Why? It never occurred to me that we would. To talk about it, I mean. We have already talked about it enough and wasted millions of words and thousands of hours on debates. We have squandered valuable resources on mountains of articles and papers in the past year and half and, needless to say, I have added my bit to the pile too. It is time to lay this ghastly episode to rest in history and concentrate our minds on better things. The idea that any government within a liberal democracy anywhere in the world would ever countenance again imprisoning its own people or rerun an experiment with no evidence that it made any difference, is simply not credible. It’s just not going to happen.
Trouble is, things that we thought were not going to happen often tend to happen. Things that were inconceivable turn out to have been conceived in the darkness when we were not paying attention and birthed when we were looking the other way. If anything this past while has taught us, is that the things we thought unimaginable have an uncanny way of being imagined. We used to make pythonesque jokes about the silliness of bureaucracy and government overreach into the intimacies of life, but they are no jokes anymore. This time it’s real.
Despite constant assurances to the contrary in words like “we have no plans to …”, another lock-down is certainly planned and it could be brought in very soon. Already the media is priming us for it. The news outlets which used to tell us what had happened, now tell us what is going to happen and they seem to know. Already we hear doom laded stories about the winter and the prospect that flu will be the enemy this time round. The same measure, they say, that worked for Covid could just as sensibly be used for flu. I listened to an interview with a public health expert the other day on the BBC, where the interviewer was doing precisely that. She was repeatedly trying to get the expert to say that in the face of a major flu outbreak this winter, lock-down and similar measures would be an appropriate response.
There is no compelling evidence that lock-downs actually worked in any way and, at the same time, it brought about nightmarish hardship, suffering and deaths. That doesn’t seem to register, however, when you are blinded by the dogma and you have drifted so far from reality you wouldn’t recognise it, even if it hit you between the ears. So be in no doubt, while presently hidden from view the thing is slowly leaking out and it is more than likely that the government will once again turn to this vile procedure on the pretext of saving the NHS. As if, once western civilisation has finally collapsed in ruins and nothing is left but the shattered bombed out remains of a once great city, we can always say “but we did it to protect the NHS.”
Q How many lock-downs does it take to save the NHS?
A One more that we have had
So, if that’s it, what’s the point and the need to talk? There is very little we can say or do that is likely to have any influence on the power brokers or change the direction of the juggernaut. A letter to the Times won’t cut it this time round. Reason and nuance have been blocked out. Behind the smiling face of officialdom no quarter is given. But the chosen trajectory will certainly lead to disaster. Silencing your opponents, feeding sweets to the sceptics, making alliances with the hesitant might work for a time but sooner or later the dam will burst and things could get ugly. The legacy of trust, that has been formed over centuries and on which much of our society exists, can be lost in a very short time. Our governments are playing with fire and another lock-down might just set it ablaze. That’s why we need to talk about it.