Why do I bother?
For six weeks now I have been saying that the Government’s policy on Covid-19 is a mistake. Most people do not agree with me, and many are angry with me for saying so. Others, bafflingly, don’t care about the greatest crisis I have seen in my lifetime, and regard the debate as a spectator sport.
Let me say it again: the coronavirus is not as dangerous as claimed. Other comparable epidemics have taken place with far less fuss, and we have survived them. The death rate is lower than the Government believed. It passed its peak in this country on April 8, well before the crazy measures introduced by the Government on March 23 could possibly have affected matters. The actions we are taking against it are gravely out of proportion and will destroy the lives of thousands and the prosperity and health of millions. This is not life versus money. It is life versus life.
It has not been much fun fighting this. In fact, it has been exhausting and dispiriting. I feel as if I am in a nightmare where I can see a terrible danger approaching but when I cry out in warning, nobody can hear me. Can’t you see? I yell in the dream. If you don’t defend your most basic freedom, the one to go lawfully where you wish when you wish, then you will lose it for ever.
And that is not all you will lose. Look at the censorship of the internet, spreading like a great dark blot, the death of Parliament, the conversion of the police into a state militia? Aren’t you alarmed by the creation of a creepy cult of state-worship, celebrated every Thursday night – in a country where church services and normal public gatherings are banned?
When did you last hear an anti-government voice on the BBC, now little more than a servile state broadcaster?
And then can you not see the strangling of the prosperity on which everything we hold dear is based? I mentioned the other day to a hard-working small business owner that a shop well known to me was down to ten per cent of its normal takings. ‘Lucky him!’ exclaimed the businessman, ‘I have had no income at all for weeks, and I have no hope of any. But I am still having to pay my rent and power bills, and interest on my loans.’
In the poorer districts of my hometown, scrawled notices are starting to appear telling tenants: ‘If you can’t pay your rent, you can’t be evicted during Covid Lockdown.’ I have no idea if this is true but I am sure that plenty of tenants are not paying and plenty of landlords are losing what they thought was guaranteed income. You don’t care? You will. In these and so many other cases, the normal flow of money in exchange for work, services and goods has just stopped. Imagine if something similar were happening to your own body. You would be desperately sick and only urgent aid would save you from long-term damage. But where is that urgent aid?
The country is having a gigantic self-inflicted heart attack and stroke combined. Heaven knows what sort of trembling, weakened shadow of its former self it will be when this is over. I think I can guarantee that it – and we – will need to take many doses of very bitter medicine for as far into the future as it is possible to see.
And yet no help comes. The absurd jocular Mr Bumble who we have chosen to be our national leader at this time has no sense of urgency at all. As he stammers and brays, and does his Churchill impression, it is clear that he has no serious plan to bring this nonsense to an end.
Well, this is where it really starts to matter. We are about a fortnight from the moment when huge numbers of jobs will be in danger of permanent extinction. The only choice will be to spend so much non-existent money that even the wild gamblers who have taken over HM Treasury are scared to do it.
But here’s the problem for Mr Bumble. He did not just panic himself. He spread fear far and wide. More than half the population have been literally scared silly. You meet them on pathways and pavements, flinching with real alarm at the approach of another human being as if bubonic plague were abroad. They genuinely fear to go back to normal life.
And Mr Bumble dare not take them on. For to do so he would have to admit that he had been wrong, and the great pyramid of fear on which his authority is based would crumble away. He is like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in the Disney film Fantasia, who casts a spell to summon an army of automatons to carry water for him, and is almost drowned because he cannot undo the incantation. He cannot stop what he began. If someone else cannot stop it for him, it may destroy him.
So we face months of continuing idiocy, as the wealth of centuries is frittered away for nothing and we sink into a grim penury, made worse by the increasing lack of freedom and the insolence of authority.
Eventually there will be an accounting for this. It ought to be soon, and I hope it will be. But if not, it will be important that protests such as mine were made and heard at the time. Nobody will be able to say, when the much-needed inquiry eventually sits in judgment on these times and on those responsible, that criticism is just hindsight and that nobody pointed out at the time that a grave mistake was being made.
Blood bigots circulating nonsense
I have tried to get some sort of answer out of the Blood Transfusion Service, which – as I explained last week – has joined the general wave of bigoted prejudice against people who have celebrated their 70th birthdays. It is, as so often with official bodies these days, like speaking to a computer. The ban on over-70s giving blood is ‘for their protection’ and based on ‘government advice’, which they appear to have accepted without a second’s thought. This infuriating assumption that arriving at 70 means instant, doddering senility is just as bad a prejudice as all the others we rightly ban. So why is it permitted?
Unmasked: The humiliating truth
Face masks have become a good symbol for our current era, gags which turn speech to mumbling and rob us of individuality. But are they any use?
Dr John Lee, a distinguished pathologist, says not really: ‘When a person is infectious with a virus it is estimated that they may shed one hundred billion virus particles a day – that works out at about ten million per breath.
‘A mask won’t stop you putting these particles into the air around you. In fact, with a damp mask you’ll be blowing aerosols and larger particles sideways, directly at your socially distanced colleagues.’ Compulsory masks, if they happen, will just be another humiliation, along with the loss of freedom and income.
I suspect the thing to do, to mock this twaddle, will be to get hold of one of those mediaeval doctor’s plague masks like a huge bird’s beak, and go around in that, perhaps also swathed in a cloak and clanging a bell to warn of your approach. Or perhaps I could dig out that old Red Army gas mask I (literally) picked up after a small skirmish in Vilnius in 1991.