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HomeKathy GyngellTCW’s top blogs of the year: My letter to Michael Gove

TCW’s top blogs of the year: My letter to Michael Gove


AS we head for the end of the year, we are re-running our ten most-read blogs of 2020, in reverse order. Today’s article, in fifth place, was first published on November 3, 2020.

Dear Michael

I feel I have no choice but to write to you directly and publicly to say how appalled I am by your part in the government’s response to the Covid-19 virus which, in six months, has destroyed the country’s economic prospects, and turned us from a democracy into a dictatorship. For what? For a non-cure that is far worse than the disease. I have known you long enough (about 10 years, I believe) and well enough to tell you the truth.

Your friends in the mainstream press and at the Right-leaning think tanks may still be reluctant to do the same. I suspect they dare not offend you because they need to be under the establishment umbrella. Well, I do not. You once told me that you admired my website, The Conservative Woman. What follows is a reflection of thousands of our readers’ and contributors’ views. This is not about me or my family but about our country, the one I thought you valued as much as I do.

You may not personally be responsible for every decision made in recent months, but you are at the heart of the Prime Minister’s inner circle and chief advocate of the government’s coercive and economically ruinous policy, as you were again this weekend. People ask me what happened to the Michael who I have known to be a highly intelligent, sensitive and attentive listener. I think you – and Sarah, who is herself admirably forthright – will be grateful for being made aware of what people are really thinking and saying about you and your Cabinet colleagues.  

It’s true that every government in the world was dealt a difficult hand when Covid emerged late last year. Following a precautionary principle, as many Asian countries did straight away when so much remained unknown, would have been wise. However, no such precautions – whether airport screening or test and trace – were deemed necessary. The Government’s policy could be summed up in three words: ‘Wash your hands’. By mid-March, when Neil Ferguson’s prophecy of doom prompted your government’s overnight U-turn from ‘herd immunity’ to total lockdown, the horse had already bolted. The NHS was culpably lax over this period in securing the necessary PPE and testing that would have protected medical staff, health and care workers.

Since then the best evidence is that the policies of lockdown, Stay at Home/Save Lives/Protect the NHS and social distancing have cost at least as many lives as saved and with very cruel consequences, callously so for the most vulnerable elderly, denying hospital treatment to the group you were meant to be protecting, and, it transpires, for mothers-to-be.

Despite the lack of evidence for it and though there is now much greater understanding of who is most at risk from this disease, you have extended lockdown again and again. Can you deny the basic facts that for anyone under 50 the chances of dying from Covid are negligible, or that the average age of death from Covid at 82.4 years is actually higher than the 81.16 years life expectancy for the UK as a whole, or that the vast majority of the population is at little or no risk?

On Sunday Toby Young, a man whose advice you once followed, set out ten reasons why a second lockdown is a truly terrible idea. Please read them and reconsider your ill-advised threat of Sunday that the new lockdown in England could be extended beyond four weeks if the number of infections does not fall far enough.

How can you continue to treat every British citizen as though they face a very high risk of being hospitalised or even dying as a result of exposure to Covid, when this patently is not true? And why pretend the NHS is overwhelmed when the Nightingale hospitals lie empty? And how, this weekend, could you have bought into and sold the public such a dodgy Covid deaths dossier, your so-called ‘realistic worst case’ scenarios that lack any credibility an excuse for lockdown?

How can you justify failing to subject lockdown to a detailed cost benefits exercise? And yet you are going down the same un-costed route again.

How can you justify outsourcing the entire educational, economic, mental and social wellbeing of the nation to ever more secretive and unaccountable NHS quangos with their own political and vested interests all supposedly under the control of Matt Hancock at the Department of Health?

Lastly, how can you, an economic liberal, be part of a government which has needlessly wrecked Britain’s economy? You and colleagues may be shielded from the onslaught that the nation is about to experience thanks to your publicly-funded salary and pension, but most others – particularly the self-employed, the sole traders and those who run small businesses – face a very different future, one that is genuinely frightening. Irresponsible doesn’t begin to describe the national economic and political catastrophe your latest lockdown decision is leading us to. 

I hold no brief for Mr Johnson, who I long suspected to be a man with little principle, now seemingly a man who is also easily spooked and dominated. You, I thought, were different – not one to fall for Leftist authoritarianism or for NHS emoting claptrap.  I thought you were honourable.

That’s why I am so dismayed that you of all people have involved yourself in what amounts to deceit on an industrial scale and are party to such a deeply manipulative Covid Fear propaganda, splurging taxpayer billions and accruing vast debt on it along the way. It is my contention that many – perhaps most – people in Britain remain unaware of the level of figure fiddling and fanciful doomsday data presentation. This feeds into my own and my colleagues’ belief that you and your Cabinet colleagues have participated in pumping out state propaganda that would not be out of place in China, Russia or North Korea.

As you have shown no moral courage by telling the truth about this in public, I can only conclude that you have been content to sit back and watch as liberties and livelihoods have been extinguished and medical expertise has been denied to thousands who need it urgently but whom the NHS refuses to treat. Either that or you no longer pretend to be a democrat. I really wonder how you sleep at night. 

I suspect that like your leader you are so far into this mess that every decision is now about covering your back rather than confessing your mistakes. But you need to understand that it is a common view that you and your Cabinet colleagues are not just crassly incompetent, but deliberately taking the country down a very bad route – and that you are doing so after every citizen has effectively been blindfolded, bound and gagged by various arms of the state. Are you now so immersed in groupthink that you do not see the damage that you have done and continue to do? 

You need to take a long look at yourself and ask if you are happy to leave this appalling damage as your political legacy. You of all people should show the basic courtesy of honesty. 

Copies of this letter are being sent to other MPs. It will also be posted on my website. 



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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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