Very well said Freddie. My sentiments exactly. The question is will Johnson seize the moment and step into greatness (s Churchill did after Dunkirk), or will he cower and go down as a complete failure while ignominiously being fired from his Premiership by the 1922 backbenchers.
My advice to him is that he needs to come completely clean, be totally straightforward with the British people, fire the so-called experts at SAGE, and fire Sirs Whitty and Valance. To be fair to Johnson, it is very difficult to stand up to the “Experts” but stand up one must, especially when they are full of BS.
And he has little more to lose. A bold move is called for.
Boris’s chance to cross the Rubicon one might say.
The destruction of Cummings* will have to wait.
(* the all too obvious author of all this mischief. )
Does he ever rue the day he allowed his wife to persuade him to get rid of Cummings? Boris must have known what Cummings is capable of – that is why he employed him. A serious error of judgment to part ways in such a negative way.
Yes indeed! He couldn’t have made a worse choice if he had married Julia Blinde.
Now, now 😀
Agreed, an uncalled for remark.
I don’t mind at all…. My reply included a smiley emoticon that didn’t print.
And not just for the reason that Cummings is now serving his revenge cold. Also for the reason that the whole ‘Johnsonian’ platform that won the 80 seat majority was actually Dom Cummings platform. Since his departure the train has gone completely off the rails as Carrie Antionette thought it might be fun to throw the driver she didn’t like out of the window of the moving carriage.
Now it seems we must live at the pleasure of Her Royal Highness Princess Nut Nut. Unfortunately she’s a wee bit out of sync with the voters on just a few key issues :/
Exactly so. Johnson was the maverick, bold front man and combined with the brains and machinations of Cummings they made a formidable team. I thought from almost the beginning that Carrie would be the end of Johnson – in fact from the time that she loudly screamed at him in her flat so that all the neighbours could hear – towards the end of his campaign trail. Very bad and destructive judgment.
Spot on. That was our early warning signal!
Lord Frost recent post-role interview in the Telegraph was eye-opening. He genuinely felt Cummins was important to Johnson for getting a grip with the civil service. Made reference to Johnson struggling to get the data he needed… esp. ref: Brexit and the pro-EU leaning within that organisation.
“Lord Frost calls for “serious reform” of the civil service and the broader machinery of government. “One thing we’ve learnt from this pandemic is that if the Prime Minister pulls a lever, it didn’t always work,” he says. “We need to think hard about how the civil service recruits, how departments are structured – because the current model isn’t working.”
Another one-time government insider who has argued the same is Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s controversial former chief adviser. Does Lord Frost think Mr Cummings’s exit from Downing Street in November 2020 weakened the administration?
“Actually, I do,” he instantly replies. “I’m a huge admirer of Dom – I don’t agree with him on everything,” Lord Frost says. “But I think his strategic brain, clarity of thought and ability to focus on goals was, and is, really important. He’s not the only person who can do that, but you do need someone to run the No 10 machine effectively, keeping everything in line, and it needs to be done all the time.”
It’s not just the British civil service. Business is collapsing everywhere as people are hired based on their race and gender rather than ability. Boris is just another woke leader following the crowd with no understanding of the destruction he is causing.
What are the chances of him being invited back before the next election if Boris survives till then?
He’s proven himself incapable of bold, or even independent, action. He will cower behind Sage’s skirt as he watches British society collapse.
Yes Churchill made some fine speeches in the summer of 1940 which kept up morale in a desperate period, but the reason the UK was not invaded was down to a combination of just enough fighters and pilots to wage war against the Luftwaffe and radar. In May 1940 Chruchill demanded more fighters be sent to France, thanks to the reluctance of the Air Staff they were not. In 1941 Hitler turned his attention to Russia which was probably the biggest mistake he ever made. Churchill was fortunate, he got a break in 1940 then the geopolitical situation changed in 1941 with the Russian campaign and Pearl Harbour.
Your suggestion that he needs to come clean is interesting – he is not capable of that and never was which is why he is in the mess he is in now. Just think back to his scheme last November to save Owen Patterson all cooked up with a journalists from the Daily Telegraph.
Getting rid of Sage would be very foolish, now so many people are vaccinated their advice needs to be tempered to take account of it; thats all. Throwing the baby and the bathwater out now is not needed.
Well the reference to Churchill was of course a massive exaggeration. But still.The reason he needs to fire SAGE, Whitty, Valance and for that matter Javid, is that there advice has not only been bad but it is all in one direction. They now have too much to lose to admit they were wrong and change course. What is required from SAGE and the Chief Medical and Scientific Officers is a blue team/red team approach comprising people who have no committed stake in one outcome or another and who are capable of looking at the situation as it is, rather than as they would like it to be. And equally importantly is that the views of both teams are accurately reported in the media, rather than no-nothing journalists and TV news anchors demonizing one side. As for Javid, he should be fired because he is clearly incapable of critical thinking as the coming vaccine mandate for NHS workers clearly shows. Javid says he takes advice from experts (as per the clip from Fredie’s interview with Dr. Steve James) but he doesn’t appear to think critically about that advice (which he should be capable of as a Politics and Economics major). Given that the vaccines no longer prevent either infection or transmission, the rational for forcing them onto the few NHS workers who haven’t been vaccinated is no longer present as it serves absolutely no medical or epidemiological purpose and nor does it protect NHS patients. It is simply repeating stuff that doesn’t work and expecting a different result. (And for those who think that the Covid vaccines are equivalent to the required hepatitis B vaccine, think again: the hepatitis B vaccine protects the medical staff from the patients, not the other way round, and is sterilizing; the Covid vaccines have none of these properties but simply provide a bandaid by supposedly reducing the severity of symptoms of an infected individuals, although with the advent of the Omicron strain this would appear to be completely marginal).
The real problem is not the actions that were taken at the beginning, but the fact that those actions were continued after they were shown to be useless. For example, 2 weeks to slow the curve in the US was not unreasonable at the time just to see where one was. But when it was obvious that lockdowns didn’t really have any significant impact those measures should have been stopped. Likewise masks: it was clear from the get go that they offered little individual protection (outside an N95 mask) but it was thought, not unreasonably, that they would act as an excellent method of source control given that it is much easier to prevent egress than egress. Hence, the notion that “I wear a mask to protect you and you wear one to protect me”. But when it became clear pretty quickly that masks had no impact in the community, the whole masking stuff should have been stopped as it was nothing more than COVID theater aimed at instilling panic and hysteria (which is never a good thing). So what could have been done. The answer is probably not much because in the end “a respiratory virus is going to virus”. But there are certain measures that could have been put into place that may have been helpful. First, focussed protection of care homes given that 1% of the population (residing in care homes) accounts for 30% of the deaths. This would have included the introduction of proper air handling which could have easily been accomplished by the introduction of high-power air purifiers in each room (and the same goes for restaurants, bars, pubs, schools, etc…). Second, encourage all those that could work from home (i.e. telework) to do so. The latter is not such a bad thing and is likely to change the “office” workplace forever given that extensive face-to-face meetings are no longer necessary and can largely be replaced by Zoom and other methods in most instances. Third, focus on preventing nosocomial transmission in hospitals, especially since nosocomial infection is always a big issue in that environment. Fourth, only introduce vaccines for those most at risk (i.e. the elderly and those with severe co-morbidities) rather than go for mass vaccination, including the vaccination of children and teens who are at no risk o severe disease – and that’s especially so once it was established that the vaccines do not reduce the rate of infection and transmission, but may only reduce the severity of symptoms.
Interesting response.Although I am not a scientist, two of my friends are epidemiologists, one worked for years on the advisory group that dealt with mad cow disease. The other has worked on Ebola. Sage is no different except the group had to deal with a fast growing pandemic which we knew very little about, let alone producing a vaccine for it. (Bear in mind the most common corona virus is the Common Cold, where vaccines have eluded the scientists for years. Now that we have some knowledge about Covid, Sage can actually change its way of dealing with how we deal with it. Sacking the Chief Medical and Scientific Officers would send out all the wrong signals, believe me, these people are very capable of playing a blue team red team approach. What they wanted to avoid is the carnage that happened in the Influenza pandemic 1918-1920 when health services were over run and to this day no one knows how many people died.
Many of the points you raised still puzzle the scientists who are not entirely sure what the answers are. To run truly controlled experiments for this would take many years. Time which we simply did not have. Even though my father died of Covid, in a care home, infected by a patient discharged from an NHS Hospital, when insufficient tests were available, I feel the scientists have done their jobs to the best of their ability given the time they had. Perhaps the only criticism is the UK like most countries was woefully unprepared for this which is the lesson we should all learn for the future.
You need to read’The betrayal of Public Health during the Covid Pandemic’ by Dr.Alan Mordue.his conclusion is that all the fundamental Public Health principles were violated by the so called ‘experts’ and the 2 Sirs and Sage were mainly responsible for that.
Experts are not always right, but they are called that for a reason. Would you prefer to be guided by people who just make things up?
Dr.Mordue’s point is that public health protocols or principles existed well before COVID and ALL of them were ignored
Dr.Mordue also defines public health experts in his article.Many so called experts are not experts in public health which covers much more than COVID
Could you explain the difference between an expert like Dr Neil Ferguson who makes things up, and someone who just makes things up please? Here’s a clue: one makes things up for money, power, and ego; the other just makes stuff up for lols.
I’d prefer someone doing it for s*its and giggles over some doing it for Xi and Google, any day of the week.
I’ve not studied the modelling, but apparently predictions have not come to pass. Making it up wouldn’t be the first reason I would propose. Maybe the enquiry will address it
But a lot of the stats coming through early on in the pandemic certainly did not support the notion that this would be another great flu. Prof Hendrik Streeck from Germany estimated IFR around .26% and many others followed with similar estimates. No. It suited these people to hedge their bets, ruin economies and futures all the while raking in their salaries.
There are a couple of very important issues here (and by the way I am both a scientist and an MD). The first is that while the people at SAGE are certainly capable of blue teaming/red teaming a problem, they clearly didn’t because they were all talking to an echo chamber, and likewise with Vallance and Whitty. At the same time they and their US counterparts (Fauci and Collins) did their best to visciously trash highly qualified individuals who presented alternative perspectives (referring to them as fringe which is really silly given where they came from): this would include not only the Gupta/Battachary/Kuhldorf GBD trio but also the likes of Carl Heneghan at Oxford and John Ionnides at Stanford and many others. Moreover, while the initial reaction to the 1st wave might not have been unreasonable, although cases and deaths were already coming down fast well before lockdowns and masks were introduced, the subsequent reaction to the following waves was wholly inappropriate. Why? Because they failed to take into account what they had leaned from the 1st wave: e.g. the huge age risk stratification, the complete disaster in the nursing homes, the considerable amount of nosocomial transmissions with hospitals, etc… So their solution was always lets do the same thing expecting a different result every time, the very definition of insanity (as per Einstein) and certainly the definition of very poor advice to ministers. Then finally we come on to the vaccines. Initially back in November 2020 these looked fantastic and appeared to be the solution to all our problems. But rather than proceeding relatively cautiously and do serious post-release surveillance of adverse reactions and deaths, they simply extended the vaccines to everybody, including age groups at minimal risk, including children, which quite frankly is unconscionable. But here’s the thing. Now we know that the vaccines wane rapidly, we know that there are severe adverse reactions in the young (e.g. myocarditis in young males, as well as a host of other conditions), we know that the vaccines are ineffective against Omicron, we know that the booster is good for only 10 weeks, and we now know thanks to the Israelis that a 4th shot is absolutely useless. So isn’t it time for the “Experts” to take a step back and actually learn from their mistakes rather than continue to advocate for the same old same old which failed to work every time.
Well said. But before Covid our politicians were listening to climate scientists about a climate crisis that does not exist. There is no empirical evidence to support any of their claims. Al Gore pointed to ice core data and said CO2 was leading temperature changes and people believed what he told them without thinking and looking for themselves. The constant reference to the earth’s average temperature is meaningless. An average temperature has no physical meaning. Try doing an experiment at to determine the total temperature of two glasses of water and see where it gets you. There is no total and so no average.
Our politicians continue to listen to nonsense from scientists advising them on covid. The mistake they made was to accept an experimental “vaccine” that was not rigorously tested before approval. We all know that there is no vaccine that can prevent any respiratory infection. Dr S James does not impress me. He thinks he does not need randomised control trials to determine the effectiveness of vaccines and can reach his own decision by personal observations.
There is only one conclusion I can come to and that is nothing coming from experts related to supporting the climate crisis or pandemic actions makes any sense. Prof Norman Fenton has looked at the data and basically concludes it is so unreliable that no conclusions can be made. I recommend looking up his reports. Mike Yeadon recently gave a 2-hour interview in which he discussed the pandemic actions and he concluded that none of it made any sense. He believes the pandemic is being used to bring about the great reset.
Are you an expert?
Well…that English Channel problem really. All Churchill had to do was make drunken speeches.
Exactly Churchill did not win the war, Hitler lost it. Churchill made some good speeches, but he never made one at the start telling us how he could win the war he wanted us to fight. What politician enters a war knowing that they could not win it, when they could have watched and waited? Churchill is not my greatest Britain.
Give me a break. Literally every other politician who ever existed would have entered into peace talks with the Nazis after Dunkirk. It was actually the rational thing to do. Without Churchill’s resolve the history of the world would be much darker.
Agreed. I still find it amazing the British people didn’t sue for peace in 1940. Churchill made the difference.
Freddie has lost the plot with this article. How can Boris be judged on a single issue? He is wrong and lies about everything.
He hasn’t a clue what he is doing over net zero and if he stays on course he will damage the entire energy supply system, both from a reliability and cost view. This is far more important than covid. and it may be too late to correct his mistakes and those from previous governments.
With Covid he has followed advice from scientists who have been entirely wrong on every issue. The predictions of waves of infection and hospitalisation have been out by a huge margin, just as every previous prediction over past issues have been wrong. The covid waves have been created by extra testing and never happened. All Boris had to do was to look at the test results per 10,000 tests and he would have seen that there was a flat curve. There haven’t been any real waves. The scenarios conducted to determine actions to deal with pandemics have not only been ignored, but they were reversed and based on what China did. Who is governing the UK?
He promised the north to level up and then cancelled their part of HS2. He should not have made those promised and cancelled HS2 completely. It has never had any support.
He bungled Brexit.
All the politicians seem to be completely out of touch with the views of the electorate.
There seems to be more and more indications that we are heading towards a major economic collapse based on history – Egypt, Roman, Venice – they all collapsed when the state took too much of the wealth being created. We now have the equivalent – unlimited printing of worthless money that has appeared as taxpayers’ debt that is impossible to pay off.
Net Zero will be the issue that either puts the Conservatives out of power for decades or that keeps them there (if they repudiate it).
You cannot tell people who live in flats, or people who live in the average house, to put in a £20,000 heat pump and then pay a further fortune for electricity to be colder than they were before. You cannot tell a window cleaner to pay £35,000 for a van and you can’t tell people they’re no longer going on foreign holidays. Anyone who tries this will lose power to anyone who says they will stop it.
There’s not even space in most flats for a heat pump
Who will say that they will stop it. Lab, Lib & Greens would all go even further and faster, just as they would all have had even stricter Covid measures.
For many years we were given no choice on the EU with all parties very much pro EU. We were given no choice on Covid though Boris did have a lighter touch than almost anywhere else. We will be given no choice on net zero either.
The world has morphed into an authoritarian one that I barely recognise, where peoples opinions are strictly regulated. Anyone who disagrees with orthodoxy on Covid or climate or anything else is ruthlessly shut down or mocked, Labour would even make scientific dissent a crime (would that make membership of opposition SAGE a crime?).
We would be in a much worse position without Boris (for all his faults) and God help us when the BBC and their ilk realise that they can oust a PM elected in a landslide just because they don’t like him.
For a long time you couldn’t vote for a party that would exit the EU. The Remainer establishment obviously thought this was a smart way to avoid consultation on the matter – but it did not work. No current party is going to overthrow the Marxist climate “consensus” but a new one might.
You are both right. I agree that, unless there is a rapid rethink of and withdrawal form the whole Net Zero thing, we face economic collapse on a scale unseen. But before we get to that, surely Freddie is right that Johnson can still salvage something of his premiership by at least relaxing all the Covid nonsense and letting life get back to normal. If he managed that, let’s hope the next items on his agenda are reversal of Net Zero and tax and NI rises,
Out of touch with you, I think! How the electorate think is another matter. That can only be supposed.
By the way, I saw on RT yesterday that Keir Stammer had had a group of people (workers in-house or workers campaigning?) for beer and a meal during a “shutdown” election. This has not been taken up by the News media. I wonder why?.
And when he sees how well-received that is, it will steel him to call for the rescinding of Net Zero and the defunding and disbandment of the IPCC.
Yes this article sums up why I’ve liked Johnson being in charge – his Janus capability, and changing policy when the wind direction changes. I think it’s worked for Covid and Brexit – and like Churchill losing the post war election, I’d be happy to see him go once the big impacts of Brexit and Covid are sorted, and then a more ideological conservative can replace him for normal times.
As usual, Sayers reads like a breath of fresh air – blending common sense with political and social insight.
Indeed, Johnson has an opportunity to harness the momentum of England’s release from Covid hysteria. Those of us still trapped in locked down, vaccine passported hellscapes on the continent hope that England shines a light on the inane authoritarianism that has swept up the rest of us.
Whatever his faults, he will have won a fan in me if he does so.
Agreed. All would be forgiven. Though he probably won’t because he’s politically and psychologically crippled. But if he could find the character* to say he’d been misled by his hapless advisors (entirely believable), he’d screwed up some big calls out of fear (he’s good at that lovable buffoon thing and could easily pull this off), and there was might be something a tincy-wincy bit amiss with the WEF (just look at their website) he would do his country and the world an enormous service. He’s going down anyway so he might as will give it go and let history judge him.
*in the original version of this I used a five letter English word beginning with ‘b’ that is commonly used to describe objects, typically relatively small, of a spherical nature, in the plural. This displeased Unherd’s oddly censorious algorithm so I thought again.
At this point, I can only hope some truth or sanity will emerge from the UK because it most certainly will not originate from the US. In all of the unreal-ness of the last two years, I’ve come to feel the cultural paranoia is not so surprising coming out of the US. Neither is the pairing with wokeness and general extreme and polarizing behaviors. I’ve been most shocked and severely disappointed to see it in the UK. Still, if any culture or nation can restore sense, sanity, and truth, it still has got to be Britain. For heavens sakes Boris, come on and do it.
If all he does is simply lift the restrictions the scared half of the population will think he’s mad. Instead, in a more Machiavellian method, he would state that the worst predictions haven’t come to pass, and to move to a formal, open enquiry to assess what worked, and what didn’t work with regard to Covid – to put everything up for debate and to place the experts in the spotlight in a more adversarial setting. In contrast to normal committee behaviour where everyone listens sagely to the expert, this would be putting the experts on the spot.
As an extension, he might look at the need to build ‘red teams’ for certain policy areas to give counter arguments and make expert opinion more adversarial. These would also be expert and academic, but also skeptical, and come with funding so they become inplanted in the university system. The aim being to ensure consensus bias is challenged. Since these would be government funded, the media would be expected to report red team challenges and so be a little more skeptical of the status quo. The knock-about red team vs blue team would then allow government to step above a single-sided expert recommendation-system and be able to pick policy decisions over the heads of the experts.
“If all he does is simply lift the restrictions the scared half of the population will think he’s mad.”
Very true. A bit like last time when he said that masks were off, but to keep wearing one “out of courtesy”. To get out of this mess will require more than a simple pat on the back.
The pandemic, and things like social justice theory and CRT, has drawn the whole area experts, academics and expertise into the spotlight, leading to widespread popular questioning of just how expert experts are, and how neutral they are.
So, as we move out of the emergency and into a period of reflection, a Machiavellian Johnson has an opportunity to surf this trend by focusing attention on the advice he was given, over what he actually did, and thereby settling some scores along the way.
Under normal circumstances I would share your trust in expertise. But these are not normal circumstances. The central political dynamic of our time is whether we will become a profoundly unequal society ruled by transnational capital, especially technology companies and their allied clerisy of woke influencers and technocratic experts, or whether we will continue to be a moderately egalitarian society in which all people have a political voice. You see these dynamics in the titanic battles of Trump, Brexit and COVID – a significant departure from previous left-right patterns. I recommend Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (detailed and penetrating, if in dire need of an editor’s scalpel) and Joel Kotkin’s The Coming Neo-Feudalism.
Are you sure you haven’t fallen for a conspiracy theory?
I agree with you.
If this pandemic has shown one thing, it is that there are plenty of ‘experts’ that certainly cannot be trusted. For a variety of reasons.
The problem with the red team is whether they would end up like opposition SAGE (sorry, I mean independent SAGE, though they clearly weren’t) and constantly advocate even greater state intervention.
The problem we have in the UK is that state employees look for state based solutions. This includes the health service, education and the civil service. There will be little advocation for non-state solutions to any problem. Though I dislike him personally, this is what Cummings was principally fighting against. Johnson appears to have gone native and been captured by the system though I hope that I am wrong.
“Many Western countries have managed to create a new underclass of the non-vaccinated from previously law-abiding citizens…”, “England has mainly avoided this;” “Historians may yet conclude that this was the Johnson government’s biggest achievement.”
Its not like he did not try to make underclass of the non-vaxed – he just failed to do it very successfully. Like every bit of the covid response this vacillating wan *er managed, he could not get it right.
Too afraid to go for Freedom, to afraid to go completely against Freedom, he just dithered and let his mass of string pullers run the gambit from one side to the other – mostly to the other, the draconian side.
“UK has shown a laudable moderation. It managed to avoid the hotheadedness of the US”
About half of USA got it pretty right, and half very wrong – UK just was unified more (Scotland and Wales aside) and just got it mostly very wrong without the pretty right side. No, UK did a horrible job of it, just saying you did not do as bad as the worst did, does not mitigate that. And Boris was the figurehead for it all, and I hope he gets booted for it. Pantomime Captain who ran his ship onto the rocks. (I think Mrs May may need to be called back – as all the Cabinet are implicated)
“The end of the pandemic is his last, best hope.”
Vaccinating into a pandemic with a non-sterilizing ‘vaccine’ is pretty much doing mass gain of function experiments in the wild. It could be over, but is as likely it is just the calm between storms. The Medical/Pharma Industrial Complex has developed a taste for this like the Military Industrial Complex did during the Vietnam War, and they kept it going for years and years. Getting the powers lost, back from the Sociopaths in charge, is not going to be easy.
Your final prediction is terrifying, I hope that analysis is overheated
I’ve been wondering in my state of paranoia due to the last two years whether a new variant will be accidentally released when things have calmed down. It will be a huge failure for Big Pharma if the variants continue to be milder and the need for a continuous supply of experimental vaccines is no longer necessary.
Great article. My own view, which I know is not fashionable, is that Boris has always been in less trouble over Partygate than appears to be popularly supposed. Most people, on reflection of the fact that this information has been buried for almost two years and that Johnson’s involvement was tangential at best, will accept that this is principally a cynical attack on the PM for other reasons. That doesn’t mean it’s a non-story by any means: the fact is that No10 was having a jolly while telling the rest of the country to cut themselves off from social contact, so there’s a case to answer here.
The point, though, is that it is not Boris Johnson who has to answer for it – at least, not alone. Who were the other people there? Did they include not just Tory Government members, but senior Civil Service personnel too? And if the reason is that it went ahead without causing a lot of comment at the time from Whitehall, isn’t that because the Civil Service had gone home in March and not bothered to come back to work yet?
There is a lot of scandal associated with this story for sure, but it is not for Boris to answer alone, and quite a lot of it might even suit him for it to come out.
The pictures didn’t look particularly jolly tbh….. the real scandal has been the deliberate creation of a climate of fear in which the unvaccinated are demonised and threatened with removal of civil liberties based on a lot of flawed information. The suppression of legitimate alternative scenarios posed by other well qualified people being unreported by MSM and many detractors being removed from social media. The deeply flawed testing of the Phizer vaccine and suppression of reports of adverse events as well as the suggestion that 12 year olds can give informed consent to the vaccine WITHOUT parental consent! The touch route doesn’t happen and yet sanitisers still everywhere, discarded (and almost certainly useless) masks litter the countryside…. I despair I really do.
Not to mention other embarrassing stuff which was suppressed. Like Phizer paying a $1.3 billion fine (biggest in US history at the time) for medical fraud around 2009. And doubling their profits in 2021. It’s an ill wind that blows no one no good.
Great article, well written and totally correct.
Stage 2 would be to sort out housing. If progress could be made before 2024 then there is a chance….
Britain will never “sort out housing”, as the capacity to build them is continuously outpaced by the continuous incoming of new immigrants, let alone the indigenous requirements. “Sorting out” immigration, as was supposed to happen with Brexit but didn’t, would be a lot more popular.
Correct, but incomplete article.
More draconian measures were not introduced thanks to the real opposition who stopped them. We mustn’t forget it. The real turning point was that vote in parliament. Furthermore, the precedent of vaccine passports has been introduced; the first step has been taken and now it would be much simpler to go further if someone felt like it.
To put us back on a more …. normal path it would require a lot of soul searching from Johnson. Would he be willing/capable/allowed to do it? I really doubt it.
That level of reflection requires courage that he doesn’t have.
Give me a break! The idea that Boris Johnson can somehow miraculously bounce back is laughable. Once a prime minister loses respect he is finished, and it is downhill all the way. Boris Johnson is so deeply involved in the covid restrictions; he made the rules after all! The only reason why he didn’t inpose restrictions in December is because of opposition within his own party.
Are you sure about that? Do people really respect politicians in the UK and elsewhere? I am pragmatic – they are almost all liars to a greater or lesser degree, opportunistic, manipulative, have hides as thick as leather and love the cut and thrust of jockeying for power (does that put them somewhere on a narcissism or other pathology spectrum?).
I’m sure some start with noble values and motivations, but how do they stay this way. Do they change or leave or by some miracle, retain values.
to some he is the dithering libertarian, obsessed with freedom and herd immunity
I would rather this emerge as Government direction now that the worst appears to be over. Some of the totalitarian measures seen elsewhere are oppressive and seem less effective than threatened.
I am vaccinated, I expect to see voluntary facemasks continuing, but I am relieved that ‘vaccine passports’ and compulsory vaccinations are now unlikely.
My expectation is that ‘Partygate’ will rapidly become merely another footnote in a messy History of COVID.
Boris Johnson has the blood of British liberty on his hands and that will not soon be forgotten. As you hope he will lead us out of covid, the NHS is preparing to fire thousands of nurses and other workers under his orders. The end for this tyrant can’t come soon enough.
As a side but relevant scientific thought: study after study have found that the “effectiveness” of the vaccine, as defined a certain way by the authorities, to be essentially negligible after four to six months from injection (thus, the promotion of boosters). This, in real terms, means that the large majority of vaccinated are, in effect, not vaccinated in the sense of being in possession of the positive effects of the vaccine. These vaccinated are not vaccinated in a practical and real sense of the intended meaning of the term, one encompassed in the term “protected”. Yet, the ruling class ignores this unquestioned scientific truth in the implementation of vaccine passports.
It’s true. My late November booster will have largely worn off already. However, it got me past the Omicron peak
One reads frequently elsewhere that the purpose of the vax passports is to both bring in a digital currency (and abolish cash) and to track everyone’s lives via their phones. Given the known failure of the vaccines to prevent transmission and infection among the vaccinated, the passport would appear to be utterly unfit for stated purpose. Why then is this glaringly obvious fact being ignored? Clearly, for some other reason.
Secondly, the booster is of the same composition as the original jabs, which were allegedly designed for the original strain and have been reported as ineffectual for Omicron, so again, why this insane push to jab the few “stragglers” who remain unvaccinated?
It is an awful lot of “stragglers”. There are perhaps 4 million adults apart from me who have not received the first two doses which would now be largely ineffective. And only 66% of adults have received the “essential” third jab. Yet 95+% of the population allegedly have antibodies, naturally or vaccine produced. No guarantees either way, though natural looks more effective and safer.
Seeing that there are plenty of people (such as illegal immigrants) who probably have a far higher rate of non-vaccination. And there is a small minority (transplant patients on immunosuppressant drugs, arthritis patients on massive steroid doses, chemotherapy patients) for whom the vaccines would be useless or of little value.
One way or another, the vax mania has run its course. Now we have to desperately hope there are no long term consequences from injecting so many people with experimental substances.
Excellent article, and I entirely agree that Boris’s popularity would return in spades if he “actually” cries freedom on 26 January. I question the value of the vow never to return to the approach advocated in the last paragraph (nobody would believe another vow, the time for that has gone).
We need another Tory to emerge as freedom advocate – Boris can’t do it on his own – and we need Boris to publicly disown at least some of the Nut-Nut policies (if he doesn’tdo that soon, Inow want him gone, which will be a surprise to all my friends!): before I for one will ever vote Tory again.
I think you are right Freddy. We were initially all too ready to join in the pan-national pandemic of paranoia, but Boris made a significant right call when before Christmas he refrained from introducing any new restrictions. On 26 January if he gets things right again all remaining restrictions will end and we will be the first in Europe to be freed from the pointless obligation of folding flannel round our faces. I can’t wait.
ASAIK Scotland is abandoning them on 24th
What do you mean, lead the world out of the pandemic? Parts of the world are already out of it, they have decided they have had enough and are getting on with their lives.
We need Boris to step up. Even if modern conservatives may make some bad choices, they’re still better than modern liberals. And I say this as a classic liberal myself.
Sayers for PM
Unfortunately Freddie . Boris is made of 3 things- cowardice, populism & vanity. He certainly has no ethics and knowledge of right from wrong.
This is what I have learnt.
“Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
MARTIN LUTHER KING
But what about build back better?
Like “Back to Basics” under John Major. It is just another meaningless noise to come out of politicians’ faces.
That’s a bloody good piece.
Good article.Its worth making the point that “Pazrtygate” looks very much like an MSM putsch, very much like the Stalinist trial provided Owen Paterson. You are guilty because we say so;
I’ve seen no analysis about May 20, 2020- 10 days after an easing of lockdown; Johnson just out of hospital; the informal side of Covid rules in the country; Johnson’s known reluctance to lockdown. Its a reporting disgrace- DISGRACE.
Jonathan did you read the report why Owen Patterson was censured? I suggest you do rather than make statements like “you are guilty because we say so.” The evidence in the report was pretty compelling if you read it.
Very good article. The part about people’s anger about Partygate being partially fuelled by shame and embarrassment also rings true. My view quite early on in that wee fiasco was that – yes – it’s pretty bad for the rule-makers to be caught breaking their own rules by the handful. But the people themselves also bear a part of the blame. Why, if the rules were so silly and byzantine (which they have been, and not just in the UK), then why didn’t you all rise up en masse and say “that’s enough”? It is a lesson in handing over your freedom to the powerful far too easily and having too much respect for authority.
An acquaintance in England was so cowed by the rules (in this case, a rule that said you weren’t allowed to leave the house more than once per day) that she felt she couldn’t go running because she’d already gone to the supermarket that day. I told her not to be silly, this was not going to place anyone at risk and that doing something for your health like running is a good reason to leave your house. But no, there was too much fear, so no run was had that day. It was bizarre to observe.
As far as the vaccine mandates in Europe are concerned…you might pat yourself on the back in the UK and feel smug that you didn’t have to contemplate that. But my opinion is that you had a bit of luck in that respect: the UK seems to have a stronger vaccination culture than other countries and that meant enough people got their jab voluntarily to bring down hospitalisation rates to a level where the system can cope.
Johnson has a bizarre relationship with the truth – it is what he says it is regardless of fact. The Conservative Party has a simple choice: carry on being led by the fantasist and face the consequences or get rid of Johnson and face reality. If only the Westminster bubble would take the pulse of the proverbial man in the street who sees Johnson for what he is: a dishonest chancer who lacks any sense of integrity or honour and wouldn’t know the truth if he fell over it. I have voted Conservative all my 66 years. A True Blue Tory but I refuse to vote for a party led by this appalling man.
I really hope with the emergence of Omicron that the pandemic is over; but can we really be sure this is the beginning of the end? As we have seen, this virus mutates readily and we could be facing a much more virulent strain soon. Yes the health professionals have improved treatment, so outcomes are better, but we have to accept despite that there will be more mutations. We need to be vigilant and pragmatic on how we live with it. Does Johnson have a place in that world remains to be seen. For me he has actually soaked up so much of our collective energy with his frivolous attitude, it really is time for a change.
Apparently only about 8,000 people died each year solely due to infection by Covid. All the rest had comorbidities which would have had massive effects on their ability to fight the virus. And for this we’re injecting children who have 3x more chance of adverse events from the vaccine than adverse events from catching Covid??? Follow the£££££!!
ONS all cause mortality shows about 80,000 exess deaths in 2020 and 55,000 in 2021
Most excess deaths were not covid – look at ONS docs eg heart attacks dying at home
Deaths from COVID-19 with no other underlying causes – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
2020: 9400 (0-64: 1549 / 65 and over: 7851)
2021 Q1: 6483 (0-64: 1560/ 65 and over: 4923)
2021 Q2: 346 (0-64: 153/ 65 and over: 193)
2021 Q3: 1142 (0-64: 512/ 65 and over: 630)
This gives a total (all ages and includes the obese – which is a real marker for serious covid but is not considered a co- morbidity of
Alison, statistics are misleading, my father died of Covid on 1 May 2019. He suffered from COPD a lung disease brought on by smoking which he had given up 30 years before. His COPD was controlled and he led a fairly normal life for the 7 years he had it. He contracted COVID in a well run care home which had closed its doors to all visitors from 20 March 2019. Unfortunately the NHS forced the home to accommodate a former resident who had been in hospital with heart disease.This instruction was part of a plan by the Department of Health to clear NHS hospitals at the time. She was readmitted to the home and kept in isolation. Unfortunately she was not tested on release from hospital(due to poor testing capacity at the end of March 2019. She developed Covid and despite the homes best endeavours my father and 6 other residents died over the next month. So was my father one of the 8,000 who died directly of Covid or one of the many others who were vulnerable but able to live fairly normally until exposed to Covid?
So everybody interested in the management of the pandemic needs to take the time to read or listen to this podcast (you will need 3 hours and a Spotify account).
An excellent podcast and well worth the time spent listening to it…
As long as the dreaded PLF and 2nd day covid test is thrown out along with all the other restrictions and advice I am with you Freddie.
I hope you are right Freddy but, I am still operating under the assumption that whatever Boris does, depends on the orders he receives from Biden. In other words, the bond market controls the main decisions of the west, the politicians are just the liars that execute those decisions, thereby just creating the lies to justify their actions. I don’t know if I am entirely correct but if I am, this schema does not end in the voting booth, it collapses under the weight of the debt it created. Put simply it collapses under the weight of its own bullshit
He wouldn’t be receiving orders from Biden…. He would be receiving orders from whomever is running the US – and that isn’t Biden.
Boris can literally shoot someone on Oxford Street in broad daylight and he would still have my support if he ends the scourge of covid restrictions
Excellent analysis. We’ve got there more by luck by judgement, and because of the right liberal instincts (ironic isn’t it in this ‘post-liberal’ world!) of some parts of the Tory Party – for all their undoubted other faults.
Worryingly though, it’s a critique held by zero % of the Labour Party, or any of our other main parties, which as usual can be relied on to latch onto fashionable bien-pensant policies almost perfectly designed to create division and to destroy both prosperity and freedom.
Why agonize over the political survival of someone who combines the worst proclivities of an Obama/Clinton (both) and the buffoonery of a Trump/Lynden Johnson. Be rid of him and be thankful when he’s gone.
The ‘bon viveur’ in Johnson is plainy there to see, and has, by default, held England ( not the UK) back from more restrictive measures. Although these restrictions will lessen everywhere, globally, the scale of/and cost of lockdowns will be paid for in coming years not only by the very fabric of countries, but mainly the poor and young. Creatives are not attracted into politics, which is why the point made in The Great Barrington Declaration of targeted vaccination, without lockdowns, was an anathema to governments – they could not think how else to do it. Even if we allow for the pressure and time upon govenment decision making its due, there was never, at any point, a concensus among scientists that these lockdowns were the best option. In addition, UK, lockdowns also enabled ’emergency ruling’ to put in place laws restricting freedoms that have not only been a part of our lives, but given us a culture much respected by other countries – these laws will remain.
I really hope he hears you!
Well… that aged well!!! Good job Freddie. This site needs more Freddie Sayers and less Tom Chivers. LOL
On the emergence of Omicron variant no one could possibly know its severity, so scientists had to be alarming. It has proven to be milder than Delta that’s why the predictions did not materialize. The deathtoll of the previous variants have also proven the necessity of most of the measures around Europe.
The parallelism and equalization of different variants responding is a bit simplistic
Consider applying this flawed logic to every cold and flu strain, every year, from now until the end of civilisation. After all, no one can possibly know the severity of anything for sure, until the data is in.
Therefore we should forever hide in sterilised bubbled, just in case this is the H1N1 strain that ends us all.
As regards “the death toll of previous strains proving the necessity of measures around Europe”: can you back this up? Can you show one piece of evidence that mass testing, vaccine passports, masks and school closures slowed the spread of the virus or saved even one life?
We know a fair bit about flu and cold, so we can make some reasonable probability estimates of the risks. For a completely new virus, extremely transmissible and that has already killed millions of people, the uncertainty is much greater. “Never think what you would like to think before you know what you need to know!” [Reginald Jones, scientific intelligence advisor to Churchill].
To call SARS-2 ‘a completely new virus’ in December 2021 is doing far more than stretching the bounds of credibility. Never a virus has been more studied than this one. We knew a lot about it, including that the infection fatality rate was already low for Delta and at least an order of magnitude lower for Omicron.
We knew that the baseline evolution of a novel virus is for it to become more transmissible and less lethal over time. We knew what the virus had failed to do in South Africa weeks previous.
We knew. We knew. We knew. We just weren’t ready to let go of our Covid hysteria.
Delta was more lethal than what preceded it
Nothing I have seen in the data backs up this statement. In Belgium, for which waves existed for the original strain, the alpha and the delta, the latter was by far the least lethal.
And ‘they’ weren’t ready to let us let go of it either!
‘Less lethal’? Not necessarily. That holds if keeping people alive (or just out of isolation) for longer enables the virus to spread more. It is true for TB or syphilis, where you can remain contagious for a lifetime, but having either 0.5%, 1.5% or 5.0% die after 3-4 weeks when transmission is over with anyway should not make much difference for how well SARS-COV2 can spread.
You are right; leading by hindsight is a recipe for disaster (and totally different from learning from one’s mistakes).
I spent some time a number of years ago, on a very useful and informative Emergency Response Course related to my job and I shall always remember the chief instructor’s parting words (which I made a note of) ” but remember, whatever you did and no matter the outcome, when it is all over you will have been wrong and hauled over the coals by all those who did not have to make decisions with limited information, but now have all the hind-sight they need.”
Except we knew. We knew in February 2020. We saw the Diamond Princess data and we knew this was a relatively mild but highly infectious virus that would go endemic. Protect the vulnerable, hope for a vaccine and let nature do the rest. This was clear in early March.
On the contrary, South Africa already had the data that it was far milder and ventilated this worldwide. Many governments chose to react irrationally, aided by populaces who demand very little of them. They all have egg on their faces.
I think it looked likely to be fairly mild pretty quickly (reports from South Africa). Scientists scared us with the idea that it could swamp health services. I’m all for being informed by science, but it’s looking like they were over-cautious (again?)
South Africa, after identifying the strain, determined it was extremely mild. The modellers ignored this, and the media largely followed the modellers.
It was quite mild – in a young population where lots of people had had it already. The modellers – sensibly – chose not to take it for granted that it would necessarily be the same in a much older popupation.
The South African population is younger, but a lot of them are health compromised – TB, HIV, malnourished and we have our own fair share of overweight (just Google any South African politician, policemen, civil servants etc).
Nope, they were determined to blow the hooters, sound the horns, scare their populaces witless and give everyone another jab. I am predicting that this will continue.
Age out trumps any other factor by a country mile for mortality risk with Covid.
See Williamson’s huge hazard ratio study from 2020 (HR 2.16 – 22.68 for ages 60 – 80+ compared with HR 1.00 – 2.13 for a BMI > 30).
The only other co-morbidity that comes close to age in Williamson’s long list is organ transplantation (2.77 – 4.49) and haematological malignancy (2.08 – 3.78).
Average age in SA 27.6 years (according to Worldometer). Average age in UK 40.4 years with an elderly bulge in the population (20% over the age of 65 compared with about 6% in this age group in SA)
So what exactly is your point here given that we now know how mild Omicron actually is. The real truth, from a US perspective, is that doctors/public health officials in the US don’t trust anything that is not done in the US, and that includes the UK and other Western European countries.
Your age demographics is perfectly valid. But what the South African Authorities knew was that the Omicron variant was a good deal milder than previous variants in their population. Given that Omicron caused next to no deaths and very few hospitalizations while the previous strains caused plenty of deaths and hospitalizations, it was fair to conclude, irrespective of population demographics, that Omicron was a lot milder. And indeed that’s exactly how it turned out. Further, the UK, like the US is a bit arrogant medically speaking, and therefore they dismissed the Danish data which just confirmed what had been seen in South Africa. And I suspect that the U>K. and Danish populations are demographically not too dissimilar, at least in terms of age distribution.
You are correct. I just suggested that they were over-cautious, but they need to be
It is not cautious to insist on schoolchildren wearing masks,it is stupid
South Africa determined it was mild because they could compare outcomes from previous strains. Interpolation is not difficult, and it certainly shouldn’t be for professional epidemiologists and software engineers.
As pointed out by Fraser Miles’ discussions with the modellers, it was deliberate to assume the worst case, not the probable case.
Also, caution may be a valid approach, but when that caution has externalities that will also have an impact on lives and life expectancy, it stops being an obvious choice.
“As pointed out by Fraser Miles’ discussions with the modellers, it was deliberate to assume the worst case, not the probable case.”
No. As Graham Medley pointed out :
“You can’t make a model without having some policy in it, because the government not doing anything is a policy. We can make a model of the epidemic if nothing is done. And we can make a model of the epidemic if something is done.
“So, we have to have a policy in the model. The policy makers talk to us and say, this is the thing we’re most interested in, for example.”
LSHTM + Stellenbosch Uni. given the estimated relative transmissibility of Omicron at the time (mid December), modelled four immune escape and booster effectiveness scenarios. Boris has clearly put all his chips on the “Low immune escape, high booster efficacy” scenario. He had choices and he took a punt.
See : Addendum to Consequences of Omicron (cmmid.github.io)
Yes, I don’t believe he has the attention span to develop a deep understanding of anything, so he takes punts. He may have been lucky on his most recent punt
I suspect it was more to do with cowering in fear from his backbenchers.
Applying policy to the model is just an abstraction of specifying which variables and properties of the model must change, which is something I’d imagine would be done all the time to fine tune the model.
Graham Medley was very specific in that twitter exchange that a do-nothing option was not modelled because it wasn’t requested as the government doesn’t need know anything if it doesn’t intend to do anything. I find this absurd – even if I thought these models are actually worth anything. If doing nothing results in consequences X and a given set of restrictions results in consequences Y then the surely the delta of X and Y is actually more important than the specific numbers.
Absolutely correct, and I can’t understand why Elaine is an apologist for SAGE and their ilk, given that they have gotten everything wrong in their models from the get go. The problem with models is that they are overladen with supposedly complex math (although the math is actually very simple) and hence are given a lot more worth than they deserve.
When models are continually wrong in one direction and they serve to influence or make policy, you have a problem.
Yes the maths are fairly straightforward but it’s the assumptions for the modelling in the first place that are probably more complicated and how realistic the assumptions in the first place. One of the things that really pushed the boat out early on was the level of infection that was traced back to skiing holidays in March 2019, which the newspapers reported as a result of super spreaders, Realistically ski resorts are very densely populated in the season and staying warm in the evening/night means that density is exaggerated.
Yes, it’s the number of calculations, not the calculations themselves.
The process really does look like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me.
Several references to Fraser Miles,do you mean Fraser Nelson ?
Probably, I think I mixed him up with the Spiked Online editor.