The coronavirus propaganda war

If any facts have actually been established they are that the CV originated in Wuhan, China and that the Chinese authorities suppressed all information about its existence and its pandemic potential until eventually it had spread across the world. Another fact I will add is that the Chinese government is a totalitarian state in which all media is controlled. One should also bear in mind China’s social credit system if you are thinking about the way things are done in the People’s Republic. This is from The Age: The war within the war over coronavirus.

Five weeks into the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, the World Health Organisation’s director general paid a visit to Beijing to understand the situation in China.

At the conclusion of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ January 29 meeting with Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People, the Chinese government issued a statement.

“Hailing the high speed and massive scale of China’s moves […] rarely seen in the world, Tedros said it showed China’s efficiency and the advantages of China’s system,” the statement said. “The experience of China is worth learning for other countries…”

The endorsement of “China’s system” was incongruous: the Chinese Communist Party initially sought to hide the outbreak in Wuhan and punish the doctors who tried to raise the alarm.

By the time China’s government admitted the outbreak was happening, it had gone global. Now governments worldwide are on a “war” footing to contain the pandemic that has infected half a million people worldwide, killed more than 23,000 and threatens to destroy economies from the inside.

That is exactly how I understand what happened. The rest of the article is about how China and the US have engaged in a battle to determine who is at fault. As noted in the article:

Beijing has dialled up the volume and variety of messaging on coronavirus through diplomatic channels, state media and social media for weeks, to deflect blame for the outbreak and to try to position itself in the world’s eyes as the competent, generous problem-solver.

A quite interesting article from end to end with this as the conclusion:

Should China succeed in the global propaganda war around coronavirus, as it appears to be attempting, the CCP will have achieved a revision of history in real-time on the screens of social media users everywhere.

But this would be ironic, because as Bandurski says: “we cannot, or should not, forget the fact that the Chinese Communist Party’s obsession with perception over truth was actually how the saga of this global pandemic began.”

An obsession with the perception of truth is the farthest thing in the world from an obsession with actually knowing the truth. News media that present the Chinese side and slag Donald Trump’s efforts in America are no friends of our democratic and open way of life.

Going on the offensive

Speaking of The Midwich Cuckoos, I genuinely do find talking to anyone on the left all too frequently just like talking to a wall. What especially infuriates me when I think I am just chatting, I am often and suddenly told “I don’t want to talk about that” which just comes out of nowhere to me. Not only are these idiots offended when I say something, even obliquely, about something that’s on my mind, but they don’t want to engage and immediately want to end the conversation.

And while on the subject of being offended, I was in a book shop today and I said to the 30-ish chap behind the counter how put off I was by all the titles such as “The Art of Not Giving a F*ck” – and there were quite a number like that – and he was obviously put off by my language. So I said to him, if you are put off by my saying what I said, just think of what I feel by having to read such titles. I think he saw my point but only barely. He can get knotted.

And another thing. I was reading an article on the recessionary effects of the CV and right in the middle was an unintended rhyming couplet.

The deeper they are and the longer they last,
The more ongoing the damage after the downturn has passed.

And so all such recessions seem always to be.

But if you’re going to quote this couplet you’ll have to cite me.

A clash of ideologies

I have just picked up from the local op-shop for a mere $2 a quite prescient book published in 2008 written by someone named Dan Gardner whose title is: Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear. Have so far only read the back cover, but it’s quite interesting of itself.

We are the safest and healthiest human beings who ever lived, and yet irrational fear is growing with deadly consequences…. In part this irrationality is caused by those – politicians, activists and the media – who promote fear for their own gain. Culture also matter. But a more fundamental cause is human psychology.

[The book] sets out to explain in a compulsively readable fashion how we make decisions and run our lives. We learn how the brain has not one but two systems to analyse risk. One is primitive, unconscious, and inyuitive; the other is conscious and rational. The two systems often agree, but occasionally they come to very different conclusions. When that happens, we can find ourselves worrying about what the statistics tell us is a trivial threat … [while at the same time] shrugging off serious risks.

Then there are the ideological differences between individuals. There is then the political differences which may themselves be psychologically driven. I quoted Peter Hitchens on dealing with the coronavirus the other day, and now James Delingpole has entered the debate in support of Peter: Coronavirus — Peter Hitchens Is Right….

Just like in war, the great coronavirus plague is bringing out the best in people and the worst in people.

So far, the petty tyrants, the tell-tales, the ignoramuses, the rule-takers and the finger-pointers are having a field day; the more original, clear-eyed thinkers meanwhile, are having to take care about what they say for fear of being judged and found wanting by the self-righteous mob.

Already the battle lines are starting to make themselves clear.

There are, roughly speaking, two opposing camps.

“I for one welcome our new insect overlords”. This contains the control freaks; the authoritarians; the snitches; the panickers; the killjoys; the ‘trust the experts’; the curtain-twitchers; the leftists; and the catastrophists.

The Awkward Squad. This contains the liberty-lovers; the libertines; the grand strategists; the rebels; the sceptics; the mavericks; the contrarians; the misfits; the deplorables.

Obviously it’s not quite as simple as that. Though I’m mainly in the Awkward Squad camp, I’ve certainly had my headless chicken moments. (At one point, I even went so far as to retweet approvingly a tweet from our current Hysteric In Chief Piers Morgan).

Equally, I know that there are plenty of people I respect who are currently in the “I for one welcome our new insect overlords” camp. This is not because they are stupid or are dangerous leftists with fascistic tendencies or are invertebrates who like being walked all over by the authorities, but simply because they are understandably scared, inadequately informed and haven’t (yet) seen the bigger picture.

Generally, though, what we’re seeing writ large in this pandemic is a clash between two ideological positions — one essentially authoritarian, one more or less libertarian. I think this conflict is going to get more bitter and nasty as the pandemic progresses.

Beyond that, what was once politically near impossible is rapidly moving towards near normal. There are always emergencies which for many open ways to take our freedoms which once gone will never come back.

I’ve just opened a sub to The Age and Paul Kelly is a large part of the reason why

This kind of analysis really is a disgrace: Coronavirus: The West’s civil disobedience — it’s a trend to die for. There is a social divide in the West between left and right, authority and freedom, Pelosi versus Trump. It is having grave consequences for our ability to govern ourselves according to the liberal values that have made the West great. That said, this is how Kelly’s article opens:

For 50 years, popular culture in Australia and the West has mocked authority, glorified rebellion, sanctified the individual’s quest for ever deeper self-realisation and told us that Western governments are dishonest, corrupt, wicked and primarily act as agents of racism, colonialism, sexism, economic exploitation and environmental despoliation.

All this is reinforced by academic culture, which sheets all these sins home not only to Western governments but to Western civilisation generally.

Is it any wonder that these societies are having so much trouble in the coronavirus crisis responding to essential lifesaving directions from their respective governments?

That is, because we are a society whose ethos is based on individual freedom, there are many amongst us who will not immediately do whatever the government tells them to do. Oddly, in his analysis he does not mention China. This is so simple-minded that it is frightening.

The most successful societies in tackling COVID-19 through social distancing and similar suppression measures are Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea. The widespread elements of their success are well known — large-scale testing, contact tracing, tough travel restrictions, strict social distancing, strict isolation for those infected or possibly infected, and above all co-operative societies that take what governments say seriously.

Here is the centre of his concerns about our wayward independent ways in the West:

Popular culture in Anglo-American societies, and in most of Western Europe, demonises every traditional institution and demonises government itself, while glorifying the existential rebellious individual who makes a heroic stand, typically against a designated set of pantomime villains: government agencies, corporate greed, property developers, organised religion et cetera.

If you want a tell, here he is quoting David Brooks from The Atlantic. To someone from the more conservative side of the fence, you could not choose a name and a magazine I’d be more ready to ignore than these two.

In a brilliant piece in this month’s Atlantic magazine, David Brooks describes how the American family has collapsed in the past 70 years. Its collapse doesn’t hurt rich people too much because they can buy replacements for family — therapists, carers, tutors. And they can buy assistance to keep their own small families functioning. But it has been a disaster for poor people, who are left with nothing. Brooks argues that over the past 70 years life has become freer for individuals but more unstable for families, better for adults and worse for children. The move from big extended families to ever smaller nuclear and sub-nuclear, so to speak, families has meant the poor have fewer people to help with bad economic times, rough psychological passages, the ups and downs of childhood. Rich folks buy this assistance. Families are also sources of authority and social capital. When they go, the authority and social capital go.

Here’s how he ends.

One difference with Confucian societies is that their governments do everything they can to support families and to promote traditional family structures. Both sides of politics make this impossible in societies such as Australia. The left hates tradition and works to destroy it, the libertarian right can’t stand anything that smacks of government social engineering.

I am inexactly connecting an immediate crisis with long-term cultural trends. But the inability of large numbers of its citizens to accept and yes, obey, simple government directions that are literally lifesaving is a sign of a relatively recently acquired, grave weakness in our culture.

We don’t OBEY government directions. Our cities are ghost towns. If you wander over to the supermarket, everyone you pass, which is hardly anyone, shifts to their side of the pavement to the greatest extent possible. I would not expect anything as stupid in The Age, but for now I am going to spend some time finding out.

Not the end but is it the beginning of the end?

Did Nancy blink? Pelosi delays her coronavirus bill, says will try to pass Senate’s without most members present .

Is this why? Gallup: Trump Up to 49% Approval; 60% Approve of His Handling of the Chinese Flu

Is the Great Corona Virus miasma coming to an end? Dow Posts Record 2,100-Point Gain as Trump Sets Tentative Deadline to Reopen America

Are things coming right because of the President? Trump: Coronavirus crisis vindicates my policy arguments on immigration, trade and China policies

Would this have anything to do with it? Reflections on a Century of Junk Science

During the last few weeks, I had made a point of not watching or following the news. I trusted none of it. A TV at the pizza place, however, was tuned to CNN. It showed the Coronavirus death toll: 12,000-plus worldwide and 285 in the United States.

The numbers stunned me. Not following the news closely, I presumed, based on the hysteria in the air, that the numbers had to be at least ten times that high both nationally and internationally.

285? According to the Centers for Disease Control 185 Americans died of drug overdoses every day in 2018. According to the CDC, 315 people died of the flu every day during the six-month 2018-2019 flu season….

In my 2009 book, Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture, I documented a century’s worth of scientific misinformation, disinformation, half-truths, and lies disseminated almost inevitably to advance a progressive agenda.

The book, btw, is an antidote to quite alot of what’s been going around and not just of late.

Norman Swan v Peter Hitchens

Normal Swan has apparently become the guru of choice in Australia on the Corona Virus: Australia’s Coronavirus Guru Is Taking His New Celebrity Status Seriously. Perfect for the job: “seems calm, consistent, and knowledgeable. His delivery has been appropriately urgent, without lurching into panic.” An MD as well, which is useful for treating medical problems, not necessarily for statistical analysis to determine just how dangerous the CV is.

And on the other side we have Peter Hitchens: Is shutting down Britain – with unprecedented curbs on ancient liberties – REALLY the best answer?

Dissent at this time will bring me abuse and perhaps worse. But I am not saying this for fun, or to be ‘contrarian’ – that stupid word which suggests that you are picking an argument for fun. This is not fun…. If I did not lift my voice to speak up for it now, even if I do it quite alone, I should consider that I was not worthy to call myself English or British, or a journalist.

With Swan, if you want standard-issue but calmly stated hysteria you can find him on the ABC. This is Peter Hitchens, standing up for our traditional liberties in the face of the left and the far-left. This is only part of what he wrote. You can read it all at the link.

Here I am, asking bluntly – is the closedown of the country the right answer to the coronavirus? I’ll be accused of undermining the NHS and threatening public health and all kinds of other conformist rubbish. But I ask you to join me, because if we have this wrong we have a great deal to lose.

I don’t just address this plea to my readers. I think my fellow journalists should ask the same questions. I think MPs of all parties should ask them when they are urged tomorrow to pass into law a frightening series of restrictions on ancient liberties and vast increases in police and state powers….

It may also be the day our economy perished. The incessant coverage of health scares and supermarket panics has obscured the dire news coming each hour from the stock markets and the money exchanges. The wealth that should pay our pensions is shrivelling as share values fade and fall. The pound sterling has lost a huge part of its value. Governments all over the world are resorting to risky, frantic measures which make Jeremy Corbyn’s magic money tree look like sober, sound finance. Much of this has been made far worse by the general shutdown of the planet on the pretext of the coronavirus scare. However bad this virus is, the feverish panic on the world’s trading floors is at least as bad….

What can one say to this? In a pungent letter to The Times last week, a leading vet, Dick Sibley, cast doubt on the brilliance of the Imperial College scientists, saying that his heart sank when he learned they were advising the Government. Calling them a ‘team of doom-mongers’, he said their advice on the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak ‘led to what I believe to be the unnecessary slaughter of millions of healthy cattle and sheep’ until they were overruled by the then Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King.

He added: ‘I hope that Boris Johnson, Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance show similar wisdom. They must ensure that measures are proportionate, balanced and practical.’
Avoidable deaths are tragic, but each year there are already many deaths, especially among the old, from complications of flu leading to pneumonia.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) tells me that the number of flu cases and deaths due to flu-related complications in England alone averages 17,000 a year. This varies greatly each winter, ranging from 1,692 deaths last season (2018/19) to 28,330 deaths in 2014/15.

The DHSC notes that many of those who die from these diseases have underlying health conditions, as do almost all the victims of coronavirus so far, here and elsewhere. As the experienced and knowledgeable doctor who writes under the pseudonym ‘MD’ in the Left-wing magazine Private Eye wrote at the start of the panic: ‘In the winter of 2017-18, more than 50,000 excess deaths occurred in England and Wales, largely unnoticed.’…

We are warned of supposedly devastating death rates. But at least one expert, John Ioannidis, is not so sure. He is Professor of Medicine, of epidemiology and population health, of biomedical data science, and of statistics at Stanford University in California. He says the data are utterly unreliable because so many cases are going unrecorded. He warns:

‘This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19. Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4 per cent rate from the World Health Organisation, cause horror and are meaningless.’

In only one place – aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess – has an entire closed community been available for study. And the death rate there – just one per cent – is distorted because so many of those aboard were elderly. The real rate, adjusted for a wide age range, could be as low as 0.05 per cent and as high as one per cent.

As Prof Ioannidis says: ‘That huge range markedly affects how severe the pandemic is and what should be done. A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05 per cent is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.’

Epidemic disasters have been predicted many times before and have not been anything like as bad as feared.

But while I see very little evidence of a pandemic, and much more of a PanicDemic, I can witness on my daily round the slow strangulation of dozens of small businesses near where I live and work, and the catastrophic collapse of a flourishing society, all these things brought on by a Government policy made out of fear and speculation rather than thought.

A dissent in time saves nine

I will tell my own story of walking off a gurney as I was being wheeled into the operating room. I had had what I thought, and every doctor I had visited had thought, was a fungal infection on my finger, and I had had it for more than a dozen years when the specialist I was dealing with recommended an operation to clear it up. And so, all was arranged, but literally as I was being wheeled in I asked if it were too late to change my mind. No, the doctor said, so I changed my mind. A few years later it turned out that the problem was a very rare form of cancer. You trust experts when you have no choice. At all other times, you think for yourself. The following is from Peter Hitchens: Is shutting down Britain – with unprecedented curbs on ancient liberties – REALLY the best answer?

Some years ago I had the very good luck to fall into the hands of a totally useless doctor. It was hell, and nearly worse than that, but it taught me one of the most important lessons of my life. He was charming, grey-haired, smooth and beautifully dressed. He was standing in for my usual GP, a shabbier, more abrasive man.

I went to him with a troubling, persistent pain in a tender place. He prescribed an antibiotic. Days passed. It did not work. The pain grew worse. He declared that in that case I needed surgery, and the specialist to whom he sent me agreed with barely a glance. I was on the conveyor belt to the operating table.

In those days I believed, as so many do, in the medical profession. I was awed by their qualifications. Yet the prospect of a rather nasty operation filled me with gloom and doubt. As I waited miserably for the anaesthetist in the huge London hospital to which I had been sent, a new doctor appeared. I braced myself for another session of being asked ‘Does this hurt?’ and replying, between clenched teeth, that yes it blinking well did. But this third man was different. He did not ask me pointlessly if it hurt. He knew it did. He was, crucially, a thinking man who did not take for granted what he was told.

He looked at my notes. He actually read them, which I don’t think anyone else ever had. He swore under his breath. He hurried from the room, only to return shortly afterwards to say I should get dressed and go home. The operation was cancelled. All I needed was a different antibiotic, which he – there and then – prescribed and which cured the problem in three days. He was furious, and managed to convey tactfully that the original prescription had been incompetent and wrong.

The whole miserable business had been a dismal and frightening mistake. He was sorry. Heaven knows what would have happened if Providence had not brought that third doctor into the room. I still shudder slightly to think of it. But the point was this. A mere title, a white coat, a smooth manner, a winning way with long words and technical jargon, will never again be enough for me.

It never, ever does any harm to question decisions which you think are wrong. If they are right, then no harm will be done. They will be able to deal with your questions. If they are, in fact, wrong, you could save everyone a lot of trouble.

And so here I am, asking bluntly – is the closedown of the country the right answer to the coronavirus? I’ll be accused of undermining the NHS and threatening public health and all kinds of other conformist rubbish. But I ask you to join me, because if we have this wrong we have a great deal to lose.

I don’t just address this plea to my readers. I think my fellow journalists should ask the same questions. I think MPs of all parties should ask them when they are urged tomorrow to pass into law a frightening series of restrictions on ancient liberties and vast increases in police and state powers.

Did you know that the Government and Opposition had originally agreed that there would not even be a vote on these measures? Even Vladimir Putin might hesitate before doing anything so blatant. If there is no serious rebellion against this plan in the Commons, then I think we can commemorate tomorrow, March 23, 2020, as the day Parliament died. Yet, as far as I can see, the population cares more about running out of lavatory paper. Praise must go to David Davis and Chris Bryant, two MPs who have bravely challenged this measure.

It may also be the day our economy perished. The incessant coverage of health scares and supermarket panics has obscured the dire news coming each hour from the stock markets and the money exchanges. The wealth that should pay our pensions is shrivelling as share values fade and fall. The pound sterling has lost a huge part of its value. Governments all over the world are resorting to risky, frantic measures which make Jeremy Corbyn’s magic money tree look like sober, sound finance. Much of this has been made far worse by the general shutdown of the planet on the pretext of the coronavirus scare. However bad this virus is (and I will come to that), the feverish panic on the world’s trading floors is at least as bad.

And then there is the Johnson Government’s stumbling retreat from reason into fear. At first, Mr Johnson was true to himself and resisted wild demands to close down the country. But bit by bit he gave in.

The schools were to stay open. Now they are shutting, with miserable consequences for this year’s A-level cohort. Cafes and pubs were to be allowed to stay open, but now that is over. On this logic, shops and supermarkets must be next, with everyone forced to rely on overstrained delivery vans. And that will presumably be followed by hairdressers, dry cleaners and shoe repairers.

How long before we need passes to go out in the streets, as in any other banana republic? As for the grotesque, bullying powers to be created on Monday, I can only tell you that you will hate them like poison by the time they are imposed on you.

All the crudest weapons of despotism, the curfew, the presumption of guilt and the power of arbitrary arrest, are taking shape in the midst of what used to be a free country. And we, who like to boast of how calm we are in a crisis, seem to despise our ancient hard-bought freedom and actually want to rush into the warm, firm arms of Big Brother.

Imagine, police officers forcing you to be screened for a disease, and locking you up for 48 hours if you object. Is this China or Britain? Think how this power could be used against, literally, anybody.

The Bill also gives Ministers the authority to ban mass gatherings. It will enable police and public health workers to place restrictions on a person’s ‘movements and travel’, ‘activities’ and ‘contact with others’.

Many court cases will now take place via video-link, and if a coroner suspects someone has died of coronavirus there will be no inquest. They say this is temporary. They always do.

Well, is it justified? There is a document from a team at Imperial College in London which is being used to justify it. It warns of vast numbers of deaths if the country is not subjected to a medieval curfew.

But this is all speculation. It claims, in my view quite wrongly, that the coronavirus has ‘comparable lethality’ to the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed at least 17 million people and mainly attacked the young.

What can one say to this? In a pungent letter to The Times last week, a leading vet, Dick Sibley, cast doubt on the brilliance of the Imperial College scientists, saying that his heart sank when he learned they were advising the Government. Calling them a ‘team of doom-mongers’, he said their advice on the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak ‘led to what I believe to be the unnecessary slaughter of millions of healthy cattle and sheep’ until they were overruled by the then Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King.

He added: ‘I hope that Boris Johnson, Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance show similar wisdom. They must ensure that measures are proportionate, balanced and practical.’

Avoidable deaths are tragic, but each year there are already many deaths, especially among the old, from complications of flu leading to pneumonia.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) tells me that the number of flu cases and deaths due to flu-related complications in England alone averages 17,000 a year. This varies greatly each winter, ranging from 1,692 deaths last season (2018/19) to 28,330 deaths in 2014/15.

The DHSC notes that many of those who die from these diseases have underlying health conditions, as do almost all the victims of coronavirus so far, here and elsewhere. As the experienced and knowledgeable doctor who writes under the pseudonym ‘MD’ in the Left-wing magazine Private Eye wrote at the start of the panic: ‘In the winter of 2017-18, more than 50,000 excess deaths occurred in England and Wales, largely unnoticed.’

Nor is it just respiratory diseases that carry people off too soon. In the Government’s table of ‘deaths considered avoidable’, it lists 31,307 deaths from cardiovascular diseases in England and Wales for 2013, the last year for which they could give me figures.

This, largely the toll of unhealthy lifestyles, was out of a total of 114,740 ‘avoidable’ deaths in that year. To put all these figures in perspective, please note that every human being in the United Kingdom suffers from a fatal condition – being alive.

About 1,600 people die every day in the UK for one reason or another. A similar figure applies in Italy and a much larger one in China. The coronavirus deaths, while distressing and shocking, are not so numerous as to require the civilised world to shut down transport and commerce, nor to surrender centuries-old liberties in an afternoon.

We are warned of supposedly devastating death rates. But at least one expert, John Ioannidis, is not so sure. He is Professor of Medicine, of epidemiology and population health, of biomedical data science, and of statistics at Stanford University in California. He says the data are utterly unreliable because so many cases are going unrecorded.

He warns here:

‘This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19. Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4 per cent rate from the World Health Organisation, cause horror and are meaningless.’

In only one place – aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess – has an entire closed community been available for study. And the death rate there – just one per cent – is distorted because so many of those aboard were elderly. The real rate, adjusted for a wide age range, could be as low as 0.05 per cent and as high as one per cent.

As Prof Ioannidis says: ‘That huge range markedly affects how severe the pandemic is and what should be done. A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05 per cent is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.’

Epidemic disasters have been predicted many times before and have not been anything like as bad as feared.

The former editor of The Times, Sir Simon Jenkins, recently listed these unfulfilled scares: bird flu did not kill the predicted millions in 1997. In 1999 it was Mad Cow Disease and its human variant, vCJD, which was predicted to kill half a million. Fewer than 200 in fact died from it in the UK.

The first Sars outbreak of 2003 was reported as having ‘a 25 per cent chance of killing tens of millions’ and being ‘worse than Aids’. In 2006, another bout of bird flu was declared ‘the first pandemic of the 21st Century’.

There were similar warnings in 2009, that swine flu could kill 65,000. It did not. The Council of Europe described the hyping of the 2009 pandemic as ‘one of the great medical scandals of the century’. Well, we shall no doubt see.

But while I see very little evidence of a pandemic, and much more of a PanicDemic, I can witness on my daily round the slow strangulation of dozens of small businesses near where I live and work, and the catastrophic collapse of a flourishing society, all these things brought on by a Government policy made out of fear and speculation rather than thought.

Much that is closing may never open again. The time lost to schoolchildren and university students – in debt for courses which have simply ceased to be taught – is irrecoverable, just as the jobs which are being wiped out will not reappear when the panic at last subsides.

We are told that we must emulate Italy or China, but there is no evidence that the flailing, despotic measures taken in these countries reduced the incidence of coronavirus. The most basic error in science is to assume that because B happens after A, that B was caused by A.

There may, just, be time to reconsider. I know that many of you long for some sort of coherent opposition to be voiced. The people who are paid to be the Opposition do not seem to wish to earn their rations, so it is up to the rest of us. I despair that so many in the commentariat and politics obediently accept what they are being told. I have lived long enough, and travelled far enough, to know that authority is often wrong and cannot always be trusted.

I also know that dissent at this time will bring me abuse and perhaps worse. But I am not saying this for fun, or to be ‘contrarian’ –that stupid word which suggests that you are picking an argument for fun. This is not fun.

This is our future, and if I did not lift my voice to speak up for it now, even if I do it quite alone, I should consider that I was not worthy to call myself English or British, or a journalist, and that my parents’ generation had wasted their time saving the freedom and prosperity which they handed on to me after a long and cruel struggle whose privations and griefs we can barely imagine.

Will we ever get an apology from these hysterics if all of this ends up the over-the-top over-reaction it might easily be. Not a chance. They are just softening us up for the next one.

My thanks to SMcL for sending this along.