Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Johnson is riding a tiger and can’t get off

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I WAS a good boy.  I accepted not being able to leave my flat except to exercise or to shop for food. I queued in the rain, two metres from everyone else of course, to get into Morrisons, and put up with the empty shelves. I tried to follow the labyrinthine one-way systems around the aisles. I put up with the total loss of my already limited social life as clubs ceased to meet, classic vehicle shows at which I exhibited my vehicle were cancelled, and I couldn’t meet my friends and family. I even put up with celebrating my sixtieth birthday on my own and the fact that nine days later my Dad had to spend his ninetieth birthday on his own instead of enjoying the party we’d planned with his family and friends. 

Why did I put up with all these tribulations? There was a horrible virus on the loose, and we all had to play our part in combating it. The Army had built emergency hospitals to cope with the sick and the dying, and I knew from my time served in the police that other services would be making contingency plans to cope with other aspects of the pandemic, like what to do with all the bodies. I knew we all had to pull together to beat this common enemy – spirit of the Blitz, we will fight it on the beaches, that sort of thing. Like most of the rest of the country, I fell in with it.

Then something happened. It was the sudden requirement to wear masks when in shops and other buildings. A trip to Morrisons turned into a low-budget remake of Zombie Apocalypse. I realised that if face masks had any value in preventing the spread of the virus (and there was plenty of informed opinion to say that they didn’t, including from the WHO before they were ‘leaned on’ to change their advice) they would have been made compulsory on April 10, when the daily reported death toll was nearly 1,200, not on July 13, when the reported death toll was 11. Not only that but we wouldn’t have been given nearly a fortnight in which to continue to breathe our germs all over each other before we had to mask up. Forcing everyone to wear masks was making people fearful, and it occurred to me that that was the real objective – after all, with the pubs open again and supplies of toilet rolls restored, people might start to think the crisis was over, so Project Fear was needed to keep us all scared and compliant.

That’s when I started seriously to question the government’s handling of the crisis. I’d already started collating the daily death figures in an Excel spreadsheet of my own devising, and it was clear that the toll, which had peaked in early April, had been coming steadily down ever since. The totals for calendar weeks from Sunday to Saturday came down every single week from their peak of nearly 7,000 in the week ending April 18 to only 71 in the week ending August 8. (By now they were publishing two sets of figures, Public Health England having been caught out inflating the figures by counting everyone who had tested positive for the virus and had subsequently died as a Covid-19 death, even when they’d been killed in a motorcycle accident.) The easing of lockdown, people packing on to beaches, illegal raves, even the BLM riots, all of which the Jeremiahs had confidently predicted would trigger the second wave, made no difference to the resolute fall in the number of deaths. Then it started to bounce a bit, the week ending August 15 saw a small rise to 88, then another record low of 62 the following week, then a rise to 75, then another record low of 51 in the week to September 5.

I also noticed that they’d started to push the number of cases (which they seemed to be deliberately confusing with ‘infections’) rather than deaths, the number of deaths being inconveniently low. Further recourse to Excel showed that they were finding just over half the number of infections they were in April but it was taking thirteen times as many tests to do it. On April 8, for example, every 1,000 tests yielded 406 infections, on September 17 only 12.

The longer this has been going on the more I’ve become convinced that the dangers of the virus are over-stated, but the government, and particularly Boris Johnson, can’t or won’t let go of it.  Leaving aside the possibility that Johnson and others are enjoying their newfound powers rather too much, it’s possible that he’s painted himself into a corner. He doesn’t even seem to know what his objective is. Is he hoping for some miracle vaccine to turn up? Even if it does many people will be reluctant to be injected with something which has been rushed through testing and production. Is he hoping that track and trace will work?  Many people will be hostile to having their every movement, their every human contact, logged by the State. Knowing that, is his strategy to make our lives so unpleasant that we’ll beg to be injected and tracked just to escape from it?  Is this why we’re being subject to more restrictions, more masking, seemingly random and arbitrary rules like the ‘Rule of Six’ and the halving of the number of guests at a wedding, and the threat of another lockdown and the Army on the streets if we don’t all obey?

Project Fear, led by the predictions of Patrick Vallance, Chris Whitty, and Neil Ferguson (whose previous predictions have been so laughably wrong that I wouldn’t ask him to predict tomorrow’s date) has got some members of the public so terrified of the virus that they won’t come out from behind the settee until it’s been completely eliminated. They’ll be behind the settee for a long time; we’ve managed to eliminate very few viruses (smallpox being one), but the world is full of them, none of which cause most people a moment’s worry. Having managed to scare half of the population witless, though, how do the government and PM change course and tell us it’s safe to go back to normal? They’re riding a tiger and don’t know how to get off.

What’s needed now is leadership, leadership which will replace Vallance, Whitty et al with more sensible medical experts offering alternative views, including Professor Carl Heneghan, and say: ‘The virus will be with us for ever, it’s never going to go away, but you now stand very little chance of catching it, and if you do you stand very little chance of dying from it, so let’s all come out from behind the settee and get back to normal’. No more masks, no more talk of lockdowns, no more restrictions on the British people. The cure is now worse than the disease, so let’s bin the cure. Does Boris Johnson have the leadership abilities to do that, or do we need someone untainted by the recent debacles to lead us out of the panic? This former good boy thinks it’s time for Johnson to go and for someone else to lead us back to normality.

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Chris Lamb
Chris Lamb has been, amongst other things, a lorry driver, an IT support engineer and a special constable. He is a Brexiteer and was a UKIP candidate in the 1997 Election, and has served as a Conservative councillor.

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