Supporters of strangling the country always demand ‘What would you have done?’ if I dare to criticise the Government’s wild, unprecedented policy for dealing with Covid.
They assume, as backers of crazy policies always do, that there is no alternative to mass house arrest, enormous police powers, Maoist travel bans and the crippling of large parts of the economy.
Well, there is an alternative. Sitting in the Government archives is a 70-page document called UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011. Don’t be put off by that ‘influenza’. The plan could easily be adapted to deal with a coronavirus or any similar threat.
Supporters of strangling the country always demand ‘What would you have done?’ if I dare to criticise the Government’s wild, unprecedented policy for dealing with Covid. Trafalgar Square is seen above in lockdown this weekend
Agreed by all four governments of the UK, it was revised after the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. It is typical of careful, commonsense UK state planning before the hysteria outbreak of March 23, 2020.
But it was ditched in a moment of madness. As the noted Government adviser Neil Ferguson explained, the spectacle of a health crisis in Italy persuaded British authorities to follow the Chinese model instead.
He described how Sage, the Government’s scientific advisory group, had watched as China’s despots embarked on an unheard-of form of disease control by shutting down an entire province.
‘They claimed to have flattened the curve. I was sceptical at first. I thought it was a massive cover-up by the Chinese. But as the data accrued, it became clear it was an effective policy.’
As the noted Government adviser Neil Ferguson explained, the spectacle of a health crisis in Italy persuaded British authorities to follow the Chinese model instead
Then, observing the crisis in Italy, Sage asked itself whether such ferocious methods could be applied here.
‘It’s a Communist one-party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought… And then Italy did it. And we realised we could.’
What he meant by ‘get away with it’, I am not quite sure. But the document, which can be found on the internet, to which I provide a link on the Peter Hitchens Blog and on my Twitter feed @ClarkeMicah, has many interesting things to say.
It is very concerned with maintaining freedom and keeping society open, listing as objectives: ‘Minimise the potential impact of a pandemic on society and the economy by: Supporting the continuity of essential services, including the supply of medicines and protecting critical national infrastructure as far as possible. Supporting the continuation of everyday activities as far as practicable. Upholding the rule of law and the democratic process. Preparing to cope with the possibility of significant numbers of additional deaths. Promoting a return to normality and the restoration of disrupted services at the earliest opportunity.’ It stresses ‘Proportionality: the response to a pandemic should be no more and no less than that necessary in relation to the known risks.’
It relies on centuries of experience and good practice, planning to quarantine the sick rather than the healthy. It recommends simple hygiene. It supports school closures in some circumstances but this is because influenza seriously affects the young and is known to be spread through schools.
And it has interesting things to say about masks: ‘Although there is a perception that the wearing of facemasks by the public in the community and household setting may be beneficial, there is in fact very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use in this setting.’
On the closing of borders and restricting travel, it says: ‘Modelling suggests imposing a 90 per cent restriction on all air travel to the UK at the point a pandemic emerges would only delay the peak of a pandemic wave by one to two weeks. Even a 99.9 per cent travel restriction might delay a pandemic wave by only two months.
It has interesting things to say about masks: ‘Although there is a perception that the wearing of facemasks by the public in the community and household setting may be beneficial, there is in fact very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use in this setting’
‘During 2009 it became clear the pandemic virus had already spread widely before international authorities were alerted, suggesting that in any case the point of pandemic emergence had been missed by several weeks. The economic, political and social consequences of border closures would also be very substantial.’
On the banning of public gatherings, it says: ‘There is very limited evidence that restrictions on mass gatherings will have any significant effect on influenza virus transmission. Large public gatherings or crowded events where people may be in close proximity are an important indicator of “normality” and may help maintain public morale during a pandemic.’
It adds: ‘There is also a lack of scientific evidence on the impact of internal travel restrictions on transmission, and attempts to impose such restrictions would have wide-reaching implications for business and welfare. For these reasons, the working presumption will be that Government will not impose any such restrictions. The emphasis will instead be on encouraging all those who have symptoms to follow the advice to stay at home and avoid spreading their illness.’
These thoughtful plans existed and were over-ridden. Instead we copied the Chinese police state which silences dissent, imprisons ethnic minorities in tyrannical labour camps and has recently insulted us by vaporising the freedoms we left behind in Hong Kong and which it promised to maintain at least until 2047.
There was an alternative. There still is. It can hardly be claimed that the repressive panic policy which we have followed has been a great success.
Why Winston should be revered
Of course, Winston Churchill was not perfect. Of course he did bad and wrong things and made mistakes. Only a fool would pretend otherwise. But his supreme achievement, steadfastly refusing to make a shameful peace with Hitler when so many Tories wished to do so, rises far above all those errors.
It is because he stands as a gigantic pillar of Parliament, patriotism and tradition that the enemies of Britain know they must destroy him if they are to abolish this country (as they wish to do). That is why he is now being attacked, as he was at a Cambridge debate last week, and why his statue is vandalised.
As long as he is still revered, it will be much harder for this country to be turned into the miserable People’s Republic which the Blairites hope for. Defend him and his memory.
See this film – and cherish your liberty
After the Soviet authorities had massacred striking workers in the town of Novocherkassk in June 1962, they tried to obliterate all traces of the murders.
But the heat of the sun had baked the bloodstains into the surface of the main square and they could not wash them away, so they had to burn away the road surface and relay it.
Then they announced that a dance would take place at the scene of the killings and expected the townspeople to attend and dance where their friends and neighbours had been gunned down a few days before.
This horrible event is the subject of a brilliant new Russian film, Dear Comrades!, which I greatly recommend. It brutally describes what happens in a society where the state claims to be completely in charge of the welfare of all its citizens – the sort of state we are now building here, I might add.
If the people do not like what is being done in their name and dare to object, then they have to be punished and frightened into changing their minds. In this case, the people could not be persuaded that pay cuts and price rises were for their own good.
And, as the state is always good, any trace of such a revolt must be wiped from the record. The bodies of the murdered were even buried by the KGB in existing graves, in nearby towns and villages, to conceal their very existence.
See the film. Remember the dead. And learn that liberty, limited government, the rule of law over power, and free speech are your most precious possessions.
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This horrible event is the subject of a brilliant new Russian film, Dear Comrades!, which I greatly recommend