Thursday 2 April 2020

In it together

Firstly, something has gone wrong with the Spectator link on our sidebar.

Having unsuccessfully attempted a series of fixes, neither Craig nor Sue have managed to reinstate it. So, for the time being, I’ll just have to link to Rod Liddle’s piece here, (£) and hope you’ll bear with me while I refer to it now.

I usually enjoy Rod’s stuff even when I don’t agree with all of it, but I was sorry to see him begin with what looked like a long list of tedious complaints about plod. The same stuff that Hugo Rifkind dragged out the other day, you know, drones filming antisocial ramblers in the Peak District and the abominable black Lagoon.

Times subscribers pointed out below the line that the black lagoon affair was merely the police’s way of deterring people from immersing themselves in the existing toxic swamp. I suppose if you did, you’d be irradiated AND (assuming you weren’t one already) simultaneously turned into a Person of Colour.

That, and the curtain-twitching snitches that were salivating at the prospect of seeing their neighbours acquiring criminal records for going outside on non-essential errands.

However, I was relieved to discover, halfway through, that Rod wasn’t having another gratuitous go at plod and Boris after all. In fact, he was quite supportive of the government’s ‘human’ if slightly wobbly navigation through the storm. 
“The truth is we do not know. We don’t know and the experts don’t know. The epidemiologists are captured by their own paradigms and see only one small margin of what is a very large picture. Further, they change their tune with every day that passes. Fair enough — that is how science works. It is not pristine — it is practised by fallible humans, however admirable its methodologies. And science is never, ever, certain — something new always comes along, so we should always have our doubts.
However, Rod does dent his ‘no-one knows’ thesis a little when he vehemently dismisses Jonathan Sumption’s  proposition that the ‘cure’ for this pandemic may be worse than the disease by describing it as “the pompous meanderings of a glorified lawyer.”

But then back on track:  
“the epidemiologists see only a small sliver of the bigger picture, Sumption — and I for that matter — can see only the occasional pixel.
To my mind the government seems to be navigating reasonably well between the imperative demanded by the scientists — who have skin in the game — and the rest of us, who also have skin in the game.”
We don’t know what’s going on, and it seems almost reckless and deluded to act as though we do. I haven’t watched much BBC, as others in the household keep switching to Sky, ITV, Channel 4 and even al-Jazeera, but I sense that the BBC has reined in its continuous carping at Boris just a bit. Or has it? At least, someone somewhere said they thought Laura Kuenssberg was holding back.

Let’s remember, Jeremy Corbyn might have been PM and thank the Lord for small mercies.


  1. Not sure what Rod is supposed to be saying here apart from "we don't know".

    We do know some things:

    1. We do know that if we purposefully close down the whole national economy and our primary care and dental systems, currently healthy people will die in their hundreds, then thousands and then tens or hundreds of thousands. It is the most violent act of self-harm a nation could indulge in. It is ironic that Remainers who said they could never sanction the alleged economic self-harm of Brexit are all for this one for some reason!

    2. In most parts of the world the Coronavirus seems to be about as deadly as other Coronaviruses we are more used to. We need to keep a sense of proportion.

    3. The vast majority of the people allegedly dying "because" of Coronavirus are close to death in any case and die with several pathogens rampant in their lungs.

    4. We have not seen any excess mortality due to Coronavirus yet. We may of course, but we haven't other words there is a huge amount of hysteria around at the moment.

    5. We know an average of 17,000 die from flu every year on average. We know about 540,000 people die every year in the UK. That's a lot! So far, there have been 2921 deaths attributed (on what basis we do not know) to Coronavirus. Even if we end up with 10,000 or 15,000 deaths, it is hardly the end of days and we might still find that the excess mortality in the year is only 5,000 or so. We are in the grip of hysteria.

    6. None of the lockdowns has been working as planned.

    7. You can't believe Chinese figures. They make them up centrally and then get the minions in the regions to fulfil them.

    8. South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Sweden do not have total lockdowns. All are doing better than us.

    1. Yes, Rod is saying 'we don't know'.

      I have a lot of sympathy for several of the strongly felt views and suggestions I’ve read, including yours, but I can see a great deal of validity in several alternative views as well. It’s difficult to judge something when you’re in the middle of it.

      In other words I’m inclined to stick with Rod, who ‘doesn’t know’. I’m going with “it’s too soon to tell” as they say.
      Have you read Melanie Phillips?

  2. Not sure about the comparison with Sweden which has 551 cases per million compared to the UK's 497 - our figures are a bit better! However I think that the figures are sufficiently close to suggest that the approach Sweden has been taking is producing pretty much the same result ad the UK's economically destructive approach

    1. Cases per million are more often an indication of how much testing has been going on as opposed to the number of real cases. Deaths per million are closer to a measure of how the disease is impacting on the country - although definitions of what is a "Covid-19 death" will vary.


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