I find it incredible that it is now five weeks since I wrote here: ‘We have gone quite mad. I know that many people are thinking this, but dare not say so. I will be accused of all kinds of terrible things for taking this view – but that is another aspect of how crazy things are.’
I said we had got our policy on Covid-19 out of proportion.
I said the worst effect of the Government’s behaviour was to savage the economy by scaring people away from normal activities.
Calm, reasoned responses are almost always better than frantic, panicking ones. A police officer is pictured above speaking to a man relaxing on Brighton beach amid the lockdown
It was only a week later I realised that there was also a grave threat to personal liberty, and raised that alarm too.
I recall these words because you will all by now have noticed they stand up well to the test of time.
The report from the Office for Budget Responsibility has made clear that the damage done by crashing the economy is deep and dangerous. It may last for many years. And much of it was avoidable.
Some police officers have also acted with shocking arrogance, and appeared to enjoy it. The harm done by this behaviour may never be repaired.
I suspect that many of you know this in detail.
The pain is spreading fast in the form of strangled business, often small enterprises built on brave risk-taking and mortgaged homes. Many are now sinking into bankruptcy – not because they failed, but because the Government’s policy killed them.
Then there are the vanishing jobs, the wage cuts which many are already experiencing, and which more face with every day that this shutdown continues.
The NHS has a huge number of empty beds for the time of year. The mortality figures show a confused picture, not least because it is not clear how the authorities decide who is and who is not recorded as a Covid-19 death. A mural is pictured above in Liverpool
It really is time that the Cabinet took responsibility for at least limiting this damage. I for one will not jeer at them for doing so. When you make a mistake, as we all do, the test is what you do to put it right.
I was accused when I warned of this of not caring about deaths from Covid-19.
This was false. In fact it poisoned the wells of debate.
I have never doubted the good intentions of those who supported the Government’s policy, I just thought they were mistaken and counter-productive.
I pointed out that we also needed to care about the deaths which experts, such as Germany’s Professor Sucharit Bhakdi, repeatedly warned would come from closing down both social life and economic activity for any length of time. It was not life versus money. It was life versus life.
My warnings would have been fainter (though not wrong) if the Government’s policy had been successful. But has it been? I would say not so far.
Yes, the virus has killed a significant number of people, but the expected mass onslaught of deaths has not arrived. The NHS has a huge number of empty beds for the time of year. The mortality figures show a confused picture, not least because it is not clear how the authorities decide who is and who is not recorded as a Covid-19 death.
The unprecedented, sweeping decision to put the healthy in quarantine has gravely affected society.
But did it lead to a laxness on detailed policy decisions, on the provision of personal protection equipment to doctors and nurses, and on the care homes whose treatment looks to me like a major scandal?
The evidence from Stockholm, which has so far pursued a rational, proportionate, limited policy, still suggests that Sweden will emerge from this less damaged by far than we will.
Calm, reasoned responses are almost always better than frantic, panicking ones. What we are doing isn’t working on any terms. It is time we tried something else.
A question of dodgy justice
I could never stand the quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
The questions were either insultingly easy or demanded a profound knowledge of soap operas or sport, which I don’t want to know about. And it was so slow.
So I paid little attention to the ‘Coughing Major’ case, and merely thought it funny.
Now, thanks to the dramatisation of the episode in the ITV series Quiz last week, I have totally changed my mind.
I don’t know if Major Charles Ingram and his wife Diana were guilty of cheating their way to a million-pound prize.
But if the drama was even vaguely true, I don’t believe the case against them was proved beyond reasonable doubt, which is what the law demands. I also have a nagging feeling that the police have better things to do than investigate quiz shows.
The questions were either insultingly easy or demanded a profound knowledge of soap operas or sport, which I don’t want to know about. And it was so slow. So I paid little attention to the ‘Coughing Major’ case, and merely thought it funny. Now, thanks to the dramatisation of the episode in the ITV series Quiz last week, above, I have totally changed my mind
It is odd how many times you find that what you thought was clear and beyond dispute is not, as soon as you know the details.
I discovered this when I read Josephine Tey’s marvellous novel The Daughter Of Time, in which a Scotland Yard detective, stuck in hospital with injuries suffered while pursuing a criminal, investigates the claim that Richard III murdered the Princes in the Tower. And lo, it turns out that he didn’t.
The dangerous, greedy campaign to legalise marijuana now has powerful allies on all sides of politics.
In my view, it has never been closer to success here, and the pressing need to raise new taxes may bring that day even closer.
Well, before they fall into this trap, MPs and Ministers should listen to Professor Sir Robin Murray, one of this country’s most distinguished psychiatrists who had until recently favoured limited legalisation.
But now that he has seen how this has actually worked out in North America, he has absolutely changed his mind. Not only is he sure that the drug’s use is linked with mental illness, he now says: ‘I didn’t appreciate how big the cannabis industry was going to be.’
He compares Big Cannabis with the death-dealing Big Tobacco lobby which cynically used its wealth to defy health campaigners for many decades.
He now fears that this ultra-rich pressure group will seduce our cash-strapped Government into giving way.
At any other time, Prof Murray’s intervention would have been big news. Don’t let it be forgotten.
How dare they steal our flag
The awful Blair creature thought he was a British Bill Clinton – more President than Prime Minister. He marked his arrival in Downing Street in 1997 by staging a fake celebration with Labour Party workers waving Union Jacks, a flag they despised
The awful Blair creature thought he was a British Bill Clinton – more President than Prime Minister.
He marked his arrival in Downing Street in 1997 by staging a fake celebration with Labour Party workers waving Union Jacks, a flag they despised.
Even the Blairites became embarrassed about how much they were trespassing on Royal territory.
When I found out in 1998 that Blair’s wife, Cherie Booth, had used the Royal Train, his spin machine used all its wiles to bury the story, and nearly succeeded.
Blair also used to love posing with soldiers, during the many wars he dragged us into.
I suspect it was he who introduced the habit of holding Government press conferences in front of the national flag.
It is a bad idea, whoever does it. The government of the day does not stand for the whole nation.
The Queen stands for the nation. The government is temporary, party political and made up of ambitious careerists.
There’s nothing unpatriotic about not agreeing with the present Cabinet. So I object strongly to them appropriating the national flag as a backdrop during the daily Covid-19 briefings. It’s not theirs to use
There’s nothing unpatriotic about not agreeing with the present Cabinet.
So I object strongly to them appropriating the national flag as a backdrop during the daily Covid-19 briefings. It’s not theirs to use.
I don’t much like the 1984-style slogans, either, but I really do think this fake-American presidential posing is wrong and annoying. They should stop it.
To comment on this article, click here