Here comes the blame game

The emerging clash between politicians and experts misses the most important point about the Covid crisis.

Norman Lewis

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The Covid-19 crisis is going to give rise to a backlash against experts. One signal of this is the current public jockeying for positions in terms of who is to blame for the crisis. Scientists, health officials, other experts and politicians are gearing up for this blame game.

This week, Sir Adrian Smith, president-elect of the Royal Society, urged the government to ‘stop passing the buck’ by hiding behind scientists. He said the government’s Nuremberg defence – ‘we were only following orders’ – would not fool anyone.

He said the government should admit uncertainty and be more transparent about the advice it is receiving and how decisions are being made. In an editorial supporting Sir Adrian, The Times urged Boris Johnson to stop being so defensive, admit mistakes like the care-homes scandal, and acknowledge that there is much that, with hindsight, the government would have done differently.

There is indeed a critical need to hold government to account for its decisions during the Covid crisis. But demanding greater transparency is not the answer. The tendency for political leaders to hide behind scientists, and use their authority as a substitute for exercising political judgement, is the real political problem. Knowing the exact details of what advice was given in meetings, and how decisions were taken, would only distract from the broader debate we need about experts being used as a political shield in the absence of meaningful leadership and political judgement.

This crisis of political judgement, and the corresponding sacralisation of expertise, is a symptom of the culture of fear. This culture was dominant before anyone had even heard of Covid-19 and is underpinned by a broader corrosion of the importance and authority of knowledge. In place of knowledge and understanding, we increasingly have the institutionalisation of worst-case thinking. The fearful imagination has become society’s existential default position. This points to the great paradox underpinning the entire Covid-19 experience: people are demanding certainty at a time when society has abandoned the very tools – the pursuit of knowledge, the taking of intellectual risks – that can help us to navigate uncertainty.

Historically, of course, all technological advances and expansions of knowledge have been accompanied by unexpected outcomes. The inventors of fire never imagined that their discovery – which protected mankind from predators, gave light in the darkness and transformed man’s diet – would one day be used to burn people at the stake or in the ovens of Auschwitz. The unexpected outcomes of human knowledge are precisely what make it so open-ended, full of potential for both good and evil.

But while it’s true that knowledge can give rise to unexpected outcomes, to view knowledge as little more than a source of upheaval, of conflict and confusion, can only lead to the institutionalisation of the precautionary principle – of the idea that it is better to be safe than sorry, and therefore there are certain things we shouldn’t tamper with or explore in too much depth. This can be seen most clearly in the environmentalist movement, which essentially encourages humankind to cease intervening in nature and seeking out resources on the basis that the consequences will be dire.

The corrosion of the authority of knowledge has created an industry of worst-case thinking. We have witnessed the expansion of the empire of the unknown, of alleged threats, of claims about humanity’s problematic and uncertain future. Uncertainty has become a permanent state of existence. Everyday life has come to be dominated by doomsday Hollywood scriptwriters, pondering not ‘if’ but ‘when’ the next disaster is going to strike. This is why, long before Covid-19 emerged, there were numerous claims that we would one day face a plague or virus of Biblical proportions.

This is the core problem that Sir Adrian Smith is studiously avoiding. His demand for politicians to stop hiding behind experts is disingenuous because it fails to acknowledge that many experts have been as responsible as politicians for institutionalising worst-case thinking. Experts have become part of the problem. How else do we explain how rapidly Boris went from a mitigation strategy (the so-called ‘herd immunity’ approach) to a draconian suppressive one? A pre-existing culture of fear, in this case bolstered by the worst-case projections of the Imperial College simulation study by Professor Neil Ferguson, and further whipped up by a media clamouring for action, is the key force at play here.

Sir Adrian is also naive if he thinks experts can avoid the blame game. In response to his demand that governments stop hiding behind scientists, Thérèse Coffey, the secretary of state for work and pensions, played the ‘It’s the scientists wot made us do it’ card. She told Sky News that ‘if the science was wrong… I’m not surprised if people will then think we then made a wrong decision’.

Of course politicians should be held to account. And of course experts must not be above criticism. But Sir Adrian and his ilk should get their own house in order. Their task is not to tell politicians how to conduct themselves. That belongs to us, the electorate. It would be far better if Sir Adrian, as the next president of the Royal Society, launched a robust campaign challenging today’s risk-averse, precautionary culture that has contrived to undermine the authority of knowledge and led us to this precipice. Perhaps then we will build the antibodies that society needs to manage uncertainty in the future.

Dr Norman Lewis is a writer and managing director of Futures Diagnosis.

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

Mike Jackson

24th May 2020 at 12:06 pm

We are seeing the fulfillment of what many of us prophesied 30+ years ago when we started playing at programming on our Commodore 64s and Sinclair ZXs — that science, and especially computer science, would be the next religion and scientists, especially computer scientists, would become its high priests.

The development reached its pinnacle, or so we thought, with climate change, where eco-activists with any sort of “sciencey” degree produced evermore outlandish predictions based on computer models which, like any computer model, could only ever be as good as the data they were supplied with in the first place. And that input is inevitably — since scientists and computer programmers are neither more nor less than the rest of us — going to be influenced to some extent by their own personal prejudices.

Politicians, few of whom are famed for their scientific knowledge, are suckers for the snake oil salesmen who easily bamboozle them with dire stories of what “the science” tells them ‘could’, ‘might’ or ‘is projected to’ happen unless libations (or some modern equivalent of sacrificing of virgins) is made to appease the gods.

As Stephen Schneider said a few years ago (I paraphrase), if we want to get our own way we need to give ministers scary stories without including the doubtful bits!

The predictions from Ferguson and his pals at Imperial are no different. And neither, come to that, are any of the offerings from any other source. The hubristic error made by every researcher desperate to keep his job and his grant money flowing is to believe that model output is evidence. It isn’t. What you see out of the window is evidence; what you see on the computer screen is simply an interpretation of what you told the computer in the first place.

Mike Jackson

24th May 2020 at 12:08 pm

“… neither more nor less human ….” Sorry about that!

Oliver King

24th May 2020 at 11:50 am

I have little confidence that the Royal Society will do anything address the issues raised here. Paul Erlich, the author of the 1968 book The Population Bomb predicted mass starvation, dwindling food supplies, resources running out and London being underwater by now due to climate change. How is someone who’s wrong about everything and constantly calling disaster rewarded? Why, with a fellowship of the Royal Society of course.

The Royal Society has tied its colours to the climate alarmism mast rather than talk about uncertainty and the reliability of disaster-predicting models. It’s happy for its scientists to talk of certainty until they’re wrong and then it doesn’t want any criticism.

KATHLEEN CARR

24th May 2020 at 11:04 am

This government is full of dithering idiots , I suggest they should disband and form a government of all the talents , with that polymath Piers Morgan in charge. Everyday we can have competing scientists , journalists , chefs and general know-it-alls tell us what to do -oh we have that already.

Mike Coops

24th May 2020 at 10:33 am

There is right,wrong and indifferent and we’re all guilty of it as is any government…and the power of hindsight is a wonderful thing.If only we lived in a perfect world,whatever that looks like.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

22nd May 2020 at 6:35 pm

The buck stops with the cowardly Johnson who is the head of the government and, strangely, nowhere to be seen. They seek him here, they seek him there…

Ed Turnbull

23rd May 2020 at 9:22 am

Actually ZP there are three parties that are culpable for this utter clusterf*ck:

a) the mendacious media, who exaggerated the threat and risk and claimed that Godzilla was coming to eat us all up;
b) the credulous public (as opposed to the sceptical public) that believed the lies of a), and who, having been marinated for several decades in pernicious culture of ‘safetyism’, started squealing that “something must be done!”;
c) spineless politicians (including Bottler Johnson) who, when required to be the adults in the room (and a good Michael Winner impression – “calm down dear, calm down” – was all that was needed), decided that the optics didn’t look so good (“Some grannies might die and we’ll get blamed!”), and decided to ‘do something’ based on the apocalyptic mutterings of a modeller with a truly woeful track record.

These are the groups that are accountable. Now, a) & c) will point fingers at each other; both will point fingers at Ferguson and his merry band of fantasists; b) will shuffle their collective feet and begin to gaslight: “No, *we* never thought there was any danger at all. *We* were against the house arrest policy from the very start. No no, *we* never clapped for the NHS, or wore a mask, or jumped back six feet if we felt a stranger came too close. No, *we* knew it was nonsense all along”.

And the contempt in which I hold all of the aforementioned is great indeed. Never thought that 2020 would see me become a confirmed misanthrope, but hey ho, we never really know what life has in store for us.

NEIL DATSON

23rd May 2020 at 9:49 am

Very much agree with you, Ed. Although perhaps you could have made special mention of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, which from day one (if not day zero) have grabbed every opportunity to ramp up the terror. Johnson will ultimately get the blame – as so he should – but given the way that the Labour leadership have squealed about it we probably should be genuinely grateful that they’ve not been in control. Their response was even more useless than Duncan Smith’s to Iraq’s imaginary WMDs.

When and how are we going to get out of this mess?

John Pretty

23rd May 2020 at 10:51 am

Mr T, your view is sane, rational and certainly not misanthropic.

Jonathan Marshall

23rd May 2020 at 8:50 pm

Nothing there that I could take issue with. Excellent comment.

Jerry Owen

23rd May 2020 at 10:22 am

ZP attacks Boris at every opportunity, no criticism of the NHS or Ferguson or the opposition. ZP doesn’t care about the virus for her it’s about political point scoring.
If Boris found a vaccine tomorrow she would still vilify him.
ZP you don’t fool anyone.
I notice you haven’t called anyone ‘gammonish’ since I educated you on what the word meant.

John Pretty

23rd May 2020 at 10:53 am

You think the PM has no responsibility for this mess?

Jerry Owen

23rd May 2020 at 5:49 pm

J Pretty
I didn’t say that.
He does, but as stated ZP blames only Boris.
I blame the Chinese, the WHO, the government, the NHS and PHE in that order.

Jonathan Marshall

23rd May 2020 at 8:55 pm

Absolutely right, Jerry. If Boris had ignored Professor Pantsdown and gone for no lockdown, what do you think “Zenobia” would be saying? Boris the Butcher, Boris doesn’t care, it’s all his fault people are dying…etc etc ad nauseam.
He (or she, or possibly it) is simply a deranged Boris hater. Pitiable really, but slightly annoying like a fly buzzing away just out of reach.

Vivian Darkbloom

22nd May 2020 at 4:47 pm

If this whole lunacy does end eventually and the data collated I reckon it’ll be like the aftermath of the Iraq war; nobody will claim they supported it even though they cheered it to the rafters at the time. If the lockdown continues the clamour to end it will rise. Either way it has to end; we cannot have a viable society under this policy even – especially – with a police state on top.

Stephen Kennedy

22nd May 2020 at 2:43 pm

A distinction also needs to be made between Scientists and Science Bureaucrats. Science Bureaucrats may have a Science degree, and even been Scientists once, but they are a breed apart for ordinary Scientists. They are far more interested in power, and sometimes money, than a typical Scientist. Their motivations are very different. They are often not in pursuit of knowledge at all.

Tracy Jones

22nd May 2020 at 1:39 pm

They can sort out who to blame whenever, it will be Tony Blair and the enquiry into the scientist who killed himself all over again, in other words a load of hot air and a– covering, Noone will take the hit perhaps a few lowly civil servants, but thats not important now. What is important now and is becoming critical is the state of the economy and country, every day in this dumb lockdown and the proliferation of ever more dumb regulations confected to keep us safe is edging the country towards a Venezuelan economy. Someone in parliament grow a spine and start forcing change through

nick hunt

22nd May 2020 at 12:48 pm

Good article, but I find ‘the corrosion of the authority of knowledge’ less useful than the more basic diagnosis of ‘scientific illiteracy’. Neither the politicians nor experts about to blame each other display understanding that scientific knowledge cannot be treated as singular, infallible authority able to determine policy. They seem unaware that it is always subject to criticism, uncertainty and improvement. In other words, scientific truth progresses because it is built on diverse opinion and disagreement, as Popper taught us. Only dogmatic ‘truth’ cannot change or improve. Was there any plurality of opinion or public uncertainty in determining policy on lockdown, or allowing hydroxychloroquine to be freely chosen by patients and doctors? Or for the absurd zero emissions policy on CO2? Our scientific and political establishment appears to have forgotten that ‘science is belief in the ignorance of experts’. (Feynman). Now we are all paying for their ignorance about science

Highland Fleet Lute

22nd May 2020 at 11:54 am

“He said the government should admit uncertainty and be more transparent about the advice it is receiving and how decisions are being made.”

I’ll believe it when I see it.

The UK Government downgraded coronavirus as No Longer Highly Dangerous BEFORE the lockdown….

https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/international-news/politics/uk-government-downgrade-coronavirus-as-no-longer-highly-dangerous/

The lockdown was only supposed to last for three weeks.

Every time this government is expected to ease up, they get more draconian, more restrictive, more totalitarian.

How far do we have to travel down this road before enough people decide that enough is enough?

Jerry Owen

22nd May 2020 at 12:37 pm

H F Lute
You are right, we are told the lockdown is being eased but in practical terms I see at best no difference. But I now see a debate about wearing masks, this wasn’t an issue at the beginning of the lockdown. If we do have to wear masks in certain situations then our freedoms are that bit less. Khan has increased the congestion zone charges, pavements are becoming one way. People want to return to work but the tubes are not keeping up with demand.
On a daily basis I am told to bow to the NHS, it’s intolerable, in fact I wonder sometimes if anything else at all is happening anywhere else in the world such is the saturation levels of NHS/Covid news.
It gets more claustrophobic by the day.

Highland Fleet Lute

22nd May 2020 at 1:44 pm

Every day the news comes in, a new ‘hope’ on the one hand, a new ‘threat’ on the other.

The time-honoured effectiveness of the good cop/bad cop routine, as applied by the globalists, perhaps.

Mor Vir

22nd May 2020 at 11:28 am

Public opinion is all over the place on c orona, with low levels of trust and high levels of scepticism and speculation.

The distrustful tend to be a lot more vocal, and distrust in one area of speculation tends to correlate with distrust on other subjects and with social disobedience.

Likely a well-functioning society tends to engender more trust while crises undermine it.

Western states are now deprived of wacko religious explanations to pandemics but they still try to channel concern into the state agenda, like green policies, social inequality (on the left), dieting and abstinence etc.

> C oronav irus conspiracy theories: More than a fifth of people believe the v irus is a h oax

More than 4 in 10 people believe to some extent that China created c oronavi rus as a b iow eapon to c ontrol the west, new research on Covid-19 conspiracy theories has suggested.

It revealed that almost three fifths (59 per cent) of adults in England believe to some extent that the Government is m isleading the public about the cause of the v irus.

More than a fifth (21 per cent) believe the v irus is a h oax, and 62 per cent agree to some extent that the v irus is man-made, scientists say.

Researchers found that approximately 50 per cent of this population showed little evidence of c onspiracy t hinking, 25 per cent showed a degree of endorsement, 15 per cent showed a consistent pattern of endorsement, and 10 per cent had very high levels of endorsement.

Higher levels of c oronav irus c onspiracy t hinking were associated with less a dherence to all Government g uidelines, the study suggests.

“Such ideas were also associated with paranoia, general v accination c onspiracy b eliefs, c limate c hange c onspiracy b elief, a c onspiracy mentality, and d istrust in i nstitutions and professions.

“Holding c oronav irus conspiracy beliefs was also associated with being more likely to share o pinions.”

– Telegraph

Mor Vir

22nd May 2020 at 10:27 am

British capital has responded to the latest m igration figures, with non-EU m igration up to 400,000 and EU down to 50,000 net. CBI insists that there must be no ‘political’ considerations about m igration and that British capital must get all of the workers from abroad that it wants.

So much for the ‘theory’ that m igration is a ‘Marxist conspiracy’. It is driven entirely by needs of capital, and organised British capital in its entirety is insistent on as much m igration as possible to service the economy and without any other considerations.

> CBI responds to latest quarterly imm igration statistics

Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

“Despite the small uptick over the last quarter, the overall fall in EU net m igration since the Referendum – combined with record low une mployment – means businesses are already struggling to recruit even before free movement has ended.

“Businesses want politicians to have an honest conversation about imm igration. Any new system must be based on evidence and allow ample time for firms to adapt. So revisiting the M igration Advisory Committee’s recommendation to ban workers from overseas earning less than £30,000 is the right approach, as the cap would only exacerbate existing skills and labour shortages.

“People coming here to work help businesses compete, staff our health service and contribute more in tax than they take out. Politically driven targets will only harm our economy and mean less money for public services. If the UK is to succeed post-Brexit, it must remain open to the world.”

– CBI

David Margison

23rd May 2020 at 1:22 pm

As long as there are controls such as being self supporting or having a job before residence is granted, Imigration from Europe is not a problem, we have a great deal in common with our near neighbours. We have shared history, shared traditions and shared religion, within a single generation European imigrants are indistinguishable from the indigenous population. Problem imigration comes from cultures which are totally alien to our own, cultures which retain medieval attitudes such as honour killings, FGM. Death sentences for adultary or being gay. These people have absolutely no intention of intigrating into our society, even worse they want their own schools, parliament & laws, also the right not to follow our laws. In other words to be a sepparate country within a country. The loony left see no problem with this, wirh their head in the sand attitude, they are incapable of seeing the future, a future now as enevitable as night follws day. Industrialists and even small businesses just don’t give a dam, their short sighted greed for cheap controllable labour is treasonous in its relenless need. When a group of different thinkers increases in number beyond a crytical size, they will start to demand independence, when ir’s not given civil war follows. Continental Europe will be the first to fall into violence, the UK will follow. The question is, are we happy to change from a relatively free society to a religeously governed, suppressed & punished society. For the repliers who shout racist, don’t bother, I’m not! I’m a well travelled realist.

Mor Vir

24th May 2020 at 9:56 am

Well, the fact is that fewer EU nationals want to come to UK after the Brexit vote. It was always obvious that the British state would rely on non-EU nationals to take up the slack after Brexit. Increased labour utilisation, and the mass incorporation of workers from abroad, is the key countervailing factor, to diminishing productivity growth, to maintain GDP growth, especially over the last decade.

UK is essentially a capitalist state that exists first and foremost to further the interests of organised capital. It was always an illusion that UK was anything else, an illusion that was itself used to further the interests of organised capital. The CBI is quite blunt about it; m igration policy must suit the interests of organised British capital, end of, and there must be no other, ‘political’ consideration.

Boris and TP know that, and they have got zero intention of significantly lowering m igration figures. They let in six million nationals over the last decade, while they had complete control over non-EU m igration. They made it easier, after the Brexit vote, for non-EU nationals to enter UK as students, which is the main route in. UK is a capitalist state and it exists to further the interests of capital, everything else is an illusion.

So yes, it is inevitable that native Brits will become a dwindling majority and eventually a dwindling minority. Fertility rates are collapsed in UK, so the British capitalist state is entirely dependent on inward nationals to maintain and to expand the labour force, and to maintain GDP growth. You will just have to hope that your predictions are pessimistic and that they will not come true, and that nationals will integrate.

It is not going too badly as things are; non-EU m igrants have overall integrated over decades in UK much better than in France, for instance. But whatever happens, happens. It is not really my problem. UK is responsible for its own future and it is just going to have to make the best of it. UK has my ‘blessing’ to live well with the future that it has itself created. I wish the UK ‘many more’ migrants over many more years.

Mor Vir

24th May 2020 at 10:55 am

Likely all will go well for UK. Even the worst case scenario would not be as bad as what UK did to Ireland in 1921, with partition and the establishment of a hostile sectarian state, and then a civil war; or what UK did to P alestine in 1948 with the establishment of a hostile e thno-state and e thnic cleansing of the native population. So at the very worst UK would get a dose of karma, and it would not likely be nearly as bad as what UK has done to other countries over the last century. But likely all will go well, anyway. Let us hope so.

Dyler Turdan

22nd May 2020 at 9:18 am

100% Chinas fault.

Mark Scholes

22nd May 2020 at 9:58 am

The virus maybe, the crisis is entirely of our own making.

Philip Humphrey

22nd May 2020 at 12:51 pm

I would agree that the responsibility for all of this lies with China, but the WHO did not help by spectacularly failing to do its job. Had China been honest and shut its borders when it first knew there was a new transmissible disease, the pandemic might have been contained or avoided. Most of the attempts to shift blame to Western leaders like Johnson and Trump seems to be be politically motivated by opponents, hoping to exploit the crisis that China caused.

Al Wilson

22nd May 2020 at 2:45 pm

The WHO director warned the UK and other governments in 2018 to prepare because with the speed and reach of global air travel a virus could spread and kill 80 000 000 in 48 hours. The govt did F all.

D G

22nd May 2020 at 9:03 am

This is a fine article, and I agree with nearly all of it.

‘Everyday life has come to be dominated by doomsday Hollywood scriptwriters, pondering not ‘if’ but ‘when’ the next disaster is going to strike.’

It really is ‘when’ and not ‘if’. There will always be disasters, including novel viruses.

The trick is to get through without wrecking the economy so thoroughly that there’s no NHS at all when the next one arrives.

Arrive it will, probably from China, and the next could be a lot deadlier than covid-19. Will we still be rich enough to cure or contain it? Doubtful.

Jim Lawrie

22nd May 2020 at 11:47 am

I think it is joining in with the merchants of doom by talking of “the” next one, “the” second wave in terms that suggest we face a threat that requires the declaration of an emergency.
I am not suggesting that is what you meant to do, but we have to challenge all assumptions and insist on evidence other than computer models that are just the self serving opinions of “experts”, expressed via computer code, and ascribed objective deity by dint of that.

NEIL DATSON

22nd May 2020 at 7:55 am

The blame can be very widely spread indeed but Johnson is ultimately responsible. He’s keen on Churchill, even – it is suggested – sees himself as being cast in a ‘Churchillian’ mold. Notwithstanding that Churchill was hardly the Churchill of popular myth, what Johnson needs to do now is admit a massive policy error and do all he can to get the country quickly back to work.

Jerry Owen

22nd May 2020 at 12:47 pm

Neil
I don’t know if you voted leave or remain. However many of us who voted leave were impressed by Boris because he has actually delivered it and it has to be remembered under threat of arrest and imprisonment. Many of us had high hopes and gave him the benefit of the doubt for some time ( for me it went after a few weeks of lockdown ).
A lot has gone on for him lately.. the already mentioned arrest, the illness that nearly killed him and of course becoming a father.
That said he has run out of much cautious generosity given to him. Personally I think it’s too late for him to recover from this mess that is ultimately his fault.
The left will be successful in having him removed the BBC being the cheerleaders.
I do not see anything liberal about the man whatsoever now.
We need a new libertarian party.

Highland Fleet Lute

22nd May 2020 at 1:20 pm

I don’t think Johnson’s in charge.

The scariest part, though, is: I don’t think Macron’s in charge. I don’t think Merkel’s in charge. I don’t think Trump is in charge. I don’t even think Vladimir Putin is in charge.

And if that is the case, who is in charge, exactly?

Tracy Jones

22nd May 2020 at 1:40 pm

Highland Fleet Lute.
Isn’t it obvious who is in charge? Its the Chinese

Highland Fleet Lute

22nd May 2020 at 2:15 pm

I’m not convinced.

Question remains, though: How do we take back charge?

NEIL DATSON

22nd May 2020 at 4:22 pm

Jerry, thanks for getting back to me.

Firstly, to make my position clear, I voted leave. A bit of background on that. I’m old enough to have voted in the 1975 referendum, when I voted remain. From the mid 1990s I was anxious for the opportunity to correct that error.

My view of Johnson was, and is I think, much the same as yours. Whether he had the potential to be one of the better PMs I’m not sure, but after the post 2016 referendum shambles, with about 80% of the politicians and political journalists in the country doing their best to subvert the result his conduct in office – especially after the 2019 election – was a breath of fresh air.

However, he should never have backed the ‘lockdown’ – which he did to ‘Save the NHS’. Which really means to save a sacrosanct institution that in their gullibility the British have been persuaded is the envy of the world; rather than to do what really matters which is support the health and well-being of the people.

It was also unfortunate that he was seriously ill and having a new baby is obviously disruptive etc, but politics is an unforgiving business. It’s a bear pit in which personal problems and challenges count for nothing. What the best way out is now I really don’t know and obviously nobody would take a blind bit of notice if I claimed that I did. But it seems to me that with a big Commons majority and no need to have an election for well over 4 years his best chance – if he really wants to go down as a strong and successful PM – is hold his hands up and accept that it was an error. Obviously he’d be crucified by the media. But a good chunk of it only want the chance to crucify him anyway; they circle like sharks smelling blood. Admitting you were wrong could show leadership; finding excuses and weaselly formulas to continue the same failed policy is bound to end in personal failure.

Jerry Owen

22nd May 2020 at 4:35 pm

H Fleet Lute
Obviously the globalists have huge influence but Boris has ultimately told the EU to eff off and unless the EU come trundling across the channel with their military might they can’t do much about it! The globalists are frightened of the public to a degree, despite the desperate efforts of the EU they are unable to overturn our referendum result.
They are powerful but not all powerful. Boris needs to use his power wisely, at present he’s a complete womble.

Jerry Owen

22nd May 2020 at 6:17 pm

Neil
I agree with your sentiments. For me, if Boris were to acknowledge that his government got it wrong I would understand, but to still use Ferguson’s figure of 500,000 dead on prime time Sunday tv viewing just days after Ferguson was sacked means he’s dug his heels in.
I’d almost say he is just thick but he isn’t, he is well educated.
I have mentioned elsewhere here that there is a brilliant interview on the ‘The new culture forum’ with David Starkey. Starkey alludes to the fact that Johnson has such a cross class voter base .. a one nation Tory party as it were that could finish labour forever, that he recognised any damage done to the NHS by his government could lose him so much working class support, he decided at all costs the NHS must not be in any danger whatsoever and decided to go down this route of protecting it with cotton will, it was a kind of fear that gripped him, not rational thinking.
A sort of political expediency in short.

NEIL DATSON

22nd May 2020 at 8:01 pm

Jerry, to take it all a stage further. Affordable and accessible healthcare is certainly widely valued – and in my personal view quite rightly too – by more or less everybody in this country, but I’m far from convinced that the NHS itself is so greatly ‘treasured’ by the ‘working class’ as that sort of categorisation would imply. Obviously root and branch reform of the public health system would be a massive undertaking, and I can’t see any chance of it being done now. The NHS’s most enthusiastic champions are probably the same sort of pro ‘big state’ managerial class apparatchiks who seem to run the BBC. At the moment we seem to be set on ruining huge numbers in order to protect the state’s managerial sector. They’ll end up without the tax base to keep them in index-linked pensions.

Jerry Owen

23rd May 2020 at 10:35 am

Neil
It all boils down to just who are the ‘working classes’ the days of flat caps and pigeon lofts are long gone. At what income level do you stop being working class and become middle class?
Class is defined by a mixture of income, ideological beliefs, and profession. The argument goes that if you work in the stock exchange you are in fact working class. if you are a miner and win 100 million on the lottery do you become upper class.. no you don’t. Perhaps, as you allude to Boris thinks he knows what working class people believe in, a sort of stereotyping, or indeed patronising from my point of view, like just about all politicians which is why I loathe most of parliament.
Labour unless they change tack will become obsolete for the voters they are trying to garner simply don’t exist anymore, the last GE result proves that.
For labour to convince themselves they ‘won the argument’ is clearly denial of the obvious, why they can’t see that is beyond me, perhaps they simply see that the sell by date of their party has expired and they just refuse to do the honourable thing and wither away.

nick hunt

22nd May 2020 at 5:40 pm

He’ll be even more responsible if he bottles out of supporting Trump against communist China and its WHO puppet

John Hanley

22nd May 2020 at 6:57 am

If this pandemic has shown us anything it is the dire state of politics and the standard of politicians we have.

We now know that the Labour party committed electoral suicide when it picked Jerimiah Corbyn as it’s leader and is probably in terminal decline. The Tory’s have a buffoon of a leader who relies on poor spin doctors for advice (look at the recent U-turns which should never have been necessary).

The only thing politicians care about is votes, anything that is likely to lose votes, such as criticism is to be avoid at all costs, hence the pass-the-buck blame game we see nightly on TV.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

22nd May 2020 at 6:37 pm

The entire system is rotten to the core in this country – from top to bottom, from the parasite monarchy down to the pa edo-enabling local authorities. Only Christianity can reinvigorate the body politic and save this country from itself.

Kathryn Barbara

22nd May 2020 at 6:55 am

..their advice…

Kathryn Barbara

22nd May 2020 at 6:54 am

And I think there are plenty of “bad actors” around who pretend to be impartial and politically disinterested, and are fully aware of the political implications of there advice. They do not like the democratic mandate of the Johnson government and will always act against it in whatever way they can, all the time holding up hands as if to say “we are not political, it’s the science/polls”.

This worst case scenario thinking is one of the disordered unhealthy traits in depression. Catastrophising, as it’s called does have a cure, as in CBT. So perhaps we need to challenge this kind of thinking wherever it crops up, because if we don’t our society will be the worst for it.

Linda Payne

22nd May 2020 at 3:23 am

As the article states herd immunity was abandoned following worse case scenarios by imperial college and pressure from a hysterical media; the experts who advised the former can hardly be blamed but the latter can; however the government decided to go along with lockdown and with the slogan stay home protect the NHS, save lives, it is ultimately responsible for the outcome

Jim Lawrie

22nd May 2020 at 12:46 pm

I do not agree with blaming the media or Neil Ferguson. The decisions were taken by Government. Responsibility lies with them, and with The NHS for day to day clinical decisions. The NHS were given all available resources, including 25,000 returnee medical staff, and 750,000 volunteers.

Reprimanding the media for what they said, for not toeing a particular party line, is censorship.

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Deplorables — a spiked film