The Frightening Power of Political Panic

The ONS (Office of National Statistics) recently released data showing that England’s age-adjusted mortality rate for 2020 was slightly lower than 2008’s. Yes, lower. 2008 was considered a normal year and there were no public health emergencies or lockdowns. So what caused the chaos and horrors of lockdowns last year?

Hysteria, essentially, among the political class. But also a great deal of panic and some astonishingly bad scientific modelling. Oh, and an awful lot of sheer stupidity from government ‘experts’. A perfect storm of all this led to the fear-based policies of lockdowns, which then resulted in the truly staggering collateral damage that the British public is left staggering around in today.

It’s still astonishing to consider that every one of the UK’s elected MPs, bar only a few, voted to grant the government totalitarian powers, which wrecked the economy and shredded the fabric of society despite being exercised with the noblest of intentions. It will take decades for our society to fully recover from this gross act of negligence by parliament and the government. And only one or two politicians have even had the decency to resign in the aftermath of lockdowns. Given politicians have personally paid no price whatsoever for their recklessness, it’s unlikely they will learn anything from their mistakes. Governments never learn.

Perhaps if every MP received thousands or even millions of emails/letters from their constituents rebuking them for their behaviour and demanding they resign, they might recognise the enormity of what they did. That would, however, first require the majority of the public to be of the opinion that lockdowns were a bad thing. Which, sadly, still doesn’t appear to be the case. There’s plenty of criticism of the way Johnson’s government handled the pandemic, but most of it centres around Johnson not being a ‘strong’ and moral enough leader to lockdown sooner and harder and maintain mask mandates. Unfortunately, many people still believe lockdowns were the right idea but Johnson, who cared more about the economy than saving lives, just didn’t do them properly.

Any politician who votes to give the government totalitarian control over people’s lives is not intellectually or morally fit to be a member of parliament. Fifty years ago, very few of today’s MPs in the UK would have got anywhere near parliament. They would have been considered too economically illiterate and too authoritarian. These days, being authoritarian and economically illiterate are the very things that win votes and elections, which speaks volumes about the political mindset of the average state-educated citizen of today.

That it was a conservative government that imposed the shockingly draconian policy of lockdowns shows just how far towards authoritarianism British politics has drifted over the last decades. For a century, responding to pandemics with lockdowns has never been considered even a possibility by any UK government or parliament. But in 2020, lockdowns became a possibility because the UK’s current political class is significantly more authoritarian and much less averse to central planning than any previous one.

The truly disturbing thing is that, panic and hysteria aside, the current political class seemingly had very little trouble conceiving what had been completely unimaginable to previous generations of politicians: totalitarian government control over the lives of the entire British population. It just didn’t seem like a terrible thing to them. Rather like a toddler pulling the pin out of a grenade, they apparently had no conception of the awful unintended consequences unlimited government would lead to.

Covid lockdowns were a massive explosion of government that left gaping wounds in our society. For two centuries, British politics has more or less adhered to the classically liberal principle of limited government, the very point of which is to prevent extreme acts of government that violate basic human rights and seriously damage the social order. The UK’s political class used to believe there are some things a government should never have the power to do to people. Not anymore, it seems.

None of us can afford to tolerate a parliament of men and women who are willing to embrace totalitarianism every time a new virus comes along. Our society as we know and love it cannot survive a political class that has little regard for the liberal principles upon which western civilisation was founded; a political class that more closely resembles the communist regimes of China or North Korea than that of a truly liberal democracy.

The sad truth is very few nations on the planet can hold their heads up high after what governments did last year. And the same is true of the world’s foremost epidemiologists and intellectuals. Covid models were wildly wrong and failed to be of any use. Public health authorities failed to trust the public and failed to provide the public with all the information they needed to make informed choices. Democracy ceased to function almost everywhere, elections were postponed and opposition parties vanished from the political arena.

The covid lockdowns will go down in history as a black day for western civilisation. They demonstrated how democracy is no defence against tyranny when hysteria and panic have gripped the hearts and minds of those people with the power to unleash the full and terrible power of the coercive apparatus of the state.

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