frenzy Britain Coronavirus 

Sanctimonious bullying, double standards and sheer absence of humanity

The public hysteria over Dominic Cummings, who held an unprecedented press conference today in the Downing Street garden to explain why he appeared to have broken the spirit if not the letter of the lockdown rules, is far more troubling than anything Boris Johnson’s controversial chief adviser may have done. By Cummings’s own account, several media claims about what he supposedly did in the 14 days at the end of March and in early April, claims which did so much to incite public feeling against him, were false. With his…

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Coronavirus Audio Britain Coronavirus 

How the government and NHS abandoned people to die from Covid-19

I took part in a podcast on Sky News for Adam Boulton’s All Out Politics. I was with the editor of politics.co.uk, Ian Dunt, with whom I had appeared earlier that morning on Sky’s review of the newspaper opinion pages, and Sky’s people in politics correspondent, Nick Martin. You can listen to the podcast either by clicking here or below. We were discussing the political aspects of the Covid-19 crisis and the blame game now under way over the dreadful death rate in care homes. Nick Martin, who has been…

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Britain Coronavirus 

Lockdown libertarians take road to tyranny

Lord Sumption, a former justice of the Supreme Court, has said lockdown should be voluntary and the damage it has done to the economy isn’t justified by its “not very impressive” results. Lockdown, he said, should be a matter of free choice. Even potential virus carriers should feel no obligation to restrict their activities; instead, those who were frightened of the virus should stay at home. For him, freedom seems to mean his right to behave as he wishes regardless of the harm he may cause others. Of course there’s…

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Boris Coronavirus 

The terrible cost of ignoring common sense

Common sense is a much underrated value. It is sneered at by the intellectual priesthood, which venerates abstract theorising divorced from reality and how people actually behave. Responses to this pandemic have illuminated the destructive irrelevance of this snobbery. People are fighting over abstractions while victims of Covid-19 are dying around them. Those trying to prove that across the world economies have been wilfully trashed by power-mad politicians and that lockdowns have all been a terrible mistake are seizing as weapons statistical claims about the course of this disease. This…

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Coronavirus Britain Coronavirus 

Bromides punctuated by gibberish. Bravo no more, Boris

Oh dear. Boris Johnson’s much trailed address to the nation this evening has merely deepened the impression that this is a prime minister who is not in control of events at all. In summary, he was saying there will be no substantive change to the lockdown, other than the tweak of permitting more outside activity, at least until June when perhaps some schools may open and July when perhaps some of the hospitality industry and other public places may open too. As I have previously observed, such caution is at…

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virus Coronavirus Global conflict Israel 

Israel still suffers virus of hate even as it saves Arab lives

While countries around the world struggle to get on top of the Covid-19 crisis, Israel’s achievement so far has been remarkable. Its mortality rate from the virus has been vastly smaller, in proportion to its population, than the rate in countries such as Britain, Sweden or the United States. That’s largely because it tackled the virus with the kind of bold, strategic approach with which it defends itself against its physical foes. This week, with new cases reduced to a few dozen, it started to lift a wide range of…

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Coronavirus Britain Coronavirus 

“How has it come to this” indeed. But now Boris must keep his nerve

This week, when Boris Johnson made his first appearance at prime minister’s questions since he nearly died from Covid-19, the new Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, got the better of him. It wasn’t just that the absence of the usual braying mobs of backbenchers played to Starmer’s strengths as a calm, relentless and well-briefed advocate. It was that the questions he asked with such deadly and polite quietness were unanswerable. With the UK’s virus death toll then standing at more than 29,000, Starmer asked: “How has it come to this?”…

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Britain Coronavirus 

Ignore these siren calls to end the lockdown

Bravo Boris! Urged days ago to announce a speedy exit from lockdown, he has refused to be pushed. He’ll set out his plan next week amid signs that restrictions will be lifted only slowly. Although the virus now seems under control, the prime minister’s caution is understandable. The rate of decline is still too small to permit a speedy lifting of restrictions without risking a fresh spiral in the infection rate. Yet among people for whom damage to the economy outweighs all other considerations, there’s no acknowledgment of Johnson’s complex…

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lockdown Audio Coronavirus Culture wars 

Lockdown, liberals and literature: NZ podcast

While under lockdown in Jerusalem, I took part in a podcast with New Zealand broadcaster Leighton Smith. We discussed my personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, of which he was kind enough to say :”It leaps off the page with an immediacy and relevance that few books achieve”. We discussed Israel’s measures against Covid-19, and how its use of data technology in this effort wouldn’t be tolerated in Britain even though the evidence is that it has helped Israel achieve far greater success in saving lives from the effects of…

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Boris Britain Coronavirus 

Prevention paradox and dilemma denialism

Bravo, Boris. His statement this morning, on return from convalescing from his near-fatal encounter with Covid-19, took real courage. Under enormous pressure to lift the lockdown, he refused. His priority, he said, was to avoid a second surge in cases. He asked the public to be patient and not to undo the progress that had been made by social isolation. No-one can doubt the pressure he was under from his own party, including a number of big donors, who have been warning of the ever-more terrible damage to the economy…

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