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Dominic Cummings is writing history His narrative of grotesque incompetence will eventually cut through

Does the Red Wall care about Boris's pandemic? Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty

Does the Red Wall care about Boris's pandemic? Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty


May 27, 2021   5 mins

When we go to sleep our brains go through a cycle of different stages; first the dreamless, NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stage, during which our minds digest the events of the day; and then the REM, when it interprets them with dreams.

It’s the same with historical events, which are digested and then usually followed about five to ten years later by serious works of fiction and history offering an interpretation of what happened. The more traumatic events might take longer, and those “dreams” may change the collective view of what happened; the popular interpretation of the First World War was only really established in 1929 with three different plays damning the conflict, quite different from how it was viewed at the time. The Holocaust took even longer, and it was only from the late Seventies that it became a subject replayed over again in our minds.

We have yet to collectively dream about the awful events of 2020. The history of how Boris Johnson handled Covid is still to be written, and today’s opinion polls tell us little. For that reason, I’d be wary of dismissing too quickly the impact of Dominic Cummings’s testimony yesterday.

The Cummings narrative, of grotesque incompetence and a shambolic, lazy hack of a Prime Minister, will almost certainly have no impact on the Government’s commanding lead in the polls, and Boris Johnson will continue his satanic lucky streak.

Most people don’t seem to mind that the Prime Minister is lazy and dishonest, and none of yesterday’s revelations will “cut through” to ordinary voters, at least immediately. When it comes to Johnson’s performance the people have spoken. The people think he did a good job. And yet maybe the people are wrong. Maybe we ought to care more about what the elite think.

Five years ago we started hearing a lot more about “the people”; on one side some talked of the referendum being “the will of the people”, while others demanded a “people’s vote”, as if the first referendum had been decided by geese or ducks.

It’s not encouraging. Pretty much everything in history with “the people” in it has tended to be either murderous, stupid, disingenuous or just incompetent, from the People’s Crusade (an orgy of religiously-fuelled mob murder of Jews followed by humiliating defeat by Muslims) to the various terrible regimes that have “people” in the name. (Or “the people’s vaccine”, for which read: no vaccine.)

Yet here were Tory politicians invoking “the people”, something far closer to populism than conservatism.

Conservatism is built around institutions, the framework of social organisation — monarchy, church, family, social organisations, legal and government bodies, even sports clubs. Robert Peel said in a famous 1838 speech: “By Conservative principles, I mean … the maintenance, defence and continuance of those laws, those institutions, that society, and those habits and manners, which have contributed to and mould and form the character of Englishmen.”

Populism, in contrast, is built around the sovereignty of “the people”. Populists tend to disregard institutions because they feel little connection with them, partly because they have become dominated by their political opponents and international elites. There is a particular danger with conservatives becoming disenchanted with shared institutions, because they are psychologically best suited to maintain them, being overall more conscientious and sticklers for rules.

In a world where shared institutions are crumbling, conservatism will morph into populism, which doesn’t base political legitimacy on such civic bodies but on “the people”. If Boris Johnson has the support of the people, if none of Cummings’s revelations makes any difference in the polls, then it doesn’t matter — the libs are owned.

The Johnson Government is not populist, it is what someone described as a Whig oligarchy with a populist vibe. Johnson is a right-wing liberal but he has the personal charisma usually associated with populists, as well as the dreadful record of consistently lying.

The voters don’t mind, because there is also a vague feeling that he supports “people like me” against remote elites, yet it is not spelled out. On another characteristic populist trait — the belittling of expert authority — Johnson’s government is hardly Trumpian, either. While political leaders in France and Germany have behaved appallingly with regards to vaccines, the British Government has always followed expert advice throughout the epidemic — it’s just a shame the experts got a lot of things wrong.

And yet, the Johnson Government’s raison d’etre seems to be that, so long as it has the support of the people, aka the median voter or Red Wall, that’s enough. Which is not the way we end up with good government.

Even if Cummings’s revelations don’t matter to the Red Wall voters, it’s still disastrous that the Government completely failed to respond to Covid. It’s still disastrous if, as Cummings alleges, the Prime Minister was distracted by a book he has to write to pay for a divorce caused by his philandering. It’s still disastrous that the Cabinet Office is “terrifyingly shit”.

Most voters have a view regarding how competently the country is run, but they don’t consider it their role to be the watchdog of political morals; that used to be the job of that dreaded word no one will admit to being part of — the elite. John Profumo spent four decades living a life of shame-induced public service not because it “cut through” with voters but because he’d disgraced himself in the eyes of his peers.

The norms of British public life stated that you didn’t lie and cheat, but once that norm was broken, it was impossible to put back together. Norms are far easier to destroy than to build.

Most people are not that interested in politics and are mostly apolitical, which in effect means small-c conservative. They don’t tend to notice the everyday rigmarole of Westminster, and what does “cut through” isn’t necessarily important. For example, Cummings driving to County Durham so that his family might care for his son if both he and his wife became ill did cut through with non-political voters; the fact that the Government incompetently shunted Covid patients into care homes and in doing so killed thousands of people hardly made an impact.

Does that mean that Conservatives are supposed to view the former as more important? Sometimes “the people” are wrong, sometimes we shouldn’t care so much whether an issue cuts through with the public because it is actually important in itself, to the country’s elites who are supposed to ensure good government. Conservatives have forgotten how to even articulate this point because, since June 2016 at least, their core self-justification is that the people is sovereign.

The politically apathetic or semi-interested often have sounder political instincts than the university-educated because they suffer less from biases and groupthink. The more people learn about a political subject, and become more vested in it, the more extreme they tend to become and the more tribal. It is the job of conservatives to protect the country from such people.

But the politically apathetic also don’t write the narrative, and while they might not be aware of the day-to-day political rigmarole, they are still subject to the same historical memory. Yesterday’s revelations might not affect the polls now or even next year, but if the Cummings narrative — of incompetence, laziness and callousness at the hands of a dishonest and disorganised prime minister — builds as a historical memory, then it will start to break through, not just into opinion polls but into the history books.

Even if yesterday’s revelations make no impact on the polls, it may well affect the longer cultural memory, the REM of British life. John Major’s government had given us 16 consecutive quarters of economic growth by the time of the 1997 election, but at that point, the memory of Black Wednesday had seared itself into the collective memory. The same might happen with Covid.

Few blame the Government right now for how they dealt with Covid, just as few in 1919 doubted the wisdom of fighting Germany. But history hasn’t been written yet, and when it is, historians won’t be as forgiving to Boris Johnson as “the people”.


Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable

edwest

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Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
3 years ago

This is just silly Mr West. No one knows how things will play out; we are still in a pandemic, soon to be followed by an economic crisis. The idea that you can predict how Boris will be judged is risible.
events, my dear boy, events.
And as for the mistakes made by Boris et al, I invite you to predict the time, scale, duration and probability of the third wave. Or when the Indian pandemic will end.
And if you can’t, then stop passing judgements on those who had to make difficult decisions with no data and absence of hindsight.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Agreed.

Paul Rogers
Paul Rogers
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Well said. Ed writes well enough, but the article was written in the headline panel. The rest merely pads out his beliefs. And a lot of us don’t agree with his conclusion, or care.
“the people”, as Ed describes us, do not care one jot for the revisionism of historians. And rightly so. I care more for creating things rather than cleverly using hindsight to explain how I would have behaved if I were in charge.

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul Rogers
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Rogers

Ed’s schtick is that the Conservatives are doomed, a subject to which he devoted an entire book published in October 2019.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

In the long run, he’ll be right – perhaps when those aliens the US government are now declassifying start showing their stuff.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

I’m hoping the aliens will eat lefties and p155 petrol.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
3 years ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

In the long run, humans like to have continuation of the past – no uncomfortable disruptions.

No, new ideologies, just a gradual adaptation to new things …

Dominic S
Dominic S
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Every human institution is doomed. Its just how long they’ve got until they’re over which remains up for discussion.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Dominic S

The Daily Mail says ‘Police Surveillance State‘ in the West in 4 years if AI continues its trajectory!

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

It was a stinker. I’m sorry I bought and ashamed I read it nearly to the end.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I think his thesis was that small-c conservatives are doomed, and that the Conservative party can only win if they discard historic conservatism.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Rogers

You are no the people – as you describe yourself.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Rogers

The people are sheep and will believe as they are told. Now it is the ‘Fake News’ Boris Truth, but one day the real truth will come out. The question is if this real truth will be taught as true or false. If Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook, Fact Checkers have a hand in checking the ‘Facts’ it will be 100% lies which are the official truth.

Terence Riordan
Terence Riordan
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

50 % are sheep there are serious non-sheep around and many congregate in local pubs where discourse takes place…that is why the Govt keeps them shut when they don’t have any evidence for CV spreading.

Michael James
Michael James
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Better shut down UnHerd then.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael James

Unherd is the most suspect of all sources on the Internet. They protest their journalistic independence loudly, but in fact are as bad as the worst of them for distorting the COVID TRUTH. Because they give one side, one facet, of independent agenda, but then leave the MSM Liberal Lefty agenda truth for the 90% of the rest. Which to me is total Tacit Complicity.

Unherd WILL NOT talk of the economic situation of the lockdown, ZERO discussion of it – and that is the Real Story. Also avoids the destruction of education, the loss of freedoms, and the rest of the globe concerning covid. Unherd really is just MSM, it pretends to present all sides of the issues, but does not. It is just a brown sheep in the big flock of off-white ones, fallows the same Bellwether as they all do. baaa

Stories on Friends reunion, psychology jargon, Woke, just stuff – but no big picture, that is Unherd. I do like them, but they are not the actual picture, just a small view out of a side window.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael James

Just a matter of time, old bean.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Totally agree. I’d like to know if UK Gov has been any better or worse than other democratic governments at handling this crisis – perhaps time will tell. I suspect about middling. The idea that all other governments (apart from ours) have handled the crisis with smooth efficiency and affable, cordial decision making at the highest level is laughable. I can just imagine the expletives between Macron and his people. The reality is that everyone has learnt as they’ve gone along. And, crucially, it’s still not proven that the UK death toll (as a per capita compared to other countries) is higher because of ‘preventable / avoidable mistakes’ on the part of Gov – a lot of scientists think it’s as much to do with the fact that we’ve got an older/ fatter, more poorly and lower Vitamin D population than pretty much any other country in Europe.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

Agree Michael. The varying impact of COVID will turn out to be about correspondingly varying demographics, not government responses.

Charles Lawton
Charles Lawton
3 years ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

As someone who lost a parent (in a care home on 1 May 2020) as a direct result of Hancock’s crazy decision to empty hospitals of non essential patients without testing them; I disagree with your comment Michael. My father and 6 other residents died as a direct of the decision. It’s obvious that it was one panic decision to another. My father was old, but the manner in which he died was awful. Nothing will bring him back, but if we continue with the globalised world we need to learn from this and start to elect leaders not buffoons to the Executive. The current shower are reminiscent of English politics in the 18th century rather than the 21st.

Lyn Griffiths
Lyn Griffiths
3 years ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

Loved your reply.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
3 years ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

I’d add only one word to Michael Smith’s last sentence – so it now reads … ‘we’ve got an older/fatter, thicker, more poorly and lower Vitamin D population…..’.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

“I suspect about middling.” Sort of like The French handled WWII, avoiding all that fighting and being blown up, but still being taken over and made into a bankrupt, subject, people. Better than the Belgians or Poles I guess.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The French certainly fought against the Germans in WW2. Some of the largest tank engagements in history took place during the German invasion during massive French counter-attacks against over extended panzer divisions racing towards the sea. Ultimately, French military doctrine was at fault. The French generals organised their troops, heavy weapons and tanks poorly, and along WW1 lines. Tanks were often interspersed throughout infantry divisions, for example. The German Army concentrated it’s own panzers in huge formations that swiftly cut through French lines and scrambled supply and logistics. France did indeed declare war on Germany first and then fought hard but was simply beaten by a superior force at both the tactical and strategic level.
PS: As a Brits we should always remember the heroic rearguard action fought by French soldiers to allow the BEF to escape at Dunkirk.

Last edited 3 years ago by Zach Thornton
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

I know the French fought the Panzers, but their army dispersed and utterly a mess. Meanwhile – – The Absolute Criminally incompetent French General sat in a distant Fortress with no lines of communication but couriers on motorcycles to cover all the armies!

But then the French soon capitulated, The British had to sink the French Fleets in North Africa in order to show USA the British were in for the long haul. (USA would not come in if the French Fleets could be taken by the Germans, and the perfidious French would not surrender them). Then the French military in Morocco and Tunisia fought to stop the allied landings in North Africa!!! (and then the French insisted for pride that their troops in North Africa (natives officered by French) be part of the Italian Campaign where good reports tell of the ill disciplined troops raping their way up Italy and the French not stopping it, Like the Russians in Germany.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Their army dispersed because they were routed and beaten by a superior force and not because of a lack of courage or morale. It’s a stereotype that the French gave up the fight in WW2 and not actually rooted in reality. It’s insulting to French soldiers that laid down their lives in their thousands and who fought bravely. The incompetence and poor doctrine of the French forces in WW2 is one thing. Insinuating that the French avoided the fight along the lines of ‘cheese eating surrender monkeys’ is just nonsense. Have the guts to leave this revisionist rubbish in the bin.

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
3 years ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

Spot on

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

This is a strawman argument. Criticising the policies of this Government does not equal claiming that every other government has handled the pandemic perfectly.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

This excuse making for the Government is so clearly biased because they’re your tribe. You would never have had this attitude had Jeremy Corbyn been in power. Any government was going to make mistakes and the public by and large were willing to forgive given the scale of the crisis. Nonetheless, leaders must be held accountable for the decisions they make in the ‘heat of battle’ and it’s no good saying that you didn’t have the benefit of hindsight. I care about how you behave in a crisis and some do indeed do better than others when the shells are landing. If our leader has done comparatively badly and there are metrics by which we can cast judgement then they should be held accountable. Your excuse making is a license for the government to make consistently poor decisions and never be judged on that record. Biased and absurd rubbish.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

I don’t think Labour would have done much better or worse – because they’d have been getting the same advice from the same experts and faced the same shortages of PPE etc. If you look at the figures and the waves across western Europe in reality there’s very little difference. London being a major travel hub and densely populated probably meant the virus was here and circulating before we knew about it. On the 3rd Jan 2020 the Telegraph reported on a ’10x higher than normal flu spike’ that had been causing concern to PHE. Moving patients to care homes is something all countries did and is largely due to existing protocols and is decided by hospitals not politicians. Unless you think Hancock was demanding old people be moved and all the doctors fought tooth and nail to fight that decision before knowingly sending people to their deaths. The hyperbole around all this is nuts and bears no resemblance to the reality that a. Pandemics are an unprecedented circumstance you can never fully prepare for b. Old people do, I’m afraid, die, of all kinds of things, and you can’t save all 80+ year olds from everything sad as that is. We seem to have convinced ourselves that people should live forever. The history of this planet shows clearly that death, pestilence and suffering are the norm, the last 70 years are the exception. The fact that the govt kept most of us in jobs during all this was, in my view, pretty important as I think without that there wouid have been far more civil unrest and even more misery. And the fact that this govt pulled a blinder on forward planning for the vaccine is, as well, a positive that should not be forgotten. If people think the Tories enjoy killing their core voters or being hated in this largely no-win situation, then you need to give your head a wobble.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I think Boris is a shameless liar and charlatan so it’s conceivable, perhaps even probable that someone else could have done better. At the very least they might have behaved approriately and not boasted about shaking hands with covid patients and the like.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

The CMO said years ago obesity was the next major health crisis . She was ignored. People get the civil service and politicians they deserve. Only a people endowed with moral rectitude, honour, courage, duty, loyalty, self control, self restraint, sagacity, self sacrifice can elect politicians of this character. Since the 1960s The people have wanted free expression and a lack of restraint. which means one cannot control fear, gluttony, slothe etc . Only Spartan Society produces Spartans.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

On the contrary, when Harold Wilson was in power we had the Hong Kong flu. A greater proportion of the population died though we were a smaller, slimmer, fitter population then. No-one politicised the pandemic. Nor was it politicised in America. This attempt to bring down HMG (and Trump) on the back of a national tragedy is disgusting and unprecedented.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

The politicised bit of this crisis is your perception that legitimate criticism of our democratically elected leaders amounts to a coup d’etat.

Arthur Holty
Arthur Holty
3 years ago

What a load of tosh… a quick google search showed that Hong Kong flu… 1968… was a mere head cold cold compared to covid… the 1957 flu was bad one but still not quite up their with the CCP virus. It is so easy to check your facts you should try it occasionally

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Dominic Cummings claims that Boris said he would not stop the millions of unregulated people coming into Britain last year as it would harm the tourist industry. That means that (if true ) the PM surely knew lockdown was impossible? So why did he allow the authorities ( in some cases with cruelty & brutality) to enforce something he already knew wasn’t workable? The whole thing was a chaotic mess-yes he can’t second guess how the covid would spread but if you have a fire you surely know not to pour petrol on it?

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Do try and think back honestly: it wasn’t chaotic but surprisingly orderly.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago

I meant sending infected people to nursing homes

James Newman
James Newman
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

The only certainty in this whole affair is that Cummings has added a footnote to his CV: “I can’t be trusted”.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

You must be a pretty forgiving fellow with that insouciant response! I think it should be pretty obvious by now that the response of this, very weak, government AND the British state was utterly chaotic, like a drunk driver veering all over the road. Look. at Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, and other nations who had vastly fewer deaths, the order of magnitude difference is not something we can honestly quibble about.

Or alternatively Sweden, which stuck to its guns with a far more voluntaristic approach achieving a better balance between the pandemic and economic costs.

We started with one strategy, did a U-turn to follow another, then got impatient with that.. We disgorged untested NHS patients into care homes. We alternatively encouraged and then discouraged eating out and travel. We introduced border controls months too late, how difficult was that to make a decision on?

Then track and trace, it didn’t work, a sensible sounding regional approach was abandoned because of a bit of political push back. WE STILL aren’t properly supporting those who we ask to quarantine and self-isolate. We’ve spent billions but seemingly quibble about the costs of doing this. So quarantines are broken in large part because of foregone wages.

The UK has had both one of, if not the, worst death rates, AND the worst economic contraction. If we can’t make a judgement based on that then……

I’d still vote for the Conservatives, given the awful alternative, but I’ve always viewed Boris Johnson as a principle-free charlatan.

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

As a free(ish) Western society, we are not used to these “Asian” viruses. Our leaders were slow to react, in common with most of Europe. plus remembering the scare stories about SARS and others, which didn’t much affect us on home turf. We were a lot more robust re AIDS/HIV because we were terrified out of our wits by Govt propaganda. In the Far East they know of the toll these coronaviruses take and are suitably obedient. We in Britain have never been good at taking orders from above, and politicians know it. It took lots of deaths before people started thinking of their own mortality.

Neil Turrell
Neil Turrell
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I think the UK is about 17th in the table of death rates /million of population. Moreover, I think it will be found that there is a strong link between obesity and a bad covid outcome. You may have noticed that we are one of the most obese nations in Europe? I’ve always found it unsettling that many of the people within the NHS are morbidly obese. Perhaps its all those chocolates from grateful patients and their relatives, given that the NHS is such a wonderful organisation?

Last edited 3 years ago by Neil Turrell
Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

The fact you’d still vote Conservative after all of what you just said is precisely why this Government can and will get away with anything. It’s truly scandalous.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Good points. The author fails to define timeline of events. As late as Feb 2020 , WHO was in denial. The Ferguson Report is published on 16th March 2020 which predicts 550K deaths. This is war death rates. At 550k deaths, leaders have to decide who lives and dies. Getting old people out of hospitals into care homes is least worst option.as of April 2020 we do not have quick and accurate tests.
On a ship, when it it is holed below water line bulkheads are closed. This means those people in leaking compartments have to be left to die to save the ship. ” The Cruel Sea ” shows the Captain’s dilemma.
It was found PPE did not have indefinite shelf life, it was thought ventilators were needed.
The PPI hospital scheme under Labour had reduced beds in some cases by 50%.
If it is choice between saving an eighty year old who has lived their life and someone with a life to life, what does one do ?
On the convoys in WW2 ships often not stop to pick up survivors in case they were sunk and there cases of ships sailing through them and killing them when depth charges were dropped.. All Captains were scarred by these decisions.
In April, 2020 there are not enough resources to cope with 550k predicted deaths from COVID 19: how are they best managed?
When was the last time anyone had to make a decision concerning who lived and who died ?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

“J’accuse” ————–> Boris and Ferguson and Hancoc* and every other useless Wan* er who shut down society and printed money to pay for it!!!!!!!!!!!!

nhojellis121
nhojellis121
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Agreed, And many of us having given up caring what the “Elite” and “Lovies” Tell us to do.

Charles Walker
Charles Walker
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Absolutely spot on. Pure drivel.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

An unpleasant and sneering article which seems to have little but disdain for ‘the people’. It might as well be the Guardian or the BBC. I myself am slightly mystified by the ongoing electoral success of Boris Johnson be he has at least had the decency to get us out of the EU and not lie us into any wars.
Moreover, few other (western) governments reacted more effectively to the virus and nobody believes that a Labour govt would have done a better job. The NHS is the NHS, whoever is in power and we will be forced to clap for it now matter how many people it kills. SAGE would have been SAGE whoever was in power and Neil Ferguson has made insanely inaccurate predictions under a succession of different governments. The media is the media whoever is in power and will be its own degenerate self whoever is in power.

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

“…few other (western) governments reacted more effectively to the virus…”

I must have been living in an alternate reality for the past year.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

Surely Fraser means the SCAMDEMIC does he not?

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

SARS-CoV2 = a nasty respiratory pandemic able to kill the vulnerable in its current variants. Scamdemic = non evidence based actions carried out by interested parties to leverage a potentially lethal virus for gains in power, income or to boost their ideologies (Govts, Pharma industry, leftists in general but NHS managers and “scientists” in particular) SARS-CoV2 is an illness, it is amoral, it is neither truth nor lie. Scamdemic is an act of biological warfare and as such a crime against humanity.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Perfectly put Sir!

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I believe I might have been the first to coin ‘scamdemic’ just as, having little better to do, I was the first to coin QuIslington and Woke Newington, among many others. Sadly, none of them has really entered the vernacular, but I live in hope.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Yes I fully acknowledge that, hence my post.

We must keep trying,” Rome wasn’t built in a day”

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Show off. While we’re all showing off, I coined the phrase ‘Covid, am I bovid’.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

For what it’s worth, I use “scamdemic” all the time. Never realised I picked it up from you.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Quislington is well established in our house

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

There was a book published in July 2020 called Scamdemic.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Have you heard “awokening?”

Duncan Mann
Duncan Mann
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

You take the words out of my mouth! The handling of the vaccine procurement was an isolated are of competence; absolutely everything else was handled with astounding ineptitude, including border management, communication, failure to act in a timely way, test track & trace, PPE – the list is endless. All of these things are understood and widely acknowledged, even in the right-wing press. I can only assume Fraser Bailey is attempting a pre-emptive stab at rewriting history to suit a specific narrative.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Mann

It’s far from clear that anyone would have done better under the circumstances. In particular, none of us can afford to lose sight of the the fact that, life , is binary. And the alternative was Corbyn. We’re probably all hoping that Sir Keir can pull together a superior proposition than Boris. On the basis of his track record so far, I don’t think many of us are ‘holding our breath’

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Ah yes. It would always have been worse with Corbyn. We would have had an increase in universal credit, and railway nationalisation, on top of the pandemic. Oh, wait…

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Mann

Possibly you are misinterpreting things. I don’t think ANY national government (possible exception Sweden) has handled the pandemic well. Fraser is not saying that the English part of the UK government handled it well, just not, if any, worse than the rest.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

Apparently yes, Matt, you have been. The UK is currently 17th in the global table of deaths per capita, and even that is only because of our very generous interpretation of what constitutes a Covid death and the incomplete data collection of many other countries.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago

Don’t forget our uniquely vulnerable population. Most of the dead, would’ve been dead already were it not for the flu jab.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

And a lot wouldn’t have been dead had the followed the “rules”.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

go on then. who? in what way? and , like the aussies, were they not , quite obviously, facing different circumstances, and therefore not a fair comparator?

TIM HUTCHENCE
TIM HUTCHENCE
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

Why don’t you enlighten us and tell us which large countries in the EU you think had/are having a good Cov ‘campaign’?
Please use stats Cov deaths per capita balanced with excess deaths data (to account for different accounting methods) to support your arguments.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  TIM HUTCHENCE

Germany has less than 60% of our per capita death rate.
Excess deaths at UK peaks in April 2019 – 108% – January 2021 – 42%.
Excess deaths in German peaks in August 2019 – 21% – December 37%.
Sources – Worldometer and Our World in Data.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

They didn’t have many 90+ year olds to start with, having lost 7million in the disturbances of 1939-45.

Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

Currently the UK has lost 127000 people to Covid. Italy is going to overtake that figure shortly. France has got some way to go but is coming up fast on the rails. In per capita terms Belgium is already back in the stables. Even super-efficient well-heeled Germany has lost 90,000 of its citizens. The fact is that the European reaction to the virus was more or less the same. Sure, big countries (Norway, Sweden) with low population densities, smaller immigrant populations and fewer people in vulnerable age groups, have achieved better outcomes, but using numbers of fatalities alone on which to justify a verdict that the UK has been astoundingly incompetent in its response to the pandemic, is like basing a balance sheet solely on turnover. 

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Baseley

Where would you put Canada in your list?

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Baseley

Plus them fact that covid counting jas been thoroughly dishonest!

Paul Savage
Paul Savage
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

And still are, it seems.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Jonathan Ashworth would clearly have been a better Health Secretary. And, I will stick my neck right out, at least Corbyn’s persona projects compassion and caring.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Only to people as deranged as he is. To me he projects utter, homicidal malice. I can absolutely visualise him with a whip in his hand herding middle class children into gas chambers.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Are you unhinged?

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

Trolling, perhaps.

Scott Carson
Scott Carson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Is this an attempt at satire?

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I can imagine him signing the paperwork Eichmann style but bet he hasn’t got the guts to look victims in the eye or smell their rotted corpses.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

I think he’d have enjoyed it. He thoroughly agreed with the aims of the IRA, he thoroughly agrees with the aims of Hamas, he admired East Germany and Soviet totalitarianism. He is absolutely the sort of quisling who would have sought to join any puppet UK government established by a successful German invader of the 1940s or the USSR later.
During the Battle of Britain he’d have been rooting for the Luftwaffe, because they were then Communist allies. He’d have cheered as RAF fighters came spinning down in flames, because all of them were flown by his class enemies, and some of them were even flown by Jews (eg the ace Bob Stanford-Tuck).
Either invader would have needed local proxies, and as he held the same race and class prejudices as both, Corbyn – along with the likes of Wedgwood-Benn and Livingstone – would have been jostling to the front of the queue to volunteer his help to either.
Corbyn is too mediocre to have attained high office, but if he could contribute by strutting about and shouting in a commissar’s uniform, herding his class and race enemies into cattle trucks with a whip for their last journey, absolutely he’d have done so. The pure, sadistic evil just radiates from him.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jon Redman
Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Is it just me, or are JR’s posts becoming steadily more extreme? It’s almost like he started by trolling on the Guardian, and it took a while to realise that he was merely mainstream by UnHerd standards…

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I agree he holds the “Anyone but Britain” views but disagree about his psychological state – ie sadism. His evil is banal and he is simply doing what a “good party member” would do by supporting torture and murder. This is not because he’s a loony per se, but because he sees life as an undergraduate seminar and is simply arguing for his version of a just war. I am convinced he would be unable to walk the walk. The one that scares me more is Owen Jones, who i expect has an inner Brady or Hindley he’d be only too pleased to let run free.

Last edited 3 years ago by mike otter
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

How are you coming on with your numbers of ‘Dreadnoughts’ for the German Imperial High Seas Fleet then, if I may ask?

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

I disagree with you about Corbyn but agree with Ed that Boris is an incompetent, lazy liar. I feel rather disenfranchised at the moment.
Tim Farron resigned for far less than Boris has said and done.

Last edited 3 years ago by Judy Johnson
James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

But he wasn’t known as ‘Tim’ for 10 years before. For me it’s the toe-curling sycophancy of others,(no disrespect to yourself!) just as much as the man himself which is so off-putting.
Obama’s ‘shape-shifting creep’ sums him up.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
John Munro
John Munro
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

See if you can get Today’s ‘Politics Live’ programme on BBC2. The Tory MP for West Aberdeenshire, Andrew Bowie, gave a performance of quite extraordinarily creepy, self abasing Boris and Matt worship. Quite emetic.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Corbyn’s persona projects compassion and caring.

But only if you are a terrorist

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Not if you are Jewish.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The people still voted (GE2005) for Tony Blair.
So do people really care about foreign wars if their house prices go up?

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The white wash Public Inquiry that only partially exposed Phoney for the war criminal he was had not happened then – only after he was deposed did the full horror of the man emerge.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

LOL
GE 2010?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

‘nobody believes that a Labour govt would have done a better job’
I do. So I guess that makes your assertion mistaken. And when you get one bit wrong it also casts a lot of your other un-evidenced assertions into question.
‘not lie us into any wars’ – we are involved in Yemen, for example. Not with troops but by selling the weapons so other people can kill each other.
Granted – Johnson took us out of EU. But lied to do it.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Because Barnier and Juncker were always scrupulously truthful.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago

They weren’t asking me for my vote.

Weyland Smith
Weyland Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

They don’t ask anyone for their vote – it’s part of the design.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Weyland Smith

Barnier is trying it on with the French electorate now, and singing a totally different tune to do it.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Very well said. Other than the initial mistake of sending COVID patients into nursing homes, I suspect that nothing that would have been done would have made any difference to the overall outcome in terms of COVID deaths. What would have made a difference economically would have been for the Government to have stuck to its guns (i.e. the original plan), not be driven into a panicked reaction as a result of Ferguson’s totally flawed modeling, and proceeded as the Swedish government did. The end result would have been basically the same in terms of COVID, but a lot better in terms of all the small businesses that were forced to shutdown and go under.
In the end, one does wonder whether governments the world over will ever stop believing in “models” as if these were absolutely solid as opposed to very weak predictions. Unfortunately, I suspect they will never learn.

Last edited 3 years ago by Johann Strauss
Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

It is a totally flawed assumption that UK following the same policies as Sweden would have had the same outcome in UK.
It would be really useful if there were to be a proper scientific study of what all the differentiating factors were that led to the wildly differing outcomes between countries – one size does not fit all and lockdowns are not the right answer for everywhere. Even WHO now acknowledges that, but did not at the beginning when it caused desperately poor developing countries in hardly touched Africa to unleash immense harm on their populations.

Ed B
Ed B
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It really bothers me that people here can’t read something with an anti-populist slant without reaching for words like “sneering”.

John Every
John Every
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Ed, your strapline “His narrative of grotesque incompetence will eventually cut through” is true though despite your pleading in the rest of the article. Everyone knows he’s unfit to be PM yet you all still support him and keep him in post for fear of another Party, who are just as incompetent. Dom was right in one thing, the whole political system is broken but you are trying your best to keep it going with your gang in charge for entirely selfish partisan reasons. One day there will be a balanced account of Johnson’s reign and you will be on the wrong side of it for supporting such a charlatan. All those people needlessly dead… is that the price you are prepared to pay to keep him in post? If so, come out and say it. Don’t lie about it, like Johnson and his cronies.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The point is that ‘the people’ is a nebulous concept usually claimed by charlatans, dictators and the corrupt. The people are in fact quite divided on a number of important issues and yet we’re told the ‘true’ people of Britain are those that vote Tory and love Brexit. This rhetoric hastens our own demise. Britain must be more than the politics of only one half of this island. 

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

“Moreover, few other (western) governments reacted more effectively to the virus”
That indictment is NO Excuse for how UK handled it as they almost all completely did everything wrong and will have caused immeasurably more harm than good.

It is like a teenager wrecking the car driving drunk and excusing themselves as everyone there was drunk.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

NF assumed an IFR of 0.9% and a R0 of 3 without any measures. R0s of about 3 have been recorded in a number of countries, including UK. Hungary has deaths per capita of just over 0.3% (UK 0.19%) and still rising (hardly touched in wave 1, it has all been 2nd wave) – not everyone in Hungary has been infected and Hungary stuck 2 fingers up at the EU and bought Sputnik from Putin. Hungary is about 2 months behind UK in achieving the benefits and fairly close to UK in terms of numbers fully vaccinated (34.45% Vs UK 34.79% vs Germany 15.58%), which are starting to show through in the rapid reduction of deaths (down 34% in the last 7 days compared to the previous 7 days). My guess is Hungary will flatten out at 0.32%. All these figures are likely to be under estimates of those who have died from/with COVID. How wildly inaccurate was NF compared to Gupta who came on Lockdown TV and said 0.05% and the Swede who said 0.1%, both a just over a year ago?
Hospitalisation data (the most reliable data there is because we know those there definitely had it and they were sufficiently sick as a result of it) shows consistent and distinct peaks 2-3 weeks after both lockdowns, both for general hospital bed and ICU. Both times a collapse of the health service was narrowly avoided.
I think it is fair to question whether we could have done things better 2nd time around to achieve a far better balance between harm done by the virus and harm done by the measures to control the virus. The answer to that in my view is undoubtedly yes.
It is also fair to point out that every scientist who has made predictions has been wrong, one way or another.
It is also fair to point out that MSM have been abysmal throughout.
It is also fair to point out the alarming swing towards persistent authoritarianism – justified in the early days, but do politicians of all parties really think they can control populations that way and get away with it forever?
https://unherd.com/2021/03/lord-sumption-civil-disobedience-has-begun/
It is also fair to point out that governments’ policies are not the only differentiating factor between how countries have fared during the pandemic.
It is also fair to point out that there has been no effective opposition to anything Boris has done from the other side of the House, if anything they wanted more long term harm done to our children – what is the point of them drawing their pay and expenses? At least there were some questioning voices on the governments own back benches.
Finally it is fair to point out that NF illegally shagging his bit on the side really helped me in eventually convincing my wife, who moved from her normal role of managing several wards to managing her Trust’s response in the first wave and saw first hand how bad things really were in hospitals across the country, to let my son illegally shag his girlfriend for the good of both their mental health.

Last edited 3 years ago by Adrian Smith
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

Poor timing to say that ‘the belittling of expert authority’ defines populism, when the Wuhan leak story dominates and most of corporate media and many scientists are being shown to be cowardly, manipulative and deceitful.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

cowardly, manipulative and deceitful.

Isn’t that Boris?

Bill Mische
Bill Mische
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The two are not mutually exclusive.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Absolutely!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

A little bit of truth for you Jeremy. Almost all politicians are manipulative and deceitful. Media and science were supposed to remain professional and unbiased. Or at least have a try.

Last edited 3 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Yes, all politicians are economic with the truth. But the PM of UK has been accused (over and over again) of:
charlatan
immoral
serial liar (2x fired for lying)
unfit for high office

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

As much as anything, I think Cummings’ appearance yesterday before the select committee finally exploded the myth beyond all reasonable doubt that he was some sort of all-seeing, all-knowing, ‘now you see him, now you don’t’ behind the scenes political genius and svengali.

His attempts to ‘pull back the curtain’, Wizard of Oz stylee’ on the events last year certainly don’t show Johnson et al in a flattering light if true, but the clearly bitter and twisted man himself out for ‘re-weng-ee’ even less so.

In terms of Johnson’s personal judgement, my primary area of concern was why he chose to employ this twisted bundle of barbed wire as his major advisor in the first place.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Up until now, I’ve been – if not a Cummings fan – then at least an admirer and sympathiser of sorts.
Yesterday’s performance made me revisit my opinion of him. “A twisted bundle of barbed wire” – what a great description of him.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Me too. Very disappointed. I spent too much time last year defending his trip to Barnard Castle. This vindictive and dangerous person (who admits squirelling away communications and photos throughout his time at No. 10) has shown himself to be utterly untrustworthy.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Surely accumulating damning evidence during your time in office is normal operating procedure – look at Alastair Campbell for one.

Mud Hopper
Mud Hopper
3 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

I’d rather not.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Thanks for the apology.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I think the appeal was that he was so unusual, so untypical for the political establishment, with lots of daring new ideas. Britain is broken and needed a shot of something, anything in the arm to reform. Inviting such a disruptive element into the business of government was always going to be a risk – but if we know anything about Boris Johnson, it’s that he’s a risk-taker. That’s the best and worst thing about him. Some risks go right. Others, like letting Cummings near the levers of power, go seriously, catastrophically awry.

Last edited 3 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Agreed. And we should remember that BJ had never worked closely with DC. It’s only now become clear that he invited a viper into the heart of government, someone recording and storing private conversations for future personal use.

Helen Barbara Doyle
Helen Barbara Doyle
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

You are not alone, I stuck up for him over his Durham trip, but the malice drip, drip dripping from his lips, plus his outright lie that he wasn’t the Chatty Rat leaves me loathing him.

Andrew Shaughnessy
Andrew Shaughnessy
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Upvoted for the Evil Prince Ludwig reference.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

I think this bit ‘exploded the myth beyond all reasonable doubt that he was some sort of all-seeing, all-knowing, ‘now you see him, now you don’t’ behind the scenes political genius and svengali.’ is absolutely true. But many of us knew that anyway and he said it himself. What I found interesting is that he gave a perfectly believable account of the shambles that passed for government throughout much of last year.

Gavin Stewart-Mills
Gavin Stewart-Mills
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Yes, I tend to think Cummings has blown his moment a bit. This was more a moment for Starmer-like forensic blabla, but Cummings’ over the top and personal insults don’t help his credibility.

Mud Hopper
Mud Hopper
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

His career to date is a litany of similar fractious encounters whereby it seems that if you don’t agree with ‘Dom’s view’ you are branded an idiot, incompetent, or in this case a liar.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago

“It’s not encouraging. Pretty much everything in history with “the people” in it has tended to be either murderous, stupid, disingenuous or just incompetent…”
Blimey, I wonder what Ed makes of the American constitution…

AC Harper
AC Harper
3 years ago

satanic lucky streak” – your slip is showing.
Perhaps the ‘Cummings narrative’ is just another attempt by the media to make anti-Government news stretch to fit the ‘content’ pages. That politics is a rough business, full of compromise and backtracking, is hardly news.

Simon Phillips
Simon Phillips
3 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Mind you, Boris is lucky. Look who his opponents are, idiots like Corbyn, Starmer and Rainer.
Very instructive to see the people who denounced Cummings as the spawn of Satan for more than 5 years now declaring he is the source of all truth, knowledge and wisdom.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Phillips

Yes, just as in the 80s Labour, having hated Heath for decades, suddenly adored the miserable old sulk because he hated Fatcha.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Phillips

He always said he wasn’t a Tory – his motivations are a mystery to me. He’s just an example of the sort of people Tories give jobs to.

Nick Wright
Nick Wright
3 years ago

History will also provide a better perspective on how much of what Cummings said is actually true. Packing the cabinet full of inexperienced, largely incompetent lackeys smacks more as the work of a control freak such as Cummings than that of the lad who just wanted to be liked.

On the topic of populism: I don’t believe enough serious thought has been given as to whether this represents the General Will or the Will of All. The decision to make us prisoners in our own homes while still allowing people to travel into the country from Covid hot spots is somewhere between the conservatism of let the rich do whatever they like and the neoliberalism of free movement. In neither case did it serve to protect the citizens that Johnson is apparently so clearly desperate to keep on side. People from all political persuasions I’ve spoken to about this are in agreement that this is the point on which history will judge the PM most harshly.

The overarching theme here is one of inconsistency. I believe all of us can see this in Johnson, so I’m not really sure we have learned anything new.

ralph bell
ralph bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Wright

Cummings body language during the hearing appeared to be a classic psychopath, where he exhibits ‘I am the CEO’ and is in total control of the hearing.

Michael James
Michael James
3 years ago
Reply to  ralph bell

There! Now we don’t need to pay attention to what he said.

Last edited 3 years ago by Michael James
John Munro
John Munro
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael James

In the Times he is being attacked for being autistic.

Louis Van Steene
Louis Van Steene
3 years ago
Reply to  ralph bell

Did you actually watch the hearing? I don’t think a psychopath would nearly break down in tears over his near death experience, his wife & kid being threatened with murder outside their house, and having the blood of thousands on his hands. He’s not a psychopath – he just doesn’t give a shit about the PR charade of a country controlled by the media and would rather actually work, and discuss things rationally. It is the bane of the modern British that hard working is demonised (contra China, i.a.) and this whole debacle foreshadows our downfall.

daniel Earley
daniel Earley
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Wright

Given that a lot of his information regarding dates around lockdown has been shown to be incorrect already and his preference for totalitarian actions in a liberal democracy then I would imagine that much of what he said will just be shown to be the acts of a man who feels aggrieved that no one else is as clever as he thinks he is.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago

Cummings said one of the most damning things was the appointment of someone like himself to such a crucial position. Of course so insincere, coming from him now, but nonetheless hard to evade – certainly by contemporary historians.
In mind are the twin images of Johnson as the slack-jawed, ‘non-expert’ needing a ‘fixer’ or Johnson as the cynical, vicious figure of division, a la the Brexit farrago . Of course it’s both.
And how could we have system where the alternatives for Prime Minister in 2019 were people like Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn? (We need some sort of Primary system, where regular voters get to select the candidate, not just party members.)
My politics are opposed to Cummings’, and his disposition is apparently corrosive, but one can recognise a high-grade ‘conservative’ thinker. (Without him Brexit would not have happened. End of.)

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

“We need some sort of Primary system, where regular voters get to select the candidate, not just party members.”

Like the one that resulted in Trump Vs Clinton?

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

Yes. Agreed, the end result might be just as grotesque, given the times we live in. But at least more people are involved.

Matt Coffey
Matt Coffey
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

I agree that more buy in from the electorate is key, I’ve no idea what would achieve that.

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Coffey

Oh no, Clinton was manufactured to come up trumps 😉 ahead of Bernie Sanders by the DNC.

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Delszsen

As was Biden. Worse still, Kamala Harris, who is a heartbeat away from the Presidency despite earning precisely ZERO delegates in the Primary. Feh.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

Such is the ‘Great Republic’, the ‘Land of the Free’, and other utter tripe!

It can’t even capture & convict the (black) killer of Ms Ashli Babbitt, yet rewards the corpse of one George Floyd Esq, a ‘King Kong’ of a man and an habitual, violent criminal, with $27 million!

How Thomas Paine must weep.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Home of the Brave.

Sarah Johnson
Sarah Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

A primary system is not the answer – see America for how it can go wrong. It would be better to change from first-last-the-post to some other voting system such as alternative vote or single transferable vote.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Johnson

But has it gone ‘wrong’? I know it kind of belongs in another more ‘innocent’ era, when certain people wouldn’t have dreamt of putting themselves forward – they would have looked in the mirror, properly.
But it’s undeniable, more conservative, ‘mainstream’, people get to vote for a candidate/s who is eventually selected formally by the respective parties. It’s then more democratic in the proper sense.
I know it breaks down easily in the UK as we ‘don’t vote for a Prime Minister’ (try telling that to 1,000,000s who vote in GEs – since Thatcher, Blair, PM’s office has morphed into ‘president’). But there must be a way of avoiding these extreme situations, with dangerous idiots potentially having so much power.
Yes, absolutely for some kind of PR. I don’t think it should even be voted on in a referendum. Just implement it. Even a 16yr. old would get STV, surely. Then MPs would actually be the most popular candidates in the contests.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

The experience of 2019 in Parliament shows that the PM is anything but quasi-President. What is clear is that opinion polls are a poor guide to election outcomes. Perceived quality of party leader is more reliable, and its utility dates back to 1983:
1983: Thatcher obviously a better choice than Foot
1987: Thatcher obviously better than Kinnochio
1992: Major obviously better than Kinnochio
1997: Blair obviously better than Major
2001: Blair obviously better than Hague
2005: Blair obviously somewhat better than Howard
2010: Cameron obviously better than Broon
2015: Cameron obviously better than Miliband
2017: May slightly better than Khorbiyn (supported because mistaken for a Remainer)
2019: Johnson obviously better than Khorbiyn
2024: Johnson obviously better than Starmer
2029: Sunak obviously better than Burnham
and so on.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Not sure why we don’t abolish elections altogether and just ask JR who he wants in the job.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Not PR – way worse than a simple FPTP. I’d go for STV.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Johnson

STV for me

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Sarah Wollaston, I believe, was chosen as a Tory candidate by some sort of primary. She was never really a Tory and did all she could to overturn the Brexit vote. Sadly, politics seems to attract the lowest of the low. It always has done and it always will, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Ian nclfuzzy
Ian nclfuzzy
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I was at university with Anna Firth (Garrett as was then) – Tory candidate in 2019 for Canterbury.
I was more passionate about that vote going Boris’s way than any other election I can remember.
Yet she was then, and I believe remains, such an odious character, that I gave her loss in Canterbury as big a cheer as I did Pidcocks in Consett.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

So how do you want to find candidates?
If they get appointed by Party HQ you will complain (ignoring the people – and you are obviously their tribune) and if they win a primary (Sarah W) you complain as she was never really a Tory but Mark Francois is? Bernard Jenkyns?

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I think really competent people, who don’t really want the job at all, should be selected as MPs to do 5 years as a form of national service and be allowed to stay on for no more than another 5 if they decide they want to. We don’t need parties, elections or 600+ of them and all the expense that entails either. There just needs to be a mechanism to get rid of ones that underperform early.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

You are dreaming. US System was based on not having parties and now we have to 2 parties.
You say really competent people…but The People say they want politicians that represent them. And how would you measure underperforming ? Voting record? passing laws?

Gavin Stewart-Mills
Gavin Stewart-Mills
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

The 2019 GE is only grotesque depending on your views towards Johnson. Love him or hate him, he had the stripes to obtain a lot of votes and a decisive majority, thereby unlocking the torpor of a Parliament which had been reduced to a bunch of elites fantasising about which of them should lead a “caretaker” Government.
A better comparison might be the 2017 election, fought by 2 deeply uninspiring candidates (Corbyn & May) that most people disliked (and 2 in a long line of similar). One might argue Johnson swept home mostly by possessing the rare quality of ‘likeability’ with large numbers of the population. Maybe political parties will conclude there is something in that. I heard Johnson described last weekend as “the only one you’d go for a pint with after work” and whatsmore probably laugh at their jokes.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

62% of the UK population thinks Boris lies.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Correct, but they don’t care.
“He who is without sin” etc*

(* John 8:7.)

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

95% of the UK populations think 95% of all politicians lie.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

His “Love Actually” skit was inspired.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

but one can recognise a high-grade ‘conservative’ thinker.

WOW

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Is this Unherd or is this Conservative Home?
I really don’t care about Dom (he thinks he is Bismarck+Moltke) but all my life I was told that conservatives care about norms. moral, institutions and so on. And yet the Leader of the Conservative Party is a serial liar.
A man described by his own children as a selfish lying p….
And The People (clearly they are here! – not the Guardian which is populated by the elites with 2nd homes in St.Anton or Provence) simply don’t care – despite years of protestations about lying politicians (you know who you are!)
The default position here seem to be: “Boris is a SOB but he is our SOB”. And that is fine – just don’t give me that BS about morals, principals, and so on. And don’t forget to vote me down. I want to win that “race” .

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeremy Smith
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Boris does or has done two things that endear him to Conservatives no matter what the other ways in which he may fall short.
One is that he upheld and won the continuing existence of a free and independent British state, the most important institution of all.
The second is that he keeps Labour out. There can be no finer service to the country.
In the same way, the main reason many Labour people supported the profoundly evil Blair was that he kept the Tories out. Once he was no longer leader and no longer winning elections, he served no purpose, so they dropped the pretence and let the hate rip.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

“may fall short”….really ???? Just may not ACTUALLY he is a serial liar.
UK was a free state that is how the “profoundly evil Blar” invaded Iraq. Remember that? I do! I also remember how the British people (yes The People!) voted in GE2005 for 2 political parties that ACTUALLY (not may!) supported the war – institutionally.
So based on your “reasoning” above are we to expect the Tories to “Once he was no longer leader and no longer winning elections, he served no purpose, so they dropped the pretence and let the hate rip.”????

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

You keep banging on about Boris being a liar as though Labour has ever put up a candidate who wasn’t one. Sorry, it’s just not the differentiator you think it is.
Liking this country is. No Labour leader ever has actually liked this country. Literally not one. No Conservative leader has ever disliked it.
The Conservatives voted for war because they were lied to. They assumed that no Prime Minister, not even the psychopath Blair, would present lies to Parliament to secure approval for an illegal war, because surely nobody was that evil. But Blair plumbed new depths.
Once Boris has outlived his utility, of course he’ll be booted. How long is it since a Conservative leader was allowed to resign graciously from office in his own time? They screw up, they’re out.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

it’s just not the differentiator you think it is.

I think it is – you clearly don’t. that is fine.
But don’t complain about Blair lying – because he DID WIN the GE2005 Election.
My position is a principled one about lying. Yours (despite your pretension) is: lying is OK as long as my side wins!

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeremy Smith
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Unfortunately Jeremy, Richard Chater has probably beaten you to it in the ‘downvote Olympics’.

About a week ago he achieved an unprecedented 215 down votes on one article alone. Surely a world record?

Sadly, that evening he deleted all his posts, thus posterity is the looser.

Last edited 3 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Earl King
Earl King
3 years ago

This screed or rant is unhinged. From across the pond Britian’s response is pretty much as our response. Differing scientific advice in the beginning, is it just the flu, arguments of hear immunity vs. locking down an entire economy. Britain’s response compared to Germany or France’s is model and the Britian’s people are vaccinated. Humans are flawed they make mistakes. Frankly if he knew anything about history he’d look at one of my icon’s and worlds in Churchill. His handling of Gallipoli and the death he wrought there was malfeasance and murder. Did he do it out of evil wish for his soldiers to die? I think not. I do not think Boris wanted Britian’s to die. I cannot think of one country that was prepared for a virus that China unleashed upon the world.

Richard Goodall
Richard Goodall
3 years ago

Johnson has a touch of the rogue People knew who they were voting for including me. Did the government handle some aspects of the pandemic poorly? Maybe, but hindsight is wonderful.The idea that I should listen to the elites who created a dictatorship of Europe and continue to peddle Marxist madness in the UK makes me incandescent. I’m Scottish so know all about being told to shut up and do as I’m told.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

In the minds of the Occidental commentariat there is still a confusion of terms.
They use the word ‘populist’ to describe various nations’ incipient rebellion against the present-day (dreadful) ruling caste in the western world as if it considerably meant Poujadist or redneck-hick disgruntlement.
It IS a rather tired and tattered term, but I think in today’s context it signifies disenchantment with the policies of the meritless ‘meritocrats’ and elites without competence who have been running societies such as ours.
What is interesting is how, so far to date, the Populist movement gathers pace and size like a giant wave coming in toward a shore; but the leaders it has acquired at the top of government are either wide-boy chancers – Trump, Boris Johnson, Kurz and Strache in Austria – surfing the wave for personal gain, or well-meaning persons like Marine Le Pen who are probably not up to the task.
We need to see the next phase of the Tsunami of public disenchantment creashing over the shore and headed by people with a very different agenda from the Common Purpose Davos crew, but this time honest and competent.
That may come, born of sheer public exasperation.

chdugdale
chdugdale
3 years ago

All the comments miss the obvious. Cummings said that the way government and Whitehall work ensures no-one is ever responsible when things go wrong, and therefore no-one is ever to blame. His analysis of the mediocre, media-driven, incompetent organisation that constitutes our government and Civil Service is spot-on. Same applies to the BBC, Royal Mail, NHS, Kensington and Chelsea (Grenfell), National Trust and the majority of our third-rate institutions which are completely and quite obviously incapable of delivering the outcomes they were set up to provide. Standards are shoddy, laziness and disorganisation prevail at the very top of society, and the people put up with it while the liberal elite (now mostly married to each other) pocket the proceeds.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  chdugdale

Great post. A perfect depiction of modern Britain (and much of the West), as has been obvious for 20 years or so. And this combination of incompetence without accountability and unadulterated greed is very rapidly destroying the West.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  chdugdale

All the comments miss the obvious. Cummings said that the way government and Whitehall work ensures no-one is ever responsible when things go wrong, and therefore no-one is ever to blame.

Its obvious because its obvious. Pretty much the whole of the population has seen inquiry after inquiry concluding that lessons must be learned but no blame (and no punishment) allocated.

Ever watched Yes, Minister or Yes, Prime Minister?

Louis Van Steene
Louis Van Steene
3 years ago

If it’s so obvious why has nothing changed? Cummings himself willing admits he is not the right person for the job, there by a “quirk” in history and who tasked himself with renovating the civil service to the extent that he could – which mainly involved hiring people that are actually competent to replace him, and taking back control from HR jobsworths (hence the whole success of the taskforce, cutting through the bureaucracy).

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

Great show and I am sure if we trawled back through the episodes we could find some that fit the current situation – the one where Hacker becomes PM was really apt for the EU – the “British Sausage” “One office paying farmers to produce food we don’t need and right next door another paying to destroy it – that’s not true they are not even on the same floor”.
A few years ago I bought a DVD of it via Amazon.com for a US friend as a thank you for having me when I stopped over in Washington for a night. I put a message on it saying it was an educational documentary to help him understand the British political system. Wouldn’t it be great if someone did a Yes Mr President for Trump then Biden.

Stanley Beardshall
Stanley Beardshall
3 years ago
Reply to  chdugdale

Good explanation of “Stan’s Law”; one I formulated many years ago – the bigger the institution, the more corrupt and incompetent it becomes. You could have included the FA, FIFA, UEFA, the RSPCA, and the Caravan Club.
There are exceptions, such as the Samaritans, but sadly not many. The solution is constant scrutiny by independent experts, with power to immediately fire folk like the present head of the National Trust.

Victor Newman
Victor Newman
3 years ago

What planet are you on Mr West, with your “It’s still disastrous that the Government completely failed to respond to Covid.” – Really, don’t you remember the lockdowns, the support to business, the Vaccine Task Force, the vaccine factory constructed outside Oxford, the Armed Forces taking over the planning, the real-time data system (achieved in 8 weeks) the high rate of population vaccination compared to everywhere else and the 8 vaccines developed? 

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

Exactly – they locked us all up for most of the year. If that’s “failing to respond” I dread to think what “responding” would have involved.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Zyclon B.

Kevin Thomas
Kevin Thomas
3 years ago

It won’t cut through because last June the same people who are now imploring us to listen to Dominic Cummings did an absolutely bang-up job of monstering him and destroying his character. Now no one who doesn’t already dislike Boris Johnson is likely to take his words seriously. On top of this, people are not the idiots the media takes them for. They are able to grasp that the pandemic was unprecedented in living memory and that governments could be forgiven for not having a plan and for being reluctant to impose measures as extreme as lockdowns without being certain they were necessary. Many of us think the real scandal will be the death tolls of the lockdowns, but they will only emerge many years down the line, in scientific studies which will not have Piers Morgan and the rest of the media whipping up daily hysteria over them.

William Clothier
William Clothier
3 years ago

Disappointingly for me, this meandering disjointed opinion piece lacks the quality, structure and clarity that I think Unherd could be striving for on such a subject.

A.N. Other
A.N. Other
3 years ago

A poor piece for Unherd. Full of assertions and fact free. An op-ed as they seem to call them in the US. No balance, no explanation that there are several different opinions concerning his assertions. No humility to acknowledge that we might not yet know enough about the virus, how to tackle it and what decisions were made and why to draw any meaningful conclusion. But the author seems to know everything. Are you Cummings in disguise?

Paul Marks
Paul Marks
3 years ago

No where does Mr Cummings even mention Early Treatment (with a combination of well established medications) – which could have saved many lives. Waiting till people were taken to hospital before treating them was a terrible decision, but Mr Cummings has not noticed this – nor does he seem to understand that the medications used in Early Treatment were systematically SMEARED. Early Treatment with a combination of well established medications could have saved about 80% of the people who died – but the establishment reaction was “Trump mentioned one of the medications, so Early Treatment must be evil – because Orange Man Bad!” Many doctors tried to break through this “Orange Man Bad!” mantra – but in most of the United States (and the United Kingdom) they were ignored. And some 128 thousand people have died in the United Kingdom – when most of them could have been saved with Early Treatment with a combination of existing medications.
Mr Cummings is totally fixated on lockdowns and other failed policies – he also has an obsession with Bill Gates (a person with no medical qualifications, indeed no qualifications at all – other than being born into a powerful and well connected family). Mr Cummings appears to have learned nothing from the last year – and is just ranting that the failed lockdowns should have been earlier and stricter – even though that policy did not work in Italy, New York, New Jersey…

S Trodare
S Trodare
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Marks

Well said Paul.

Paul Marks
Paul Marks
3 years ago
Reply to  S Trodare

Thank you.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Marks

And in the time since “Trump mentioned X…,” we’ve seen the lab theory gain credence, treatments like HCQ and Ivermectin emerge from the shadows, and one professional after another promoting things like Vitamin D, fresh air, and exercise. We have states that took diametrically opposed approaches, and the ones that treated their citizens like adults have statistically fared better. This includes Florida, with its disproportionate number of elderly people.

Paul Marks
Paul Marks
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Yes everything that Donald John Trump mentioned was automatically wrong – because he said it, that is the mental level of the establishment.. Certainly he sometimes did not speak clearly – but he did say he was just passing on what he had been told by various doctors (he never claimed to be one himself). What the media should have done is go to talk to those medical doctors – instead they just chanted “Trump wants you to drink disinfectant and die horribly”, The only concern of the media, and much of the bureaucracy, was “attack Trump” – they were totally indifferent to saving lives.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Marks

His injecting disinfectant gag was probably not the smartest move though.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I tried the fresh air, exercise and sunshine regime in 2020. The sunshine gave me ample free Vit D. And I met a few very interesting new people trying the same cure, none of whom believed the Matt Hancock advice.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Marks

HCL and Ivermectin continue to be smeared…. I have followed the Ivermectin story closely for many months and the deliberate misrepresentation by the WHO and big pharma and the support given them by corporate media and social media has been criminal to watch unfold. They have blood on their hands.
Governments are not excused either. The UK government has been apprised of meta analysis efficacy by BIRD and they have simply not responded. South Africa tried banning it and many in the population simply sourced it illegally (me too), until a court case forced their hand. Besides the Wuhan leak, this is one of the biggest stories of the pandemic.

Last edited 3 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
3 years ago

indeed, the not distributing masses of vit d, Zn etc etc (very cheap) the not treating of people ill with covid (cheap) before they end on ventilators (expensive), the not allowing people to have good mental health (cheap: minimal lockdown) was chosen over wrecking people’s mental health (will be very expensive) treating only in hospital when very ill (very expensive) and now a mass vaccination experiment (very expensive) which finishes Dec 2022 and may well lock all those vaccinated in forever needing to take new variant vaccinations (very expensive, but I sincerely I hope I am wrong here).
I am not sure how the media scientists and government can still look young people in the eye….. no to mention the mainstream media editors

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

Sorry, Ed, a very unconvincing definition of populism. If Boris’s success with the Red Wall is populism, it’s a populism based on people’s dislike of change, not desire for it. A change in who they vote for is just the surface appearance of deep unhappiness with the unwanted change they have observed in their local areas.

Jack Green
Jack Green
3 years ago

I do not support Johnson’s government on the C-19 issue, but let’s be honest about this ‘shunting into care homes’.
> These people were not fit, healthy or in any way vigorous, they were in hospital, and in most cases were days, weeks or at most months away from their demise
> If the government truly believed that hospitals would be inundated with younger, healthier sufferers of C-19, who had a good chance of surviving with hospital care – then it was an entirely reasonable thing to do.
> Like it or not, but the decision stems from calculating the number of years of life that would be lost – a 45yr old has many more years of life ahead of them than an octogenarian?
> The fact is it turned out not to be necessary
> Cummings said that Hancock had said that they would be ‘tested’ – tested or not, it would have made no difference if they were expecting the hospitals to be inundated with younger people.
> Ultimately, it was a practical decision to save younger lives.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jack Green
Charlie Walker
Charlie Walker
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Green

My memory may be playing up, but at the time of the hospital/care home clear out, weren’t they unaware that covid could be transmitted when symptomless? So is it not possible that at the time they believed that they were Covid free and so didn’t think it necessary to test non symptomatic cases?

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Green

It’s the failure to test them that was the problem, not the moving them into care homes. I don’t know what the final figure was, but at one time last summer somewhere close to 40% of all deaths were from care home residents. However, you dress it up, this was a terrible mess and I can understand why people are very angry.

Charlie Walker
Charlie Walker
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Of course it was an appalling error whatever the cause. But this Government/NHS is not alone in having made the fateful decision. Scotland, Sweden, New York and most probably throughout Europe. In reality the numbers of cases per 1m population are remarkably similar through the Western world and the deaths per 1m are again very similar. Factor in different counting and definition measures and funnily enough I think everyone will find that if a populous country was hit, it produced the same results. Maybe I am wrong but IMHO a bit of RNA is not subject to politics and it certainly cannot be shut out forever.
And another thing….. why the sensitivity about “herd immunity”? Isn’t that exactly what vaccines are for? (well apart from injecting Bill Gates’s microchips obviously!)

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Walker

I think it’s that herd immunity without vaccines is dependant on allowing many people who could be permanently disabled or killed by the virus to catch it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Last Jacobin
Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

To achieve herd immunity naturally, the vulnerable needed to be properly shielded, the middle tier of vulnerability needed to be really careful and the rest needed to go out and get it, get over it and get on with their lives. Basically what GBD was saying, but it got dismissed out of hand because it would not be 100% effective (undeniably true). But would that have been a better balance between short term and long term impact? – I think so but we will never know because we never tried.
Long COVID is a fly in the ointment. I met up with a lady in her late 30s back at work for the first time in months who was quite sick, but not hospitalised, early in the first wave. Hopefully she will fully recover now.
Fortunately now we do have the vaccine – an undeniable triumph for Boris, despite what anti vax nutters say. The benefits are showing clearly in our data when compared to the lamentable EU programme. The first real test though is just starting. We are seeing an uptick in cases from a very low level (up 18% in the last 7 days compared to the previous 7 days) there will be a concomitant increase in hospitalisations and deaths. But as a proportion compared to previous waves, both should be much less – time will tell, it is too early. However the real test will be next winter. If we enjoy a near normal Christmas in 21, then we will all have Boris’s vaccine success to thank for that. I think the vulnerable will need boosters in the autumn though – like the flu jab and that will probably be annual. Trials are underway already for that.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Most countries cocked up with their care homes. Having totally inadequate testing at the start exacerbated the situation – the intent to test was there just not the capacity. If you look at excess deaths in care homes since July, overall they are negative – learned from the mistake and did not repeat it, helped to a large extent by the people who did die in the first wave effectively having their deaths advanced by only a few months anyway. The age profile of people who died from / with COVID is virtually exactly the same as the age profile of deaths in normal times, hence why the average age of COVID deaths is a little bit greater than life expectancy. If you look at hospitalisation figures in the first wave then it was necessary to clear as many hospital beds as possible – to free up staff (who were becoming infected / having to self isolate because family were infected) as much as space, what nearly led to the collapse followed by loads more deaths was the design capacity of oxygen evaporators being exceeded and tripping. Arguably, with hindsight, clearing out beds did not need to be done quite so hastily but it did need to be done. Unlike those who died from / with COVID, the age profile of those who needed hospital treatment was much younger and was even younger still 2nd time round.
What was most sad was the manner of many of the deaths and subsequent funerals – denied the chance to die peacefully with their loved ones around them. However at the time, with the lack of testing and severe PPE shortages, there was no other option.
I was angry that GBD got dismissed so glibly and even more annoyed when schools were shut for the 2nd time there was also the apology to the vulnerable that they would have to START shielding again – most were doing it anyway from when it all started to kick off again in the autumn, but it does show how badly screwed up the priorities and “advice” had become.

S Trodare
S Trodare
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Green

So is finishing old people off with an untested so called vaccine also part of the plan?
Looks like the unsuspecting Mr Shakespeare, the first person to be vaccinated in the UK actually died of a stroke like these old people in France who seem to be dropping like flies.
https://www.bitchute.com/video/KbduBFnvKXLS
Is the process going to migrate down the age groups to eventually encompass young people and children? When will a point be reached when all this pressure to vaccinate is going to stop, and the remainder of the unvaccinated will be allowed to live damage free?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Green

I think that’s true and was compounded by a shortage of quick testing capacity in hospitals.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago

” because there is also a vague feeling that he supports “people like me” against remote elites,”
Irritating I know, but I wonder whose fault it is that I prefer him to the elite.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

You are to blame for being conned – by now you should know the truth.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The prattling of a kid.

Last edited 3 years ago by Terry Needham
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

better than a geriatric.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Go away Jeremy.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
3 years ago

The more people learn about a political subject, and become more vested in it, the more extreme they tend to become and the more tribal. It is the job of conservatives to protect the country from such people.

Really? Where do the “conservatives” gain the right or indeed even the expertise to exercise such protection?
There may be something in this distinction between conservatism and populism. Perhaps the country oscillates between them. But when our national future is in the hands of Dominic Grieve, Ken Clarke and (God help us!) Gavin Shuker, we know which way the pendulum ought to swing for a while.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

I had to re-read this a couple of times. Is he not referring to non-political, mainstream, moderate, people rather than the Tories? Or have I misunderstood your comment? Apologies if so.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

To ‘plunder’ Caligula:*“Would that the political class had but one neck!”

(* Original quote: “Would that the Roman people had but one neck!”
Suetonius : The Twelve Caesars.)

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

This reminds me of the way the Labour Party hated Michael Heseltine until he stuck the knife into Thatcher, at which point they loved him.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

See the Democrats and Liz Cheney for more of the same.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago

If Dominic is writing History….no wonder Henry Ford observed that History is bunk.

So far, I regard Dominic as just another performer in a huge circus. I am waiting for some serious historian to straighten out the deluge of factoids with which we have been showered for the last 15 months. It was great fun to hear Dominic claim that Mad Matt Hancock was lying continuously. But then it was stark obvious that Mad Matt was utterly unfit for any public office – every utterance from telling us not to sit for a second on park benches to threatening to lock us all up 24/7 without exercise showed that he was seriously unhinged.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

I don’t think Matt Hancock is mad. The more worrying point is that the strictures you mention and many others were based on the government’s experts’ advice. For the first lockdown, I can see why they were ultra cautious. But what gets me is the apparently complete failure to learn any lessons and apply them with later restrictions and lockdowns. For example, by late summer it was very clear that transmission outdoors is very infrequent, as is transmission by touching contaminated surfaces. What’s dangerous is exposure to people for relatively long periods indoors. But the advice on handwashing, 2 metres etc continued unchanged. Meanwhile SAGE continued to **** about with their models!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

On another characteristic populist trait — the belittling of expert authority — Johnson’s government is hardly Trumpian, either….the British Government has always followed expert advice throughout the epidemic — it’s just a shame the experts got a lot of things wrong.
Maybe this vaunted “expert authority” should be questioned, like anything else. There is a reason that appeal to authority is a rhetorical fallacy. Perhaps the populists are more familiar with a trait that is notably missing among the self-styled elites – humility. Imagine a single scientist, politician, or other alleged expert simply saying “we don’t know for sure” on questions of covid.
Such an answer might not be satisfying but it would be honest. Not knowing implies a desire to find out, rather than an insistent on the blunt instruments of coercion and force in mandating that people do things that you yourself are not subject to. Populism has a place largely due to the observable failures of the professional political and expert class.

Zap Zenn
Zap Zenn
3 years ago

Twenty twenty hindsight is a wonderful blade sharpener for backstabbers

Susannah Baring Tait
Susannah Baring Tait
3 years ago
Reply to  Zap Zenn

Too true!

marksviljoen
marksviljoen
3 years ago

Cummings is no less clueless than any other politician and simply makes convenient noise that supports his own political aims by embracing the popular paranoid Scamdemic narrative. There remain ONLY two things we actually know about Covid, 1/ the death rate is truly no worse than the common flu and 2/Nothing else since any valid data has been completely twisted to suit the politicians need to cover their asses for overstepping their elected authority and categorically destroying the world wide economy and the educated middle class!!

Lyn Griffiths
Lyn Griffiths
3 years ago

Mr. West a demoralizing account of the government and with it an ear bashing that I feel unfair as it is personal and it Boris that you are having a go at. Yet see the pushing of the elderly into care homes initially was directly through the lack of forsight by the medical experts. Who if anyone, should have seen the correlation, but obviously didn’t. Then you talk of the public as though in dismay. Those ignorant fools forgiving Boris, oh how senile of them. Or that is how it reads. Though to say I think given the unexpected pandemic, and overall circumstances, many of the government staff combined in their various roles did an excellent job, although hindsight allows us to see were we went wrong.

Jack Green
Jack Green
3 years ago

John Major’s government had given us 16 consecutive quarters of economic growth by the time of the 1997 election, but at that point, the memory of Black Wednesday had seared itself into the collective memory. 
Really?
As far as this Tory-voter was concerned, there was no way I was going to vote Tory in 1997…….because of the sleaze – and staleness.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Green

The terrible thing is who realistically is there to vote for?
In my lifetime the Tory Party have behaved atrociously on three occasions.

Firstly the manifest deceit over Suez for which the wretched Anthony Eden Esq was rewarded with an Earldom.

Secondly the ‘regicide of Lady T, buy a gang of total inadequates, driven by spite malice and envy.

Thirdly the Iraq War, when 88% of Tory MPs voted for war. A more despicable bunch of armchair, feather duster waving ‘warriors’,is hard to imagine.

This time around they are a vast improvement. They pulled off Brexit against enormous odds, and have handled the Scamdemic if not with aplomb, at least as well as might be expected in this Woke World of mass hysteria and panic.
And by comparative analysis with the US, they have not sunk to the very bottom of the pit of national depravity.*

(* The killing of Ashli Babbitt in the Capitol, and the ‘lottery win’ of $27 million for Mr George Floyd’s relatives, plus Tea & Cucumber sandwiches with Mr & Mrs Biden in the White House.)

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

4th) You missed Libya. You would think the fools would have leaned the lessons of Iraq (kinda makes it worst when you think about it).

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

Mrs T was the greatest PM of modern times, however she was losing the plot towards the end. I do wonder if the US 2 term cap would have merit over here. Though I do wish we could have reincarnated her instead of our 2nd female PM.
All MPs should have been more sceptical of Phoney Tony’s dodgy dossier.
Don’t really remember Suez other than it being a total balls up, but will take your word for it that Eden was the key culprit.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Green

I still laugh at the idea of people having voted for Blair because they disliked sleaze.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
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