Sage – the herb, not SAGE (and certainly not Sir Patrick Vallance!)
Let’s start with some indisputable facts: there are only two more days left in this month. In some parts of this country rain has moved in overnight. The Lockdown is still with us. So is ‘Our NHS’. And Boris Johnson is back in No 10.
The mood in the country as depicted in ‘Our MSM’ seems slowly to be turning against the Lockdown. The number of personal ra-ra-ra reports about “look how well I’m coping” or: “look at my really interesting, unique Lockdown strategy” or especially: “do this (yoga, spring cleaning, cooking, ‘teaching the brats’) like I do and be happy” are giving way to “I can’t stand my husband/kids/I’m bored/I’m drunk”. Yes, we needed to know that …
We’re now getting the opinion of ‘old’ people, from aged TV reporters to politicians – David Blunkett in the DT being the latest – about the idiocy of keeping people in Lockdown based solely on their age. Well, the MSM have to fill their online pages … so expect more of ‘old celebrities’ being allowed their say.
We didn’t hear from those oldies before – or the MSM didn’t think they were worthwhile listening to. After all, oldies are already more or less isolated in our blatantly ageist society, so how they cope with social isolation is soo not interesting … and anyway, they’re ‘baby boomers’ so by definition ‘selfish’ and should be kept away from the vibrant, youthful population …
Staying with today’s papers: I’m fed up. I’m fed up with their agenda, namely how they see themselves as part of government, believing that they are tasked with incessant critique from the sidelines. It’s easy to snipe when one has no responsibilities, when one is unaccountable, when there’s no official opposition.
During these Lockdown weeks it became blatantly obvious that ‘Our MSM’ were singing from the same hymn sheet, with the consistent theme that Johnson and his government are useless. You recall the “omigawd – more deaths than yesterday” headlines across the MSM, day in day out. No questions were ever asked about how these numbers were arrived at.
Now that the numbers are falling, even according to the NHS and ONS, there’s no fanfare. It’s not even “look, the Lockdown must have achieved something”. No – we’re given some rearguard action reports about deaths in Care Homes (e.g. here) while Sir Patrick Vallance has now said that they told ministers about the probable effect of CV-19 on care home inmates already (link, paywalled). Well, maybe so – but it didn’t make its way into ‘Our MSM’, did it?
‘Our MSM’ are re-focussing their sights, back onto Johnson now that he’s returned. The latest battle fronts are being drawn. Some reporters are speculating what all might be expected, which restrictions might first be lifted: garden centres, yay! Recycling centres, yay! A ‘new normal’ with social distancing … (link).
The very first headline I saw this morning told us breathlessly that Johnson will be speaking to ‘various sectors’, about starting the economy while trying to stop that ’Second Wave’ which is bound to kill us all, perhaps this autumn or winter (link). Gosh – is he really? How amazing: he’s going to do his job! I wonder though if Johnson has the spine to tell all those ‘industries’ that clamouring for more state handouts – which we pay for! – is not helpful.
Meanwhile, there’s still “Teh Science” – the science on which government has based decisions, the science which we must trust and never question. I found this little piece in The Times quite extraordinary:
“Sir Patrick was speaking after some of the names on the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) were leaked to The Guardian, amid criticism that Boris Johnson was claiming to “follow the science” while being opaque about the source of that science.” (link, paywalled)
Oh dear! Don’t all these reporters know that the ‘source’ for this ‘science’ is SAGE, and that this is what is ‘opaque’, not Johnson’s use of it? It’s ‘government science’ after all, but don’t expect to find critical reports in ‘Our MSM’, nor any divergent opinions or indeed any critical questions, for example about how those ‘death numbers’ were arrived at.
Those questions come from ‘covideniers’ and must be spurned, even if they’re from internationally renowned doctors and pathologists, even if they’re published in well-known international MSM as opposed to ‘conspiracist blogs’. They’re all furriners so must be disregarded unless it’s to bash the government for ‘not doing like they do’.
It seems though that ‘our scientists’ are becoming aware that their role as “leaders of government” is starting to attract some slightly critical glances even from hitherto faithful reporters. It’s therefore interesting that Sir Patrick Vallance is now also doing the MSM’s job by criticising ‘government’, aiming to defend himself:
“Sir Patrick Vallance said there had been “heated and prolonged” discussions – in particular about the scientific evidence about whether the public should wear face masks, with Government advice still awaited.” (link)
Crikey – it’s now ‘government’ which should advises SAGE? Or is it that SAGE can’t make up their minds because there’s not yet been a proper ‘ruling’ by the discredited WHO? Perhaps it’s dawning on SAGE and Sir Patrick Vallance that there are now too many reports from across Europe and other countries, of Chinese masks and test kits being useless or defective? Is that why there’s talk about people perhaps using ‘home-grown’ cloth masks as the best solution?
Meanwhile here in the UK questions are being raised about the validity of test kits – this time not from China but from South Korea (link). Ah – but aren’t these the test which allowed South Korea to become a shining example of how to combat the pandemic – an example “we” should have followed?
Here’s more on that new attitude of Vallance and SAGE, along the lines ‘it wasn’t us, guv’:
“Ministers have repeatedly said that their response to coronavirus – and the use of social distancing measures – is “led by science”. But Sir Patrick, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, suggested that there is limited consensus among more than 100 scientists informing the Government’s response.” (link)
So SAGE isn’t perhaps so sage after all? And who has ever heard of scientists not consenting 100% ! Might that be the reason reporters now think Johnson’s ‘source of science’ is opaque? Perhaps all those clever, multi-talented journalists who are epidemiologists, virologists, statisticians and political pundits rolled into one might propose what ‘science’ Johnson should follow! Nah – they couldn’t possibly: that would mean they’d leave themselves open to criticism by their colleagues from competing papers!
Meanwhile, the Brexit talks are ongoing and ‘The EU is rattled’ (link). Barnier is getting a proper pasting in this article by our friends at facts4eu. ‘Our team’, i.e. Mr Frost and consorts, is very tight-lipped. They’re not leaking anything – a proud achievement, given the sieve-like living conditions in Downing Street, Whitehall and indeed Brussels.
While the attention of ‘Our MSM’ is firmly fixed on the Lockdown and how best to blame Johnson for everything – it’s probably also his fault that rain is sweeping in just as he got back to work – it’s better to wait for properly documented news about the negotiations to come out. We’ll keep an eye on Remain wherever it raises its ugly head while waiting for M Barnier to publicly demonstrate his and the EU’s pigheadedness. Let’s observe first though how these talks evolve.
Today though let’s see if the Lockdown Busters will take a stand and come out walking, jogging and cycling and if ‘our police’ will be out in the rain to catch those dastardly Lockdown trespassers …
Take care, keep vigilant and
Photo by Alessandro Bonino