The bad news first: there’s been no leakage from the Brussels negotiation talks between Mr Frost and M Barnier. The few Brexit news snippets, to be found in The Express exclusively, are based on what someone speculated about (here, here and here) or on that ‘source’ for news, Twitter (here). So that’s that, for today.
However, as everything ‘Corona Virus’ is swamping the MSM, it’s worth taking a closer look at what is being reported, how and why. So in a hopefully temporary change of subject, I’ll take a look at this ‘event’ in today’s column. I’m doing this because the parallels to the various ‘Project Fear’ scenarios we’ve become so familiar with in the years since the EU Referendum are again displayed in all their gory glory – and this time it’s global.
Firstly, there’s one piece of news which is rather breath-taking. Allegedly, Parliament – HoC and HoL both – could be closed for months if the situation worsens:
“Parliament could be shut down due to rising concerns that the crisis will deepen. Downing Street said the House of Commons is currently drawing up plans with medical and scientific advisers in anticipation of a worsening situation.” (paywalled link)
This quote is an aside in a general report, but the Times has a full article on it, headlined “Parliament could be shut for months to tackle coronavirus – MPs may be contagion risk” (link, paywalled) – oh dear! Non-paywalled reports on this plan are here and here. Here are details, from that RemainCentral article:
“Parliament may be suspended for five months to prevent MPs from spreading coronavirus across the country. […] With public bodies boosting preparations for months of disruption, plans are being drawn up that would mean the Commons and Lords not returning after Easter. MPs rise on March 31 and sitting would be suspended until September in “the longest summer recess we have known”, according to one senior parliamentary source.” […] One source familiar with the talks said: “We’ve got 650 people who spend half the week spread across the country meeting their constituents and the other half rubbing up against one another in Westminster. It’s 650 superspreaders.” (link, paywalled)
Crikey – MPs as ‘super-spreaders’? Who knew! But where’s the outcry about ‘scrutiny’ and ‘Johnson dictatorship’? The really funny thing is though that The Times also published a YouGov poll according to which we Brits are showing our true ‘Keep calm and carry on’ attitude:
“Britons are among the most relaxed people in the world about infection and the least likely to take precautions. A YouGov survey of ten countries put Britain last both in public fear and likelihood of taking protective measures such as handwashing. Just 5 per cent said that they were “very scared” by coronavirus with a further 19 per cent “somewhat scared”, lower than any other country polled.” (link, paywalled)
That has to change, naturally, and the MSM are doing their best to make it so. There’s a pattern emerging with which we Leavers are all too familiar. We uneducated plebs are being told how horrible things are, that we must be afraid, very afraid, that we must listen to the experts who know it all, and that we must trust our betters, especially those in the MSM.
There is a slight difference though because, this being “Science”, the various authors and reporters are letting little things slip out which should make us all sit up and wonder. There’s the impact on the economy. There’s panic buying (link), photos of empty shelves included. That this may conceivably make people go and panic-buy some more: not important. That one airline has gone under because of the Corona Virus is sad. That Sony and Nike have closed down their offices (link) – well, they are big, caring companies. However, that the markets have ‘rebounded’ is interesting when we read the reason for that rebound:
“Stock markets around the world bounced back yesterday as investors welcomed the promise of a global funding package to fight the impact of the coronavirus outbreak […] The FTSE 100 closed up 1.5 per cent and the Dow Jones industrial average surged by 4.5 per cent as markets recovered some of the gains lost from a sell-off as the covid-19 crisis has worsened. The International Monetary Fund said that it had made $50 billion available and the US Congress approved $8.3 billion for coronavirus treatments and preventing the spread of the virus, far more than the $2.5 billion requested by the White House.” (link, paywalled)
These ‘financial packages’ (whose money is being used here, btw?) seem to boost investors’ confidence, and now see this significant quote:
“Andrew Bailey, the next Bank of England governor, said that businesses would need emergency funding to see them through the “shock” caused by coronavirus. “We are going to have to provide some supply chain financing so that the effects of the shock are not damaging to small and medium-sized firms,” Mr Bailey, 60, told the Treasury select committee. “I have met the chancellor and we have talked about this.” (link, paywalled)
Ah! Now we know where that money is coming from: out of our wallets, what a surprise. And in an article aimed at worried housewives (yes, I know, we don’t have housewives any longer …), the DT inadvertently shows another industry poised to become a ‘winner’:
“Should you deep-clean your house to fend off new coronavirus? So far, medical advice has focused mostly on the importance of washing our hands – every two hours, with soap and hot water, for 20 seconds each time – which is said to be the most effective way of protecting yourself against the new disease […] But some are now starting to worry about the germs living inside their own homes. Vladimir Todorov, head of London-based deep-cleaning firm Cleaner Cleaner, says concern about Covid-19 has caused a “spike in demand” from middle-class families looking for emergency cleans.” (paywalled link)
Well, I suppose if you’re already infected and are self-quarantined, then you have ample time to deep-clean your home. If you’re virus-free though then what is the use of this money-wasting exercise, especially as you’re going out into the corona-virus-wilderness to work?
Then there’s this article in the DT where ‘leading experts’ denounce the government for ‘breaking trust’ by not going to publish a daily report of where the latest cases have occurred. “People need to know”, they say, but then this slipped out:
“We need to understand whether or not these cases are from people who have travelled or visited an area – and so their infection is unsurprising – or whether these are the result of the increased surveillance recently introduced at 100 GPs and eight hospitals. Because if it is the latter, it would suggest there is far more widespread community transmission of the virus and this is really important to understand.” (paywalled link)
‘Community transmission’ – I’m puzzled as to where this is coming from. Are there millions of ‘silent’ corona virus carriers, and where did they pick that up? And what about the latest reports, that the virus has already mutated into a milder and a more aggressive strain (paywalled link)? Is that why The Times writes that scientists are thinking about ‘repurposing’ existing antiviral drugs (link, paywalled) because a vaccine would be difficult to develop? Meanwhile there’ll be a government propaganda effort to ban handshakes (link, paywalled) – because nobody ever, nowhere, has heard of gloves …
Here’s a point worth considering: at the start of this winter’s flu season, here was a report on its seriousness, with more patients being hospitalised than in previous years, and here is a government report with more stats. Forgive me, but I am not aware of offices closing, of self-quarantine, of panic buying due to a flu outbreak. Yes, there was the usual ‘flu-jab’ campaign, and yes, there’s no COVID-19 jab as of yet, but doesn’t this illustrate why we ordinary Brits outside the M25 are a bit blasé about this outbreak? Can we trust our MSM to report on the deaths by influenza, separate from those by COVID-19? Hm …
Finally, I urge you to read this article, in the DM of all places, where a US scientist has taken a close look at the stats and makes some very pertinent observations, reinforcing my assumption that creating panic rather than inform properly is what our MSM are doing.
May I therefore respectfully suggest that there are vested interests who want the ‘Project Panic’ scenario to reach as far as possible, to make us too fearful to question the government while getting the MSM to prepare for concerted attacks on Johnson for his handling of this outbreak. This time round there are people who are actually ill and might indeed be at risk of dying. That is a useful hammer to bash any government with – especially if that government has upset the EU apple cart.
While I am not saying that this is a Remain campaign, I do believe that the usual Remain suspects might take this opportunity, ghoulish as it may seem, to force Johnson’s hand in those negotiations. Today’s column then is a warning – to keep our eyes open, to be as sceptical as possible because the reporting in the MSM follows a pattern well known to us.
Meanwhile though, do take precautions, keep safe, and wash your hands if you can’t bear to wear gloves!