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This is Britain’s 9/11 moment Boris Johnson is set to repeat the same mistakes as George W. Bush

A firefighter walks away from Ground Zero. (Photo by Anthony Correia/Getty Images)

A firefighter walks away from Ground Zero. (Photo by Anthony Correia/Getty Images)


June 3, 2021   4 mins

It’s been just over a week — yet the real importance of Dominic Cummings’s testimony on the British Government’s handling of the pandemic has been widely ignored. To most journalists, the key story was Cummings’s gleeful criticism of his former boss, Boris Johnson. It was, at least for them, a psychodrama of epic proportions.

For many foreign observers, meanwhile, the most fascinating thing was seeing British politicians and civil servants doing the very reverse of keeping calm and carrying on. As Cummings made clear, the decision-making process during the early months of Covid was not only frenzied but highly emotional and laden with expletives.

In particular, his account of one “crazy” day in March last year — when Number Ten discussed bombing the Middle East, whether to introduce a national lockdown and a newspaper story about the Prime Minister’s girlfriend’s dog — seemed more reminiscent of Fawlty Towers than Yes, Minister.

Yet the true significance of what we learned from Cummings’s remarks is the light they shed on how the modern state copes — or fails to cope — with a crisis. This is not the stuff of tabloids or sitcoms. It is not entertaining. But it is important. For Britain, whether it realises it or not, is facing its 9/11 moment.

When I went to university in the Netherlands, the most boring classes were on public administration. The coursework was filled with abbreviations of unpronounceable names of various government agencies with opaque missions and overlapping remits. There were bewildering “org charts” — diagrams that always seemed to swim before my eyes, precisely because they bore no conceivable relationship to political reality.

The exception to the tedium was the rare occasions we were able to analyse how advanced governments handled crises. The quality of senior leadership; budgets or lack thereof; the decision-making process; external factors — all were examined with the aim of determining what lessons could be drawn to prevent, or at least better handle, future emergencies.

In this context, Cummings’s testimony deserves to become an instant classic in the textbooks of public administration over the Western world.

Many of the facts were already clear before Cummings spoke: the emergence of Covid-19 in Wuhan; the Chinese government’s lack of transparency; the inadequacy of the World Health Organisation.

But amid all the entertaining titbits about whether Dilyn the Dog would “make it through the next reshuffle“, Cummings revealed one thing in particular that, despite being widely ignored, was more important than anything else: that Britain’s plans in place to deal with a major pandemic were either useless or non-existent.

This raises a disturbing question: how reliable are the plans for other kinds of emergency that the government may one day face? If Britain’s response to the pandemic is any guide, the answer is not encouraging.

Take the NHS, an organisation which even in the most normal of winters can still easily be overwhelmed. It is, to give it some credit, a system that has to cater to an ageing population. Still, almost as soon as the pandemic struck, the Government was forced to acknowledge that the NHS lacked the capacity to deal with Covid. So often a source of pride in Britain, it suddenly became symbolic of institutional malaise: a system that struggles during normality, and has no capacity to handle a national emergency.

There are lessons here not only for the UK but for all Western governments. Not a single country in the West, after all, can be said to have handled the pandemic well. The key question now is how well they will learn its lessons.

And this is where an analogy can be drawn with the way the US Government responded to the 9/11 catastrophe. In the wake of the devastating terror attack, a 9/11 Commission was set up — and, although there was controversy surrounding its makeup and the lengthy nature of its hearings, it ultimately produced an accurate and useful report on what had gone wrong.

It uncovered bureaucratic agencies with no shared goals; rivalries, distrust and turf-wars; a chronic failure to share information — in short, a dysfunctional and bloated bureaucracy. Sound familiar?

Yet the administration of George W. Bush decided to add to the bureaucratic tangle by creating a brand-new institution, the Department of Homeland Security. It is far from clear whether this innovation has been a success. The subsequent lack of terrorist attacks on the same scale as 9/11 may testify to its effectiveness — although one might think that’s a low bar.

Perhaps the bigger mistake the Bush administration made after 9/11 was to think that occupying Afghanistan and Iraq would be effective counter-terrorism measures. These moves formed part of a broader “War on Terror”; a clear threat was identified and a solution, regardless of whether it was the right one, was settled on. But was it proof that the lessons of 9/11 were heeded? The rise of Isis, just thirteen years later, sadly suggests not.

Similarly, another parallel can be drawn with current debate over the origins of Covid-19. Following 9/11, the US and its allies in the West failed to thoroughly understand and develop a plan for countering radical Islam. There was never an urge of to tackle the root cause of Islamism: dawa the propagation of radical Islamist ideology.

Just as efforts to determine the origins of Covid-19 have been stymied, to this day Homeland Security is still not paying enough attention to dawa, which, to me, has taken the form of a dormant virus. No doubt it will rear its ugly head in the near future, and while we have no excuse not to be prepared, I fear we will be surprised yet again.

Will we continue down a similar path following the pandemic? Will Britain succeed where America failed? It depends, of course, on what comes next. Cummings, to his credit, has said that “there is absolutely no excuse for delaying” a full-scale inquiry into the Covid debacle. Whether or not Boris Johnson takes notice remains unclear.

But what we do know is this: if, twenty years from now, we can look back on two decades without a comparable public health disaster, it will be because we bothered to treat the British response to Covid not as political soap opera but as a case study in public administration. Crafting a dependable plan may not sound like a vote-winner, but it is the only way that Britain, as well as the West, can expect to survive its 9/11 moment.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an UnHerd columnist. She is also a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Founder of the AHA Foundation, and host of The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast. Her new book is Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights.

Ayaan

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Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

We need a courageous inquiry unafraid to tackle the demigods of NHS inadequacy, science corruption and Chinese economic hegemony.
The NHS which was designed for the 20th century (and which no other country has copied) is unsuitably designed for the 21st century.
The rigours of discourse in science which lead to the best conclusions have been corrupted by ad hominem attacks on scientists whose views are not sanctioned by politicians.
Chinese financial clout is intimidating the world from challenging its responsibilities for the pandemic catastrophe.
The greatest calamity would be a cover up of these matters.

Nigel H
Nigel H
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I was going to write the same, but thank you for doing it for me
I suspect emails are being deleted and reports being shredded by the truckload within government departments and especially the NHS as we speak. I don’t think we’ll get anywhere near the truth on this debacle for at least a decade. Not until those at the top are gone…

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Nigel H

Me, too. It took a decade for the dominqant narrative regarding WW1 to move to seeing it as (and I generalise) a huge and costly mistake. Hopefully it won’t take that long to change the dominant narrative on the pandemic.

Victor Newman
Victor Newman
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

Which is ironic that now the WW1 glorious failure is being questioned by the use of data and better historical writing using actual accounts of participants. It’s always been the case that those who didn’t fight seem to be the most disturbed by the war. John Terraine started the shift back in the 60s.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

Except in that case the revisionist narrative on the Great War in the 1920s and 1930s was largely wrong. It has been comprehensively debunked, not least by German historians such as Fritz Fischer. Firstly the militaristic Germans were more responsible than any for the 1914 crisis becoming a general conflagration by issuing the famous ‘blank cheque’ to Austria-Hungary. The German army did commit many atrocities, did recklessly invade a neutral country, Belgium, and when they had a chance at Brest-Litovsk showed just how vengeful and extreme the German war demands would have been in the west. They pretty much devastated Belgium and northern France and destroyed and/or dismantled all its industry. The French in particular understandably wanted reparations and, to the extent they could get it, security from a still industrially potent Germany. Of course, shades of Hitler 20 years later, the German hubris could be self-defeating, such as the grotesque provocation to the United States exposed by the Zimmerman telegram. 
In the Versailles Treaty, which was never fully implemented anyway, Germany was treated significantly more leniently than Prussia had treated its conquered adversaries in the 19th century; Denmark which lost half its population and a third of its area and France (Austria less so, because Prussia had its uses for that state). If it hadn’t been for the Wall Street Crash, and with improving international relations by then, the Weimar Republic could have become more securely established.  
Of course maybe there would not have been another major, and much worse, conflict if Germany had emerged victorious and dominant, which would have been a benefit. History is contingent and only we future people have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight. But in the event, the revisionist narrative led to defeatism and pacifism and contributed to Britain, and indeed France, being woefully unprepared for the next war. 
In hindsight, that wonderful thing, it would have been better to pursue the war so that Germany was not just defeated but seen to be so, with the Allied armies many miles inside the German borders rather than still in France and Belgium. This is what happened in 1945 and was the key reason then for the Allied demand of unconditional surrender. The civilian German politicians would then not have had to carry the can for the decisions of what by then was essentially a military dictatorship, being later on blamed along with Socialists, Communists and Jews for the infamous ‘stab in the back’. But at the time a mixture of extreme and understandable war-weariness, US 14-point idealism, and tensions between the Allies meant that they felt they could stop the war with a militarily defeated Germany, as all sides knew was the case.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
2 years ago
Reply to  Nigel H

Unfortunately, those likely to succeed those at the top right now show every sign of being even more incompetent. Major reforms of the political class, the civil service the NHS and other public institutions are long overdue but are, of course, highly unlikely to happen. And with Cummings gone, even more unlikely!

david Murphy
david Murphy
2 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

How do you reform the political class? Turn them into a self-selecting elite without the annoyance of democracy? Democracy is messy. Other public institutions maybe need reforming but how and by who?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Absolutely spot on. But also; Cummings is acutely aware of the importance of writing the history, and here he is setting out the first draft, bigging himself up as much as he can. Hopefully whoever writes the second draft will be calmer, less inclined to hindsightism, and much more balanced

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I think Cummings was very balanced. If you’d watched the whole of his testimony as I did, you would have seen him make several, quite humble apologies for his own mistakes. He is well aware of hindsightism, and talked about the agony he felt in struggling about recommending the lockdown policy and pushing it hard, because he was well aware of what it would cost people and the economy in general.

Catherine Allinson
Catherine Allinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Cummings is an advocate of lockdown and lockdown has been shown to have very little clinical impact on the spread of the virus but catastrophic economic and health impacts.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
2 years ago

Indeed. Anyone who thinks the problems we have seen are because UK did not lockdown hard *enough* can be safely dismissed as complete and utter idiots.
FFS this is (1) a capacity problem (2) a highly discriminating disease that overwhelmingly kills people in their 80s. – the lockdowns are acts of collective insanity.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago

Well said Sir!

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago

Well Most Tories,Labour,Lib-dems Certainly do…

CJ Henderson
CJ Henderson
2 years ago

Well I live in Tasmania, which locked down hard and early for 6 weeks in April 20. We haven’t had any Covid, and have lived normal lives for the past 14 months. Of the other states in Australia who locked down when cases appeared only Victoria, a labour state with what appears to be an unusually incompetent health bureaucracy, has had repeated problems – they are locked down again as I write.
It seems lockdowns do work, but that’s not the whole story – it is more likely that they only work where the conditions are right. Perhaps people living better ventilated lives, good contact tracing, mask wearing etc etc. We don’t know enough about the spread of Covid yet to evaluate lockdowns – but I’m glad I live here.

Judy Simpson
Judy Simpson
2 years ago
Reply to  CJ Henderson

Australia is an island a long way from anywhere, with a small, mostly compliant population, who are spread out over big spaces and whose international borders were closed early; that is why lockdown has worked. Now, we’re sitting ducks. Hardly any one has had the virus, and the vaccine roll-out is snail like. Most concerning is the level of fear. Melbourne locks down for the fourth time in a year over a hand full of cases and the complaints are few and mostly ignored. Having decided that zero cases is our goal, my fear is that we will never open our borders again.

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Simpson
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Simpson

Don’t despair, you are definitely on China’s menu, and they will be there sooner than you think.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Simpson

Actually, Australia isn’t a long way from anywhere, unless by “somewhere” you mean other large populations of majority nice white people whom you recognise as human beings.
Australia is proximate to Southeast Asia, New Guinea and a number of nations of the West Pacific. They are human beings too, and have had to deal with Covid too.
More than that, Australia is as close to contracting Covid as the latest international arrivals at our ports and airports. In an interconnected world, we are all vulnerable to the weakest link, anywhere on the planet.
if you live here, you should know better than to peddle this sort of thoughtless misinformation.
Australia’s lockdown worked because it was handled well. The Victorian outbreaks were not the fault of the state Labor government: discovering and correcting the difficulties with hotel quarantine was an early problem confronting all the states, and other nations around the world. Quarantine leaking was subsequently experienced by other states with conservative government, such as New South Wales.
Cheap political point scoring during an international health emergency is distasteful. Part of the reason for Australia’s success was that the states all managed to put aside their differences to cooperate well with the federal government.
A balanced and factual appraisal would see Australia grouped with other Asian nations such as South Korea, Taiwan and Japan in dealing with the pandemic relatively better than other nations in other parts of the world.
The irony of Australia’s situation is that, having operated horrifyingly bad border restrictions for years under immigration policies that were condemned by other liberal democracies around the world, we found ourselves with experience under our belt when it came to restricting movement for a good reason, to control the pandemic!
So there’s something in what you say about a “compliant population”. But even there, “compliant” has a negative ring: it suggests mindless automatons. You could have said “willing conscious cooperation”, which would have been nearer the truth.

Ian French
Ian French
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Simpson

Despite it vast size, over half of Australia’s population (roughly 25 and a half million people) live in just 5 big city urban conurbations. As for the rest 89% of the total population live in urban conurbations, mostly lying along a narrow 50 kn strip down the Eastern seabord. So not quite as freewheeling as it looks on a map and very likely to be able to spread infection through connections of the big centres under normal to-ing and fro-ing.
.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  CJ Henderson

Frankly Tasmania, beautiful place that it maybe is an anomaly.
At roughly the same size as Ireland with a population of a mere 550K it’s just too nano to really count.

Incidentally on my last visit I didn’t spot any BAME persons which may also have helped.

Incidentally due to current ‘invasion’ we are suffering in the UK we may need to request the reopening of Port Arthur & Sarah Island Penal Stations.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
2 years ago

That is rubbish Catherine, and I can only assume that you are deeply wedded to a previously held opinion and have stuck to it, of you have personally lost out badly in business and have allowed that to influence your opinions. Keeping people apart from one another has always been known to help prevent galloping infection of the population in times of infectious disease.

Sarah Atkin
Sarah Atkin
2 years ago

The lockdowns did halt the spread of the virus – how could they not? As Cummings said (and I have watched all 7 hrs), by the time a decision had been made on the first one we were already over the cliff edge. The situation was out of control. A disaster on every front. Where Cummings was right too was to point out that people were ‘locked down’ but every day people were coming in and out of the country without checks or testing. Simple measures, like mask wearing weren’t implemented early enough either. The blindingly obvious.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Really?
I couldn’t help noticing his remarkable resemblance to
‘Mekon of the Treens’, who you may recall?

Sadly Boris is too rotund to bear much resemblance to Dan Dare.

Last edited 2 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Red Reynard
Red Reynard
2 years ago

Oh, Good! I’m glad I’m not the only one. I stated (grinning like a Cheshire cat) “Hell hath no fury like a Mekon scorned” at work – only to be met by blank stares.
As for rotund BoJo, no not Dare, but perhaps his sidekick, who’s name escapes me, at present.
All the best.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
2 years ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Addendum;
just checked – his name was Albert Digby

Last edited 2 years ago by Red Reynard
aldersleypeter
aldersleypeter
2 years ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Albert Digby

John Coss
John Coss
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Actually Spain and Norway have very similar systems

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  John Coss

What? Similar to our National Treasure the NHS!
I seem to recall Bevan*describing it as unique?

(* He of the infamous “vermin”speech.)

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Agreed , Peter LR

Frank Nixson
Frank Nixson
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

NHS wasn’t suited to the 20th Century either. This isn’t a new problem. It is an old one revealed.

Last edited 2 years ago by Frank Nixson
David Nebeský
David Nebeský
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

The NHS which was designed for the 20th century (and which no other country has copied)…” – Communist Czechoslovakia – and probably all the other communist countries including USSR – had something very similar to NHS up to early 90s.

Victor Newman
Victor Newman
2 years ago
Reply to  David Nebeský

Cuba has a similar system to the NHS, you just have to provide your own bedding, food and medication.

David Owsley
David Owsley
2 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

LOL. Not entirely: if you’re in the ‘Party’ or the Elite you avoid the fate of the 95%

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

Plus presumably your own chain saw, pliers, and chisel? And if needs be, Coffin.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I have a great deal to say of NHS – it is a Political Organization which does health on the side. Then in the 1960s became a mechanism for driving immigration and making it the face of good immigration. By the 1980s UK had reduced nursing and doctor wages, and places at university (nursing school) to force immigration as the British would not do it as NHS had intentionally made health care a job British would not do. This extended to home health care where it would seem almost every person is foreign. And so it continues as a social engineering tool – and does health on the side.

“From Wednesday, 9th June you’ll have to be a member to join the discussion.” Paywall begins Wednesday! When membership first began they said there never would be a paywall…. oh, well, back then they were news, now not. So Covid Passports anyone? I refused to mask, I refuse the vaccine, and will refuse this being extorted, on principal. It is not the money, it is being lied to. F*** it.

Pauline Ivison
Pauline Ivison
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Absolutely agree….neither shall I.

Scott Carson
Scott Carson
2 years ago
Reply to  Pauline Ivison

I shan’t be bothering either. This site is mildly interesting, but certainly not worth paying to comment on. Quite a few of the most prolific posters haven’t bothered to divvy up yet, I wonder how many will do so.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
2 years ago
Reply to  Pauline Ivison

Neither shall I. Most of the ATL stuff consists of dreary hack-pieces obviously written to a requested word-total and a deadline.

Raoul De Cambrai
Raoul De Cambrai
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Oh dear, Sanford, conspiracy theories again! However, you do make one very good point about Unherd – it said there would be no paywall and now there is to be one. I for one wouldn’t want to contribute any money to a site like this, and many more whose viewpoints are like mine will think the same. All of which will reduce the site to an echo chamber for the further right, and both the left and centre (including many on the centre-right) will cease to comment.Fine, if that’s what’s wanted, but the rump will just be talking to themselves, spiralling up their own ….s. Ciao, adieu, proshchaite etc.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Off to your comfort zone of your Liberal echo-chamber then?
Here is your perfect audience to tell your theories on why the West is so horrible. We know what Liberals dislike, and what Liberals want brought down, but I never get to hear the why – and the why such problems exist. Who made a messed up world, and why?Tell us what ‘Conspiracy’ theories you have. (I use ‘conspiracy’ to mean anything not mainstream which explains the cause of the flaws in society, same as you use it.)

david Murphy
david Murphy
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

The NHS is underfunded, it was government choice not to plan for catastrophes, and that decision was about short term savings; The NHS was little worse than the other health services at coping, especially once funding was taken into account. No western health service or government coped well with the crisis. No one had any provably better approach.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  david Murphy

No it isn’t 20% of UK GDP £149billion last year (2020),More this year..Procurement for one can be reformed?…

Paul N
Paul N
2 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

I don’t think you can use emergency covid spending to show that the NHS wasn’t underfunded and unprepared for catastrophes before Covid hit.
It wasn’t even prepared for slightly heavier than normal outbreaks of flu – remember how NHS elective surgery was shut down to prevent the flu from overwhelming the system, a couple of years back?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

Ayaan makes a reasonable point. But it is, one might say, a point that is pointless. We have all known for years that the governing and bureaucratic institutions across the West – and certainly in the UK – are unfit for any purpose whatsoever and full of perverse incentives, countless non-jobs and people who make a career out of squandering extraordinary amounts of money. These things are ‘priced in’ to our lives and expectations, and they are not going to change because the Western mind has, pretty much universally, turned to blancmange.

JP Martin
JP Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It pains me to agree with you.

ian k
ian k
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

How did you get your authority to speak for all of us?
Such a sweeping generalisation that the whole of the UK government and bureaucratic institutions do nothing useful is a wild exaggeration. The Western mind is a concept that actually has no useful meaning.

steve horsley
steve horsley
2 years ago
Reply to  ian k

it may be an exaggeration in as much as there are a few politicians,on a local and national level,who are honest and well meaning but most have their noses in the trough and look upon it as a well paid career.just take a look at their expenses claims and tell me that they are trying to make the world a better place.

Frank Nixson
Frank Nixson
2 years ago
Reply to  ian k

Actually he makes a very good point. Gov’t Bureaucracy is usually incompetent and more or less corrupt. There are a few rare examples where it is not. And, the society at large accepts this level of failure primarily because it is beyond their control. Nevertheless, every year some politician offers us more ‘services’ for more taxes and about half of the population accepts the ‘deal’ because it promises them something at no cost to them.

Last edited 2 years ago by Frank Nixson
ian k
ian k
2 years ago
Reply to  Frank Nixson

Well these 2 replies are more specific and will contain a greater element of truth, but that is not what the original post said. All government and bureaucratic institutions were unfit for any purpose. Do you think this includes, for example, the British Library, the National Park Authorities, the Royal Medical Colleges or the St John’s Ambulance? What I was objecting to was the ex cathedra nature of what are palpably false and rather ludicrous exagerations. There was no useful information at all.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  ian k

I think there has been evidence in recent years that the first three institutions you list have not been fit for purpose in certain respects. I cannot recall any negative stories about the St John’s Ambulance

ian k
ian k
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Perhaps you could share with us what the problems with the first 3 have been. as i have used and/or been members of these, and have in no way found them not fit for purpose. I would be particularly interested in your views on what purpose the Royal Medical Colleges have not been fit for.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  ian k

Aren’t the RMC’s just another layer of ‘jobs for the boys’ in that already bloated behemoth the NHS?

Don’t we have a General Medical Council that duplicates the RMC’s?

Incidentally was there a statement on the efficacy of the ‘Lockdown’ by the RMC’s?

ian k
ian k
2 years ago

No to all 3.
The Royal Medical Colleges are an entirely separate organisation from the NHS.
The GMC is entirely separate from the Colleges.
No, the Colleges do not issue statements outside of their training and educational functions.
I am afraid you clearly have no idea of who these bodies are.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  ian k

You are correct I haven’t a clue “whose these bodies are “.

However I fear they are yet another gang of behemoths who are happily plundering the country to the their advantage.

Please tell me my cynicism is misplaced.

ian k
ian k
2 years ago

Credit to you to acknowledge this, unlike the author of the original post.
What I am suggesting is that maybe it would be better to form opinions on facts and knowledge rather than cynicism.
I think it was Darwin who first commented that ignorance is far more likely to beget confidence than is knowledge. I think many of the trenchant views expressed with religious certainty on this site would be illustrations of this aphorism.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Frank Nixson

Government bureasucracy has its problems, sure. Private organisations are often more competent – unfortunately what they are competent at is to extract maxumum profit for minimum performance with minimum regard for side effects. See the various outsourcing and PFI projects of the UK. Having no organisations – aka anarchy – has its own problems.

Government is like democracy ‘The worst system there is, except for all the others that have been tried’.

Victor Newman
Victor Newman
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The problem is rule by oligarchies (self-electing, self-selecting, generators of policy outside statute, always more expensive, led by a priestly caste) who see themselves as outside the state, yet of the state. Hence the attempts by the media (another oligarchy) to suggest that it’s Boris’s fault. The reality is (as DC said earlier) that when Boris won the election, stabilised May’s sabotage, encountered the pandemic: he discovered that of the 6 levers of government, only one (the Armed Forces) actually worked and could get things done. Everyone else was busy explaining why nothing could be done and demanding more money..

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

Boris &The Tories reducing Armed Forces to 72,000 is Lowest since pre Napoleonic Wars..hardly inspiring in Uncertain world..Armed Forces innoculation programmes bailed out NHS

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

We are still prosecuting former members of the Parachute Regiment and others for actions taken in Northern Ireland fifty years ago, despite assurances from the ‘fat one’ that this would not be so.

Given the huge Tory Parliamentary majority one has to wonder who is behind this treachery.

Frankly it is national disgrace that can never be erased.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago

Around 60% of MPs are Lawyers,Barristers, QC’s etc… So they have an interest in this.John Mercer resigned ,so at least he has principles….Tony Blairs ”Surrender treaty” is partly to blame …&pleasing O’Bidens Irish Mafia in Washington DC?..

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

I completely agree, a total, abject surrender to the ‘Paddy Lobby’.

Blair should tried for Treason.

Paul N
Paul N
2 years ago

If former soldiers committed war crimes, or lied about their actions when telling the truth was a condition for immunity, then why should they not be prosecuted?
If we’re talking about a misjudgement while under fire, that’s a different matter. But should there be blanket impunity? That would be a dangerous precedent, and a grave moral hazard.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

And a pretty watery blancmange at that.

bryarsnick
bryarsnick
2 years ago

A rare example of disagreement with Ayman Hirst Ali. The UK did have a plan to deal with a pandemic. This was to isolate and protect the vulnerable while maintaining as far as possible the UK’s democratic and liberal freedoms. What Cummings and the PM did was to abandon this plan and replace it with authoritarian and ineffective lockdowns.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  bryarsnick

I think the Ferguson Report which preedicted 550K deaths which was published in mid March 2020 panicked everyone. There was nobody to challenge te Report.
The bigger picture is that we have nonone who has has to take life and death decisions in the teens an twenties. The days when 18 years saw combat and by the age of 20 were leading others, is history.

William Harvey
William Harvey
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

The Ferguson report was an appaling mess. The code and logic was never checked..indeed he wouldn’t let anyone do it. It was typical university code… an undocumented mess of loops and partially dead routines.
He used the same source for his preposterous badger based TB/cow slaughtering mess a few years earlier. The bloke is an over educated, self promoting d!cc head. Quite why he is allowed anywhere near any decision making is beyond me. Maybe he’s a friend of the Gold Wallpaper Queen. ??

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  William Harvey

You have answered your own question. It is precisely because he is ‘an over educated, self promoting d!cc head’ that he is allowed near decision making. An appropriately educated, modest and pleasant person would not be allowed near decision making in modern Britain.  

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
2 years ago
Reply to  William Harvey

A large proportion of the political and media class still seem quite prepared to give credence to the bonking boffin’s discredited predictions.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

The Grauniad, Daily mirror,Sky news &BBC for starters…

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

Or Mekon for short.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  William Harvey

The code and logic was never checked..indeed he wouldn’t let anyone do it.

That is actually not correct. The code was checked and found to be working as specified. It was not very pretty – which is what you get when people with a background in science rather than software development have to modify a ten year old program in a flaming hurry – but it worked.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
2 years ago
Reply to  William Harvey

More like he is close to Gates sponsorship and the corrupting influence of Chinese money,as it has been used in many of our premier universities. Even the sixth form college I worked in sent a vice principal to China and we had Chinese students whose staff ratios were infinitely better than the taxpayers funding education.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  William Harvey

The code was checked. See “Critiqued coronavirus simulation gets thumbs up from code-checking efforts” June 2020 Nature for a more complete and nuanced description of what went on

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Have you read Report No.9 soup to nuts ? it is freely available to view. Let me save you the bother.
Table 4 shows a series of possible scenarios with different restrictions in place.
For an R of 2.4 with case isolation + social distancing + home quarantine + school / university closure worst death scenario is 39,000 over 2 years – not exactly apocalyptic given how things have turned out.
About 2/3rds of the report is NOTHING to do with deaths and EVERYTHING to do with hospital admissions – THIS is what spooked the government.
Interestingly the Imperial model scenario for the January peak was spot on.

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

The report was challenged by some epidemiologists, among others Johan Geisecke the semi-retired Swedish epidemiologist, but their opinions were in turn challenged or ignored by the mainstream so called experts.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  bryarsnick

The last thing any country needs is a government with a plan. Look what happened to the plans of communist Russia and China. As you point out the UK had a pandemic plan. Plans either don’t work or they are ignored

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

So let’s just play it by ear next time, then, Alan?

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
2 years ago
Reply to  bryarsnick

That is true. The same for Canada. They had a pandemic response plan and threw it aside to join the rest of the countries all squealing for lockdowns etc.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
2 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

So does that mean you favour having a plan and using it as a basis for effective response (rather than binning it); or not having a plan at all?

Paul Rogers
Paul Rogers
2 years ago
Reply to  bryarsnick

Agreed. Ayaan argues well in most areas, but here she is off track.
No one is dealing with a green field. The hand the UK Government played was about as good as it could because it started with the systems that exist today. Overall it has not done badly.

Observing, as she is, from another country has not helped here skills of analysis here. She suggests nothing. Merely highlights things we know.

Frank Nixson
Frank Nixson
2 years ago
Reply to  bryarsnick

I can’t really blame them for the first lockdown. But early on, it became clear that the lockdowns were economically devastating while providing no protection from the pandemic. This was clear by the summer of 2020. Why did we continue?

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
2 years ago
Reply to  Frank Nixson

It was the combination of continuous ranting by WHO, and the media frenzy on the latest numbers of deaths. The government was bullied into the subsequent lockdown.

Last edited 2 years ago by Vijay Kant
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago
Reply to  bryarsnick

The Government did not abandon the plan, which was to manage exposure to the virus and control its spread through the population by applying and easing and reapplying restrictions on public activity. This was clearly described by Ballance in early March 2020.
Rather, it recognised that Covid was more transmissible and lethal than flu and hence used more aggressive tactics, but the strategy was essentially the same.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  bryarsnick

Many countries had plans that were developed for influenza virus, basically. I guess that UK was the same. When people found out that this virus worked differently from the flu, they realised they needed a different plan.

Christiane Dauphinais
Christiane Dauphinais
2 years ago
Reply to  bryarsnick

That is absolutely correct.

Sheridan G
Sheridan G
2 years ago

I’m not sure that we should not be taking everything Cummings said at face value. He certainly has an unpublished agenda of his own, probably a bit of personal damage control and self-aggrandisement.
I had understood that there was plenty of planning, for the wrong type of virus (flu!), and in any case, thanks to Cummings, all plans were ignored and rewritten overnight without debate or peer review in favour of national lockdowns, an untried response never before considered in any time or in any place, and therefore with zero planning in place. Frankly, in such a situation where all laid plans are just jettisoned I’d be amazed if there wasn’t total chaos. Did Cummings, with his vaunted intelligence, believe he could push all this change through in a couple of weeks without there being complete meltdown of government function?
The government should have stuck to their guns and modified their planned strategy for a change in circumstances, and any hope of this and any form of debate was crushed by Cummings.
This I learned from Cummings’s grilling: Cummings is a totalitarian not to be trusted and that his management style is more suitable as a campaigner, and not as a special advisor. The government will have taken away the fact that plans are made for a reason and shouldn’t have been hijacked by a self-important individual.

Last edited 2 years ago by Sheridan G
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Sheridan G

I agree with a lot of what you say. Cummings does indeed seem to be something of megalomanic, albeit one who is correct about a lot of things. But it would have been impossible for the govt to stick to its plan of herd immunity in the fact of the consequent media onslaught. We have to remember that the media is often a bigger problem than the govt and its various agencies.

Graham Cresswell
Graham Cresswell
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Unfortunately, most journalists have no understanding of science or medicine and they quickly propagated the idea the “herd immunity” itself was somehow wicked. They couldn’t or wouldn’t understand that herd immunity is the objective and it has to be achieved somehow. There are two mechanisms. 1. Natural herd immunity, characterised by the press as “let it rip” or “let the bodies pile high” both of which headlines are extremely unhelpful but drive politicians to manage the press rather than the problem. 2. Immunisation-induced herd immunity which at he beginning of 2020 must have seemed like a far off pipedream. Few would have predicted the astonishing achievements of Oxford and Pfizer. But a government that did not consider both routes would have been negligent. Quite quickly it became clear that route 1 was assessed as unacceptable in terms of the cost of lives lost against the benefit of the economy saved. So here we are, most of the way through route 2 but with the economy in tatters. There was and is no solution without downside.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago

I largely agree with you, Graham, but would offer up the thoughts of Professor Gupta. Herd immunity is not a strategy, or an objective, it is just nature doing what nature does. The best way of looking at herd immunity is as a metric of the progress of the epidemic towards its natural endpoint.

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
2 years ago

The problem with viruses like this coronavirus is that herd immunity isn’t really possible due to the rapid mutation.
A population will, over time develop a limited form of immunity, i.e. a partial recognition of the virus which reduces its severity.
This is what we see with ‘flu or the common cold. True herd immunity is never achieved as the viruses change too much over time.
Vaccination of vulnerable groups with annual boosters for the most prevalent strains will keep covid-19 at bay most of the time but there will still be years when deaths are much higher than average. We just need to get used to this, as we have with ‘flu.

Susannah Baring Tait
Susannah Baring Tait
2 years ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

What was unknown at the time was that this corona virus has not evolved naturally . A natural virus was manually altered to easily infect humans. How the effects of this manipulation, going forward, are going to manifest themselves doesn’t appear to have entered the general conversation. It’s, therefore, a rogue virus. I think we should all be very worried.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

The Next Pandemic will be Worse as local Councils,build on ANY green space ,or Farmland ,higher population worse it will be..

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
2 years ago

The political and media classes ate populated largely by people with arts, humanities and legal backgrounds. Those with backgrounds in any science, let alone engineering, are notable mainly for their absence.

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

“…something of a megalomaniac, albeit one who is correct about a lot of things”. Exactly, and in that respect, not too unlike Trump. The key, which, under the influence of his now wife, Boris may have lost, is to pick out and act on the things where he was correct.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The recent hounding of England Fast bowler Ollie Robinson is Proof of that,Some WOKErati twit snuffled out a 9 year old Tweet to try to get Robinson dropped,ridiculous, yet Labour MPs,Lib-dem mPs can get away with Anti-semitic tweets…

Aidan Trimble
Aidan Trimble
2 years ago
Reply to  Sheridan G

I must admit, your first paragraph was what sprung to my mind upon initially reading the article. Cummings was roundly ridiculed for his ‘Tales from Barnard Castle ‘, but his hysterical polemic the other day is being touted as up there with the word of God. Baffles me completely.

Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
2 years ago

As is so often the case with analysis nowadays, this essay starts off on a false premise. The UK did have a plan for this or a worse pandemic. It was similar to Sweden’s plan and had been developed, presumably with much consideration, over many years.
It specifically acknowledged that the cost/ benefit of a lockdown, both economically and in terms of collateral health damage, is simply not worth it.
Sweden’s outcome in the last year vindicates this. Why are we unable to acknowledge this?

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bacon

Indeed there are always plans. Early Chinese reports suggested an awful fatality rate which demanded a near lockdown to avoid significant death. Thus, nearly every nation did that. Once started and organized, as new data arrived showing differential death rates by age and particular health patterns, the plan had to change but couldn’t because of press stoked fear driven by the initial lockdown rationale. So a group of scientists suggested a modified isolation (Great Barrington) which was trashed largely because of other scientists who feared being judged wrong. It wasn’t a lack of planning so much as the inability to adapt to changing circumstance. The usual failures of large institutions.

Aidan Trimble
Aidan Trimble
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

I’m not sure that was why the Great Barrington Declaration was trashed. Rather, it was the long list of questionable signatories (like Dr Shipman for one).

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

The reason I never bought into the Barrington declaration was that effectively shielding a huge number of vulnerable people, some requiring a lot of outside assistance, in the middle of a raging epidemic did not sound realistic. Certainly no more realistic than locking down and getting rid of the virus that way.
One could argue that a lot of the Barrington people had already made a bet on not locking down and feared being judged wrong too.There might even be those who wanted freedom of movement no matter how many people died for it, and were happy with any plan that promised them that, whether or not it could possibly work.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

The Great Barrington Declaration proposed the idea of shielding the “vulnerable” until vaccines were available. Unfortunately there are a lot more clinically vulnerable people walking around aged 18 – 80+ in the UK than can be locked up in hotels (Gupta’s one and only practical suggestion for how you shield this portion of the population) – in the UK there are 30 million of them by one estimate, 18.5 million by another, over half of them are in the adult working population, contributing to the economy. So, in the UK a GBD solution would arguably have caused as much economic disruption as the restrictions that were applied.
These people look perfectly healthy walking around, but aren’t.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bacon

Although the Swedish approach has been roundly criticised in Sweden since late last year, by politicians, press and, not least, the King.

David Allsopp
David Allsopp
2 years ago

Good points well made, but to compare with 9/11 is ridiculous.

Ellie Gladiataurus
Ellie Gladiataurus
2 years ago
Reply to  David Allsopp

The number of Covid deaths far outstrip those of 9/11, and we do not yet know, (perhaps never will), if the virus was an act of biological warfare.
If anything, I would say that the virus puts 9/11 in the shade.

Ronan Sleep
Ronan Sleep
2 years ago
Reply to  David Allsopp

This sort of ridiculous headlining is beginning to make me lose faith in Unherd. C’mon you can do better than that.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  David Allsopp

Yes, 9/11 was a comparison that is probably over the top. 9/11 came as a shock to the ordinary people of the USA, but no one in the UK is in doubt that our NHS is threatened, cumbersome and our governments Tory or Labour are no longer democratic, just a bunch of self serving Westminster folk stuffing their pockets Left and Right

Susannah Baring Tait
Susannah Baring Tait
2 years ago
Reply to  David Allsopp

She wasn’t comparing the outcome of the VIRUS to 9/11. She was comparing the involved institutions’ lack of planning and lack of shared information. And how these problems were addressed afterwards and whether the UK government will also use the opportunity to address them.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
2 years ago

This article is wishful thinking.
How do you plan for something, when you do not know what that something is going to be?
We did have a plan, unfortunately it was for a different something!
As a result of that plan, we did have high stocks of PPE. But, once every man and his dog demanded PPE due to the new something, there was not nearly enough PPE.
Should we have had vast stocks of PPE? How long would the stock last, before it was out of date? Much of PPE is made from plastic; given the panic over single use plastic, how much of a panic would there have been over no use plastic?
These days there seems to be a believe that Governments can “plan” for every eventuality, they cannot.

Tim Duckworth
Tim Duckworth
2 years ago

A most sensible comment. AHA may is a wonderful thinker but an on-the-ground pragmatist responder she is not. The thing with Emergency Response Plans is that they are often planned with the greatest diligence but the actual skill lies in identifying the potential scenarios. Do not forget that ‘Run Away’ is a perfectly respectable response to many events. Jeremy Hunt probably should never have been on the Cummings interrogation team as he was already seen to be mis-aligned(?) in his response to the Operation Cygnus audit was he not?
And, above all, in such a political desert of technical education (see https://studee.com/media/mps-and-their-degrees-media/) then we must have Civil Servants who can carry that burden. Do we enjoy that luxury?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
2 years ago

Taiwan had a better plan because they had previous experience of a similar crisis and therefore learned to take the threat from a virus of this type seriously. This knowledge was available to governments around the world and many Western governments simply chose to ignore it. Even when the crisis was breaking our Prime Minister was boasting about shaking hands with covid patients. That incident alone tells you how seriously the emerging crisis was initially viewed by our dear leader. This forum is a mess of excuse making for this Conservative Government. A chimp flinging pieces of excrement would be defended as wise leader so long as it donned a blue rosette.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
2 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Who knows, I’m sure a Corbyn government would have done a better job :-/

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Few Western leaders have performed well in this crisis. Boris is not an outlier in this.

Bob Rowlands
Bob Rowlands
2 years ago

Another good insight from Ayaan. Perhaps HM government could ask her to give occasional presentations to UK politicians and security Chiefs.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
2 years ago

Slightly off topic but because I am commentating below a banner head “beloved commenters” it seem appropriate.
I remember Unherd writing that it was not moving to a subscription service, not really true was it?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago

I guess it’s not strictly subscription in the sense that they’re charging to comment rather than to read.. What it will mean, though, is that it will be increasingly financially beneficial to UnHerd to publish articles appealing to the majority view of those who comment. So the mission statement about being different from the herd will probably be compromised and content will be more reflective of the UnHerd herd’s views.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Should that be the case then I will not renew my subscription, which is strange since I’m seriously considering not renewing my National Trust membership for ignoring the concerns of its members.
I might be mistaken but The Guardian appears to be struggling for more supporters, maybe they need a change of editorial direction. How about reporting on things objectively, proper journalism rather than “maintaining the narrative”. Anger clicks will only get you so far, I trust that won’t happen here. I wish to see the absolute wretchedness of Critical Theory, Post-modernism and Intersectionality consigned to oblivion, so we can go back to having reasoned conversations

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Volunteers at National Trust Gave an Ultimatum to last Woke Anti-british MD, ”You leave or we will”
secondly the post for £40,000pa Climate change director,has been withdrawn..so there are Small fightbacks Against the Sanctomony of lib-Lab-cons-Greens etc..

Christiane Dauphinais
Christiane Dauphinais
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

For exactly this reason, I will cancel not only my Membership but also my subscription.

Richard Martin
Richard Martin
2 years ago

I agree with much of what Aayan Hirsi Ali says in terms of what is happening, but would suggest that the reason is that the West has lost faith in itself. For 1000 years it came up with The Big Answers and was comfortable with doing so. Latterly, it covers itself in sackcloth and ashes and asks all and sundry for forgiveness for both its sins, and everyone else’s.
For instance, and very much in the moment, slavery is not particularly a Western sin (and Europeans were the first to outlaw it), and yet we have decided that we are the only villains.
Is it any wonder that, in these downtrodden days, Western public policy and procedure reflects our lack of self belief: at best trivial, and at worst utterly defeatist?

Fiona E
Fiona E
2 years ago

There are many questions that need to be answered, Bret Weinstein and Dr Pierre Kory discuss some in this podcast that I wish everyone would watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn_b4NRTB6k

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Fiona E

Yes, I watched most of it yesterday, and it already has over 250,000 views.

Jasmine Birtles
Jasmine Birtles
2 years ago

I’m sure I’ve read a few times (sorry I don’t know where) that the UK actually did have a plan for tackling a pandemic and that it had even been approved by the WHO (for what that’s worth). However when it came to it, apparently, that plan was ditched and was replaced by craziness we have been going through. Has anyone else heard that? I have read (or heard) it more than once but can’t find it in any of my notes.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
2 years ago

It was called Operation Cygnus and took place in 2016. It considered a ‘flu-like pandemic’ which for my money is a reasonable description of COVID19 though of course I accept the point made about the levels of uncertainty. Nevertheless the Uk did have a plan which probably needed tweaking and an iterative approach. Instead government panicked and ditched it in the face of Ferguson’s scary modelling.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

Flu is different in a numbre of important ways. I believe that COVID being contageous before symptoms show is one of them.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

WHO advice that had been in place for 40 years regarding lockdowns and masks was ignored by almost all western countries. We have known this for over a year.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago

A report was drawn up in 2015 under David Cameron indicating the need for central planning to deal with a potential pandemic such as this one. The report was put into the too difficult pile. As a result most of what happened when the pandemic struck was aimed at giving the impression that something was happening rather than making things happen. The Nightingale Hospitals are the classic example of the “we must do something, this is something let’s do it then”.
The similarities with 9/11 are not particularly apt, 9/11 was probably a failure of intelligence rather than planning. George Bush, like Johnson is not a man of any great intellect (Johnson exploits the English fallacy that someone with a posh accent and Public School education who can quote a bit of classics and pay someone to write books for them must be clever) However Bush did actually do the work whereas Johnson found other things more diverting than attending Cobra meetings. Unfortunately what Bush did (invade Afghanistan) was good for poll ratings but less good for dealing with any problem.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Cameron the Remainer,would only consider A Plan for Greensill?.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
2 years ago

95p a week to read comments by bubble dwellers ?
No thanks

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
2 years ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

Don’t worry – if you look at how few of the commenters on this article have ‘member’ next to their name, the majority of the comments will disappear after next week! Whether the remaining comments are worth reading remains to be seen……..

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago

No country in the west coped well with covid? Does Sweden count as the North, then?
I realise Sweden is problematic for other developed countries, because it shows what can be achieved by not rushing around like a decapitated chicken for months on end. In that country reason, not hysteria, prevailed. Calm not mad panic was the order of the day. A thoughtful rather than a thoughtless approach was adopted.

In the Uk a similar course of action to the one we have endured could have been achieved by taking a sackful of wasps and shaking them out all over a picnic whose participants had been tied to their chairs. . Crazed, shrieking frenzy more or less covers it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Kremlington Swan
Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

Pro rata Sweden had nearly as many deaths as London, of similar population and 70% of Scotland’s. Norway and Denmark barely suffered. Tiresome quoting Sweden when their troubles are not yet over.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Zorro Tomorrow

Were there any targets* left to kill in Denmark & Norway?

Rumour has it that most were wiped out by ‘Flu’ in the winter of 2018, unlike Sweden’s.

(* Octogenarians.)

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago

Aah yes Sweden !
Restrictions started in Sweden in March
16 March 2020, Public Health Agency recommended that people over 70 should limit close contact with other people, avoid crowded areas such as stores, public ransport etc. At the end of March, 93% of those older than 70 said that they were following the recommendations.
They also recommended that employers should advise their employees work from home. One month later, roughly half the Swedish workforce was working from home.
18 March, the PHA recommended that everyone should avoid travelling within the country … They also called for the public to reconsider any planned holidays during the upcoming Easter weekend. Confirmed by mobility data.
All schools 16 + and universities swapped to online teaching
Restaurants were closed down if they didn’t follow reduced occupancy rules
27 March the government announced that the ban on public gatherings would be lowered to include all gatherings of more than 50 people. Anecdotally, (from a pal in Sweden) most of the entertainment industry closed down until October.
1 April No visitors to retirement homes. Reopened to visitors on Oct. 1 without masks recommended for visitors or staff but all had to have a negative PCR test
Just because the restrictions were voluntary doesn’t mean that life was “normal”.
They knew from the get go that they were short of ICU beds (5.3 / 100,000) and were concerned that Stockholm, in particular, was going to be another Bergamo so they triaged elderly patients up front – they were never taken to the hospitals – only 13% of the people who died in hospital in the first wave were > 70
From 24th of December:
Only 4 persons can gather at a restaurant; No alcohol sale from 20.00; Limited number of people at shopping centers, shops & gyms; Use of face mask during certain hours on public transport; High schools closed until 24th of January; Non essential business to close until 24th of January;  All non essential workers must work from home until 24th of January; Everyone who can work at home must work from home;  Vaccine is a new & sought after tool against #COVID19
and from Marc Bevand on Twitter :
Sweden mortality from 1900 to 2020.
This week’s data update from SCB puts Sweden past a sad milestone: year 2020 recorded both the most excess deaths as well as the highest excess mortality (population adjusted) since the 1918 flu pandemic.
All sounds a bit familiar to me and they took an 8.6% hit to their economy in Q 2 and are still down 3.5% on 2019 in Q 3 although forecasting a big rebound in 2021.
Just coming out of their 3rd wave.

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
2 years ago

You can pretty reliably conclude that anyone who engages in “but Sweden!” triumphalism hasn’t the slightest clue as to what has actually been happening in that country.

Malcolm C
Malcolm C
2 years ago

Every system is only as good (or poor) as the people running it. Therein lies the problem.

David Simpson
David Simpson
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm C

The trouble is bad or mediocre systems draw in bad or mediocre recruits and positively discourage talent – Cummings himself being a case in point.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm C

Indeed. Why do you think Ancient Rome lasted so long?
Because of its splendid ‘Cursus honorum’.*

By the time anyone got their sticky little paws of the levers of power they knew what they were doing, in complete contrast to todays vacuous rabble, posing as Politicians, and who know nothing!

(*Of which but one feature was military service between the age of 18/19-21/22.)

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago

W.H. Auden on the Roman Empire:
‘That nonsense that stood none.’

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm C

The trouble is also that what one country does, many seem to follow suit – ‘monkey see, monkey do’.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

No plan survives contact with the enemy. Helmuth von Moltke the Elder.
There are really only two ways to go here. Either you plan ever deeper and ever longer for ever more contingencies, requiring ever more intrusion into the personal lives of your citizens, or you play it by ear and deal with what comes as best you can. Number one probably won’t work anyway (ask Helmuth) so I vote for number two.

Last edited 2 years ago by Francis MacGabhann
objectivityistheobjective
objectivityistheobjective
2 years ago

I’m sure an investigation into this matter may help, but the problem is that COVID-19 was a novel virus. There was so much about the nature of the virus vital to combatting it that we did not know in the early stages of the pandemic; how transmissible is it? Under what circumstances is it transmissible? How deadly? Who is most affected by it? Which therapeutics works? Etc. all that information was necessary to making proper decisions about it. We were in the dark for so long. So we can study our response to COVID-19 all we want, but when the new novel virus hits us, and the answers to those questions are all different, we will be flailing around in the dark once again. That is the joke with the gain of function research they do in the labs which is the possible origin to this virus. They are guessing at an evolutionary pattern of a virus which the virus may not take in real life. So we’re potentially exposing the world to a new pathogen to gain knowledge which would not most likely be useful if a virus did evolve naturally in nature to harm humans.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
2 years ago

In the beginning it is true we didn’t know how serious it could be but at this point, ‘they’ are still not following their pandemic plan and they could be and should be. What a debacle.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
2 years ago

All bureaucracies are predisposed to becoming cancerous over time, as their main aim becomes their own survival and growth at any expense. As time passes, bureaucrats spend more and more time and resources for their own preservation and proliferation. They expand their powers within the government to control regulations and resource allocation. With proliferation of social media, they have now learned to control narratives: Blame everyone else but the bureaucrats. And in the process steal more power. The cancer will eventually end up feeding on itself and killing the patient.

Last edited 2 years ago by Vijay Kant
Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 years ago

One could do worlds better than trying to replicate post-9/11 America. Our agencies still don’t like talking to each other; in recent years, we’ve learned that they often as an unaccountable fifth column willing to ruin lives for political gain. We have a point Dept of Homeland Security and its even more pointless idiot child – the TSA, which continues to insist that people take off shoes before boarding planes nearly 20 years after the attack. We have the Patriot Act whose utility no one can fully explain, yet Obama was right there to reauthorize it and Biden wants to use many of the same tactics on rooting out “domestic terrorists.”
By the way, since this is mostly about Covid, it’s been a big week with the release of a trove of emails that do make Saint Anthony Fauci look good. In short, the country lied to time and again. About the origin of the virus. About the utility of masks. About taxpayer money used for gain of function research. Meanwhile, thousands needlessly died. Big Tech actively shut down anyone not toeing the accepted dogma.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Check out a great report on Julius Ruechel’s website. http://www.juliusruechel.com
Everything I have noted from the beginning of this covid mess.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago

Yes, it is the clerics who are the real problem, not the foot soldiers.
One malignant and untouchable cleric can do more harm than ten thousand foot soldiers.
On the broader question of whether the government is prepared for anything big, I doubt it somehow. When were we ever prepared for anything?
Maybe in the old days we were, but since the 1930s all we seem to have been able to do is effect a last minute scramble to cope. Sometimes that has worked, sometimes it has not.
A good example of it not working was the summer of 1976. A failure to adequately prepare for prolonged water shortage led to taps being switched off all over the country, people being ordered not to flush, to share bathwater, to stop watering their gardens etc etc. If it hadn’t rained when it did, Heaven knows what would have happened.

Did the government – any subsequent government – learn from that? Not in the least.
No matter how much rain we have for however many months, within a few weeks off the cessation of rainfall we are once again being warned of drought,

This must, on average, be one of the wettest countries on earth, but we still cannot get it together to hang on to the water for long enough to tide us over a prolonged dry period.

That is a pet peeve of mine, because I know a drier summer than ’76 will come our way sooner or later, but it also serves as a prime example of UK government folly, which is rooted in its lack of capacity for any kind of forethought.

All energy is devoted to getting elected, then all energy is devoted to managing the media and the minor, day-to-day crises that bedevil every government, and then it is time to devote all energy to getting re-elected.

There seems to be no appetite, and therefore no capacity, for long term thinking.

When something big happens – like the coming drought – there is no preparedness because nobody has been prepared to invest the effort in designing a proper strategy for a major event that – fingers crossed – won’t happen on their watch.

We aren’t really governed by adults at all, come to think of it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Kremlington Swan
Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 years ago

There seems to be no appetite, and therefore no capacity, for long term thinking. Perhaps in keeping with your point about re-election, very few people campaign about long-term issues, with the possible exception of the climate scolds who can’t explain why govt officials should be entrusted with this. It’s much easier to explain feel-good, quick fix stuff.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

Scientists will point out that we only use 4% of our rainfall. Nimbys will object to reservoirs. There are more nimbys than scientists. Not my main peeve but I’ve often wondered at the good availability of clean water on a holiday island where the population increases massively at the hottest time of the year.

unconcurrentinconnu
unconcurrentinconnu
2 years ago

Perhaps it is not good economics to have zillions of capital tied up for a one in 50 year event? Especially as the cost/inconvenience of a drought year is not that great. Just speaking as one who really enjoyed 1976

Catherine Allinson
Catherine Allinson
2 years ago

While I usually have the greatest respect for anything Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes or says – I am not sure that I agree with the statement that our original pandemic plans were inadequate. But the government was certainly panicked into ditching them when the ridiculous Professor Ferguson published and got immediate media traction for his inflated predicted death toll based on a computer model that has since been seriously discredited. The predicted death toll of the Ferguson model was wildly out of kilter with how the pandemic played out. But then Ferguson is never right about anything. What is astonishing to me is that, knowing that to be the case, governments remain inclined to ask him for his views in these circumstances.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
2 years ago

Even better, all Ferguson’s previous models were beyond useless and his hysteria ridden reaction to Swine Flu resulted in another emergency vaccine which gave thousands Narcolepsy. Why are we employing this dangerous failed scientist?

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Poynton

The criticism of Ferguson is an example of what I call the “idiot syllogism” or, as logicians might call it “Modus Prattus” roughly it goes
1) Expert says If we don’t do X then Y will happen and Y isn’t very nice
2) We do X and Y doesn’t happen.
the idiot syllogist then says
3) As Y didn’t happen we didn’t need to do X.
Ferguson’s projections were based on a continuation that we would keep “taking it on the chin” or “running it hot” or “letting it flow through till we get herd immunity. These “policies” (if they warrant the name) were abandoned so the 500,000 deaths didn’t happen. But bearing in mind the number of infections was doubling every couple of days, and assuming a one to one relationship between infections and deaths, Ferguson’s figures were reasonable in the circumstance under which he stated them

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Similar to growing plants that deter elephants and tigers from the garden. When challenged merely point to these animals’ absence from the garden. Seriously though to warn of a worse case scenario of 1% of the population was hardly panic mongering in the early days among a population few of whom know what the population is.

chriswroath
chriswroath
2 years ago

Why does everyone think Professor Ferguson’s predictions were “widely out of kilter”. He predicted 500,000 deaths over two years if NO MEASURES WERE TAKEN! In 15 months we have had 250,000 after taking quite unprecedented measures. And now, for the remaining 9 months of the prediction period we have the vaccine which was not even dreamt about when he was running his models. All in all. I think his predictions could have turned out optimistic, had we done nothing at all.

Last edited 2 years ago by chriswroath
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago

The model has not been discredited see : “Critiqued coronavirus simulation gets thumbs up from code-checking efforts” June 2020 Nature
I assume you haven’t read Report No 9 ?
The group at Imperial produced a series of scenarios based on certain assumptions which you can read and judge for yourself for example :
For an R of 2.4 with case isolation + social distancing + home quarantine + school / university closure worst death scenario is 39,000 over 2 years – not exactly apocalyptic given how things have turned out.
About 2/3rds of the report is NOTHING to do with deaths and EVERYTHING to do with hospital admissions – THIS is what spooked the government.
Interestingly the Imperial model scenario for the January 2021 peak was spot on.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
2 years ago

One of the issues about being fully prepared for pandemic is that up until now, for the last hundred and three years, they have been so rare – to be accurate, there hasn’t been one since 1918. Like British preparedness for heavy snow, we are reluctant to gear up because the problems don’t come around that often.

William Murphy
William Murphy
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

It depends what you call a pandemic. There was Asian flu in the 1950s, Hong Kong flu in 1968/69, Sydney flu in 1999.

And that real epidemiological curiousity, the Liverpool outbreak in 1951. Fortunately it did not spread much outside the Liverpool area into the wider UK, though it jumped the Atlantic to eastern Canada and New England. But the death toll in Liverpool was worse than 1918. The Liverpool Echo printed a special supplement listing the dead. It fizzled out as mysteriously as it started. Scientists are fascinated by it to this day. Not that it seems to have encouraged better preparedness for its successors.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
2 years ago

As they say in India, the Taj Mahal of all bureaucracies: There is nothing more dangerous than a lazy bureaucrat with a stamping pad.

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
2 years ago

I don’t really see Covid and 9/11 as having much in common. For a start, viruses caused one and people the other.
But that’s beside the point. What is true is that Western governments will set up systems for planning and dealing with the next pandemic. And if the next pandemic happens with a few years, they may even work. If it happens in more than ten years, though, the systems will have fossilised into pork barrels and/or talking shops for incompetents best kept away from active duty, who will nevertheless be trying to serve the public by finding things to do that are irrelevant to their actual purpose.

Chris Bullick
Chris Bullick
2 years ago

But Cummins is simply (spectacularly and worryingly for someone ‘in government’) wrong. There was a pandemic plan. Both for the NHS and from the WHO. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pandemic-flu#uk-influenza-pandemic-preparedness-strategy-2011
The need for an enquiry is overwhelmingly and principally because this plan was ignored in favour of the utterly unscientific and frankly ludicrous idea – borrowed from the Chinese Communist Party of ‘Lockdown’. A word that didn’t exist previously outside of prison, and an idea that was expressly rejected in the pandemic plans that did exist!
This policy will be judged by history (if not the actual enquiry which is very likely to be the usual whitewash) as a brutally stupid act of of self-harm that created its own spectacular death toll while not saving a single soul from Covid. https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/why-discard-the-pandemic-plan-in-favour-of-a-senseless-lockdown

Last edited 2 years ago by Chris Bullick
Elise Davies
Elise Davies
2 years ago

“From Wednesday, 9th June you’ll have to be a member to join the discussion”
Bye then.

Waldo Warbler
Waldo Warbler
2 years ago

In the Autumn of 2019, the Board of Public Health England held a meeting at which there was much mutual congratulation on the excellence of their preparedness for the next viral pandemic (minutes are – at least, were – on the web).
I defy anyone to say they would – as a politician – have said “you are wrong; we are not prepared.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Waldo Warbler
Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
2 years ago

Thank you Ayaan, but we didn’t need Dom to point out the BGO (blinding glimpse of the obvious – that every western country was less that perfectly prepared when the bug left Wuhan. To pin DC with the announcement of this insight renders him a sage, which he is not.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
2 years ago

“not a single country handled the pandemic well”. Not sure what this was intended to say exactly, as it is not articulated.
Assuming it is about how the medical systems coped, I would actually say that with the exception of the initial, localized Italian outbreak and some stresses in NYC, no western medical system broke, nobody was denied COVID care.
If it was meant to say that we sucked because we cut off care for everything else other than COVID, and sacrificed all kinds of other (younger) people in an all-out attempt to prevent COVID deaths, then I would agree completely!!

Simon Webb
Simon Webb
2 years ago

Cummings lied. There were plans, all across government. But politicians and civil servants are not the competent people to carry them out. Few countries have a proper civil emergency response organisation. And much as I like your article as it raises some good points, a research fellow cannot know the answers. Government will never properly respond as it is scared of people who can act decisively in a crisis.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

I can’t see much of a parallel with Bush.
Also, it would be foolish to base any case studies on ‘Cummings’ testimony’, as it is so unreliable; he has a major incentive to paint Johnson in the worst light in revenge, and himself in the best light, as most people would do anyway, but he more than most, since he thinks himself so important and correct on all matters.
‘Cummings, to his credit, has said that “there is absolutely no excuse for delaying” a full-scale inquiry into the Covid debacle.’
The epidemic is not yet over, and my guess is that it has been a great strain on members of the government and civil service, who have nevertheless had to continue the administration of the country. It would not be right to add the stress and distraction of a public enquiry now.
What is more, I personally doubt it will be useful, because there are too many enemies of the current government who will see it only as a way of undermining and destroying it, especially given the feverish opposition to Brexit, past and continuing.
And I expect one thing will remain sacrosanct; the wonderful NHS, which no other country has ever been tempted to copy. My own view is that it has simultaneously been wonderful and ghastly, because in truth, it is enormous, and thus includes all degrees of what is good and bad. In recent months, my family have experienced quick, efficient and caring service (all totally free, of course), but also bewildering, infuriating inefficiency.
In time, this epidemic will be gnawed at over and over again, as the scope is gigantic, and takes place over what is now being measured in years. Statistics will play a dominant part in it, and the more one knows about statistics, the more one can understand how the arguments will rage.

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

Thank you Ayan, much needed take on the Cummings debacle, and, on reflection, correct and chilling.

gillon01
gillon01
2 years ago

A plan never survives first contact with the enemy – a well know military saying. In business , we spend weeks and months budgeting aka planning. The only thing you know for certain about your budget is it’s wrong. Does this mean there is no value in planning? No. All organisations ave an element of panic when faced with a time critical crisis. Who ever thought our government would be different? All Domgate has done is pull back the curtain.

arthur brogard
arthur brogard
2 years ago

another waste of space. anything that fails to mention there was no national emergency because of a ‘terrible virus’ and there is no national emergency because of a ‘terrible virus’ is allowing the current madness to persist and is de facto legitimising the past madness.
and is therefore a waste of space.
and paying to comment – well that’s what killed Takimag. they need another business model. that one doesn’t work.

Robert Lund
Robert Lund
2 years ago

All very sensible. But it has always been the British way. I don’t know why but we have a long history of being unprepared. When a crisis erupts we react initially by “buggering through” as Churchill put it. Then, when we get our act together, we outperform everybody else.
It is not possible., and would be clearly inefficient, to prepare for every possible crisis, that may never arise. There are potentially too many. So maybe best to carry on as before.

qzbckc99g4
qzbckc99g4
2 years ago

It has to a given that democratic government is congenitally unfit for fast and decisive reactions to crises. Not that any other form of government is any better. They’re only better at hiding and denying their mistakes.

The success of crisis management is that no crisis develops. That’s a hard one to get one’s head around.

Michael Lewis’s recent book on the subject, Premonition, looks into America’s even greater failure. The more one prepares, the larger the structure becomes and, by definition, the slower and less a adaptable it becomes.

Cummings made good sense although he does have a sublime track record of being the one on the outside p…ing in. Mind you, he did correctly add that at the time he had no greater clarity as to whether he or Boris would prove to have been right.

QED

William Murphy
William Murphy
2 years ago

“It is not entertaining”. You must be ******* joking. I have not laughed so much since that recent Unherd article discussing the book which allegedly contains instructions on how to turn your ex-boyfriend into a toad. And to think that I have actually paid good money at the cinema to see so-called comedies. Keep up the unserious work.

John Mack
John Mack
2 years ago

As long as any crisis response/action/preparation is driven primarily by electoral politics and media posing to influence electoral politics there will be no effective crisis preparation, management or post-trauma investigation.
Politics is a faux football game, with all thoughts and resources and talents focused on achieving electoral goals. Period. It will not let public service, crisis management, or truth stand in the way.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

Yes, of course, in a better world government would actually do useful things like plan for disaster.
Unfortunately, the only thing that politics knows is hate and loot and plunder.
And one form of loot and plunder is for gubmint bureaucrats to sit around echoing ruling-class platitudes in return for jobs-for-life and pensions.
Dickens understood this nearly 200 years ago with his Circumlocution Office staffed with Barnacles and Stiltstockings.
Nothing has changed since then.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago

Does it strike anyone else that a huge problem will be solved if we recognize that most of what the Left calls Islamophobia is actually Islamorealism? It’s all there in the Koran.

Rob Alka
Rob Alka
2 years ago

If I hear or read again about lessons to be learned I will vomit
As for investigataions into what went wrong, whatever it was, the answer is simple: if one needs to do an investigation into what went wrong, that’s what has has gone wrong, the very need to do the investigation. Normal people without a mental or personality impediment are expected to figure out or explore what they did wrong and how they could have done better without needing to conduct a major investigation, least of all one which entails strutting in front of the public, which reduces the investigation to play acting

Ann Furedi
Ann Furedi
2 years ago

Great piece but the answer to the muddle at the middle of the civil service, and elsewhere, is unlikely to be ‘a dependable plan’. Unless the plan is: to assess and respond. Risk-management culture suggests that we can ‘anticipate’ and ‘prepare’. We can’t. If COVID teaches anything it is we need to be able to make it up as we go along. That demands intelligence, understanding, an ability to make decisions a capacity to act on them – and the ‘hold the line’.

Lyn Griffiths
Lyn Griffiths
2 years ago

Ayaan, I  really  enjoyed your calm assessment and through parts found myself smiling. When to see, and become clear. From the Middle East through to the Far East. Their religions and many traditions through thousands of years speak of beauty and peace. Much on the lines of meghan markle and ‘Compassion’. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, there only ever appears a show of aggression and power.
So, agreed our bumbling in house feuds and rumbles does not travel well, when on such an eclectic diversion of debates. But we know our Government and Monarchy, only want the best for us.  So, I will for now, will settle for that.

Lyn Griffiths
Lyn Griffiths
2 years ago

Ayaan, I  really  enjoyed your calm assessment and through parts found myself smiling. When to see, and become clear. From the Middle East through to the Far East. Their religions and many traditions through thousands of years speak of beauty and peace. Much on the lines of meghan markle and ‘Compassion’. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, there only ever appears a show of aggression and power.
So, agreed our bumbling in house feuds and rumbles does not travel well, when on such an eclectic diversion of debates. But we know our Government and Monarchy, only want the best for us.  So, I will for now, settle for that.

William Harvey
William Harvey
2 years ago

“Not a single country in the West, after all, can be said to have handled the pandemic well”

I disagree. Australia and New Zealand have handled it pretty well. They did so by using the fact that they are islands to great advantage. They shut borders very rapidly and controlled traffic in and out.
That is something the UK could have done… but didn’t.

In Australia, apart from one big screw up by the Victorian govt, they have made a remarkably good job of controlling a very contagious, airborne virus. Of course that could suddenly change ( as it did it Taiwan recently) but with vaccines starting to be rolled out it seems less likely by the week.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

9/11 woke Americans and the West up; that we weren’t all as cosy and safe as we thought. That people didn’t like us.
This is only a 9/11 moment in that it has become even harder to fly anywhere.

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
2 years ago
Reply to  Zorro Tomorrow

Nice to see the past tense of “awake” used as a verb for a change around here …

nicholsonjonathan
nicholsonjonathan
2 years ago

Comment removed as I’d completely misinterpreted the article. Apologies,

Last edited 2 years ago by nicholsonjonathan
Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago

Interesting article and likely spot on.
Three factors are not mentioned:
1) it is the health (illness) industry that decides on health policy
2) institutions like the NHS are built to suit managers and administration not patients (Read Hillary Cottam : Crisis)
3) western medicine is not adapted to patients: it suits mostly the medics and/or scientists

ian k
ian k
2 years ago

Well if you end up in A and E with a broken leg, you can tell them these things before you get any treatment.

G Harris
G Harris
2 years ago

One of my favourite, political, all time ‘fun facts’ is that around 2010-11 the not insignificant country of Belgium (none are) went for almost 600 days without a government and during that ‘lost’ period its economy grew by 1.6% and its budget deficit, aka government spending, shrank to less than 5%.

I like it, not because I’m anti-government per se, but to me it suggests that governments a lot of the time, much like lots of organisations, seem to feel the need to be conspicuously doing something in order justify their own existence, both to themselves and their audiences.

Less is sometimes more rarely seems to figure in their thinking. I mean, why would it?

Unsurprisingly, though hardly unique in its pro-activity, the UK government and its various devolved spin-offs have set about not letting a proverbial good crisis go to waste and used it to demonstrate the full extent of their powers and influence, feather their own nests and yes, essentially justify their own existences.

Nevermind that this display has taken the form of using the almighty sledgehammer of the state to crush a relatively insignificant nut and the collateral damage for doing so will be felt for years if not decades to come most acutely by those least able to endure and push against them.

Last edited 2 years ago by G Harris
Clem Alford
Clem Alford
2 years ago

Dawa will be the continuing threat to the UK and Europe. Islam has been trying for its whole existence to dominate the world through its global Umma . With its oil wealth in the House of Saud and the support of the naive leftists, it will dominate soon enough and then the problems will really kick off.

Johnny Kay
Johnny Kay
2 years ago

More misdirection.
 
I suggest that COVID-19 is an entirely fictitious disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that allegedly causes COVID-19 — is at most the equivalent of a very mild flu. 
 
Consider this: If the people at the top of the pyramid of power who run things behind the scenes and control our politicians released a virus that was really dangerous, there would be too great a risk it getting out of control. The virus could harm them or those on whom they depend — politicians, military personnel, media figures, and other servants — either directly or from the inevitable mutations.
 
Much better to invent a completely fictitious disease; reclassify everyday colds, flu, allergies, Interstitial Lung Disease, and other respiratory illnesses as manifestations of that disease; and sell the hoax with inflated numbers, unending scare stories, and staged scenes — body bags in waiting rooms and refrigerated trucks, crowded “COVID-19 wards”, mass graves in Brazil, funeral pyres in India, people dropping dead on the sidewalk (remember that, early on in the “pandemic”?), etc.
 
That also explains why so many politicians, high-level government employees, and news celebrities do not follow the mask, social distancing, travel, and other pandemic rules they create for the rest of us — they know there is no real danger.
 
If there had never been a declared “pandemic”, never any mention of COVID-19, never any lockdowns, shutdowns, social distancing, etc., the 2020 flu season would have passed by uneventfully — and not even been noted as a particularly bad one.
 
And isn’t it just amazing that, in countries claiming high rates of COVID-19, cases of flu are down 90-95%? It should be obvious to all but the most stubbornly obtuse that flu cases and flu fatalities are being counted as COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 fatalities to inflate the numbers.
 
The situation with the vaccine is different. Who gets the real vaccine is something over which those at the top of the pyramid of power have complete control. The kill-shot is the vaccine.
 
As there is no legitimacy to the “pandemic”, there is no legitimacy to the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is not intended to make anyone healthier (really, is any vaccine?). On the contrary, the COVID-19 vaccine is intended to make people sick over the short term and very sick over the long term; it has already killed thousands and sickened tens of thousands worldwide.
 
Notice that the big-shots publicly getting The Shot on television — you know, politicians, news celebrities, actors (pardon the triple redundancy) “taking the jab” and then giving a little speech about how safe it is and how we must all do our part to keep everyone else safe — none of them ever manifest any side-effects.
 
I suggest that none of that those politicians, news celebrities, and actors getting vaxxed as an example are getting the actual COVID-19 vaccine — it’s all a show.
 
We have been lied to from the beginning — and the people at the top of the pyramid of power are laughing at us.

Raoul De Cambrai
Raoul De Cambrai
2 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Kay

I know I know. All those people inconveniently dying. Why, I know (knew) some of them myself. How dare they go and die to help this government spread all those lies about there being a disease out there. And all the NHS people I know, from my consultant to the ambulance drivers and nurses, who’ve been busy lying to me about people getting sick, as well as those pretending to have Long Covid. I’ve had my jabs and am enjoying conversations with Bill Gates via the microchip put into my arm., so there’s one benefit.
Give us a break and keep your conspiracy theories where they belong. And look at the pyres in India as one little bit of evidence to come out of your little bubble. It’s not just firewood they’re burning, you know.
I’ll miss the odd look at this site once the paywall comes in, but with commenters like you I’m sure my mental state will cope with any withdrawal symptoms.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Kay

SARS2- Does exist..The fact idiots believed it came from Wet markets, &Not the wuhan Laboratory is laughable..Thats the Conspiracy ..look who finances WhO, Mostly China &now biden the idiot

ian k
ian k
2 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Kay

Well I have read some bizarre ‘explanations’ of this whole Covid business, but this takes the biscuit. As pointed out, who was jamming the ICUs in so many countries – I worked over 30 years in ICUs and the situation is unprecedented. It is blindingly obvious that social distancing is going to reduce the incidence of normal flu. I never met a patient with flu in ICU, but my colleagues have been overwhelmed with Covid cases.