Coronavirus: A Conspiracy against the New World Order?


The Coronavirus:
A Conspiracy against the New World Order?
Sean Gabb
20th March 2020

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I have no particular knowledge of medicine or the natural sciences. However, I remember the Aids panic of the 1980s, when we were told there would be two million deaths by 1990 in this country alone. I remember the Mad Cow Disease of 1996, when we were told that a million people would turn into zombies by 2016. There have been a dozen lesser panics the details of which I presently forget. The Coronavirus may be a modern equivalent of the Spanish Flu of 1918-19. But I have reason to be sceptical. Indeed, if ignorant of medicine in any practical sense, I do know a lot about the bubonic plague pandemics of 542-4 and of 1347-51. These exploded among populations severely weakened by hunger, following downturns in global temperature. The Spanish Flu took hold because of the dislocations produced by the Great War. The human race now has never been so well-fed and so well-provided with medicine. It seems that most victims of the Coronavirus were very old or already in poor health. I do not, of course, welcome any death. But I shall need to see much higher rates of infection and many more deaths – and much and many more outside those groups presently most at risk – before I regard this as other than some collective madness.

This being said, there may be more to be said. Far above the ravening sheep in the supermarkets stands a new political establishment that cannot really be as stupid as its apocalyptic warnings make it appear on first inspection. I begin to smell a conspiracy – and a most unusual conspiracy, so far as its main victims may be the kind of people who do nicely out of the new order of things that has emerged since about 1990, and particularly since 2008.

I have read the Guidance Notes of the British Government’s Coronavirus Bill. Except the proposals go absurdly beyond the needs of the outbreak as it seems to be, it is a broadly proportionate response to the outbreak as it is said to be. I do not see the powers to close public gatherings and lock away the plainly infected as a blueprint for any more of a police state than we already have. The final Act may smuggle in provisions to outlaw cash or to censor the Internet. But I doubt it will. The other responses – shutting down all the schools, subsidising wages, deferring tax payments – are costing or losing the British State a lot of money, and none of this, so far as I can tell, is going to the usual special interest groups. Though grossly disproportionate to any reasonable view of how severe this outbreak is, the Johnson Government’s response is the opposite of the Brown Government’s response to the 2008 financial crash, which involved handing over a mountain of our tax money and the future growth of our savings and pensions to the very rich.

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So what is happening? One possibility is that the outbreak is a convenient excuse for at least the British and American Governments to do in a state of emergency what they want to do, but would have trouble doing in the normal course of politics. What they may want – and this is congruent with the promises made by Mr Johnson and Mr Trump – is a deflation of the financial sector and a shortening of supply chains and a tightening of borders, all in the interests of greater security and equality for ordinary people. They have confected a panic, or gone along with an autonomous panic. This has brought on a wholly self-inflicted supply shock. The British Government in particular is taking large new financial liabilities. But this is a supply shock from which recovery should be fast and complete. The financial liabilities put money directly into the pockets of those most immediately harmed by the shock – and the ceiling of £2,500 per month on the wage subsidy will involve a progressively greater loss for those earning more than the average.

The usual suspects are asking for a delay to our full departure from the European Union. This is probably not on the agenda, as it goes against the underlying principle of the emergency measures. This includes a real tightening of border control and an encouragement of domestic manufacture. Again, ordinary people will benefit from the raising of wage rates. As a libertarian, I am not supposed to approve of anything that looks like protectionism. On the other hand, using China as a giant sweatshop is almost certainly not the outcome of any clean market process. More likely, the current pattern of world production and trade has nothing to do with Ricardian comparative advantage, but is the outcome of various hidden subsidies and prohibitions that mainly benefit the rich and well-connected. Removing these and allowing the emergence of shorter supply chains might improve the lives of ordinary people.

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And improving the lives of ordinary people might be good for the cause of liberty. After 1979, the Government kicked the bottom out of the world for the working classes. Millions were thrown out of work. Millions more eventually found employment in menial and insecure jobs. One result was to end the threat of trade union militancy. Another was to remove people from some connection with scientific rationality – even the lowest industrial labour is a kind of applied science – and to leave them open to every stupid superstition and moral panic the media cared to promote. Restore something like the broad industrial economy of the past, and we might see a rebirth of liberal opinion in the old sense of the words.

As for the gathering financial collapse, the wage subsidy will protect ordinary people from the worst effects. Its most notable effect may be the liquidation of the debt and credit bubble that was blown up after 2008 and that has now become unsustainable. I doubt we shall reach the point where those glass towers that disfigure Central London are remade into flats and workshops. If that were to happen, though, it would be no cause for regret – except to those enriched by the present order of things.

And so, I do not fear the Coronavirus – not yet, at least. I moderately fear the shortages in the supermarkets. I am keenly interested in the possible emergence of an England in which the Northern working classes will be proud to be seen voting Conservative.

26 comments

  • So, the conspiracy theory to explain the virus panic is that some maverick blond outsiders with bad haircuts, accidentally elected to high power due to their popularism (and possibly also due to God’s manipulative will to use a new small bunch of baddies to bring what turns out for the best even if it ain’t exactly good at first), have rebelled against the usual suspects who form the usual shadow government of the world, but who, despite centuries of striving, remained still unable to rule as ruthlessly as they’d want to rule eventually, for the time being, Using their own “secret power of lawlessness” methods to fight fire with fire (2 Thess 2) the fabulously rich rebels have miraculously managed to trick countless heads of government, many of them put into power by the usual suspects against whom the mavericks are rebelling, to go along with their unnecessary panic. So far so good?.

    The outcome has been unprecedented authoritarianism that includes a draconian suspension of the right to assemble, even in churches on Sundays. But it’ll be alright in the end? Well, I hope you’re right, but I don’t know how you can know you’re right, still less how I could know.

    (Sorry I couldn’t find a suitable quote from pre-Christian days, in Latin, to make my comment more convincing, old chap.)

  • It’s uncharacteristic of you, Sean, to be so optimistic! But yes, I think this may be a conscious move on the part of “new not-so-new world order” Tories to go in a different – and for you and me, more positive – direction than Mad Mrs May and her predecessor did.

    At least the coronavirus – unlike, for example, “global warming” – is a real, objective problem. It is one of those extremely rare situations where a temporary suspension of certain liberties might be warranted. Having read the guidance notes you linked to, I was actually pleasantly surprised at the unusually (for government) straightforward way in which it is presented. When I read government reports, I usually find myself having to wade through piles of newspeak and doublespeak in order to find out what they’re actually trying to do to us (or, more often, have already done to us). Not this time, though.

    But let’s not be blasé about the scale of the problem. I was idly playing around with the virus figures yesterday (as former mathematicians tend to) and started doing some “what ifs” with the figures in one of the places (outside China and South Korea) which seems closest to over the outbreak. That’s the Faeroe Islands. They have had 92 confirmed cases so far, with no deaths. That represents about 1.9 per thousand of their population. Their new cases per day had been going down until today, when there were 12 new cases, but they have been ramping up the testing hugely in recent days, so that’s not unexpected. The data comes from here – https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ – a useful source if you’re into this kind of stuff.

    Eyeballing their “Gompertz curve” of cumulative confirmed cases at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_coronavirus_pandemic_in_the_Faroe_Islands, I guess they’re probably around half way to their final count. Last Tuesday their chief medical officer said he thought that most of the people in the islands had by then been exposed to the infection, but I think he was probably over-optimistic. The reason the Faeroes are “ahead of the game” is that the virus seems to spread quicker among small, isolated populations. I discovered this when I idly sorted the figures by cases per population, and found that San Marino (the worst of all), Faeroes, Iceland, Andorra and Liechtenstein all came out in the top 10.

    So my best guess right now at how many confirmed cases they’ll finish with is 4 per thousand population. The second part of the equation is how many of those confirmed cases die. This is a function of the quality of health care in the country more than anything else. The UK is currently running at about 4.5% of confirmed cases leading to death. That’s way below Italy, which has its own set of problems; and also below Spain, but above other European countries like France and the Netherlands. (Above China, too! And almost four times the rate in the USA.) That may be due to a low testing rate so far, or may eventually have something to say about the merits or otherwise of socialized health care.

    Anyway, if I take both those numbers at face value, I guess we’re looking at 66.44M(4/1000)4.5% = about 12,000 deaths when all is said and done. To put it in perspective, world-wide deaths from ordinary flu per year are between 300,000 and 600,000, and if 0.9% of those are in the UK (roughly pro-rata to world population) we’re looking at 2,700 to 5,400 flu deaths in an average year. So the COVID virus looks to be worse than normal flu by a factor of 2.2 to 4.4. Bad – which means Boris and co are right to take some action – but not the end of the world (alarmists have been bandying around figures like a quarter of a million).

    Lastly, I’m not sure I agree that northern industrial workers will necessarily be happy about voting Tory. For as you say, it was Thatcher that started this rot; and I’m not sure they will ever forgive her, or her party, for that. When, last summer, Boris Johnson won the party leadership and a lot of Tory supporters who had defected to the Brexit party went back to the Tories, I thought (and said at the time) that it wasn’t a surge in support for the Tory party, but in support for Boris Johnson. I still think that. And the apparent change for the better in the manner of dealing with the people, on which you have commented, may well come from his strategic attempts to retain these supporters, by distancing himself from the Tory party of Cameron and May.

    That’s all to the good. But Johnson still has to get Brexit done, and not allow the transition period to be extended. Next up after that will be the climate change issue, where parliament and the entire government have brought themselves into severe disrepute, and a lot of heads will have to roll. These are interesting times, indeed. If Johnson gets all these three right – COVID, Brexit, climate – then the Johnson Party could be in power for a decade or two yet.

    • The virus reaction will lead to further welcome changes. One of these will be that I can do more teaching from home. At the moment, I have to go to London to sit in a classroom, doing things that can be done just as effectively – and sometimes more so – from home. My employer has switched to on-line teaching for the duration. This should have been phased in a decade ago. Now that it’s been done, I expect at least a third of teaching to stay that way.

      • Yes. I had my first experience of a fully on-line business meeting on Thursday, and it worked reasonably well. Not nearly as efficient as being face to face – the person controlling the screen we’re all looking at (in this case, a specification I produced) is on the critical path, not to mention a single point of failure. And you can’t pick up body language, or the nuances in what people say, as you could if in a room together.

        You must be very pleased not to have to go to London so often! Indeed, the one change I’ve voluntarily made to my own life because of this virus is that I won’t use buses or trains until this is over.

  • I find the theory enunciated above somewhat persuasive: that this is an autonomous crisis that has been deliberately blown-up in order to minimise the impact of the financial crash that was coming anyway. Maybe they’ve seized their chance to re-order things. The only chink in the theory, if you’ll forgive the language, is that the government did start off quite sensibly in its handling of the situation, which tends to suggest that if an ulterior motive has developed, it’s more due to the government being backed into a corner by the silly Left and the cretinous media.

    I have patiently watched the situation unfold, first with amusement as the government’s quite sensible approach contrasted sharply with the hysteria of lots of very silly people.

    The amusement slowly turned into irritation as it became clear that a very loud and vocal minority, who insist on dictating their dogmatic social agenda to everybody else, have resumed their toxic ways. This minority includes the usual suspects from the Left and the Remainer camp who have been responsible for all the alarmist propaganda over the last four years and are now at it again.

    Disappointingly it includes a certain blogger, a former public health inspector with a doctorate in public health surveillance. One would hope that somebody with those credentials would know better, and I looked at his blog and read some of the posts in the hope that I would be reading something calm, moderate, sensible and informed. But this person can’t help himself. Some of what he writes is informative, but mostly that blog is a vehicle for his own ego and narcissism. He is blogging the usual formula, which goes something like this:

    everything the British government does is wrong;
    everything that foreigners do is right;
    everything the blogger says is right;
    mass graves will be dug;
    the death toll will reach 500,000;
    decision-makers are completely incompetent and directionless and deserve to be sneered-at, derided and insulted;
    if you disagree with the above and insist that things aren’t anywhere near as bad as is being made out and that the government’s handling of things has been broadly sensible, you are stupid or misinformed or ill-informed.

    The media have been even cruder about it. Until, maybe, about a week ago, the government’s approach to all this was broadly right, in my view (speaking only as a layman), but to my dismay the government has eventually given way to the media hysteria, and as a result we are now seeing mass madness/herd stupidity, with hoarding of ordinary groceries, schools shutting and businesses collapsing.

    It is all completely unnecessary. Clearly, the virus presents a risk, and the risk is greater for older people and those with co-morbidities, but the whole thing has been blown out of all proportion.

    • This is one of those hypotheses that will be shown right or wrong in the next few weeks.

      • In that case, I’ll hedge my bets and say this is the Nazi Zombie Apocalypse Currency Collapse we’ve all been waiting for, and we’re all going to die – except if you don’t die, or never got any symptoms and don’t know anybody else who did, then you were lucky.

        Buy silver now.

        • There are reports of a mortuary in Dover, where those pronounced dead of the Coronavirus are breaking out of their refrigerated cabinets to devour the flesh of the living. I have asked the police to grant me an emergency firearms certificate for three handguns and a high-velocity hunting rifle, plus a thousand rounds of ammunition for each.

          • If only something like that did happen, it would at least be entertaining. They’d be a run on popcorn.

    • I think the person in question is still angry that no one listened to his advice on how to leave the European Union.

      • Thank goodness no-one did, or the present situation might be worse. How ironic that after all his alarmism about the consequences of a real Brexit, he is now calling for those very conditions as deliberate measures of government in order to combat a novel version of the flu.

        I had assumed that a public health inspector would be the best person to consult on this type of situation because they have combined training and experience in both the science and the political aspects of it. Certainly, if I was in charge of a response, I would calling on public health experts, local government people, emergency responders, health managers, scientists and mathematical modellers. Medics and nurses, in my view, tend to give the worst advice on this sort of thing, and should stay off the airwaves and stick to treating people.

        There’s a professor of nursing who holds forth about it all on YouTube. He is clearly very expert, and his videos are highly-informative, but at the same time he seems very eager to impose a police state on us all, which – to my mind – shows a certain naiveté that’s common among professional experts who have had their heads buried in a specialist subject for years and years but have little or no awareness of the surrounding issues and realities. Normally the cloth-earedness is only irritating. This time it’s very damaging – they’re destroying people’s businesses and livelihoods and opening the way for a broad-spectrum authoritarian state, unprecedented in modern British history, with the exception of the Second World War.

        In general and allowing for exceptions, I take the view that experts should advise, not decide, and this manufactured crisis has reinforced that view.

    • Tom: I agree the government was doing basically the right things until last Monday. But their strategy of “contain, delay, research, mitigate” was agreed several weeks ago. Monday marked the transition from contain to delay. Closing pubs, in my view, was a major PR error, and forcing Tim Martin of Wetherspoon’s to back down was an even bigger one.

      If I give them the benefit of the doubt, I suspect they are waiting for reliable supplies of one or both of the two forms of chloroquine: see https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8134125/Boris-Johnson-announces-start-coronavirus-clinical-trials-Britain.html.

      As to media hysteria, that’s the norm these days. I hope it comes back to bite them.

      BTW, a technical question (perhaps for Keir): why am I having to log back in to my WordPress account every time I go to post a comment on the site? It didn’t do that until a few days ago.

  • A remarkable coincidence has come to my attention since my earlier comment.

    66

    In October, 2019 the Gates Foundation teamed up with the World Economic Forum and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security to enact what they called a “fictional” scenario simulation involving some of the world’s leading figures in public health. It was titled Event 201.

    As their website describes it, Event 201 simulated an “outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus transmitted from bats to pigs to people that eventually becomes efficiently transmissible from person to person, leading to a severe pandemic. The pathogen and the disease it causes are modeled largely on SARS, but it is more transmissible in the community setting by people with mild symptoms.”

    In the Event 201 scenario the disease originates at a pig farm in Brazil, spreading through low-income regions and ultimately explodes into an epidemic. The disease is carried by air travel to Portugal, the USA and China and beyond to the point no country can control it. The scenario posits no possible vaccine being available in the first year. “Since the whole human population is susceptible, during the initial months of the pandemic, the cumulative number of cases increases exponentially, doubling every week.”

    The scenario then ends after 18 months when the fictional coronavirus has caused 65 million deaths. “The pandemic is beginning to slow due to the decreasing number of susceptible people. The pandemic will continue at some rate until there is an effective vaccine or until 80-90 % of the global population has been exposed.”

    99

    Coronavirus and the Gates Foundation
    https://journal-neo.org/2020/03/18/coronavirus-and-the-gates-foundation/

    Most of that text is taken from

    The Event 201 scenario
    http://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/scenario.html

  • I am watching on the Telescreen somebody I recognise as Boris Johnson, aka. Blow Job, as I like to call him. He has blond hair and he’s overweight.

    I think it’s him.

    As far as I can make out, this country has been taken over by mad men.

    What on earth is going on…????

    I need to find my favourite Edgar Allan Poe story, And For How Long Did The Mad Men Reign? It would be very fitting to quote from it now.

    This is surreal and crazy and a whole fifteen other things at once. These people are barmy.

    • I saw the announcement too. The only crumb of comfort is that neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown is in charge. There is worse than Prince BoJo.

      • Funnily enough, The Blair Creature, as much as I dislike him, would probably be an improvement in this situation. I think back to Foot and Mouth and the petrol pump disturbances. Say what you like, but he dealt with matters decisively. I can actually imagine him closing the border – which is the one key thing that the government should have done right at the start and didn’t.

        But can you imagine if it was the One-Eyed Scotch? I shudder. It would be like Nineteen Eighty-Four come to life. There would be wall-to-wall coverage of Our Brave Doctors and Nurses and posters on display saying ‘British Viruses for British Workers’, or whatever.

        • I’m glad the border wasn’t closed and still isn’t. I left my wife and mother-in-law in Romania on 4th March with tickets to fly home on 22nd. I picked them up at the airport last night. I’d have taken a dim view of it if Boris has panicked and stranded my loved ones unnecessarily.

          The border was closed to travellers from Italy whilst I was in Romania, and from many other countries Romania is several weeks behind the UK in taking its hit from the virus. There’s no need to go mad.

          The problem with air travel is that it isn’t geared up to two metres social distancing. But neither is any other public transport. (Supermarket shopping isn’t much better.)

          • I don’t mean that people who belong here should have been left stranded. Obviously it is right that your relatives were allowed to return – and I assume in a hypothetical of the sort that I mention above, they still would have been permitted to return. That’s their right. But it was definitely a bad error on the part of the government not to close the border to visitors, tourists and other immigrants. I still think the broad approach of the government was right, but not closing the border was a mistake and I think it happened due to an underlying malaise in Western politics widely-observed and discussed, that politicians are leery of appearing politically-incorrect.

            • We do not fit the circumstances for which you would make exceptions. It was the first time my mother-in-law had left Romania. She is a visitor to the UK, our house guest.

              • Then regrettably I am of the view that she should not have been allowed in. While I do think we are in the midst of an hysterical panic in which the risk is being exaggerated, nevertheless the virus is real, there is a risk and people will die, and personally I think the government made a blunder in not closing the borders at the outset.

                Not that I am suggesting that immigrants are to blame in any sense, you understand. Personally I think it’s ridiculous to blame somebody for carrying a virus. That’s not the point. Nor am I suggesting that your particular mother-in-law shoulders any responsibility, but immigrants will have carried it, so closing the border is an important risk control measure. I’m shocked, but not surprised, that it wasn’t done.

  • What on earth is going on…???? asks Tom Rogers. OK, here’s a guess or ten.

    The government’s approach started out sane, because the epidemiologist advisors (unlike the “climate science” ones) know what they are doing, and Boris was – rightly, in my view – content to follow their advice. All went well until a week ago last Monday, when after a big increase in the number of reported cases over that week-end, Boris panicked. I suspect this was because, from a politician’s point of view, it is better to be seen to be doing something (anything!) than to be seen not to be acting decisively. This is, as I see it, a consequence of two factors. One, the false belief that has taken root in the minds of many, that all good things derive from government. And two, the idea of sovereign immunity, that those in power aren’t to be held responsible for the consequences of their policies on others. So, politicians today always see taking action – however destructive – as better for them than wisely leaving alone.

    As soon as I heard, yesterday morning, the cries of “close all non-essential retailers” from the usual suspects, I could see what was coming next. Boris panicked for a second time, and lost it. The problem is, that one man’s essential is often irrelevant to another man, and vice versa. (As I like to say, one man’s meat is another man’s poisson.) Also, there are some goods which you don’t need to buy very often, but when you do, you need them now. For example, one of my walking boots broke last week, meaning I needed a new pair. I drove yesterday morning to a store about 20 miles away and bought them. If I hadn’t done that, I very likely wouldn’t have been able to get any decent exercise in the next several weeks. I’m not yet sure exactly which stores will be closed and which open – I’ll wander through my local town centre later on my way to the supermarket – but I think this will end up being seen by many, many people as a gross over-reaction.

    The announced period of three weeks is an interesting one. For that is pretty much the time within which I’d expect them to complete the clinical trials and, assuming one or other (or both) of the chloroquines works, start to roll out the treatment. At that point, I think it would be good strategy to relax the restrictions and go back to the “containment” mode, so the population as a whole will acquire herd immunity to this strain of the virus. If that is indeed the plan, it will be priceless to see the usual suspects – those whose motto is “never let a good crisis go to waste” – arguing against any relaxation. When it’s clear to anyone who thinks about the matter, and will by then be clear to the general public most of all, that these restrictions are unsustainable, both economically and socially.

    John Allman makes a good point that public transport isn’t geared up to social distancing; exactly why I have stopped using buses for the duration. If Boris really did want to contain the spread of the virus, he’d shut down trains, tubes and buses, just as he (eventually – and rightly) shut down the schools. But this is difficult for politicians to do, because (a) the London set wouldn’t like it, (b) it would inconvenience the politicians personally given where the parliament is, and (c) it goes against the current politically correct meme of forcing people out of our cars.

    Actually, looking a bit longer term, this issue may well put the politicians into something of a vicious circle. For the UN’s “World Health Organization” has a stated vision (in its “air pollution” role) of forcing everyone into big cities, where we are to be packed close together like sardines, and denied private transport. Ironic that this very same WHO, that trumpets scares about the pandemic accelerating, has a vision for the future that would be a perfect breeding ground for pandemics!

    Tom Rogers says the government blundered by not closing national borders at the outset. I think that would have been of no use at all. If you really do want to stop transmission of the virus, and don’t care about the cost to people, then what you actually need to put in place is travel bans outside the immediate local area. That way, some areas will get the virus (as the Faeroe Islands has) and others will stay free of it (as remote provinces in China and South Korea appear to have done). I think (even setting aside libertarian ideals) that’s the wrong strategy, as long as there is a good chance of a cure. But if chloroquine fails us, we may be into that scenario by mid April.

    • You are right that the government’s approach was initially broadly correct – but for me the exception is the blunder in the matter of the national border, and I stand by what I have said.

      By not closing the national borders at the outset, the government allowed in – and is continuing to allow in – infected people. I’m certainly not suggesting that viruses respect borders, or that firmer border measures would have stopped it, but I don’t understand why you think that closing the borders wouldn’t help. It’s a natural and obvious containment measure for an island and would not have inconvenienced very many people. Do you honestly think we should be continuing to allow all-and-sundry and every man and his aunt to travel here? I don’t believe we should be allowing it at all. I think it is irrational madness in normal times, never mind under present circumstances. Even without a pandemic, I would seal the border and control restrictively who can enter, but in these circumstances, I would say this approach is essential.

      There’s also a psychological/political reason in favour of a sealed border and entry ban. We know, on this blog, that the whole thing is being exaggerated and in fact the real crisis here is the state’s closing-down of civil liberties citing the usual exigent justifications. Closing the border early could have helped the government avoid having to go to such extreme lengths internally. Even if the virus still arrived here (highly-probable, if not certain), it would have slowed it and also contributed to putting people on alert in what would be, for most of us, a less intrusive manner. It would, I believe, have allowed the government to pursue a more sensible approach to the matter domestically, with greater respect for civil liberties, as everybody would clearly see serious measures had been taken to control and restrict access to ports. It would also have pointed the way to a more nationalistic approach, which I know you dislike, but which I believe is essential to handle crises like this.

      I refer back to the Popperian paradox of tolerance I’ve discussed at length before on here. I think this crisis is a perfect example of it: the government is prioritising the convenience of foreigners over its own people, including mothers-in-law from Romania. Sorry, but sod her. At the end of the day, we have a choice:

      intolerance based on tolerance of intolerance;
      OR
      tolerance based on intolerance of intolerance.

      Which do you choose?

      Why didn’t the government close the border? I think three main reasons this was not done are, first, political correctness and fear of accusations of racism; second, the Tory Party is driven by greedy, money-driven people who don’t care for the interests of native people or wider social and cultural issues; and third, the complication of Northern Ireland (how do you control travel between there and the mainland, given it’s the same country?).

      My answer to the first objection would be mass arrests of subversives. My answer to the second objection is that the Tory Party, like the Labour Party, does not serve the interests of the people of this country. My answer to the third objection would be seal the land border, have all militant Republicans shot, and deport all other Catholic/Gaelic Irish people to the South.

      • Tom: Closing the border to non-UK travellers who had recently visited certain countries (notably China, Italy, Switzerland, France) might have done some good, if it had been done early enough. But it would have had to have been done in January, before the first UK case was confirmed. They would also have had to quarantine incoming UK residents who had recently been to those countries.
        A big problem with closing borders, of course, is the likelihood of tit for tat; so I suspect there was a lot of political pressure not to do it. Anyway, whether deliberately or not, they missed that boat; so we are where we are.

      • “We know, on this blog, that the whole thing is being exaggerated and in fact the real crisis here is the state’s closing-down of civil liberties citing the usual exigent justifications.”

        I got the impression that you were rather more in favour than Boris had been, of closing down certain of my own civil liberties as a British citizen who had married a citizen of another country during the UK’s membership of the EU with the consent of the British state.

    • Just following up on yesterday’s wander round my local shopping areas.

      In my nearest town (population about 22K), I counted 154 shops and high street businesses in total. (Interestingly, in the 34 years I have lived here, I have only used 28 of them). 106 were completely closed. 24 were operating a restricted service: a mixture of professionals operating by e-mail or phone, services doing only emergency work (e.g. opticians), and food outlets offering take-out or delivery. I couldn’t be sure of the status of 7 of them. 17 were open, of which 5 had restrictions on the maximum number of customers at once, and Waitrose’s were making people queue to get in. It’s a bloody mess!

      It was actually a bit better in my (slightly) nearer “village” shops. Of 33 businesses, 17 were closed, 7 offering restricted services, and 8 open (3 with short hours). (One I couldn’t work out the status of). Hopefully, the three supermarkets in the area will keep me supplied with victuals (through bacon, in particular, is becoming hard to find), and my friendly neighbourhood Sikh corner store will keep me supplied with booze.

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