X Close

All this Covid confusion helps no one David Halpern's work on prosperity suggests that dividing the population on a health issue will not end well

Credit: by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Credit: by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)


September 4, 2020   4 mins

As our politicians head back to Westminster, we ask: what should be on the Cabinet’s reading list? Which books might provide helpful insight for the challenges ahead? Polly Mackenzie recommends David Halpern’s The Hidden Wealth of Nations.

I am angry. And I’m pretty sure I am not alone.

The proximate cause of my anger is the ludicrous non-quarantine quarantine to which my family is currently subjected, after a brief trip to France. It’s not that I object to making a sacrifice for public health. It’s that I’m pretty sure, from the way they’ve gone about things, that the Government has absolutely no interest in whether I break the rules or not. There was no information or signage at the Channel crossing, and at no point has anyone told me what the rules are. I got more information from a twitter quiz in the Telegraph than I did from our government.

In this latest phase of Covid-restrictions, we’ve gone for full-throttle half-arsed-ness. Wear a face mask, but don’t worry, we won’t check and no one will enforce it. Go to school, and if you don’t we’ll fine you, except we probably won’t because headteachers won’t bother reporting you. Do a quarantine, but you can still go to the supermarket, only once, and don’t worry no one will check. Submit your details for Test and Trace, but we probably won’t get around to calling you or telling you what to do.

This is much more than a recipe for confusion. It’s a clear path towards growing resentment and division between citizens, who find themselves surrounded by Other People behaving badly and not being punished. And from there a collapse in trust between people the institutions they look to for guidance.

Before ministers take another step down this path, they should read The Hidden Wealth of Nations, by David Halpern, which argues that social trust is the essential foundation not just for wellbeing, but for economic growth.

Of course, Halpern is in many quarters persona non grata these days, because of the perceived failings of the Behavioural Insights Team, which he leads, during the early phases of the pandemic. He was on TV mid-March using the phrase “herd immunity” which gave him a passport to cancel-land.

But Halpern’s work on prosperity, published in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, is vital reading. He shows that “our ability to get on with our fellow citizens oils the working of markets, lowering the costs of transactions and speeding the flow of information on which economies rely”. Countries and regions with the highest levels of social trust tend to have not just the strongest growth, but the greatest levels of subjective wellbeing, too.

Halpern goes on to observe that: “The resilience of a community or nation to survive through economically difficult times rests heavily on its hidden wealth — not the money that its citizens have squirreled away under their mattresses, but the preparedness of citizens to help each other.”

Britain scored well on this metric in the early months of the pandemic. We volunteered in our hundreds of thousands. We suffered the hardships of isolation or overcrowding in lockdown for the sake of others. We cheered on our care workers. We had a single, simple set of rules that applied to everyone. Even those who disagreed could see that those rules were broadly and justly applied. But since rules got complicated, and attempts at enforcement were replaced by a vague plea to be sensible, that unity and solidarity is ebbing away. In Mid May, the ONS recorded that more than 60% of people believed Britain would be “very” united after Covid-19. By the end of June that was down to 28%.

Halpern’s book is a vital reminder that this division is not just a sideline issue, to be worried about by soggy social scientists. If we can’t find a way to get along, we can’t rescue our economy.

Our Treasury is now desperate for growth. To save town centre economies from collapse, the Government has unilaterally decided that workers are more productive in offices, and is trying to bully people back to them. The Prime Minister launched an all-out war on obesity, and then the Government spent a month subsidising fast food with Eat Out to Help Out. They will reach for anything, no matter how contradictory, to leverage up the economy, and with a wall of redundancies coming this autumn, I can’t blame them

They imagine that the best path to growth is complex public health rules, varied by postcode, age, ethnicity, risk factors, and a general sense of whether you can be bothered doing what the Government says. This is because their mathematical models show that complexity liberates the maximum number of people possible.

But their utilitarian calculation misses out the basic societal principle that all should be equal before the law. If you want a strong, trusting society, then fairness has to be a factor. Halpern’s book suggests to me that if public health strategy divides and discombobulates the population, stimulus will not thrive.

The Government should base its economic and health policies on the goal of rebuilding social capital. Covid-19 brought mass volunteering. It stopped millions from commuting, freeing up more time for family and neighbourhoods. It helped us see the networks and connections between people more clearly than ever. That social trust was not some fluffy distraction from the real business of the economy: it was a great foundation for recovery. We just need to hang on to it before it disappears.


Polly Mackenzie is Director of Demos, a leading cross-party think tank. She served as Director of Policy to the Deputy Prime Minister from 2010-2015.

pollymackenzie

Join the discussion


Rejoignez des lecteurs partageant les mĂȘmes idĂ©es qui soutiennent notre journalisme en devenant abonnĂ©s payants.

Subscribe

To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

115 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago

In this latest phase of Covid-restrictions, we’ve gone for full-throttle half-arsed-ness.

I actually think this is one of the best things about Britain’s Covid policy. It’s a classic British compromise that respects individual choice, the kind of thing we used to do so well. Those who want to wear masks can, those who don’t want to, don’t have to. It’s confident, it’s respectful, it’s laissez-faire.

That Ms Mackenzie is opposed to this makes me think that her complaint is not so much that the guidance is unclear, but that it isn’t the full-on big-government hysteria that so many of the Covid Stasi crave. The answer in this case to “growing resentment and division between citizens, who find themselves surrounded by Other People behaving badly and not being punished” is not stricter, harsher rules, but for those gripers to get over themselves and stop being bothered by what others are choosing to do. (Note again, too, that Ms Mackenzie believes that anyone not wearing a mask is “behaving badly”, rather than behaving sensibly and proportionately: another clear indicator as to her bias.)

And finally, there is only a need for recovery because we over-reacted to the coronavirus in the first place. If we had treated it proportionately”that important word again”then there would have been no economic collapse in the first place. All things in proportion; that way, when one is truly faced with an existential threat, the necessary measures retain their force.

Michael Quinnen
Michael Quinnen
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Most people I know see the virus as nothing like the threat it first appeared to be. The numbers dying of it and those taken into hospital have dwindled. There have been far more deadly pandemics in the past, so we, and those who govern, need to get get back to normal living sharpish before more damage is done to our not so robust society.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago

nothing like the threat it first appeared to be

I agree, though it’s also worth me reminding everyone that to those of us with a data science background and/or a Tetlockian “foxy” mentality, the virus never looked like a big threat to begin with.

perrywidhalm
perrywidhalm
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Amen!

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Or at least in May when the article, or a version of it, was written.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

It was written in May to summarise the thoughts that already existed from the beginning. It was only in May that I started to see people recover from their Covid-hysteria and then shame-facedly try to pretend that they had somehow both been right to get caught up in the mass panic and be right to now realise it was over-blown. I wanted to make clear that while it was good that they had changed their minds, our polite respect for their feelings shouldn’t allow us to disguise the fact that it has always been wrong to succumb to the mass hysteria, lest the same happen again. Thus it was only in May that there was a need for such an article to be written.

(Still, you proved that you read it!)

Robert Malcolm
Robert Malcolm
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

It is a good summary of the reasons why lockdown was a bad policy. Thanks! I think the ‘flatten the curve’ concept to protect the NHS was one that everyone understood, and when relatively healthy and prominent people like Boris Johnson were clearly very sick indeed, it wasn’t a disease that I wanted to catch (and I’m ten years his senior). But we had very little access to sound information at that point anyway: for example my son is 26 and has Downs Syndrome, Diabetes T1 and a Thyroid disorder: so he was immunocompromised: it made sense at that point to practice shielding for his sake, because there simply wasn’t adequate data to assess the real risks. “Better safe than sorry”.
Clearly though, schools staying closed once the numbers started to tumble in mid-April was a massive error. So, a four week maximum and voluntary ‘sabbatical’ was OK: but continued and compulsory restrictions were not. Its interesting and promising that lots of young people are now getting infected and yet appear to have very few symptoms, this might well help us as we head into the winter months.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

It didn’t take an Einstein to see that we were being conned by Witty, Ferguson, and Valance. I made a direct prediction on a public forum back in March, that the morbidity rate for this virus would be 0.12%” (of all those who contracted it), and was met with a barrage of “granny killer” accusations. It’s actually lower than that now. The general public have all the cognitive abilities of your average sheep.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

Likewise. I received literal death threats in my DMs on Twitter for the same “offence”.

gbauer
gbauer
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

I was told to “enjoy my sociopathy.” This whole debacle has shaken my faith in, well, everything.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  gbauer

You are far from alone. I know many traditional Labour voters, myself included, who have been so repulsed by the behaviour of the left over the past few months”demanding unnecessary lockdowns that destroy workers’ livelihoods, and literally kneeling in submission before racist anarcho-terrorists”that we will never countenance voting for them again.

Roland Ayers
Roland Ayers
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

As a floating wishy-washy Liberal/Labour/Green/Tactical-vote-against-the-Tories voter I am now politically homeless. I don’t want to vote again until I move to Sweden. It’s now my ambition in life to become fluent in Swedish, teach English in Sweden, and live in a wooden skyscraper in Stockholm. I have bought a Swedish flag face mask. No idea if it will ‘Stop the Spread’ as the announcements say in Sainsbury’s, but I’m pretty sure the face mask around the neck of the coughing, spluttering bloke I saw sitting at a bus stop recently will not!

Susie E
Susie E
3 years ago
Reply to  Roland Ayers

My sister lives in Sweden and I have lots of family out there… I might claim asylum soon if this continues ðƾ˜† My limited impression is that some people are taking shielding very seriously out there, but at least its their choice and they’ve made an informed decision based on science rather than fear mongering…

chrisjpj1977
chrisjpj1977
3 years ago
Reply to  Susie E

I lived in sweden for a while in the 1990s. When it comes to social norms and compliance with rules and guidance its far greater in sweden than the UK in my experience (you doubtless know this as its hard to miss). They do operate substantial social distancing in sweden and most of my swedish colleagues are working remotely. different system, different way to the outcome, thats all.

Judy Simpson
Judy Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

My husband and I were invited to a small gathering of left-wing pundits the other night, all of whom have comfortably retired or have safe, well-paid careers. Needless to say, they were in full support of continued restrictions here in Australia (for the next four years, one of them demanded). When I suggested that we may just have to learn to live with the virus and open up the country, it was met with incredulous gasps. I explained that my husband, an airline pilot, needed to go back to work (he was stood down in March with no end in sight) so we could pay our mortgage. Perhaps he could get a “technical job” somewhere, one of them suggested. We were treated as if we were personally responsible for the deaths of thousands yet their dismissive attitude towards unprecedented unemployment was an eye-opener. We’ll all have to pull in our belts, said another, before going on to explain how, because of COVID, they were forgoing their holiday in Italy and had decided to go to Byron Bay instead. I’ve voted Labor all my life and was shocked by the uncaring and selfish attitudes of fellow supporters. Never again. I think I’ve just joined the conservatives.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Simpson

before going on to explain how, because of COVID, they were forgoing their holiday in Italy and had decided to go to Byron Bay instead

I would laugh if it weren’t so contemptible. (Actually I did laugh anyway, I couldn’t help it!) They have no idea, do they? Look at the likes of Nancy Pelosi preaching at everyone, then secretly commandeering a shuttered salon to get a private treatment.

gbauer
gbauer
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Yes. The data were available in March. I never had a moment’s anxiety about the virus (though plenty of anxiety about the lockdowns and ensuing policies).

chrisjpj1977
chrisjpj1977
3 years ago
Reply to  gbauer

the data was and is deeply concerning however, it should not make one panic but it certainly gives good pause for thought about the need to keep transmission to levels that are managable by the health system and which dont result in avoidable and significant mobidity (the data is poor on this but it seems likely it will be a feature)

Johanna Barry
Johanna Barry
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Followed your link to read your analysis of why lockdowns are a bad idea. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and so glad someone took the time to put it together. Preaching to the converted of course!
I would love to point some of my highly intelligent, well-educated Melbourne lockdown enthusiast friends in the direction of your analysis, but I know from their responses to me that they would never open the link. It is very sad.

pmccarthy283
pmccarthy283
3 years ago

Normality won’t happen. The World Health Organisation have decided that there are far more symptoms, including, oddly, tummy trouble. And they have decided that we won’t ever be immune. So we need constant vaccination.

If you actually want to know where this is heading read:
World Bank pandemic bonds 2017
Event 201 pandemic preparedness
And watch videos by the World Economic Forum, especially to do with the Great Reset and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Our future is not nice, and we are just getting a hint of it.
Be well

chrisjpj1977
chrisjpj1977
3 years ago

and that is probably why second waves tend to emerge in pandemics, the ah its not so bad moment and the human behaviour that follows that is doubtless a factor.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

“stop being bothered by what others are choosing to do”.Sorry but I am worried by others, not only because they may be ill, but because they may be inadvertently passing on the virus (to me, for example!). The answer to all this is UNKNOWN for now, even by ALL the world’s scientists! All countries are trying their best health and economy-wise… I do so prefer “we don’t know yet” from the French government, than the UK “we’re i charge here, we will do this & that” and then miss all the targets.

perrywidhalm
perrywidhalm
3 years ago

There exists a great confuddlement and confusion concerning the coronavirus that causes COVID19. When the novel coronavirus first appeared, it was reasonable to lockdown public gatherings for a short period of time so hospitals could prepare for an influx of COVID19 patients. In the US, this was called “flattening-the-curve”. It became obvious early on the illness was affecting the elderly and people with multiple health issues. Then, something went haywire here in the US. The political Left realized the pandemic might harm President Trump’s chances for re-election so they politicized the pandemic as they do nearly everything in our culture. Mask-wearing is the issue now. It matters not to the American Left that the coronavirus particles pass straight through paper and cloth masks (especially when they do not hermitically seal) and are not used with “sterile technique”. Facts do not matter to the Left. Feelings matter. The American Left feels the truth. Anyway, since there is no vaccine for the coronavirus, and likely never will be a vaccine, the only choice is to hide in a hole or accept herd immunity which means a percentage of people will become seriously ill and others will perish. Keep calm and carry on, says I.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  perrywidhalm

Unfortunately, the pandemic is being politicised from all sides, which is maybe inevitable. For example, your statements about masks and a vaccine are, in my view, wrong, but they are pretty much a staple of a certain right-wing view. I’d describe myself as right-wing too, but I’d like to think I am fairly open-minded on matters that are essentially medical, not political.

Robert Malcolm
Robert Malcolm
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Mask wearing is controversial, not from a political perspective, but from a medical and social one. If the UK’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer says “Evidence for masks ‘not very strong in either direction’, who am I to disagree?

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Malcolm

Look, this is fundamental. Whether they are laws or whether they are rules they should not be arbitrary. Once they are arbitrary the government loses respect and it becomes bad government.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  John Stone

Ah yes and our UK govt. doesn’t think they are arbitrary, they think everything they say is “data, science-based”. Fine, but define data and science: neither are pure facts are they? Neither is economics. They should all be in the Arts dept. not the Science dept.

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  deb cram

Deb

No, but in this case they don’t even claim it is science based, they say it is there to “support” whatever that means.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Malcolm

You can disagree quite happily as far as I am concerned. I don’t think our UK officer/minister of anything is called God! We don’t know yet… More facts are appearing daily and then found to be wrong. Listening to other countries views helps. But we are ALL dealing with an unknown for now. In fact, the only source I believe implicitly is WHO, shock/horror! Why, because they make their statements based on world-wide data. And all countries in the world must agree, before a statement is put out.

Elena Dix
Elena Dix
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

But masks are useless in non-medical environment. Even dangerous (when a virus is present, fortunately it is not)

pmccarthy283
pmccarthy283
3 years ago
Reply to  Elena Dix

It’s interesting isn’t it. These viruses are seasonal and clearly the action has calmed, following what we would expect. Yet there’s all this PCR testing. Testing people and trying to find antigens that can’t really tell us anything, but they are used to keep a panic going as well as lockdowns.

I wonder if some of the apparent confusion is because it’s not just governments dealing with this but pressure from massive NGOs that are always going on about crises and pandemics.

perrywidhalm
perrywidhalm
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Friend ~ As it is, cloth or paper masks DO NOT prevent the transmission of ANY virus. Surgeons wear masks to prevent bacterial infections not viral infections during surgery. Try this little experiment: put on your paper or cloth mask tightly and light a wood stick match. If you can smell the smoke (which you will) then your mask is NOT filtering out smoke particles which are much larger than viral filaments / fragments. Masks are a pacifier for the fearful …..

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago
Reply to  perrywidhalm

They’ve done exactly the same here by weaponising covid to ultimately bring this govt down and reverse brexit.
Nothing else explains the wall-to-wall carping.

Richard Gandy
Richard Gandy
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Dunn

Reverse Brexit, not sure about that as much as I dislike the idea of leaving, we have & most I know have moved on and accepted we’ve left Now.

Has any party / anyone has been anywhere near bringing down the government.up until recently their approval rating has been very high, only after their numerous U Turns and muddled Covid policy have their ratings dropped

Jonathan Marshall
Jonathan Marshall
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Gandy

I’m a Leaver, but I think your second paragraph is absolutely correct. It’s been a self-inflicted wound.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago
Reply to  perrywidhalm

My understanding of the use of “novel” to describe this virus is that it only means it has never been seen before. It is not “novel” in that it behaves in an entirely different way to known viruses.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

No, actually, it doesn’t. (A) it’s less lethal than H1N by some margin, and (B) the reason it “appears” to be a deadly virus, is because, unlike any other bug, it’s the only one where the doctors are ordered to give you no treatment at all for 10 days, (just in order to give it time to replicate in the body, and cause maximum damage.) (C) This virus was always treatable, but the treatment was hidden, suppressed, and censored. (D) This bug was NEVER a pandemic, but it has been hyped out of all proportion, by a dishonest media who have been hell-bent on creating panic-porn. (E) The Figures have been deliberately falsified from day one, with every death since February being listed as “the Rona”.
(F) The crooked CDC have now admitted this was the case, and have now backtracked on the fatality figures they quoted. (187.000 deaths, now revised to 9.800 US deaths). Indeed this virus acts just like any other common or garden virus. What “behaves in an entirely different manner” is the ludicrous, response to it by the Politicians, the experts, and the media. It is a big “nothing-burger”.

pmccarthy283
pmccarthy283
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

This is about right. The only reliable data is going to be the percentage of winter excess deaths (the winter burden). This is roughly six to ten percent over the winter in increase and was the same this year, though generally lower.

In 2019 the WEF outlined what would happen, how the media would be used and how ‘misinformation’ would be suppressed. This is now happening.
P

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

I cannot forgive them. The failure to treat early was deliberate and wrong. To empty out the old from hospitals untested was wrong. Accounts need to be settled.

Allan Fraser
Allan Fraser
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

Where can I see the CDC’s backtrack on the fatality figures?

perrywidhalm
perrywidhalm
3 years ago
Reply to  Allan Fraser

The numbers are here: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nv

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

You’re just a “clever” conspiracy theorist, quoting us stuff about the US. Nothing to do with Europe’s reaction, nor figures. We couldn’t care less about what your CDC says… Crooks all of them and Trumpit’s election coming up! Conspiracy theorists in my view are people who think they are “cleverer than the average bear” simply by saying the opposite. You must have your lovely conspiracy theories about JFK’s death, UFOs, 9/11 and more…

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago
Reply to  deb cram

You are Correct Deb, even if I explained it to you in minute detail, I doubt very much that you are “clever” enough to digest it.

chrisjpj1977
chrisjpj1977
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

Almost every thing you have said there obviously incorrect or a wilfil misinterpritation of facts.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjpj1977

Well, it’s very simple Christopher. Prove me wrong.

gbauer
gbauer
3 years ago
Reply to  perrywidhalm

How can you be so callous? We cannot accept a single death from Covid. We cannot accept anything less than full eradication, even if millions lose their livelihoods and mental health. [insert eyeroll emoticon]

Jonathan Marshall
Jonathan Marshall
3 years ago
Reply to  gbauer

Sadly, the (non-sarcastic) version of this seems to have been the blueprint throughout the Western world.

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago

It’s awkward that people are talking about ‘rules’ all the time as if they were derived from laws you have to abide by. From a legal standpoint the current ‘rules’ are highly questionable to say the least.
Furthermore on a more fundamental non-legal level practical rules need to be rooted in experience. They must work. When it comes to the rules regarding Covid-19 the question of effectiveness is a scientific question that remains unanswered. Although…..there is a lot science that concludes that there is not a shred of evidence that lock downs and everything that comes with it are effective. So it would be better to refer to the measures as highly questionable experiments instead of ‘rules’.

David Barnett
David Barnett
3 years ago

“…there is a lot science that concludes that there is not a shred of evidence that lock downs and everything that comes with it are effective.”

You are being too kind to the lockdowns. There are even reasons to suppose that they were counterproductive (like the similar policies in the spring of 1918 where they pushed the influenza in a more virulent direction, with deadly results in the autumn).

If we are lucky, the “late” imposition of lockdown will have saved us from increased virulence. Unfortunately, the fear being prolonged by the theatrical “rules” is doing lasting damage to our economy and society. I think the next few years will resemble the early 1930s.

chrisjpj1977
chrisjpj1977
3 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

David that is a misreading of history re 1918 by the way. Most agree it was the fact that the sickest patients were cohorted together in field hospitals, this created an enviroment where transmission of the most pathogenic strain became dominant. So lock downs did not really play a role in it. We do know, empirically, and absolutely that the lockdown restriction meaningfully reduced transmission, in the most extreme form the China almost (if we belive their data) eliminated it. And we see no evidence that what has emerged from that is more pathogenic. But it is fair to suggest that if you alter the selective pressures you will skew evolution, and it may well be that this will encourage more readily transmissible forms to emerge. we have little evidence of that yet.

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago

The government sends out the most confusing signals: they want everyone to go back to work but they want everyone to be scared out of their skins so that they will bluffed into having the vaccines in a few weeks time. They want people to have the vaccines though they won’t prevent the disease, have only been safety tested for a record short time, will probably not be licensed, will be administered by amateurs etc. They are going to extreme lengths not to protect the public but themselves and the manufacturers when it all goes wrong. The government wants everyone to wear masks although Deputy CMO Jenny Harries says there is no strong scientific evidence as “a support” but actually it is socially very divisive, and creates unnecessary fear. No one trusts each other, rational people do not trust the government and we’re living in by far the biggest mess any of us have ever seen. Our country has been effectively destroyed in only a few months. The government’s excuse is that the opposition parties are even wetter and that other governments have been just as incompetent. We now need some very special kind of politics to rescue the situation and we are unlikely to get it.

PS And we are only beginning to see the levels of unemployment and homelessness.

Olaf Felts
Olaf Felts
3 years ago
Reply to  John Stone

Certainly need the birth of a new political party – period.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  John Stone

They have this little problem of forcing us to take the vaccine. This is why this is all going on now.

chrisbeattie9
chrisbeattie9
3 years ago

The whole lockdown, social distancing face mask wearing etc. rigmarole was instigated to flatten the curve and protect the (sorry our) NHS. Its has as much validity as ordering everyone to hop on one leg while in the street to save the councl department responsible for maintaining pavements.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisbeattie9

Ah but, hopping on one leg is a harmless activity and so it should be done as often as possible, just in case it works.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

But I’ve got dodgy knees, Constable.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Hopping on one leg, ha, ha. But to be serious for a minute, anything you do which does not harm others is fine. Doing things which can and do hurt others, should surely be the morale compass for everyone..

Diarmid French
Diarmid French
3 years ago

I’ve just watched a particularly unpleasant video of a transport policeman assaulting a passenger on a train for not wearing a mask.
The passenger told the policeman that he had a medical condition which allowed him to travel without a mask. The policeman ignored him and used force to attempt to evict him, including the use of a pepper spray. The passenger resisted being somewhat shocked and I suspect justifiably angry and a scuffle took place. Interestingly it seemed that the other passengers supported the victim. The man who was going about his legal business was thrown from the train.
In my opinion the policeman should be immediately suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.
Actions such as this are the last thing we need to see from the establishment.
I hope the victim takes immediate legal action for assault. Perhaps the equally unpleasant action taken by the railway police against a frightened and confused young woman on York station a few weeks ago is proving to be more infectious than Covid 19.
If the writer thinks the government have no interest in enforcing their regulations I can only suggest she looks at the video on today’s Daily Mail on line.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid French

My sympathy is with the policeman. We only see part of what happened, so it’s not clear what the exchanges were in the run up to what is shown. It’s very easy to say ‘I’ve got a medical condition’, but the condition does not seem to stop him fighting. It’s not obvious to me that the other passengers are siding with the guy.

Given the relatively low level of the virus at the moment, do I think wearing facemasks is essential? No. Do I think they will make some marginal positive difference? Yes? If other people are being asked to wear them and generally are complying, should I? Yes. Do I get annoyed if I think other people are ignoring “the rules”? Yes.

Diarmid French
Diarmid French
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Whatever happened before the video starts, the passenger was sitting in his seat so any altercation could only be verbal. What followed clearly wasn’t and for the policeman to resort to using pepper spray unforgivable. The onus is not on a person who refuses to wear a mask to prove his decision is justified; he merely has to say that he is unable to wear one for whatever personal reason. Had the passenger been suffering from a severe COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder) the pepper spray could have rendered him very unwell.
Was he fighting? No he was clearly trying to resist arrest; in my opinion perfectly justifiably.
I cannot imagine this could have happened if the policeman had said ” Excuse me sir, You are supposed to be wearing a mask” Had the passenger then said, ” Sorry officer, I have a health condition which excuses me from wearing one”.That should have been the end of the matter.
I cannot believe this can have happened. The policeman was clearly attempting to evict the man from the train using in my opinion unacceptable force.
Unlike you I believe our policemen should practice the best standards possible at all times. This man did not. Personally I think masks are a complete waste of time but if wearing one makes you happy; so be it.

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Deputy CMO Jenny Harries said at the No 10 news conference last Friday that there was no strong scientific evidence for the masks, so everyone is being put in a false position including the policeman who lost his judgement – never seen such pointless, oppressive, arbitrary government. IT IS JUST BAD, CRIMINALLY INCOMPETENT GOVERNMENT. The police do not need this either.

What is extraordinary and paradoxical about the situation is that while the most basic civil liberties go down the shoot the government is the weakest, most vacillating we have ever seen. I think one of the things the article points to is how badly we have lost our bearings – people have lost common sense about government. Governments have to balance objectives but this government has chosen to balance all other objectives against one, boxed into a corner by opposition parties who can see no other objective either. The people who rule over us look like utter jerks (in fact they don’t only look like it). With or without COVID it is going to be a long hard winter on the road to oblivion.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  John Stone

You are too kind. Jerks does not begin to describe them .

Diarmid French
Diarmid French
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

No doubt you will be delighted to hear, via the BBC, that the man in the train has been charged; I’m not entirely sure with what. Every time I think we have hit rock bottom something like this happens to reinforce my belief that this country has completely lost the plot.
I hope this man has advisors who will set up a crowd fund; to which I will happily donate.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid French

Have you seen the video of the pregnant woman being arrested in her Melbourne home for a Facebook post not approved by the thought police?

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Give up on Australia. It looks as if it is the test bed for dealing with recalcitrant Anglo Saxons.

Trevor Q
Trevor Q
3 years ago

It’s not how I see it. People don’t like to be told what to do but will generally follow guidance. In my community people just get on with their lives and adapt where they need to with a stoical cheerfulness. They have better things to do than listen to/read the news or get too wound up about the selfish few.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Trevor Q

Fully agree – but you forgot the other element – have a damn good moan about it! Always makes you feel better

Penny Gallagher
Penny Gallagher
3 years ago
Reply to  Trevor Q

Absolutely. Same here in Somerset/Wiltshire. Pretty much back to normal though most wear a mask in supermarkets, but if you don’t nothing unpleasant happens to you.

Drew
Drew
3 years ago

Good to hear there’s some sanity in the ‘provinces’. Same here in the American South, particularly outside the cities. In the rural areas, nothing has changed. Nothing. Granted we’re not going around ‘licking toilet seats’!, but we wear no masks, shake men’s hands and scoff at ‘social distancing’, a most pernicious, Hollywood term. We laugh at the ‘wokesters’, who occasionally come through – mainly looking for fresh vegetables from our farms. When they express an alarming interest in where our face diapers (nappies, as y’all would say!) are, we politely suggest they get back to their concrete jungles where it’s safe….

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
3 years ago

I’d say this article has come a couple of months too late. All hope of trust between Government and people is now lost.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

in the UK. Please add that. Many other countries in Europe, amazingly, trust their politicians…

Sarah Mohammed-Coleman
Sarah Mohammed-Coleman
3 years ago

Agree with many of the comments here. Miss Mackenzie shows her bias in favour of woke conformity. Of course it is so much easier to do what everybody else is doing rather than think for yourself. I suspect, as another commenter hinted at, that the government has allowed lots of loopholes in their apparently draconian measures so that they can appease the Covid-fanatics whilst those of us still on nodding terms with common sense can try and get on with our lives while we wait out the madness.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago

I drew my own personal line at the mask. I hate it with a passion. I just cannot stand to see a town full of masked people and as for the open air why are they wearing them on the beach? My answer is to sit this out for the duration. I get everything on line and avoid every possible situation where I have to see them on people. I will never go back to the shops. I had to collect from the vets and that was enough. Supposed to telephone from the street. And wait for a masked zombie coming out to see what I wanted.
My mate and I have tonight checked countries at random on Worldometer . They all show the same thing albeit some parts later than others. A peak around March – July and then a rapid fall in deaths. Cases maybe rising but deaths are not. The predicted wipe out of Africa has not happened and in fact they are doing much better than Europe.
Our government panicked and then started to ramp up the fear . Now it has bitten them back. We are deserting the town centres and public transport and refusing to fill up the hives of offices any more than we have to. They never thought that would happen but still they do not stop. Threatening us every other bloody day.
I have had enough and Johnson is out of time and out of his depth. He has collaborated in our economy being wrecked and our society being put under such strain that it may never recover. I want him gone.

Hilary Arundale
Hilary Arundale
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

I agree with everything you say. What or who on earth is behind all this madness?

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago

Nobody is in control of a new thing. There’s no-one to blame, much as everyoe seems to want to find a scapegoat. Makes life easier, doesn’t it? Not my fault, must be his/hers!

Olaf Felts
Olaf Felts
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

You can sense the utter frustration and despair in this post, which is something I am increasingly encountering daily. From friends to colleagues a frustration and anger I have never before witnessed. Rarely meet anyone that now supports this Government and its actions, yet polls say otherwise! This frustration and anger will just keep bubbling up unless people that feel this way have a voice and are heard. Little sign of this in the mainstream media and certainly not by the Government (sic).

Johanna Barry
Johanna Barry
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Be very very glad we had this government managing things. They tried to do herd immunity but the outcry on social media made it impossible. I would rather their laisse faire and irritating U-turns any day to the horror show in progress at the moment in the State of Victoria. The Premier , Dan Andrews, is uninterested in the economy and obsessed with bringing cases nos down. He is very much of the ilk of Corbyn and I shudder to think what things would have been like with Corbyn running the show.

Sim Bun
Sim Bun
3 years ago

I am fed up with the number of “angry” people out there. I am in quarantine at the moment and while I can think up a number of improvements on the system I am delighted that no-one has phoned me to check that I am capable of reading and following rules.
As for other people not following the rules that is the same in every aspect life. I have committed not to judge anyone’s Covid behaviour provided that they do not share how virtuous they have been….

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago

What this article shows is how insidious it has all been: the author is nostalgic for April. I am nostalgic for January.

Milly Vanilli
Milly Vanilli
3 years ago
Reply to  John Stone

She believes it and that is enough for her.

bob alob
bob alob
3 years ago

During the peak of the pandemic the Govt stated that they needed 80% of people to comply with the lock down for it to be effective, they rely on those who behave responsibly to carry on doing so, hounding those who do not act responsibly is not the way to go in a free society, draconian policing and enforcement such as the author suggests is in nobody’s interest and could lead to even more non compliance, It seems that the author having acted irresponsibly by travelling abroad in the full knowledge that a quarantine may have to be endured on return is simply having a moan about people attempting to return to some normality while she is in quarantine.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  bob alob

“Our free society” how sweet! So continue with that thought: we are free to kill, attack, demean etc.” Freedom means you can do ANYTHING you want, except when it impedes on another’s freedom… So the UK (being unique in wanting freedom!!!) now demand the freedom to spread the virus to whoever we please. No, that is not civilised society, that is anarchism.

bob alob
bob alob
3 years ago
Reply to  deb cram

“Anarchism”, no it’s a loosely policed democracy, would you prefer to see homes raided and people dragged away in handcuffs for posting the wrong thing on Facebook as is happening in Australia, or perhaps a curfew where people have to remain in their homes after 8pm enforced by police patrols, not everyone is going to abide by the rules, which has always been the case, regardless of whichever rules, but not everyone needs to and that’s the point, each month there are attacks on people for wanting a return to normality, beachgoers, pub drinkers, Asian families, all have been denigrated in the press, here we have someone who travelled abroad ( the most foolish thing a person can do at the moment) and then bemoaning the fact she has to quarantine, while not so long ago she was probably pointing fingers herself and still seems to be doing so.

Adi Dule
Adi Dule
3 years ago

The only rule in a pandemic is that if you do not feel safe stay home if you can. I just do not understand why in this pandemic the “others” behaviour is more important that yours. Usually in a pandemic it is the virus that scares the people not the rules

Olaf Felts
Olaf Felts
3 years ago

Sadly Unherd is regressing into a parody of the mainstream media. Increasingly only accessing the site for the comments, which evidence that there are still people in existence who are prepared to question and rely (strange I know) on logic over soundbite and woke attitudes.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  Olaf Felts

Sweet but how do you know that people read only UnHerd comments?

Adam Lehto
Adam Lehto
3 years ago

While unambiguous policy has the potential to maintain a healthy social fabric, this potential is fatally undermined (and almost certainly reversed) when the measures in question lack a robust basis in evidence. It doesn’t help if even a very large majority is united in its commitment to a social goal if that goal is delusional. In the current crisis, a majority of public officials and citizens (and sadly, it seems, even scientists) very quickly decided to lock down their minds. It’s almost as if a new religion was created virtually overnight, complete with absolute truths, authority figures, a path to salvation, rituals, and the persecution of heretics. What I’m wondering now is how to find the right ‘deconversion’ techniques to help those who are lost in the COVID maze. Longing for unambiguous government policy, when that policy so far has been so disastrous, doesn’t strike me as a promising approach.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago

Reading this reminded me of the nine most terrible words in the English language, according to Ronald Reagan – “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”. Now more valid than ever and especially under Big Brother Boris.

This morning I was at the dentist for the first time since lockdown. I thought it was a hygienist appointment, but it included a routing check, which I was pleased about. No water was involved, and it took 30 minutes for both at double the cost I normally pay for 30 minutes work. Afterwards I was talking to the receptionist about all the extra equipment being purchased to protect staff and patients from the virus. The consequences of this will be felt by increasing prices. The surgery treats some NHS patients but I doubt the NHS will pay more to cover this work so it will fall on private patients and they will have fewer since they are only allowed to treat one patient an hour. If patients decide they do not want to pay the cost, then the practice might go bankrupt. This is the real cost of our government’s pointless policies.

Ben Pattinson
Ben Pattinson
3 years ago

I am confused as to why people are confused. If we are told to quarantine when returning from a certain destination then just quarantine.
If you feel like its not being enforced and would like it to be then perhaps it may be in the future and we’ll have ourselves a police state where neighbours inform on one another. Do we want that? No.
I do feel that at the moment we are being treated like adults and expected to act appropriately, this whole “confusion” agenda is a smoke screen to help people flout the rules, muddy the water and essentially, act like children!!

Adamsson
Adamsson
3 years ago

It’s not supposed to end well. It’s supposed to destroy western civilisation and open the way for the great reset.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  Adamsson

Rubbish

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  deb cram

From Amazon:

” COVID-19: The Great Reset” is a guide for anyone who wants to understand how COVID-19 disrupted our social and economic systems, and what changes will be needed to create a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable world going forward. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, and Thierry Malleret, founder of the Monthly Barometer, explore what the root causes of these crisis were, and why they lead to a need for a Great Reset.”

The WEF were one of the sponsors of the Event201 rehearsal last October (they don’t even pretend), or try Tedros’s WHO speech 21 August:

“We do not need to choose between lives and livelihoods, or between health and the economy. That’s a false choice.On the contrary, the pandemic is a reminder that health and the economy are inseparable. WHO is committed to working with all countries to move into a new stage of opening their economies, societies, schools and businesses safely. To do that, every single person must be involved. Every single person can make a difference. Every person, family, community and nation must make their own decisions, based on the level of risk where they live. That means every person and family has a responsibility to know the level of transmission locally, and to understand what they can do to protect themselves and others. At the same time, we will not ““ we cannot ““ go back to the way things were. Throughout history, outbreaks and pandemics have changed economies and societies. This one will be no different. In particular, the pandemic has given new impetus to the need to accelerate efforts to respond to climate change. The pandemic has given us a glimpse of our world as it could be: cleaner skies and rivers. Building back better means building back greener.”

And who the hell elected these people. No one.

PHILIP LEONE-GANADO
PHILIP LEONE-GANADO
3 years ago

Initially, this pandemic did genuinely appear to unite society. It seemed like we could finally move on from the divisive debates over Brexit. However as the months have worn one it seems to widened not reduced divisions.

The population seems to have divided into two groups. The first group want to suppress the virus at almost any cost, while the second group want life to return something like the old normal as soon as possible. There is very little common ground between the two groups.

Sarah H
Sarah H
3 years ago

So we must all get along together, yet angry “citizens, who find themselves surrounded by Other People behaving badly and not being punished” seems a rather one-sided model for such?

Malcolm Ripley
Malcolm Ripley
3 years ago

Confusing instructions are a classic control technique especially when there is a hefty does of fear included. People will do anything in such situations no matter how illogical.

None of this madness will stop until enough people wake the (beep) up. Quite how you get people to pause long enough to think for themselves is a mystery. If anyone can kill all MSM for two weeks that might work but otherwise we are dependant on screw ups from those issuing the instructions (who forget to pretend there’s a plandemic). For example this week : the 6% figure from the CDC, the non distancing meeting by Boris and Nancy Pelosi and hairdressergate.

Milly Vanilli
Milly Vanilli
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Ripley

Yes

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

As we learned from the CDC last weekend, Covid was only properly responsible for 6% of Covid deaths in the US. And even the anti-freedom New York Times has reported that 90% of positive tests are, effectively, negative. (Apparently these tests massively ‘magnify’ the microbes or something in order to establish a so-called positive). That’s why it’s called the ‘scamdemic’

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Ah it’s the US conspiracy theorist again (or another one), quoting his CDC. The way the US had handled all this is nothing to be pround of. In fact, it’s scary for the Europeans and beyond. The US was once a model we took into account, now it’s not even MAGA, it’s pathetic.

Andrew Meffan
Andrew Meffan
3 years ago

A very funny read. If laughter in the face of the enemy is needed then you have the recipe. Of course it’s not funny at all really. Compliance with whatever rules are decided on will ebb and flow with people getting really sick. In the end we all have to decide on our own precautions and if we feel strongly enough, pressuring others to comply.

E E
E E
3 years ago

A fair and valid point, the first part anyhow. Its been clear for a year or so that this government particularly thrive on rhetoric. The last thing they want is for people to listen. Comply- economy trashes. Don’t comply- economy trashes. They couldn’t have wished for a better excuse over the economic nose dive the other thing’s going to cause.

C Arros
C Arros
3 years ago

It’s heartening to see the many voices questioning the measures imposed in response to COVID. Please don’t keep the expression of your opinion just to this forum.

The way I live the situation here in Spain the fearmongering is still being very effective. Little dissent is being heard. The fact that rules are often only applied in a very lax way is more an expression of the laid-back ways in Mediterranean culture than anything else.

And even looking beyond Spain at the rest of Europe, the fact that hardly anyone is pointing out how unreasonable it may seem for the governments to secure in advance enough vaccine doses for all the countries population, seems to illustrate that the fear has not subsided, yet. I feel rather wary about where this might still lead if people don’t wake up and speak up.

annettehowey
annettehowey
3 years ago

I’m afraid that cohesion is gone. I really don’t care who’s doing what. Rules are for fools, laws are the cohesion needed. They have been flaunted by our governments so I no longer care except for my little circle.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago

Unity and the building of trust or ‘social capital’ are, to say the least, difficult with BLM, XR and an ever growing band of other activists enthusiastically opening new fronts in the culture war. Ably assisted, of course, by the BBC and other elements of the media, whether mainstream or ‘social’.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

I still do not understand the hatred of the BBC. It’s damned by the Right and then damned by the Right. Seems to me that makes it pretty objective. On & on about the Licence Fee: honestly how many people have trouble paying that, it’s a pittance. Only the very, very poor, what percentage of people in the UK is that? Btw all countries in Europe have a TV licence fee. And that gives you TV with adverts…

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  deb cram

The gaslighting of anyone who did not support the official narrative – the war against social media by picking on the weakest stories – was a disgrace. It was a repellant act.

Geoff Cox
Geoff Cox
3 years ago

Thus speaks Polly Mackenzie – a closet authoritarian.

Personally, I decided this Covid-19 stuff was a scam the moment I saw the coordinated worldwide messaging being rammed down our throats. Then when Tom Hanks and his wife were apparently diagnosed with it, that was the final straw. This is global manipulation of the people to see how many obey. Regrettably, it is far too many.

Resistance is all we’ve got and we’d better start resisting now – this means flouting the rules and being seen to do so.

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty” Henry David Thoreau.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Cox

Thoreau can say what he wants but what he means is he prefers anarchy. Good luck with that, have fun.

PHILIP LEONE-GANADO
PHILIP LEONE-GANADO
3 years ago

Initially, this pandemic did genuinely appear to unite society. It seemed like we could finally move on from the divisive debates over Brexit. However as the months have worn one it seems to widened not reduced divisions.

The population seems to have divided into two groups. The first group want to suppress the virus at almost any cost, while the second group want life to return something like the old normal as soon as possible. There is very little common ground between the two groups.

Johanna Barry
Johanna Barry
3 years ago

I give thanks daily for two things: Corbyn wasn’t in charge when this bug hit, and the Conservatives have kind of dragged their feet on being draconian. I can live with their irritating U-turns. Its a small price to pay. The alternative world of where we could have been is currently being played out in Victoria, Australia. The absolute clarity the author is craving has been provided to the population and the state has been terrified into absolute compliance backed up with heavy-handed policing including high fines and home visits/arrests for anyone not complying with the rules or event daring to question the narrative (For one example. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/…. The poor woman dared to exercise her democratic right by promoting an anti-lockdown event in her local town on FB. Extraordinary when you think how much libelous poison daily floats around the site. I will take a bet that when this is all over the waters will close quietly on the whole incident in England at least (not sure about the rest). But what about Victoria, how will the police be viewed? how will people view their dobbing neighbours? and how deep will the divisions in society be between the lockdown enthusiasts, and those who were even denied their democratic right to be heard?

Perdu En France
Perdu En France
3 years ago

“our ability to get on with our fellow citizens oils the working of
markets, lowering the costs of transactions and speeding the flow of
information on which economies rely”.

I’d wholeheartedly endorse that.
For the past few years I’ve been living in Spain & most of my interaction has been with the Spanish & Spanish speaking S. Americans. As a Brit, I’m accustomed, broadly speaking, to being told the truth & people abiding by their promises & undertakings. When i lived in France I could usually operate on the same assumption. El mundo espanol is essentially dysfunctional. You’re told things you know are untrue when your hear them. A promise may be merely an aspiration. Or just made to secure a momentary advantage with no intention of being kept. I’ve lost count of the times a person or business that has undertaken to supply a service or goods has failed to do so. Or not done so timely. Or incompetently, but they still demand payment. At a rough guess, it’s necessary to expend twice the effort I might in the UK to obtain the same results. And I know this isn’t just me getting the results of being a foreigner. They treat their own people the same.
I’m not saying this is by any means universal. The Spanish can provide good & reliable service. They can be outstandingly honest. There’s a lot less crime than i was used to in London. Especially the petty casual crime so mars life in the city. It’s the balance between the two.
I’d describe the UK & other English speaking societies as being a relatively high trust societies. So it’s relatively easy to get things done. The Spanish speaking world is a lower trust society. It takes more effort to get the same results. So it’s no surprise the Spanish speaking is a lot poorer than the English speaking.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago

I don’t know Spain (having never LIVED there). But the UK is no better, if not worse. I live in France (and abroad for most of my life), but the UK makes me cry now. Brexit and our response to Covid are ridiculous. I feel safer in France, in that I get facts, changing of course as knowledge widens. We had a real “lockdown” with fines and for longer than the UK. People understood quickly that this was serious and unknown territory. Now fines are hardly ever used, they’re not needed anymore. And btw France stands for Liberte, Fraternity, Egality. And you think that the UK is the only country that cherishes Freedom… PS I have taken my own initiative: I’m now Dutch as well and my sister + husband have acquired also Danish and Irish. England, my England, wherefore art thou? The land of my youth…

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago

This is ridiculous. What is “social trust”? How do you build it? The government has spent 2020 spreading fear and panic. People can’t even meet face to face and shake hands. LOL. She wants a utopian paradise that everyone can believe in. This isn’t possible. It is childish thinking that adults shouldn’t engage in. He previous articles are even worse. https://demos.co.uk/blog/th

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

I haven’t read the Halpern book, but I did notice an interesting review of it on Amazon from a British reader, which criticized it “for straying very far from the topic advertised in the blurb and by the title, which is useful work done outside the paid economy.” In fact, the title, “The Hidden Wealth of Nations” not only implies that we should be concerned with activities that lie outside of conventional measures of GDP, but also more with those outside of Smith’s calculation of the Wealth of Nations. The Communist Material Product System, based on the labour theory of value, is really more in line with Smith’s view of things than modern GDP, and probably the index of industrial production would correspond more closely to how Smith saw national production than GDP would.
Polly says that the pandemic unleashed a wave of volunteerism in the UK. Glad to hear it, and this would imply that the very gloomy statistics on the growth in GDP and the index of industrial production if there was a big upswing in voluntary work at this time. Presumably, as the economy normalizes and people get back to work at their regular jobs, some of these voluntary work hours will disappear. There are only so many hours in the day after all. However, their disappearance won’t be reflected in the GDP estimates any more than their expansion was.
There is a United Nations Handbook of Satellite Accounts on Non-profit and Related Institutions and Volunteer Work. The ONS doesn’t have this kind of a satellite account to my knowledge but it could. If the volunteer sector is as important as Polly and Halpern think it is, perhaps its activities deserve to be a little better measured.

pmccarthy283
pmccarthy283
3 years ago

Regarding masks, the government are not following science. The media give the impression that scientists are clever people who can see the right thing to do. But no, science is publicly funded and is used to inform social policy. It’s based on trials done and published in JAMA, the Lancet etc. The use of masks and the other measures ignore the science that has been done.

deb cram
deb cram
3 years ago
Reply to  pmccarthy283

As I said before Science is a matter of opinion, an Arts dept., not Facts based. Science done on using masks or not is still an unknown. We are living in a world of Unknowns right now. Guess what we are humans and cannot control everything.