IN their recent letter to Boris Johnson and the various chief medical officers, Professors Heneghan, Gupta, Sikora et al lamented the absence of any clearly stated objective for the government’s overall policy response to Covid-19, particularly in the months since the initial clarity of ‘flatten the curve’ and ‘protect the NHS’. In their view the ‘unstated objective . . . appears to be suppression of the virus, until such a time that a vaccine can be deployed’. They go on to point out, with characteristic understatement, that such an objective is ‘increasingly unfeasible’.
The Emperor then has no clothes.
The illusion of a return to our customary freedoms in a brief late summer of frolics and eating out at Rishi Sunak’s expense has now been quashed by the dystopian ‘rule of six’, threats of military deployment and the routine use of language – such as ‘curfew’ and ‘latest restrictions’ – redolent of Belfast circa 1969. And for what? Even if Heneghan and Gupta are right in their charitable belief that the objective is suppression of the virus, and even if it could be shown that such an objective is possible (and common sense, never mind evidence-based science, surely tells us that it is not), a deeper question arises: why is such destruction being wilfully visited upon innocent lives, and the very sinews of the economy which sustains our existence, in the name of a virus which has only managed to kill, between June 24 and today, as of writing, September 24, just over 1,800 people in this country?
To put that in perspective, on average around 9,000 people die in this country every week. If you prefer percentages, the ONS (Office for National Statistics) has confirmed that in the week ending September 11, deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate accounted for 1 per cent of all deaths in England and Wales. Needless to say, deaths where Covid-19 was the direct cause would account for considerably fewer even than that.
How on earth is it remotely credible that the struggle against this somewhat underwhelming foe is considered by our Prime Minister to be the ‘single biggest crisis in my lifetime’?
And by what perverted moral calculus is collateral damage in this incomprehensible war deemed to be acceptable to the extent that it dwarfs the suffering inflicted by the virus? According to Sarah Knapton, science editor of the Daily Telegraph, excess deaths at home in the last eight weeks have outnumbered those where Covid was mentioned on their death certificate by a factor of 5:1, leading a senior research scientist at Sheffield University to say: ‘I find it very surprising that there hasn’t been more attention paid to this, since it seems a pretty fundamental shift in how we are dying.’
The frightening reality is that our government’s war against what a leading German scientist, Sucharit Bhakdi, has called a ‘spook’, has indeed brought about the greatest crisis in our collective lifetimes. The carnage directly caused by the State’s ‘firepower’ (Boris Johnson’s term) will now, as we face six months of deepening restrictions, reach unimaginable levels.
That no rational explanation comes to mind for this total war against a spook makes this entire episode not frightening but genuinely terrifying.
What a pass we have come to when the only attempts at a thoroughgoing explanation are being furnished by cranks and conspiracy theorists, the David Ickes of this world. Their talk of a worldwide conspiracy to vaccinate and chip every one of us into submission is boosted by shameful and insultingly transparent manipulations of statistics as performed the other day by Whitty and Vallance, who are, let us remember, meant to be the chief medical and scientific officers of this country; then we discover that Vallance is a shareholder in a multinational pharmaceutical company bidding to supply the UK with a potential vaccine.
In the last couple of decades we have seen the radicalisation and anger produced by the failure of Western governments to be straight with their people about the links between Islam and Islamist violence. The American liberal Sam Harris was widely, and often deliberately, misunderstood when he said: ‘The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists. To say that this does not bode well for liberalism is an understatement: it does not bode well for civilisation.’ To him it was surreal that the far Right could speak more honestly and with more cogency about an existential threat to our way of life than our elected politicians.
When our elected politicians are the ones actually waging a terroristic war against our way of life, and our liberal academic and intellectual élites are unable to be straight with us about this, unable to provide any explanation beyond the absurd one of a war against a not particularly lethal virus, how much more surreal is our situation?