: some joy, some warmth generated by a buffoon who was elected, primarily, because he made the nation feel less frightened of the future. Seriousness just doesn't suit him.
Once we feel a little bouncier, he needs to put a trampoline beneath us. That means tax cuts, not tax rises; and injections of government support in those limbs best able to lift us out of recession. Reward investment in technological and medical development, and create the space for big ideas to flourish - for British scientists and engineers to tackle fusion, or batteries made from radioactive waste, or tidal power. Why not subsidise solar panels for every roof in the country? It would protect and create thousands of jobs, reduce our energy needs, and our reliance on other nations for oil and gas.
We need to not just repay innovation, but stimulate it. Britain is a nation of costermongers, small business people open all hours filling gaps in a thousand markets. With 750,000 people made redundant since March, and many more to come, there will be more self-employed, more freelancers, and a growth in the gig economy. Rather than sit back and allow employment rights to be eroded and zero hours contracts to become the norm, invigorate those jobless with substantive help for those setting up their own business.
Every recession creates a few millionaires out of someone who lost their job, then had an idea. Why not try to increase that number? Why not push through legislative protections for freelancers? Insist that all employers whose staff continue to work from home compensate them for the electricity and broadband, and most offices would reopen next week.
Britain has always relied upon migrant workers, and now we have a points-based system it needs tweaking to ensure we get the cheap labour a stuttering economy needs. Scrap the requirement for minimum savings and earnings, and give the poorly-paid the same welcome as the millionaires who already get gold-plated visas.
Get the airports open with testing, make temperature tests a legal necessity at every place of work, stop giving private hospitals ￡10bn to take NHS patients and spend it instead on new hospitals to treat them cheaper and quicker. Clear waiting lists with 24-hour clinics, end illegal raves by letting nightclubs reopen with Covid tests for every clubber on the way in. Get some clarity on the mish-mash of rules, the chaos of civil disobedience, with a final three-word slogan: Do Your Bit.
The world has changed, in many ways permanently. There are City sharks and Del Boys positioning themselves to exploit it: to short-sell firms with London property assets, to cut their business bills while paying themselves dividends, by dumping on their staff.
And there are inspired people who have seen a new need and want to fill it: for greener living, social and cultural hubs in dead town centres, home deliveries.
If Johnson's bone-deep positivity can somehow infect the rest of the country - and if he can wind the springs on the economy so that it fires us in the right direction to take advantage of the best of the changes, and legislate to restrict the worst - then the future will be bright.
But all those 'ifs' will be nothing more than that if Johnson and his government continue to campaign, rather than govern. They work all day for a good headline tomorrow, not a good result in a year's time.
So they twist, turn, and flat-out lie. They attack migrants, and stay-at-home commuters. They waste millions arguing benefit and asylum claims. They drum up a loud spending promise from a quiet spending cut, and shout loudly about how the self-employed must pay more tax when it is the self-employed who have worked hardest during lockdown, took the least, and will do the most to haul us out of the mire we're in.
Johnson is playing to our weaknesses: our national distrust of foreigners, tax dodgers, and people who seem too happy. Someone working from home can't be controlled, says that mindset. They won't work as hard if we don't stand over them, whip in hand and threatening to withdraw their gruel, like the beadle in Oliver Twist.
It's a path down which lies increased unemployment, benefit claims, and suicides; race hate and summer riots; the disorder that follows when Scotland and England cannot agree any more than politicians in Manchester and London. The government that presides over all that is broken, and the country it presides over more broken still.
This is not Johnson's happy place. He has been forced on the back foot by the pandemic, had so little grasp of leadership he relied on science when science didn't know what to do, and is now so lacking in confidence he is following the instructions of people to whom negativity is a weapon.
But there is nothing so positive, and healthy, as a little sunshine. Having endured a heatwave and first chill of autumn, we could now all do with the gentle, warm feeling we had a PM with purpose - someone with a skill that would help. We could use this blowhard's wind in our sails, now.
If he cannot break free, Johnson will be the third PM in a row who was of no bloody use at all. Cameron's legacy was cutbacks, May's was incompetence, and Johnson's will be nothing but death and anarchy.
So let's try praise, and encouragement. Go on, Boris. There's a good boy.