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How will Covid shape 2021? With the pandemic routed, old political problems will resurface

It can't be worse than last year, can it? Credit: Valery SharifulinTASS/Getty

It can't be worse than last year, can it? Credit: Valery SharifulinTASS/Getty


January 1, 2021   5 mins

We all failed to see 2020 coming. Coronavirus sent us for six, delivering a triple crisis that challenged our health, economy and politics. It has already left nearly two million dead, more than 80 million infected, the worst financial crisis since the Second World War and a massively expanded state. The collateral damage will be with us for years, if not decades, to come. But when we look ahead to 2021 will the pandemic be the game-changer that some claim it to be?

It’s interesting to look back at debate in the early months of 2020; it was all confident predictions about how Covid-19 was going to change our world — it would usher in the end of globalisation, populism, big cities, individualism, the Anglo-American model and bring about responsible, competent, expert-led government. We all got very excited. More than a few commentators also tried to turn the crisis into a proxy battle, appearing gleeful as the heavy casualties in America and Britain were traced to the actions of ‘right-wing governments’ and contrasting them with the supposedly more successful and enlightened responses in other political systems.

But look at where we are today; new lockdowns in Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, noticeably high death rates in Belgium and Spain, an extended lockdown in Germany where cases have soared and death rates have hit a new high and an increase of cases and record deaths in Sweden. As Janan Ganesh points out, and for once I actually agree with him, maybe there is no grand lesson here for the world — no particular political or economic system has consistently outperformed its rivals. Similarly, when we look ahead to geo-politics in 2021 there may not be any seismic change or watershed moment. Maybe we’ll just pick up where we were before the crisis hit.

Coronavirus could more like The Great Accelerator, than The Great Game-Changer; exacerbating existing inequalities and divides that have been on the rise since the 1970s. We already know, for example, that this pandemic is sharpening levels of inequality and divides between the low and high educated, and the workers and professionals. And if you look ahead, then it is not hard to see how politics will be characterised more by continuity than disruption.

Here in Britain, some things will have to change, including how we pay for the mountain of debt left by the crisis. In the past eight months alone, government borrowing has surged to an eye-watering £241 billion while our total debt is over £2 trillion, or 100% of GDP. Rishi Sunak ends this year as the most popular politician in Britain but it is easy to be popular when you are giving away money. In 2021, Johnson and Sunak will likely break their pre-Covid promise not to raise VAT, national insurance and income tax, and will need to carve out an approach to tax that chimes with their wider promise to do more for the ‘have nots’ and less for the ‘haves’. Everybody will feel the pinch and this will bring new challenges to Johnson.

But in other areas much will return to where we were before this crisis arrived. After delivering the Withdrawal Agreement, Brexit trade deal and approving not one but two effective Covid-19 vaccines, Boris Johnson’s government will turn back to its pre-Covid agenda of ‘levelling-up’ the country and defining what ‘Global Britain’ really means. And there will be strong tail-winds. While ‘declinists’ will tell us over and over again that Brexit Britain is in decline, the reality is that most economists share a consensus that we will see a strong economic bounce-back as pent-up demand is released and spending returns. The OECD forecasts that after a fall of GDP of 4.2% in 2020, Britain will witness stronger rates of growth than the Eurozone, at over 4% in 2021 and 2022 — forecasts that were also issued before the approval of the latest Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

And Labour will continue its slow and perhaps painful electoral recovery. Keir Starmer and his party have closed the gap in the polls, since their disastrous defeat. But Labour has not won the popular vote in England since 2001 and there is still little evidence of gains in parts of the country that really matter. This is why a new set of local elections in May, in particular across Metropolitan boroughs in the north and Midlands are key; they bring us the first opportunity to see if a Labour recovery is underway in the Red Wall. Starmer will need to demonstrate major gains if he is to claim that Labour is on track for a return to power but I am sceptical that will happen.

Further north, in Scotland, pressure for a second independence referendum will continue to mount after a strong performance by the SNP at Scottish parliamentary elections. In the latest polls, the SNP holds commanding leads of more than thirty percentage points while over the past three months there has been a clear shift in support for Scottish independence; the latest poll puts support at 52%, opposition at 38% and the undecided at 10%. While a referendum will not arrive in 2021, the campaign to obtain one will intensify and our debate will shift from the fractured the European Union to the fractured United Kingdom.

And what of populism? In some respects, 2020 was a disastrous year for outsiders. Trump lost, Marine Le Pen failed to deliver gains in France, Jair Bolsonaro tanked in the polls and the world turned away from the identity issues that dominated the 2010s back to questions of competence and crisis management — all of which we were told would signal the end of populism and polarisation. But here too there is unlikely to be a radical break from the past.

The pushback to economic and social liberalism remains clearly visible; Trump added another 12 million votes to his tally in 2016, he widened rather than narrowed his base by making striking gains among non-whites and while Biden failed to deliver the ‘blue wave’,  he has also retained Trump-style positions on protectionism and China.

America will gradually and symbolically return to the liberal world order but US-China tensions will remain a prominent feature of geo-politics and I am sceptical that the Democrats will win the rapidly approaching Senate races in Georgia to take control of the Senate, which in turn will dramatically curtail Biden’s capacity to become a truly transformative president.

Meanwhile, last year also saw Law and Justice won in Poland, Bolsonaro eventually recovered in the polls and while Italy’s Matteo Salvini struggled, the even more right-wing Brothers of Italy have risen to enjoy their strongest ratings to date. Two years ago, in National Populism, Roger Eatwell and I argued that national populism would remain entrenched in most Western democracies and, so far, there is little evidence to suggest that we were wrong. Even at the big election in 2021 in Germany, we are likely to see more of the same — a strong result for the established centre-right with perhaps around 10% or less going to the populist right and the Greens remaining centre-right, alongside a more strongly conservative Christian Democrat movement.

And the old challenges that have hampered Europe will once again bubble back to the surface — the explosion of debt, declining prospects in Spain that now seems to be following the Italian model, a recovery that could entrench rather than close economic divergence between north and south, lingering rule-of-law disputes between east and west and a new deal on migration are all likely to see the debate turn back to questions that were asked before the pandemic erupted.

When we face big external shocks it is always tempting to think that they are game-changers and that life as we know it will never be the same again. But look ahead to the next 12 months and we might just find ourselves back in familiar territory, debating many of the questions and issues that occupied our minds before we had heard of coronavirus and were pushed into the Great Lockdown. And I don’t know about you but from where I am sitting that would be just fine. Welcome 2021!


Matthew Goodwin is Professor of Politics at the University of Kent. His new book, Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics, is out on March 30.

GoodwinMJ

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Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

Personally I don’t care about any of that, I just want my kids back in school, my gym open again, and the government out of my daily life. More than anything I hope I never see Chris whitty’s miserable face ever again

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Never having to hear the word “brexit” would also be a massive bonus.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Coming soon, an article from somebody or other on how Covid will shape Brexit. And vice versa.

Fiona Cordy
Fiona Cordy
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Well, without doubt, the government will be able to hide the Brexit shambles by blaming it on Covid.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Fiona Cordy

Don’t you mean hiding the Covid shambles by blaming it on Brexit?!

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

The Government doesn’t want to blame anything on Brexit, since Boris pursued it as his way to supplant Theresa May.

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

You are awarded two points for saying ‘shambles’.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

both!

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Fiona Cordy

And the remainer (or should that now be rejoiner?) media will do precisely the opposite, blaming the results of the covid panicdemic they provoked, on brexit.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

“… covid panicdemic they provoked, “
Death rate would have been lower if the country didn’t close down?
Leavers used to blame EU for everything; many claim that is the benefit of Brexit; politicians would not be able to hide behind “blame EU” position!
I never understood that position since the politicians will blame Mars tomorrow and the fools (that believed “blame EU”) will accept it.
Surely Remainers are entitled to blame Brexit for everything??

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

There are no more Remainers. There are only Rejoiners.

John McFadyen
John McFadyen
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

BREXIT!

frank.knight708
frank.knight708
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

BREEEXXXIIIITTTTTTT!!!!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

Record deaths in Sweden? All cause mortality is down for 2020 looking at the past decade. Statista. The second epidemic curve is waning. Worldometers. Death rate per capita for Covid down from 8th in the world to 26th. Worldometers.

D Hockley
D Hockley
3 years ago

I was about to write something similar. Sweden is a perfect example of how to treat the covid outbreak…..excess deaths are now nonexistent when normalised against previous years

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  D Hockley

If you’re trying to suggest that a ‘let it rip’ strategy could have been pursued in the UK, my understanding is that when the virus got out of control due to their relaxed approach, the Swedes instituted more mainstream controls.

On top of that, Swedish folk have a very different and regimented attitude compared to the British – the early, laissez faire, Swedish Government approach was still taken very seriously in terms of the restrictions it did stipulate, rather than being treated as ‘carry on doing what you like’ as would have been the case in Newcastle or Chelsea (say) if the same policy had been announced here. It’s the same, highly infectious, virus after all – it spreads by person-to-person contact whatever your nationality.

Duncan Cleeve
Duncan Cleeve
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

There never has been a ‘let it rip’ strategy, that was an emotive term to discredit herd immunity, herd immunity was the accepted strategy until earlier this year.

Swedes behave no differently from Brits, at the very beginning people took precautions before even being told to. We’re hardly an unruly mob who go around sneezing and coughing on grannies, maybe it’s different where you live.

The Swedes will suffer far less suicides, alcoholism, drug abuse, missed cancer appointments etc etc.

John McFadyen
John McFadyen
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

If we had spent a fraction of the billions we have spent shoring up the gaping, self inflicted wounds visited upon our society and economy on shielding the vulnerable and vulnerable elderly. The outcome would have been far better for everyone.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  John McFadyen

Could you detail those measures, how many for and for how long? The Barrington bunch never did.

John McFadyen
John McFadyen
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Thirty Billion would secure and allow identification, psychological support, education, the provision of masks, gloves and sanitiser and home delivery of essentials to the vulnerable for a considerable period.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  John McFadyen

Yes, but they failed to so. Sweden (government report last week) failed in the same way.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

I don’t think you realize that it ripped anyway. The tactics used to prevent it from ripping only compounded the problem.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Chris you are wrong. They were not relaxed and there were plenty of rules in place in Sweden from the very beginning. The difference was that there was no hard lockdown and people were encouraged to follow guidance set out by the government. Some of this was policed. The bulk of Swedish deaths were in very large care homes inhabited by end of life citizens. Notwithstanding that, the Swedes have from the outset regretted their inability to move faster to protect even these vulnerable citizens. All told their response has been by far the best in the West. And the results are proving it.

frank.knight708
frank.knight708
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

No-one has ever suggested a “let it rip” except the media and those who know they have got it completely wrong. The Focused Protection policy is the most sensible.

Bill Brewer
Bill Brewer
3 years ago

I admire your positive outlook but I am more cynical. I do not think the government, the scientists advising them or the mainstream media have any intention of getting back to normal. Because if they do some very hard questions will be asked, careers will be finished and there may even be prosecutions. So welcome to 1984.

If we do get back to a “normal” it will be nothing like 2019. There is a shocking debt to start paying, large scale unemployment which may not fall as AI starts taking white collar jobs. This can lead to a very unstable world. I do hope I am wrong for my children’s sake. But I know the longer we keep acting hysterically about a disease that isn’t that bad when taken in context the worse the future will be.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill Brewer

AI takes white collar jobs as much as it does blue now. The thing is Work From Home. The cost of an office employee is more than his salary, double, with NHS, Pension, facilities, insurance, tax, holidays and no and on. Thus far the need for a work visa kept the office workers protected from foreigners and contract workers.

That is gone. The Philippines and India spent massively making colleges to train locals to do call center work in English. Then they took the all the call center jobs once phone calls internationally got cheap.

Your sheep in offices can now work from home at about 4 times the cost of contracting it to a foreigner with no benefits, and happy to put in 60 hours for 40 of pay.

As no one makes TVs in the West, expect to get to the point no one does computer drudge work anymore in the West. That is what loss of the physical office means, no visa protecting your high pay drudge job.

Martin Davis
Martin Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

No highly paid drudge work, no highly paid drudge income, no high taxes from highly paid drudge jobs, no money for benefits…oh, I’ve just rediscovered…politics.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

One hopes that the new year will have us all looking at the Chinese government with a more skeptical eye…

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Well the EU has just signed some sort of trade/investment deal with China. They will bow down to China for two reasons:
– they need Chinese investment and Germany needs the Chinese market
– the EU sees China as a model to emulate

Welcome to your future.

John Ottaway
John Ottaway
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Fortunately we just left the EU

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

1) EU is net exporter of capital so it doesn’t need China
2) Everybody needs the Chinese domestic market, if you don’t have access to it your competitors will. Despite Trump’s actions US Companies HAVE NOT abandoned China.
3) Another conspiracy theory – like the one that C19 escaped from a lab in Wuhan?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

C!9 almost certainly escaped from the Wuhan lab. Obviously, we all want and need the Chinese market, but the rest of the world should manufacuturing more of its own goods. The EU will bow and scrape to the Chinese because those in Brussels wish to emulate the Chinese model of total control over the population.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

What evidence do you have that C19 came from Wuhan Lab?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Pragmaticism. There’s China, USA, Europe – you pays your money and takes your choices. Or think you’re uniquely positioned to paint the globe pink again.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

And you reckon Boris Johnson won’t bow down to China for a trade deal?

L Paw
L Paw
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

The same BJ that has already part banned Huawei from our 5G infrastructure…with a plan to remove completely. Not fitting your narrative is it.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  L Paw

Fair point, but he has placed a lot of stress on trade deals with growing economies in the Far East, and China will be the largest economy in the world by 2030.

Neil Mcalester
Neil Mcalester
3 years ago

COVID did none of the things you attribute to it, the response did. Failing to understand the difference means we will repeat the same mistakes.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago

This is a wide range article with over 100 comments I will focus on that original supposition about no one seeing this coming and talk about it in terms of health.

I would thoroughly recommend anyone to visit a hospital as I did with my elderly mother through out the summer of 2019. I was shocked by the Tsunami of elderly co morbid and obese. I had extensive conversations with my partner and my children that year and we concluded that neither of us wanted to live on and on with no quality of life and we were honour bound not to be a burden on our children and grandchildren for decades living a meaningless epilogue age where life is one hospital visit after another. If we reached a crossroads where we could go on or die peacefully we agreed on the latter.

When I picked up on Wuhan on 20th Jan it became clear very quickly who was dying the elderly the frail and some of the medical staff from load. But for the vast majority it had no lasting impact. (aware of long haulers but Sars Cov give encouragement that the majority recover and for many its PTSD)

If we don’t learn from 2020 that we should never be held hostage by the frail and elderly who merely exist and those who effectively self harm then we are going round the same unnecessary nonsense again.

With a 1,000 deaths per million all over Europe/US and lower in the Germanic states (but still in disarray) and no issues in Africa for the simple reason obesity is scarce and life expectancy is lower it is obvious this is not about superb health care it is about the state of the health of nations and the consequences of people living to a point where an influenza or coronavirus knocks them on the head and we trouble ourselves about it. For many people in these ACF its a blessed relief. Talk to them ask them what they want.

I am of course not suggesting we should make our populations face the difficulties of Africa but making it clear where policy leads us. Africa is not a shining example of great prevention it is a simple example of the target for these things not existing and if that sounds like mass euthanasia its not its about providing choices, the retention of grace and dignity so we avoid millions being thrown into abject poverty massive cognition disruption broken business’s relationships and mental health issues for those who are ready to get on with their lives. If we would start worrying about them and stop worrying about a few elderly people dying a little sooner after a wonderful fulfilling life then we would have learnt something and oddly enough everyone would benefit. Those dying with grace, those burdened with looking after them and everyone else who would not have in someway to pick up the tab for 2020.

Oh and one other thing we might have saved the lives of 26,000 plus extra people who have died at home of non covid related causes in 2020 whilst we all get bent out of shape. (Source ONS death causes and places 4/12/2020)

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

Well said. Never before in human history have the well been locked up in the face of a perceived disease threat. We have long known the risk group and instead of working to protect them and improve their lives and health, we have destroyed economies and the lives of healthy people. Previously healthy anyway.

Beyond old age and 2-3 co-morbidities, those in aged care, which is where most mortality occurred worldwide, have no quality of life, are drugged to the eyeballs with a dozen toxic medications every day; vaccinated every year against Flu, which doesn’t work anyway, introducing more toxic material into their bodies; fed food low in nutrition and even lower in taste, along with their regular dollops of antibiotics, to ‘keep them alive supposedly’ as it destroys even more of their immune function…..are going to be killed by pretty much anything. And no doubt many wish they would be.

How many of them actually died OF Covid, or WITH Covid and instead of the toxic treatments they were given? A question which will never be asked.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

I am glad to see you making hard hitting honest remarks which one senses no one will talk about. I should say that since I wrote my piece I have been analysing the occupancy issue of NHS beds. Effectively 65,000,000 people are being placed in LD because 23,694 occupied beds is to high a number. Covid admission rates among the 85+ group is a staggering 160 per 100,000 75-84 is 65 per and then move down into 45 -64 and its 10 per. Clearly if you deal differently just with the 85 + group your capacity issues goes away and the entire country can go back ‘carefully’ to normal. Of the 45,364 people who have died of C 19 in hospital the number who are fit and well at age 0-60 is 377. I am sure most of those are health care workers suffering from load.

Tim Gardener
Tim Gardener
3 years ago

This virus has revealed much about people’s fears and hopes. It has shown how those fears and hopes can be manipulated on a grand scale.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Gardener

It showed people are craven cowardly bed wetters who fallow the MSM around like a cow with a ring in its nose. Makes me wonder who really owns the press.

But the writes says things which amaze me. He says all were relieved by the (loss of Trump, win of Biden presumable) as it will bring in ‘competent, responsible, expert led government’. wow He also says he agrees that ‘No Grand lesson here for the world’. Really? I would say there are dozens, but then 2021 will show.

D Hockley
D Hockley
3 years ago

The fact is that Coivd19 tends to kill people who are already in desperately poor shape. Most of its victims already had one foot in the grave.

Lockdown is a governmental overreach that is a fascist in nature and totally unacceptable in a democratic society. The supporters of lockdown seem utterly blind to the fact that a cost/benefit study surely must be done before such an action can seriously be considered, let alone taken.

There have been no studies done as to the collateral damage caused by lockdowns and no answer as to how these enormous economic damages, caused by lockdown will be paid for.

The young and the healthy cannot be asked to sacrifice their livelihoods and their futures to give the old and the weak a few more months of low-quality life. Lockdown is a panicked, group-think reaction verging on religious fervor. It is utterly immoral and illogical. And the
politicians responsible must surely answer for this betrayal.

At the same time, what I find extraordinary (and repulsive) is that those in the mainstream media and social media forums have so deliberately stifled ANY debate around whether lockdowns are worthwhile, or whether the virus was as deadly as some claim, or whether government’s tactics and approaches have been the right response. These are legitimate debates—and humanity thrives when various hypotheses are discussed, argued, dissected, and parsed, not when opposing viewpoints are delegitimized and discredited without due process. A perfect (and rather disgraceful) example of this was the Great Barrington Declaration (which argued that a more nuanced and focused approach to dealing with Covid was one in which the most vulnerable in society were sheltered whilst the rest of the populace more or less carry on) was ferociously and maliciously attacked and the highly credible scientists behind it threatened and publicly shamed.

“Democracy dies in darkness”, so they say”Š.. well, I would further argue that the Truth
dies when a monolithic groupthink becomes the only accepted point of view. And this is what is being forced down our necks right now by the likes of google, Facebook,
Twitter etc etc. Big tech must die (or at least be very strictly regulated) for democracy to survive in any meaningful way. For right now, all we have is a hideous form of Oligarchy.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  D Hockley

“At the same time, what I find extraordinary (and repulsive) is that those in the mainstream media and social media forums have so deliberately stifled ANY debate around whether lockdowns are worthwhile, or whether the virus was as deadly as some claim, or whether government’s tactics and approaches have been the right response”
It has been covered endlessly, DM/DT/Sun/Express, Specator, Unherd, Talk radio.
swedish experiment has been all over the news for the whole year.
How much more coverage do you need?

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  D Hockley

We are living that cost benefit study.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

Well it’s costing a lot and we are seeing no benefits.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Good, now let’s study that.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  D Hockley

What must die is subjective science and medicine. We need fully independent research for science-medicine, free from the patronage, influence and distortions of the pharmaceutical industry and also free from vested agendas anywhere else, including Government, regardless of how well-intentioned they may think that they are.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

what an absurd comment!

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

It was never a pandemic so there was nothing to rout. A virus which is no threat to most people – one of the world’s top epidemiologists, Professor John Ioannadis, said 95% and other experts have said 99%- is not a pandemic.

A virus which even in a positive test, from a deeply flawed base, has most people with no symptoms or symptoms so minor they are irrelevant, is not a pandemic.

A virus where those who actually get sick, in the majority recover, is not a pandemic.

A virus which is mostly a threat, 99%, to the very sick, 2-3 co-morbidities, and very old, barely touching younger or healthier people, is also not a pandemic.

The important lesson to learn from 2021 is how easy it is for Governments to get it totally wrong; how easy it is to frighten most people into submission and how easy it is to allow our freedoms to be removed for no good reason. 2020 has been a salutary lesson in how easy it is for societies to decline into madness. The German Nazis, Italian fascist, Russian Bolsheviks and the Chinese Cultural Revolution all emerged from such irrational madness.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

Nonsense on stilts.

You want people choking out their lives in hospital car parks because there is no space inside and the hospitals are overwhelmed, with no ventilators to prevent suffocation? Hospitals in the worse affected areas are already at the limit of their ability to deliver oxygen, without which people will suffer brain damage at least or death.

But sorry, they’re just “old” people, who in your eugenicist mindset are less important than the sacred right to trade.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

NHS hospitals are always overwhelmed, have been for years. Even annual flu is a huge problem for hospitals in the UK, much worse than hospitals just about anywhere else.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
3 years ago

Yes I know so many people who have had the flu and been hospitalised – oh actually not one!

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Me neither. And yet NHS hospitals every year struggle with flu patients.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
3 years ago

But sadly I do know a number of people who have been hospitalised by Covid – in some cases a number of times and whose health has been impacted – and know the relatives/friends of three people who have died of it.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Yes, as do we all.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
3 years ago

So you agree Covid is more of an issue than flu!

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

You’ve misunderstood. I made no comparison between flu and Covid. My point was about hospital capacity in that NHS hospitals were already woefully insufficient as evidenced by their struggle every year with thousands of flu patients. This insufficiency isn’t new for 2020. Add Covid and there’s no way that NHS hospitals have sufficient capability.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
3 years ago

Oh capacity is a huge issue. My view is that anything I can do to stop/slow the spread of a virus – it can be done – then I will do my utmost to do so. That is all I can say. My friends and family are doing likewise.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Sounds great. But that won’t fix the NHS hospital capacity issue. That’s going to require actual money.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
3 years ago

True. Lots of issues to resolve.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

With the greatest respect, that is darkly manipulative, dishonest, posturing nonsense.

You talk of coldly and cheaply trading away old people’s lives, but seem to find it a perfectly acceptable potential fate for those that don’t fall into your own conspicuous, narrow category.

Isla C
Isla C
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

The new trope to get covidiots to fall into line…

And if that doesn’t work, Police Scotland have launched a new online form so you can snitch on your neighbours who are breaking the rules… I kid you not..

“Police Scotland said in a statement: “Our online reporting form for reporting #COVID19 breaches is now live.”

All enquiries will be followed up….

Happy new year one and all

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Isla C

Yep.

Nothing surprises me any longer, but that doesn’t mean that I still don’t find it profoundly depressing.

Covid has bought out the very worst in even some of the nicest people to my mind.

It just goes to show you that there is an authoritarian streak in far more people out there than most of us would dare to imagine.

My business has boomed throughout all of this whilst those of a good many good people around me have foundered, but I’m under no illusions. I’ve said right from the beginning that this will not end well for all of us regardless.

The problem is that there are still some out there (as evidenced by some of the comments from posters on this forum) yet to be genuinely adversely affected by it.

Isla C
Isla C
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

I hear you, and see it..

But I am thankful when I read folks like yourself words, who offer moments of insight and clarity to this whole sh;tty situation… which makes me think… thank god I’m not alone!

David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Please no more feigned righteousness about the virtue of lockdown and the supposed malign ‘eugenicist’ motivations of those who advocate an alternative.

The suspension of economic activity catalysed by a hysterical response to a virus has lead to a global humanitarian catastrophe of 227m people in poverty and 11m children at risk of malnutrition. In this country it is thought to lead to 560,000 premature deaths as a result of economic downturns. Children have had their education cancelled and been spoken about as if they are ‘carriers’ and ‘contaminated.’

People have been all to happy to engage in shrill puritanical condemnation of their fellow man for ‘failing to follow the rules’, without thinking to question the efficacy or fairness of these rules. This is a trend more in keeping with the denunciation of heretics from a previous time, it has no place in the 21st century – when we have evidenced based medicine and lessons from history on the hideousness of following this dark path.

Trying to squeeze some moral authority out of such a destructive reaction to a virus by accusing those who disagree with you of such things as eugenics really is sinister at worst, and a sign that this whole response has been embraced far to enthusiastically at least.

Isla C
Isla C
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

It would be better if folk could be honest with themselves and others and just say they are anxious and afraid because of their age, which is an understandable reaction. Instead they project their fear onto others…

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
3 years ago
Reply to  Isla C

Rubbish. Who is projecting their fears? The conspiracy theorists – that’s who. Most people I know spanning all ages and health conditions are doing whatever they feel is the right thing for them or family. Where is this fear? I’ve not yet encountered it. Don’t shout down people for being cautious and don’t label them as scaremongers. I’ve seen more scaremongering on this site than I have in public life.

Isla C
Isla C
3 years ago

Claire please read Chris C comments above before lambasting…

This is who is projecting fear… Bodies in car parks I would say is fear-mongering

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
3 years ago
Reply to  Isla C

It isn’t. I have friends and relatives who work in the NHS. They’re lying I presume. Granted the language used by the commentator is on the emotive side. Why are you so frightened? Young? Healthy? If so get on with your life and stop telling people on the front line that they are liars. Be thankful you are not at risk.

Isla C
Isla C
3 years ago

Claire you are misunderstanding my point completely… I think you will find I agree with you!

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
3 years ago
Reply to  Isla C

Sorry. I didn’t read it as that.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Interesting – i have friends and relatives in the NHS too across most parts of the UK, with a few exceptions they speak of empty surgical and medical wards, (bad) large drop in A&E attendence (prob good) and an overall feeling of fear and powerlessness. Many of these people are quite left wing in a British, Fabian sort of way, and think BJ is leveraging the scamdemic to further wreck the NHS to the benefit of his cronies and donors in private medicine. From what i’ve seen of the man i can quite believe this, though its no bad thing IMO. Socialised medicine does not work in the real world for the same reason other forms of Socialism don’t – there is no one producing wealth, just taking someone elses. So maybe the sort of compulsory insurance for employees we see in Switzerland, most of EU etc will be one of the very few positive outcomes of the this otherwise very embarrassing c**k up by those who claim power yet are unable to excercise authority.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Interesting – i have friends and relatives in
the NHS too across most parts of the UK, with a few exceptions they speak of
empty surgical and medical wards, (bad) large drop in A&E attendence (prob
good) and an overall feeling of fear and powerlessness. Many of these people
are quite left wing in a British, Fabian sort of way, and think BJ is
leveraging the virus to further wreck the NHS to the benefit of his cronies and
donors in private medicine. From what i’ve seen of the man i can quite believe
this, though its no bad thing IMO. Socialised medicine does not work in the
real world for the same reason other forms of Socialism don’t – there is no one
producing wealth, just taking someone elses. So maybe the sort of compulsory
insurance for employees we see in Switzerland, most of EU etc will be one of
the very few positive outcomes of the this otherwise very embarrassing c**k up
by those who claim power yet are unable to excercise authority.

Claire Olszanska
Claire Olszanska
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Agree empty wards are bad because people aren’t getting treatment which they should do. Staff are being deployed elsewhere plus resources. It’s critical care that is getting swamped which in turn is having knock on effects elsewhere. Agree that this Covid situation has highlighted huge problems in NHS. So unless critical care decides not to treat Covid patients and instead offers palliative care we are stuck with the situation. I’m sure there are many ways things could have been done differently but this is the place we are at unfortunately.

Lyn Griffiths
Lyn Griffiths
3 years ago

You ask Mathew how will covid shape 2021, well I would say if we look around us. It already has.

Tim Diggle
Tim Diggle
3 years ago

Remember HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s? Remember all the speculation about how it would change the way we lived? Remember all the warnings about the end of the permissive society? Remember some of the more extreme and hysterical suggestions that it could spell the end for mankind?

Did any of it happen? Thought not ….

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Diggle

It killed almost an entire generation of gay men. I guess you think that doesn’t matter.

larry tate
larry tate
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

Did this happen because homosexual men are extremely promiscuous ?
And I do think it doesn®t matter. Life and death are banal. They happen every second, in every last bit of the cosmos.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago

I advised in March when this got going that any small business or company without substantial cash reserves or freehold unencumbered premises should liquidate while they were still able to do so with little loss. Looking at the devastation now about to descend on many of them I think I was right. Too ,many tried to go on .and either spent or borrowed money to do so. The state money will end and the bills will come in. I estimate that up to 50% of jobs in hospitality and in rural areas linked to tourism will go . This will ruin large parts of the country .,
When cashflow goes only bankruptcy can follow.
The divide growing now in our country is between those who have been well paid and work in state or allied jobs or for the corporates and the rest of us. That is a recipe for unrest.
Then add the mental health problems now becoming clear and the effects of a lockdown which is never ending and has finished the easy relationships between people that are essential for civil society to function., They have been disrupted in a way never seen before. War never did this. Our loss of old freedoms is hurting us far more than we will admit.
Put in the mix the explosion of fiat money and the possibility it will lead to hyperinflation and we have more problems. I fear the die is cast and our panicked and hasty reactions to this virus and all subsequent policies have ensured disaster. I want to be wrong but the hard times have only just begun.

Duncan Cleeve
Duncan Cleeve
3 years ago

”We all failed to see 2020 coming.”Not quite, Fauci predicted there would be a pandemic during Trumps term, (he’s on video saying this), the Rockefeller foundation also predicted a pandemic and what it would look like, (Lock Step), and Event 201 also game played such a scenario in 2019.

Gates during an interview said we’ll take the next one ‘more seriously’ and the WHO have said this wasn’t the ‘big one’. Happy Covid21, good luck.

Kirk Adams
Kirk Adams
3 years ago

To me it seems highly likely that the virus escaped from the lab in Wuhan given that there was a “corona” outbreak in a nearby mine following the clearing out of a lot of Bat excrement in 2012. The virus from this was stored in the Wuhan Corona labs for studying purposes. A Chinese professor revealed this about 6 months ago and drew the link, but was of course shut down, The probability that this lab is the source of the outbreak is therefore high.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Kirk Adams

Some experts like Nobel Prize-winner, Professor Luc Montaigner have said the virus was manmade and out of a laboratory vaccine experiment. That was also shut down.

Other stories have said the vaccine experiment was begun in the US but safety standards were a problem so they moved it to Wuhan, where Chinese, not Americans were at risk, and that this experiment was being funded by many of the world’s top science-medical organisations, including the WHO. That also got shut down.

Science-medicine sourced in censorship is bad science and dangerous medicine. If these stories were wrong then allow them to be discussed, debated and categorically proven to be wrong. Silence is the path to fascism.

Adamsson
Adamsson
3 years ago

Do you really think that they will just let us go back to normal?
They could have done that in May.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Adamsson

At the cost of hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Adamsson

No, power, once acquired, is very tough to give up.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago

I’d largely agree with your analysis Mathew but one mystery that has obfuscated any lasting change, at least in my opinion, is the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

If its origins is a lab then I’d assume that will have deep geopolitical implications.

If its origins was wild/tamed Nature then I’d assume that will have deep ecological implications.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

Personally I believe that Covid originated in the Wuhan lab. However, even if this is proven, or becomes accepted fact, it will not have any geopolitical implications. The EU is currently doing a dirty deal with China because it needs Chinese investment. The US – certainly under Biden – will behave no differently towards China. Morality or the deaths of millions due to Covid mean nothing to the people who run the EU and US.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

Well, the Chinese and Western Pacific are basically immune. 0.4 deaths in Vietnam, 0 in Cambodia, o.3 to 4 for the rest, China on 4 deaths per million. China had their massive move around holiday a couple months ago where they all travel, last night they packed the streets, No problems, no controls,they are basically IMMUNE.

And that is very lucky for them as it escaped from their labs.

Now I know people say they the 200+ times less deaths is because they have so many less comorbidity, but that just means it is more likely a directed to the West thing as everyone can see if it attacks the unhealthy the West will be crippled but the rest of the world will not be.

ray.wacks
ray.wacks
3 years ago

If history is anything to go by, we will learn nothing.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  ray.wacks

You will learn. WFH, work from home, will be the biggest disaster ever to rock the West as it offshore many millions of office jobs. The ones cheering about WFH and how they no longer have to spend on office clothes, commute costs and time, and so on, but still get the same pay at home, they are about to get a severe wake up call.

It will be like agricultural workers when the gas tractor arrived. Thy got to get factory jobs, but what will the office workers do?

Teo
Teo
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

Thy got to get factory jobs, but what will the office workers do?

Meet and greet the 500,000 plus Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong.

John Ottaway
John Ottaway
3 years ago

To question one statement early in the article, I am not so sure at all that Trump has lost the USA election. Wait for January 6th and perhaps more pertinently Jan 20th to see who is actually inaugurated.
None of this stuff covered by mainstream media by the way.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  John Ottaway

He did lose the election. May be the Kraken will be soon released and eat the libs.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  John Ottaway

I heard on Talk radio Trump lost the election by 34,000 votes in critical communities in critical states! (by the American delegate kind of democracy) May be an invented number, but everyone admits it is tiny. Biden stole the election.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

Biden won by 7 million votes. Biden received the largest number of votes ever received by an American presidential candidate. Trump lost the popular vote both in 2016 and 2020 – it’s just that with the Electoral College being biased in favour of the smaller States which tend to be Republican, in 2016 he won the EC despite losing the popular vote, whereas in 2020 he lost both.

Which makes you wonder what is the point of being a populist, when more people vote for your opponent than for you, each time you stand.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

The US has no popular vote. Presidents are elected by states through the Electoral College. There is no other way to win.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  John Ottaway

Sorry, Trump’s attempts to steal the election by (1) getting Republicans at State level to certify Trump as having won their States and select Trump representatives to the Electoral College even though Biden won those States (2) institute Martial Law in those swing states and rerun the election (which Bill Barr and other Administration types refused to go along with), have both failed.

So American democracy will not be overturned by a Fascist coup.

Both ruses would be out of the Germany 1930s playbook, of course.

Ironic that events reminiscent of what Trump called “sh*tty countries” in Africa and South America, whose inhabitants Trump and his kind tend to feel racially superior to, should be on the menu from Trump himself.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

The Western world’s response to covid will surely go down as its biggest ever collective peacetime f*#k up and greatest conscious acts of self-harm since, well, nothing else remotely comparable springs to mind at all quite frankly.

Having been at work throughout in a face to face job involving many tens of thousands of interactions, time and time again I’ve listened to people telling me how such and such a hospital is overflowing and they’ve got a friend or friend of a friend who works there, and time and again I ask the question (with the untimely deaths of millions of the young from Spanish Flu at the forefront of my mind), ‘are young people part of this grisly tsunami’, to which the answer is invariably a hushed ‘yes’, and to which I then ask the question, ‘are these younger people otherwise fit and healthy individuals, to which, again invariably, the answer is, ‘well, no, no…not really, they all have other issues, but it’s getting SO much worse you know…if only these selfish people would just stick to the rules’

Covid is undeniably a very real threat to an almost universally and clearly identifiable group of people and mass lockdowns not only don’t work they simply serving to heap misery upon further misery for the vast majority of people who are clearly NOT susceptible to its most severe ravages and yet here we are nine months in continuing to do exactly the same thing with no end really in sight.

In short, this is Einstein’s definition of madness writ hideously large with knobs on.

David Charles
David Charles
3 years ago

…there is no new thing under the sun.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

“…Sunak will likely break their pre-Covid promise not to raise VAT, national insurance and income tax…”

Sunak puts on a good show, but the extent to which his options are limited is patent to anyone willing to look. In truth, Sunak has nowhere to run. He is splurging now in the hope of clawing back later – requiring of course, big cuts and huge tax rises, and likely attempted looting of the asset wealth of boomers etc. But that hope is utterly vain. There is no way of unmounting this tiger without getting eaten. He won’t be able to raise taxes, nor reimpose austerity. Oh, there will be a few desultory tries, each of which will have a heavy cost in political capital, so the Tories will back off. They will no doubt try a few other things, tax on online trading etc, which have precisely zero chance of working.

So then, what happens to the gargantuan debt now gathering speed and ballooning even as we speak? Well, the answer is obvious. All those under 40, guys and gals, that’s *your* baby now. Half a lifetime of pain. Enjoy.

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

Ivor Cummins
you tube /watch?v=SdKkZLqhmDM&list=WL&index=200

We have now entered a phase of further lockdown mania, even though vast majority of analyses show that lockdown does not move the mortality needle. Dr. Hope-Simpson’s stunning book

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

The Brexit deal killed any chance of Scottish independence. Scotland would have to spend years to become independent of Britain, that deal would have to negotiated. And then, it would not be a member of the EU unless it applied as an independent country a process that would also take years. So it would basically be outside of Britain and the EU. Don’t see that happening.

Besides if Scotland can’t get along in a union that has as few members as the UK, how will it get along in a union like the EU with many more members?

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Sturgeon and to a lesser extent Salmon are able rabble rousers appealing to the worst instincts of racism and envy which are found in every society. In some ways it would be great to see them get what they wanted and then they’d have to carry the can as things remained as bad or got worse. Overall though i think the greater part of Scottish public are a decent bunch who deserve to see their country return to the economic and intellectual status they enjoyed from 1850s to 1930s, which at the time was comparatively higher than England’s.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

I could not agree with you more. Well said.

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

Hospitals In Britain Stretched to Capacity?


Every year NHS hospitals are stretched to capacity, and they keep reducing the number of beds. A claimed bed shortage is now the government’s justification for tyranny. – Tony Heller

newtube app/TonyHeller/wT8uHfr

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Yes and some sort of national amnesia allows everyone to forget that hospitals are stretched to capacity on a regular basis as soon as flu season ends every year. Somehow waiting lists don’t factor into the average person’s hospital capacity calculations. You’d think they’d make the connection.

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

Proof That Lockdowns Are Working!
you tube /watch?v=qQ_XFUYAV_A
AwakenWithJP

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

I wish i could share Matt Goodwin’s optimism, maybe its easy to be optimistic in the campus bubble? The problems resulting from SARS-CoV2 are political, not medical, and as such will only be solved by political means. This is a great contrast to the more deadly flu outbreaks in 1918 and 1969. Britain’s spectacular regression is best illustrated by the following from last weeks reportage: Woman arrested in Gloucester for filming empty medical and surgical wards followed by doctor labelling nurse as scaremonger and liar after she told the media childrens hospital’s are rammed full of children dying of “covid” (AKA SARS-CoV2 and variants) This is very much like the witchcraft mania of 16th century. Not sure about those days but now it has some interesting side effects: The part of the population with good thinking skills, probably 50% or more, will no longer trust traditional power structures, political, legal, medical, academic etc. Further a large number of people who have never so much as scrumped an apple or trashed a wheatfield are learning to operate under the radar, swerving ANPR and leaving their phone trackers at home whilst achieving social media blackouts at parties and gatherings. Just the sort of skills needed for serious crime or terrorism. How does this large part of the populace feel about lefties and greenies cheering on the virus, or BJ and his chums leveraging the virus to feed crony capitalism? Add in public disgust at the SPADs, newsreaders, footballers and luvvies who are able to publicly flaunt the so-called regulations and there is very fertile ground for some new politics. If we are lucky it will be Farage and Tice with their unashamedly civic society classical liberal values. Without that luck we will be stuck as we are with pigs running animal farm as their own feifdom, or worse a greenie/leftie style eco-nazi statism that will flush millions of lives down the toilet like it did in the last centuary.

Martin Davis
Martin Davis
3 years ago

Mr Goodwin’s comment about ” no particular political or economic system has consistently outperformed its rivals” seems to have ignored the East. This encompasses not only China, the main beneficiary from COVID, but a host of other countries with dissimilar ‘systems’ which have done far better than Europe or North America. Parochial or what?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

The core problem with UK economy is low productivity (tied to education, CAPEX, R&D) and it has been a problem since the 2nd stage of Industrial Revolution – almost 150 years. You can look at the last 150 years and call it a blip or face the truth: it is a permanent feature of British Economy.
Many parts of N. England that voted Leave are geographically uncompetitive – Blackpool can not compete with Corfu. Nothing (global warming aside) is going to change that. And that geographic uncompetitiveness also applies to manufacturing (read about the cluster effect).
Leveling up (East German Experience) will cost a lot of money and it will take decades and there is no evidence (East Germany again) that is going to work.
Patriotism aside, there is absolutely no evidence that the next technological breakthroughs are going to take place in UK.
The driving force of UK Economy since 1979 (Maggie comes to power) has been private sector debt. That debt burden currently stands at c225% of GDP (it was c.80% of GDP In 1979). Throw in GOV Debt and the country’s debt burden is HUGE. And UK has an aging population (vote most likely Tory) that is going to consume much of government spending until 2050.
Brexit (patriotic delusions aside) doesn’t fix any of the above.
And the author (quite innovative and correct when he describes “cross pressurized voters”) doesn’t cover any of it – assuming that he does understand the core problem(s).

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Nobody would really dispute any of that, although my understanding is that despite the best efforts of the City we still have some technology leaders, certainly in life sciences and pharma etc. Moreover, the whole world is based on debt and, believe it or not, there are a number of countries with inferior education systems.

Thus we have just crept above India (a country with a population 15 or 20 times greater than the UK’s) to become the word’s fifth largest economy. Yes, much of this is based on the financial chicanery of the City but you have to take what you can get. And it is quite remarkable when you think that much of the population (including many Labour MPs) can barely read or perform the most basic mathematics.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

“…certainly in life sciences and pharma etc”
Not enough to lift up Blackpool.

US Capital markets are vastly bigger – it hasn’t stopped them from funding Silicon Valley, Biotech, fracking, etc.
The sectors of industries wiped out by global competitors (clothes, shoes, furniture, electronic, machine tooling, etc.) were wiped out because the competitors were much cheaper (china, east asia) or better (Germany, japan).

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Only partly. Most of the export of jobs was because it was so easy and the profits were huge. To my shame I took part in it in the 70s and it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Find a product and get it made abroad and rake in the profits. Keep the price the same though. What happened to the UK company? Who cared ?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

So what is your solution? To simply let Blackpool starve, or survive on welfare? I was once, like you, a neo-liberal globalist. But the fact is that this system condemns at least half the population to penury or servitude. It is immoral and unsustainable.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I am not deluded as to believe that my comments here will fix Blackpool. Leavers now own Leveling Up. I will be around just to laugh at them once they fail.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

We only have AstraZeneca at all because Pfizer’s takeover attempt in the early 2010s was defeated. That’s the same Pfizer which closed its UK research and manufacturing facilities and moved them to the US. When Labour called for the takeover bid to be rejected, our then Tory MP (a headbanging Brexiteer and free market zealot) called for it to go ahead – even though constituents worked for the company and would have lost their jobs when Pfizer resumed its pursuit of its US-centric internal culture. His commitment to the free market was that strong, and he also explained that he held shares in AZ and would get a good price in a US takeover.

Fortunately, in this well-educated constituency, the voters took the hint about someone who wanted to sell them down the river in support of right-wing ideology, and booted him out at the following election. Humiliatingly for his party, they’ve gone from being the dominant political force when I moved here in the 1990s, to losing five of the last six parliamentary elections, losing control of the council, closing their social club premises due to ‘lack of support’, halving their headquarters size, and now apparently selling off the rump of it, since the sign on it has disappeared.

J J
J J
3 years ago

The new variant changes everything as it seems to be almost unstoppable, other than a perpetual chinese type lockdown.

I believe once the new vaccine is rolled out to the over 65 and healthcare workers (15 million people) we shall gradually remove all but the most benign restrictions (ie mask wearing, hand sanitizing and social distancing). There are 12 million people over 65 and 1 million health care workers, so we should be able to do this in about two months (end of Feb) for the first dose. If the vaccine fails, then we just have to go with herd immunity and ensure the hospitalis do not collapse (arguably that’s all we have been doing anyway) whilst developing a new vaccine. What other long term strategy is there?

However aggressive testing and self isolation needs to be ramped up forever. The later has been our dirty secret of a failure for the past year. Testing and tracing is almost irrelevant if people refuse to isolate (studies suggest as few as 17% self isolate). I think the media fail to report this as it’s not something they can easily blame on the government. God forbid, we’d need to actually blame ourselves (very unfashionable)

We must mandate testing and isolation with the full force of the law. Everything else should be guidance with the exception of COVID health and safety rules for operating businesses.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

Mass testing, tracing and isolation for asymptomatic cases in a population of non vulnerable people once the over 65s are vaccinated? Not practical and not sustainable. Young asymptomatic people will not self-isolate, even if they were to be forcibly tested, surely that’s obvious by now. Are you suggesting that thousands of police be hired to ensure that young people isolate? And how would you plan to keep the economy going under such circumstances with young asymptomatic people locked up?

J J
J J
3 years ago

If the vaccine is proven to be extremely effective, then I accept we would no longer need to mandate testing for COVID19 once it’s fully rolled out. However the apparatus should remain in place for any future pandemic.

Testing and isolation are the most effective way to contain a pandemic, with the least damage to the economy and people’s personal freedoms. If this process fails, we have no option but to undertake these crazy lockdowns which are a gross infringement on people’s freedoms and cause massive economic damage. We must never let this happen again.

The average prevalence of the virus in any two week period in the UK has been about 1% (including asymptomatic). I would rather we lock these individual people down (about 670K people) rather than attempting to lockdown 67 million people and ruining the economy. It’s a matter of choosing the least destructive and disruptive solution. There is no cost free solution. Just letting people go around infecting other people is not acceptable, particularly when you can avoid that by having a non invasive, free test, and then staying at home to watch netflix for 10 days whilst being paid.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

What is your legal justification for forcibly testing people with no symptoms of COVID? Cite the law that would allow the government to do this.

Testing and isolation did NOT contain Covid 19 precisely because most people who have it never got tested and have no symptoms. And since they never got tested you haven’t a clue how many people had it yet were asymptomatic. Nor will healthy young people consent to being locked down at government whim. That should be obvious by now. So do you plan to hire thousands of police to monitor those forcibly isolated? Or round up the untested?

Your theory rests on an erroneous assumption. That Covid 19 is equally dangerous to everyone. That’s simply false.

J J
J J
3 years ago

In the UK the legal justification would be Parliament passes a law that allows mandatory testing and isolation. Nothing else is required.

You seem to be making an argument for anarchism. In a liberal democracy we are justified in restraining an individual’s liberty if they are causing harm to another individual. If you are knowingly walking around with COVID, it is effectively ‘assault’. As you are likely to cause another person harm by giving them COVID. There is already legal precedent in relation to AIDS were people have been prosecuted for having unprotected sex with other people when they knew they had AIDS.

Admittedly the mandatory testing part is more tricky from a civil liberties perspective. However it would certainly be acceptable to allow physical organisations, whether public or private, to insist on knowing your testing status before admittance (again, there is precedent for this). So I guess if you want to never enter another building in your life, other than your own and perhaps friend or family, you can avoid a test.

Again, it’s a matter of balance. I would prefer we never had to test or isolate anyone, but the cost of infringement on individual liberty is massively off set by the cost of an uncontrolled pandemic – which involves a far greater infringement on civil liberty. Your mistake is to see no action as not impacting an individual’s liberty.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

There is no such law that allows for people to be forcibly tested. That was my point, there’s no legal justification for it. If you’re saying that such a law could be passed, well, not so far it hasn’t. So you could not forcibly test unwilling people and your entire argument depends on the ability to do that. Remember you are proposing testing asymptomatic people, not people who know they have COVID, by force. Your AIDS example was not asymptomatic people so it’s irrelevant.

The second part of your argument, the forcible isolation of people depends on the hiring of thousands of police officers to monitor such people. Since you’re not arguing that people will voluntarily isolate, and as we certainly have plenty of evidence that they will not, has anyone suggested hiring a force of people dedicated to monitoring people supposedly in isolation? Where will the funds for this come from?

You have not thought this through very well.

J J
J J
3 years ago

My original post was arguing it should be mandatory. Therefore I am arguing a law should be passed. However as already stated, employers can mandate a test as can private businesses. If the tests are free, only the cranks will refuse.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

Yes, and my point is that there is no such law that allows for forcibly testing asymptomatic people. Has anyone proposed such a law? And since testing only determines if you have Covid today but not tomorrow, are you proposing mandatory testing of asymptomatic people daily, weekly, monthly? Is a COVID test valid even 24 hours after you take one? Where would these facilities be that accommodate the entire population for daily or weekly or even monthly testing? How will this be paid for? You don’t imagine the NHS is going to do it, do you?

You also haven’t thought through mandatory isolation which would require an army of people to monitor. Laws would have to be passed to fund this army, and what would you do with the people caught by this fantasy army? Jail time? In specific COVID facilities since you couldn’t put them in just any jail.

Your arguments are unworkable and in the case of mass forcible testing on any kind of regular basis, sheer fantasy.

J J
J J
3 years ago

I know there is no law, that’s why I advocated a law. Perhaps we are going around in circles.

Things are always impossible until someone proves they are not. Most experts would of told you testing half a million a people a day was impossible a year ago. The new generation of tests can produce results in minutes by spitting into a portable testing machine. ‘Pooled’ testing also allows thousands of samples to be test in one batch.

Your choice is massive nationwide lockdowns and hundreds of thousands dead and / or in hospital. My choice is mandating people spit in a tube on a regular basis and making the 2% that are positive stay home and watch netflix for 10 days while being paid. Again, no cost free way out of this.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

It doesn’t matter if you advocate a forcible testing law. No one who can make it happen is doing so. Probably because it’s unworkable. You’d have to test everyone daily. You know that tests are only good for that moment, you could be positive the next day. It’s a true giggle that you believe the NHS could test everyone daily. Or even weekly or monthly. What what facilities and what funds? This is absolute pie in the sky.

As you have already admitted, people won’t abide lockdowns. Was it 17% you believed to be compliant. Again, this is unworkable. You have no enforcement mechanism and no one is even suggesting one. And you have no place to hold people who won’t isolate. Younger people will go out and they’ll go to work.

No, we must be practical. A plan we know isn’t workable from the start just to pretend you’re doing something is pointless. Testing should be available to those who want it and are symptomatic. At risk populations should be better protected, families with at risk members can shelter together. The vast not at risk majority must carry on with life, keep the economy going. With no economy, where do you plan to get the money for your fantasy plan?

J J
J J
3 years ago

On the contrary, the PM specifically spoke about mass testing as a solution several months back. Project ‘Moon Shoot’. And the solution is not binary (either you test everyone or you test no one). The more you test the better. Once a week is better than once a year. What funds? We have spent 400 billion this year on COVID and lost several hundred billion in economic activity. Daily testing would cost a few billion at most.

You can enforce isolation. Many countries have done so. You can use smart phone or apps or ankle bracelets.

Again, I am trying to save civil liberties and the economy by advocating a solution that impacts civil liberties less. Either we quarantine the people who are infectious based on testing, or we quarantine entire parts of the country, whether they are infected or not. I think the former is less of an infringement than the later.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

There’s already been mass testing. That’s not what you were advocating. You were advocating testing asymptomatic people by force. On a daily basis. Testing results do not apply the very next day. This isn’t doable and there’s no law that allows it, nor will one be passed for the obvious reasons.

No, you cannot enforce isolation without hiring a massive police force that will monitor everyone assigned to isolation. No country has done that or even been able to do that. You’d also have to be able to lock up people who won’t comply and you have no place to do that. Nor have your proposed such facilities. Then you’d need courts to adjudicate such cases because there would be lawsuits absent any legal justification. Apps do not keep people at home. How much more evidence do you need of this?

Your “solutions” are not legal, not practical and not affordable.