Empty park in spring: Lockdown Britain
After nearly two weeks of Lockdown the real front In the ‘fight’ or ‘the war’ against the Coronavirus is taking shape. It’s not, as you might have thought, us, the Nation led by the PM and his government, against the deadly virus – it’s ‘Our MSM’, with inside support from Whitehall Mandarins, some Cabinet ministers and some Tory MPs – all ‘anonymous’ – against the PM and some other Cabinet ministers. We peasants, safely locked inside our homes, are simply the sheep being herded hither and yon.
I planned to write about models and modelling today but yet again I feel compelled to look at ‘Our MSM’, the main enemy. Thus, with that plan in shambles, there’ll only be a concise look at this question, below.
I don’t need to remind you about the ‘Project Panic’ headlines, blaring from the front pages for weeks. The insidious message is that Johnson has bungled it and should be replaced. So far, the MSM jury is out as to who that should be – Hancock has been getting ‘mixed reviews’. Some ‘replacements’ are conspicuous by their sudden absence in the MSM reports, for example Mr Gove hasn’t officially been heard of for some time.
Home Office Mandarins still seem to undermine Ms Patel – else why is the Border Farce, under her Ministry, still letting in ‘refugees’ from war-torn France, with no quarantine. The last lot, 52 of them, were picked up yesterday (link). Us unruly plebs would like to know why they’re allowed out and about while we’re locked in, especially since we’re being threatened that the Lockdown could be made more restrictive – note that it’s ‘a government source’ who said this, anonymously:
“The coronavirus lockdown could be tightened if the public flouts social-distancing rules with a warm weekend expected, Government sources have warned. […] One source suggested public spaces including parks could be shut if people defied the warnings.” (link)
To me, this smacks of ‘teacher’ (“government”) telling ‘class’ (us peasants) that we’ll all be punished if one or two misbehave. It’s as if this is now about controlling us rather than the spread of the virus. One more quote:
“However, The Telegraph has discovered there is a dispute at the heart of Government over the possibility of the restrictions being tightened two weeks into the lockdown, which began on 23 March. One Cabinet minister said that the “draconian” measures had “gone far enough” and risked harming the economy to an even greater degree.” (link)
Who is this Cabinet minister? Who are those ‘government sources’? Why is just the economy being harmed, not the fabric of our society? Meanwhile, ‘Our MSM’ are only tentatively looking at the mess created by ‘Our NHS’ and the various health quangos.
The question about those ‘jam tomorrow’ test kits is a good example. On the one hand, we’re suddenly being told by our fabulous MSM that there’s no way the number of 100,000 tests per day can be achieved. According to some industry representatives, this is ‘Mr Hancock’s number, not ours’, (link, paywalled), and that
“Industry leaders commissioned by the Government to produce home-testing kits have told The Telegraph they are “mystified” by suggestions the technology will be available to the public imminently.” (link)
Apparently, it’ll be June before they’re ready. It is strange that they’re only now coming out with their critique, well after both Johnson and Hancock have announced these tests are ‘imminent’. It’s as if industry PR announcements were given to government ministries whose PR mandarins used that industry PR material to brief their ministers, with no due diligence taken to check if this was feasible. The Times is cautiously looking at the machinery of government:
“There are tensions between ministers, between civil servants and ministers, between departments and an array of quangos dragged from relative obscurity into the halogen glare of a national crisis. With confidence in the competence of the government machine in question few are feeling the heat as much as Sir Mark. Some of the more strident criticism is deemed unfair by many and reports that Downing Street is “riven” dismissed as overdone, but well-placed, senior figures accept that the performance of the most senior civil servant is under scrutiny. […] Mr Johnson’s self-isolation had “undoubtedly” made the situation worse.” (link, paywalled)
Poor BoJo – still unwell, still following government guidance: can he get anything right?But where are his deputies? Equally unwell? This next quote deserves to be bookmarked:
“Mr Shinner, former head of no-deal Brexit planning, was brought back into No 10 two weeks ago. He has since got a grip on many of the thorniest issues bedevilling the system, according to close observers. The appointment, although formally made by Sir Mark, is seen as an acknowledgement that the cabinet secretary lacked some of the skills needed in the current crisis. With such high stakes, uncertain science and unpalatable trade-offs it is little wonder that many have half an eye on a future public inquiry. Cabinet ministers put even minor concerns in writing to Downing Street in an attempt to absolve themselves of blame if things go wrong, said one minister.” (link, paywalled)
Sir Mark Sedwill ain’t omniscient? Well I never! And ministers and mandarins already, not yet two weeks into the lockdown, working hard not on a solution but on a massive CYA exercise because there might be an inquiry? Crikey! I suggest an inquiry should also be held into the role played by our MSM. Douglas Murray makes some valid and important points in his essay which is worth reading.
Now to the last Lockdown quote for today, hinting at the necessity to think longer-term:
“Britain has “painted itself into a corner” with no clear exit strategy from the coronavirus epidemic and needs to reconsider herd immunity, according to a senior government adviser. […] The introduction of the lockdown on March 23 is on course to avoid a catastrophic peak, but the virus will start spreading again once it is eased, it is believed. In the absence of a vaccine, viruses only stop spreading when enough people have been infected that they can no longer pass from person to person, a concept known as herd immunity. ” (link, paywalled)
Ah – ‘herd immunity’, rejected by ‘Our MSM’ as being heartless and dooming us all to die! This brings us, finally, to the issue of models and modelling. Let me firstly recommend this excellent blog entry by the Nate Silver group. Those of you who are interested in how models should be set up in the first place will find it extremely illuminating, empowering you to draw your own conclusions on the validity of the “Imperial Lockdown Model”.
Meanwhile, I wonder if that government adviser who has mentioned ‘herd immunity has read this critical assessment of the various lockdown strategies employed by governments, published online in the USA. The authors explain, with excellent graphs, how these models make the mitigating effects of a lockdown look good because the modellers stop looking at what is bound to happen later:
“There is a simple truth behind the problems with these modeling conclusions. The duration of containment efforts does not matter, if transmission rates return to normal when they end, and mortality rates have not improved. This is simply because as long as a large majority of the population remains uninfected, lifting containment measures will lead to an epidemic almost as large as would happen without having mitigations in place at all.” (link)
Here are some more observations which go to the core of both the models employed by government advisers and the decisions based on them:
“In particular, we suggest that no model whose purpose is to study the overall benefits of mitigations should end at a time-point before a steady-state is reached. This is not the same as saying that modelers must assume that the epidemic remains a threat until herd immunity is reached. […] Without making assumptions explicit, it is impossible to debate whether they are reasonable, or to estimate the sensitivity of the model’s conclusions.” (link)
Their conclusion should be slapped around the ears of Whitehall mandarins, ministers, government advisers and MSM journalists:
“The public should not be misled by presenting false stories of hope to motivate behavior in the short-term. Public health depends on public trust. If we claim now that our models show that 2 months of mitigations will cut deaths by 90%, why will anyone believe us 2 months from now when the story has to change?” (link)
Just so! This goes to the core of how we address the coronavirus pandemic, in spite of the MSM driving government decisions by using ‘Project Panic’ articles. Perhaps we should ask why our Imperial Modellers have avoided the question of a possible immunity thanks to many having already been infected with no symptoms, why such assumptions weren’t even considered.
Given that the various civil servants in the various departments, rather than pulling together, are wasting time and effort by creating paper trails to CYA, I wonder if it isn’t time to hand the whole shambles over to the Armed Forces, especially in view of the deserved praise in the MSM for their achievement to get a Nightingale Hospital up and running within 10 days (link).
Let’s hope that the looming economic crisis will sharpen some minds in Downing Street and make them focus on terminating the Lockdown. Whichever way this is going to end, one thing is certain: our society will never be the same again. Too many are now experiencing how the MSM-driven hysteria is damaging all our lives.
Keep well, question everything, and in the face of the 2nd Lockdown weekend