That pungent smell coming from the direction of Downing Street is naked fear. The so-called evidence wheeled out to justify the Government’s latest ‘Three Tier’ lockdown policy was intended solely to silence sceptics and scare the public into submission.
Yet again there were more questions than answers. All we got was an avalanche of colourful graphs and statistics designed to bamboozle, not enlighten.
As usual, there was no context, only an insistence that unless we do exactly as we’re told YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!
Boris solemnly informed the Commons that he must with great reluctance curtail still further our civil liberties. The new measures were presented as a fait accompli. We are asked to believe, in the memorable words of one of his distinguished predecessors as PM, that There Is No Alternative. ‘If we stand aside, let nature take its course, let the virus rip, there will be an intolerable death toll.’
Forgive me, but I have yet to hear any lockdown sceptic suggest we should ‘let the virus rip’.
That pungent smell coming from the direction of Downing Street is naked fear
It has, however, become a stock phrase employed by ministers — particularly the smug, authoritarian Health Secretary Matt Hancock — to justify whatever curbs on freedom they decide to pluck out of thin air. The implication is that those of us who think the Government is over-reacting and should try a different approach to tackling Covid-19 have a callous disregard for human life.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We are simply concerned about the businesses being bankrupted by lockdown, the millions of people losing their jobs, and the countless lives being lost to cancer, heart disease and other illnesses because of the monomaniacal concentration on coronavirus.
All we want is to protect the vulnerable, shield the elderly, and free the rest of the country — especially the under-40s who have more chance of being struck by lightning than dying of Covid — to resume normal life.
Sadly, there’s fat chance of that happening any time soon under this risk-averse, backside-covering Government, with frightened ministers still trying to hide their earlier mistakes in advance of the inevitable public inquiry.
Boris seized on the rising number of infections and hospital admissions to back up closing down Liverpool. Soon other cities in the North and Midlands, as well as London, may be next. But when fellow Tory Iain Duncan Smith pointed out helpfully that the death rate had actually fallen from three per cent in June to 0.6 per cent now, he was brushed aside. The Prime Minister will brook no dissent.
He continues to rely on a narrow range of experts and advice given, we now learn, by a faceless committee headed by an unnamed spook and reporting to that ubiquitous quango queen Dido Harding. Where are the scientific experts — and there’s no shortage of them — offering a different point of view? Where are the economists?
The so-called evidence wheeled out to justify the Government’s latest ‘Three Tier’ lockdown policy was intended solely to silence sceptics and scare the public into submission
How many of those dictating Covid policy have ever run a business, or employed anyone?
Few, if any, I would imagine. How many of them are suffering financial hardship as a result of the economic meltdown brought about by lockdown? None.
They’re all still drawing their public sector salaries and can look forward to a comfortable retirement on an index-linked pension, courtesy of the British taxpayer.
Not for them, or anyone in the Cabinet, the heartbreak of seeing a bar, restaurant or small business they have built up working all the hours God sent being forced to close for good by ministerial fiat.
They won’t struggle to pay the mortgage, or their utility bills, or lie awake wondering if they are ever going to work again.
No, all Boris can offer the British people after months of sacrifice is another four weeks of misery, minimum, almost certainly stretching to Christmas and beyond. The softening-up process began earlier in the day with another indentikit expert warning that without a new round of restrictions the morgues would be overflowing. The death toll would be ‘too great to bear’.
Nightingale Hospitals in Sunderland, Manchester and Harrogate, which have stood idle since they were built in record time by the Army during the initial corona panic, are being ‘mobilised’.
Yet again there were more questions than answers. All we got was an avalanche of colourful graphs and statistics designed to bamboozle, not enlighten
Professor Jean-Claude Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, declared more deaths and hospitalisations are already ‘baked in’ — whatever that means.
His prophesies of doom were supported by slides showing maps of Britain in gloomy shades of purple and brown, and graphs which appeared to have been drawn up with one of those giant revolving children’s pens containing half a dozen different coloured inks, which you used to be able to buy in Woolworths.
Modesty aside, I pride myself on being able to cut to the chase. Over my years in journalism, I’ve had to distil complicated court cases into 800 words and translate impenetrable company reports into English in time for the afternoon edition.
I can only say I’ve never come across such a disingenuous load of old flannel as the Government is using to trash the economy.
Priapic graphs exaggerate the true scale of infections. Deliberately vague language is used to pretend the pandemic is spiralling out of control.
A couple of weeks ago, the Two Ronnies of Doom were brandishing projections that by today there would be 50,000 new cases a day. In reality, there’s been only around a third of that wild guess. And, anyway, what do they mean by ‘cases’? We’re not talking hospitalisations, or even deaths here. Just ‘cases’ — in other words, those who have tested positive for Covid.
But given that the number of tests is now running at 250,000 a day, it was inevitable the numbers of people testing positive would rise. The fact is, though, that up to 90 per cent are asymptomatic.
As for the deaths put down to Covid, take that with a shovel of salt, too. The authorities are still counting those who tested positive in the past 28 days, even if they died of something else.
They are reluctant, too, to tell us whether these unfortunate patients had other underlying conditions which would have killed them anyway. The Mail revealed last week that the average age of those who have died with Covid is 82 — a full year older than the average life expectancy in Britain.
How old are those admitted to hospital in Liverpool lately, and used to justify another draconian lockdown? Do they suffer from another potentially fatal condition, such as kidney failure or obesity? No one’s saying.
Boris Johnson promised to run a transparent administration. Yet he won’t level with us, won’t trust the British people with the true facts.
Scaremongering and dissembling is the order of the day. Take his Three Tier ‘traffic light’ lockdown system. The categories are ‘Medium’, ‘High’ and ‘Very High’. What’s wrong with Low, Medium and High, unless he’s trying to pretend the problem is more serious that it really is?
Boris doesn’t trust the British people, so he won’t be surprised to discover very soon that we don’t trust him, either. I don’t believe the opinion polls which allege the majority of people are happy to go back into lockdown.
Most people I talk to, and who write to me at the Mail, have had enough. They particularly object to the brunt of these draconian measures falling on young people, who face a bleak future.
Ministers talk about this being the ‘tipping point’. They’re right, but not in the way they imagine.
This latest Three Tier lockdown will prove to be the last straw. A tidal wave of bankruptcies and redundancies is coming down the pipe at the end of this month. The Government will be blamed, and probably never forgiven.
Yet Boris continues to swallow ‘The Science’, regardless of the consequences, and refuses to entertain the notion that there may be any legitimate alternative.
But believing yours is the one true path isn’t science, it’s religion. And the Cabinet is increasingly beginning to resemble one of those Waco-style death cults.
In the U.S. they have an expression, ‘Drinking the Kool-Aid’, to describe unthinking obedience to a doomed cause. It refers to a cyanide cocktail, named after a popular soda, which was drunk during a mass suicide by 900 disciples of the People’s Temple cult leader Jim Jones in 1978.
I don’t know about Kool-Aid, but Boris’s ministers certainly seem to have drunk the Cov-Aid.
Maybe this madness will all be over when Downing Street bursts into flames with the entire Cabinet and the experts inside.
All I do know is that, driven by fear and dodgy science, it was bound to end in tiers.