Children, young and old

When the NHS was, in effect, closed down in March to make it a dedicated COVID-19 Health Service, it could be predicted (and was, even by me) to result in many excess deaths from other under-treated illnesses. There have already been official and academic reports on excess coronary disease and cancer deaths, as well as articles on the enormous waiting times in what, even before COVID, was an under-performing service.

My declaration of interest – I didn’t clap for the NHS like everybody else, partly because nobody here in the wilds would have heard it, but mainly because I spent a career as an independent contractor to the NHS, and it was a piss-poor organization, constantly seeking to make itself a monopolistic brand, run politically from the top down and regularly re-organised, always at the expense of professionalism. The attempt during COVID to make it the new state religion therefore left me cold.

But that was then, and this is now, when the number of daily deaths is in single figures, and according to today’s stats, only 764 COVID patients are in hospital, of whom only 60 are on ventilators. This is not surprising with a disease that now has good worldwide evidence of an overall Infection Mortality Rate of only 0.24% from the studies done on seroprevalence. Currently (for the week ending 14th August), COVID-19 accounts for a trivial 0.7% of UK deaths – and that too is an overestimate, being based on all deaths with a positive CFR test.

And yet, despite the increasing mortality and suffering from every other cause, and increasing waiting lists for everything, the NHS is currently still operating at only 50% capacity. It is virtually impossible to get a face-to-face consultation with your GP, since they are forbidden by the NHS to do appointments normally. Hospital out-patient departments and wards are virtually empty. And that’s before you factor in the patients’ fear of catching the virus, and the propaganda about overburdening the NHS, which encourages them to stay at home and avoid necessary medical care.

And the excuse for this? Ostensibly it’s to prevent a hypothetical “second wave” when the winter comes, for which they have already been leaking “worst case scenario” figures of 80,000 deaths, which even if it were true true is the opposite of the actual situation of decreasing deaths and morbidity.

It reminds me of a possibly apocryphal piece of advice in a 1960s government publication about what to do in the event of a nuclear attack from Russia: “Turn off the gas, or there may be an explosion.” Better let people die at home from cancer or keto-acidosis or a strangulated hernia, or they may catch COVID.

But a fuller example of persisting in one’s policy for remedying a problem now irrelevant, whilst worse things are harming you, is this great old folk song, wonderfully sung and played by the great Martin Carthy when I was running the University Folk Club in Cambridge:

We are intended to laugh at the rustic stubbornness of this delightfully dotty couple in an alcoholic second childhood. But that’s because it’s fiction, rather than government policy.

Why does the British population put up with this denial of the health care their taxes have paid for? Well, not all of them do: yesterday Trafalgar Square was full of a crowd of peaceful protestors (yes, really, not wokely “peaceful fires” protestors) numbering well over 10,000, who then moved on to Downing Street. But since it was not even reported in most of the news media, including the BBC, apart from the Mail and the Sun, which united in labelling them “conspiracy theorists,” few ordinary people realise how many others share their anger and frustration.

After all, when you’re not permitted to meet others except with masks in small groups of two households, the gossip that forms political opinions has itself been outlawed. It is a good time for those might who want to change society to get on with it without fear of public outrage: that’s been noticed by BLM, Extinction Rebellion, the BBC and, in all likelihood, the less public movers and shakers whose stated ambitions involve a new world order.

But part of the picture is that we have been persuaded to participate in John Blunt’s domestic arrangements not only by the curtailment of our freedom of speech, freedom of association, and a truly free press, but by psychological manipulation that treats us as, and eventually makes us, children.

We elected a government of our peers to lead us, but they have responded by employing a quango of behavioural psychologists called SPI-B to use all means, including the media, to bring us to compliance with what that government has decided is good for us. The fact that government policy changes daily like a weathercock refutes the foundations of its policy, so all that is left is arbitrary mind-control through propaganda.

You may see SPI-B’s recommendations on the use of media here. Like so much today it is in the public domain, but it remains largely hidden because we are distracted from looking for it by our news sources. You will see under “persuasion” nothing about honest presentation of the scientific evidence, including its uncertainty, which would imply the public had the same right and ability to make choices as government is supposed to assume when that same public elects them. But maybe SPI-B is employed before elections, as well, to ensure that we choose right?

Instead of reliance on evidence and our judgement SPI-B successfully advised government to:
(1) Increase the perceived level of personal threat, which, being interpreted, means exaggerating the risk. We see the result this very day in lecturers’ and students’ unions seeking to keep colleges closed next term, despite the near-zero risk of death to young people.
(2) Manipulate guilt by stressing risk to others. Face masks are a prime example, which must be worn at risk of fines, even though the research shows they may well actually increase risk in practice. Another example is telling kids they may cause granny to die if they don’t knuckle down and comply with unnatural restrictions at school.
(3) Stress the responsibility to protect the health service to save lives. This of course accounts for the public aversion to using their health service long after the NHS crisis is over (though in fact it never happened except in a very localised way – “Nightingale Hospitals” never had more than a handful of patients, if that.
(4) Tailoring of propaganda to catch everybody somehow. The interrogator may judge that mock executions will break some, whilst others need to hear their children screaming. Everybody coughs eventually.
(5) Social approval (mirrored by (7), social disapproval). Now every society functions through people’s approval and disapproval of various behaviours. But the manipulation of social attitudes is the attribute not of a healthy society, but of a totalitarian regime. There is no secret of the fact that HMG has employed the disinformation unit of the British Army, formed to undermine hostile foreign regimes via the Internet, to infiltrate the comments sections of our own press and social media. The aim is to give the impression that dissent from the official line is antisocial and evil. If it weren’t already public knowledge, one could spot it from the comments themselves, like the replier to a news article on government policy, claiming to be 87, who was urging us all simply to comply with WHO policy: it’s a weird octogenarian who knows or cares what the WHO thinks.
(6) Compulsion, using legislation and “community involvement” (aka “denouncing,” I guess). But note the metric used to justify this: it’s not about necessity because of actual risk, but about being able to get away with it because (SPI-B judges) enough of the public supports it that it won’t lead to civil unrest. Note that passing laws against paedophilia, or even for conscription in wartime, were done because they were right, and the question of public disorder did not enter anyone’s mind.

That’s enough to make my point, which is that British adults are considered responsible enough to choose their leaders, and that is inconsistent with those leaders then treating us as incapable of reason. It is like a parent telling a child that Father Christmas won’t give him presents unless he behaves. This is arguably an immoral way to control childhood behaviour through lies anyway, but perhaps some parents might consider it a legitimate tool in building character. But character-building is not the role of elected governments.

Or at least, it is not their role for us. I would suggest that a government that is behaving like the old couple that lived under the hill has some work to do on its own character, or we may be forced to choose someone else to govern.

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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