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Here we go again

ITV News reports,

Social gatherings of more than six people to be banned in England to limit spread of coronavirus

Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday as the Government seeks to curb the rise in coronavirus cases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use a press conference on Wednesday to announce the change in the law after the number of daily positive Covid-19 cases in the UK rose to almost 3,000.

The legal limit on social gatherings will be reduced from 30 people to six.

It will apply to gatherings indoors and outdoors – including private homes, as well as parks, pubs and restaurants.

68 comments to Here we go again

  • Will XR and BLM protests count as social gatherings (a) in theoretical law, and (b) in actual policing practice?

    Will protests against this quarantine law count as social gatherings?

    Will Boris be asked these questions at the press conference?

  • APL

    “Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use a press conference on Wednesday to announce the change in the law after the number of daily positive Covid-19 cases in the UK rose to almost 3,000”

    That man ought to be defenestrated deselected.

    This pseudo Tory and the non Tory party have just nationalised whole the economy. The Labour party would not have in its wildest dreams, have considered what Boris Johnson and the Tory party just did, would even be possible.

    But the Tories did it ( having taken advice from Communists ). I mean, WTFF?

  • Ferox

    Will XR and BLM protests count as social gatherings (a) in theoretical law, and (b) in actual policing practice?

    Will protests against this quarantine law count as social gatherings?

    Will Boris be asked these questions at the press conference?

    Some things are more important than public health.

    Signaling your commitment to “social justice” and to the goals of the Progressive Left? Much more important.

    Keeping your addled twenty-something proto-Marxist offspring from infecting your grandmother after a rally? Less important.

    Keeping the economy going so that working people can produce the things that the nation needs to consume? Much much less important.

  • mickc

    Boris the Bottler becomes Boris the Dictator.

    And where is Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition? Well, certainly not opposing, which is its job.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Great! Just what i was waiting for: an opportunity to comment on covidiocy.

    Smallest drops in GDP in Europe in the 2nd quarter of 2020:
    Finland: -4.5 %
    Lithuania: -5.5 %
    Estonia: -5.6 %

    Deaths/million in the above 3 countries:
    Finland: 61
    Lithuania: 32
    Estonia: 48

    –Deaths/million in Sweden: 577
    (same link as above)

    Drop in GDP in Sweden, 2nd quarter of 2020:
    -8.3 %

    Sweden managed to get an order of magnitude more victims than some of its closest neighbors, while at the same time having a greater drop in GDP.

    I don’t put much blame on the Swedish ruling class: everybody makes mistakes. But when people take Sweden as a model, that’s when i know that covidiocy is a thing.

  • Snorri Godhi

    PS: The UK managed to do much worse than Sweden in GDP decline, while at the same time doing not significantly better in deaths/millions.

    That is no evidence about lockdowns, one way or the other: it is evidence about the covidiocy of the British ruling class.

    (Although allowances must be made for the higher population density of the UK.)

  • APL

    mickc: “Well, certainly not opposing, which is its job.”

    Why would the Labour party oppose the Tory government? When the Tory party are taking advise from people further to the left than the Labour party could dream of getting elected on the Labour ticket?

    Snorri Godhi: “That is no evidence about lockdowns, one way or the other: it is evidence about the covidiocy of the British ruling class.”

    Fair enough.

    What are the age demographics in Finland, Latvia and Estonia, compared to Sweden?

    My thoughts on your comparison: Estonia and Latvia populations are skewed to younger demographic, not sure about Finland, but Sweden is like much of Western Europe skewed toward the older demographic. ( No doubt earnist Swedish socialists were urging more immigration because ‘who is going to pay for our pensions‘** ) – my answer to that would be – shut up and get fucking*. But that would be crude.

    I think It’s a reasonable question, since we know COVID-19 takes advantage of particular characteristics of the elderly; illness, lower metabolic capacity, other chronic conditions Et cetera.

    So it wouldn’t be a surprise to find that a countries thats population demographic is skewed toward the elderly, ( including the UK ) would see that reflected in the COVID-19*** death statistics.

    Which might be an alternative explanation of your figures.

    By the way, yes, the British government is dire.

    I think the term ‘Numptorium’ once applied to the Scottish Parliament may now be used to describe Westminster.

    Or just cut to the chase, and designate Westminster an asylum for the insane.

    *channelling Red from Shawshank redemption.
    ** Actually put forward on BBC Question time as a justification for mass immigration.
    *** Once you can descern the true figures from all the double and over counting and missallocation of cause of death etc etc.

  • Paul Marks

    I have despised the dictator of Belarus for 26 years – but imagine how the world would react if he banned gatherings of more than six people on private property.

    The British government, and the rest of the establishment such as the tax funded BBC, denounces “oppressive regimes” overseas yet behaves like this at home. And anyone who thinks the magic words “Public Health” justifies this conduct has rejected reason.

    This madness has been going on since March – arbitrary and contradictory edicts imposed in violation of basic civil liberties, all in the name of “fighting the virus” which the same authorities reject treatments for (on the grounds that “Trump”, never “President Trump”, mentioned them – so-they-must-be-evil).

    It is not just the United Kingdom – it is the Western World, including much of the United States.

    We have lost our way – violating basic civil liberties, worshipping unlimited and arbitrary government power, and all in the name of “fighting the virus” when actually treating the virus, trying to CURE THE SICK, is regarded as a silly thing, to be rejected out-of-hand. The hospitals are indeed treating people (although, as in the New York area in the past, often in an utterly bizarre way – sometimes causing harm rather than good), but EARLY non hospital treatment of the virus (before it reaches its incredibly dangerous stage) is neglected – even though a combination of well known substances (hydroxychloroqine, zinc sulphate and azitromycyn) is available and AT THE CORRECT DOSAGE certainly does no harm.

    I do NOT say that politicians such as Prime Minister Johnson are engaged in a conspiracy to establish unlimited international government power – but at this point, September 2020, it is hard not to reach the conclusion that the international elite, the “experts and senior “public servants” AND the senior people in the vast Corporations (who are joined at the hip with Big Government – see their support for Mr Biden and the Collectivist Democrats in the United States) are engaged in such a campaign.

    Such things as the Technocratic (Saint Simon style) Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 are public documents (not “conspiracy theories”) and this does indeed seem to be the totalitarian agenda that the international elite (including the Corporate elite) are pushing for – using the virus as an EXCUSE.

  • Paul Marks

    Even if the hydroxychloroquine allows the zinc to get at the virus in the lungs (if used early and at the correct dosage) the lungs may be in a weakened state and vulnerable to bacterial infections – hence the azithromycin.

    However, the above is only a medical thing – of no use for an international totalitarian political agenda. So even if the treatment works it is of no use to the international “educated” elite – indeed it is exactly what they do NOT want.

    It is hard to use something as an excuse for international totalitarianism “the New Normal” if it can be cured by cheap (off patent) medications.

    Of course Sweden (which now has a LOWER death rate than Lockdown Britain and Lockdown America) and other places have shown that “Herd Immunity” is perfectly attainable.

    Why is the international establishment not demanding that the “protests” in Belarus stop? If they were sincere in their “no more than six people” stuff then many thousands of people (mostly without masks) packed very close together, would horrify them.

    The international elite have gone very quiet about Sweden (which, I repeat, has a LOWER death rate than many lockdown countries) and are actually SUPPORTING the mass protests in Belarus.

    So anyone who still, in September 2020, still says this establishment attack on liberty (in countries such as the United Kingdom) is about “public health” is either a fool or a liar.

  • Mr Ed

    I think, although I might be wrong, that the UK government is moving towards a system formerly used in South Africa.

    A banning order entailed restrictions on where the banned person could live and who they could have contact with, required that they report weekly to a police station, and proscribed them from travelling outside a specific magisterial district. The banned person was prohibited from attending meetings of any kind, speaking in public, or publishing or distributing any written material. It proscribed broadcasters and the press from broadcasting, publishing or reporting the banned person’s words. It thus mixed elements of internal exile, suppression orders and censorship.

    The prohibition on attending meetings meant that the banned person could not be with more than one other person at a time. The banned person was forbidden all contact with other banned persons and was forbidden to engage in any political activity. The penalty for violating a banning order was up to five years in prison.

    Perhaps change the reporting to a police station to a Coronavirus testing station and we have an ‘oven-ready’ plan for permanent control (of the virus, natch’).

  • asiaseen

    It will apply to gatherings indoors and outdoors – including private homes

    So a couple with 5 children has to dispose of one of them?

  • APL

    “Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use a press conference on Wednesday to announce the change in the law after the number of daily positive Covid-19 cases in the UK rose to almost 3,000.”

    It’s worth pointing out, that this is the result of the additional testing, presumably they’ve managed to find 3000 who have symptoms of COVID-19, but they aren’t dying of the condition.

    According to the Mirror [shrug] there are currently 756 patients in hospital with COVID-19 ( no mention of any other conditions, nor the age breakdown of these patients ) of which 69 are on ventilation – so much for the urgent need for thousands of ventilators. ) the article headlines 3 deaths from COVID-19, then in the body says four have died in the last 24 hours, just a little bit confusing, perhaps deliberately so, who knows?

    No mention of saving the NHS either.

    “Cases are surging up in cities and major towns across the region, including a spike in the city of Birmingham”

    Four cases in the last 24 hours is now a ‘surge’!

    Which was always going to be and was acknowledged, ( back in March ) to be a result of the lockdown. As people have been secluded they will have had reduced chance to be exposed to the virus thus, have not been able to develop immunity. So when the lockdown was relaxed, PRESTO, more cases.

  • NickM

    I walked dowm the road this morning…

    …do you even need to know why? No, ya don’t but I’ll tell you anyway. It is a really sunny day and I thought I’d take the camera for a walk.

    Anyway… There was a couple of green-clad NHS sorts at the end of the road (their ambulance had it’s side door slid open so it was NHS VICE…) Anyway, they asked me, whilst unfurling a wheelchair, if I was the patient they were expecting.

    Dear Sweet Jesus the Nazarene! I’m not gonna beat Mo Farah in the 1500m but I’m also not at Death’s Door.

    I mean, would they have taken anybody. Would I now be having a hysterectomy in Birmingham.

  • including private homes

    Good luck enforcing that. Seriously, fuck these people.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I think, although I might be wrong, that the UK government is moving towards a system formerly used in South Africa.”

    What, like an ASBO?

  • like an ASBO? (Nullius in Verba, September 9, 2020 at 11:44 am)

    The truly observant might detect some very slight differences.

    – For an ASBO, you went before a Magistrates court, or in Scotland a Sheriffs court, and an Anti-Social Behaviour Order was assignable if the case was proved on “heightened civil standard” of proof.

    – The new quarantine, like the old banning order, reverses these two processes. You get banned or quarantined first, and go before the court afterwards if you are found out to have violated it.

    Obviously not a difference that strikes Nullius, but the more pedantic constitutional purists might feel it matters that the banning order that Mr Ed mentions was then, as the quarantine rules are today, an act of the executive, not a court. Mr Ed, being a lawyer, is doubtless fussy about these pettifogging distinctions, which may have caused him to prefer the banning order analogy to Nullius’ ASBO analogy.

    The truly observant may also detect a certain sarcasm in my text above. 🙂


    FWIW, I am told that “heightened civil standard” was close to the criminal standard, though the proceedings were technically civil – one of Blair’s confusions of ancient distinctions. In 2014 (except in Scotland where IIUC we still have ASBOs), it was replaced with the two alternatives of a civil injunction and a criminal behaviour order.

  • Mr Ed

    Niall,

    Don’t feed them.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Obviously not a difference that strikes Nullius, but the more pedantic constitutional purists might feel it makes a difference.”

    I was thinking of the ASBO as analogous to the banning order, not the quarantine order. It was a comment on “the UK government is moving towards”, observing that we’d already got there years ago, in terms of the state’s ability to restrict personal freedom in detail. Of course, there are differences, too.

    But if you want to highlight differences, then why not point to the difference that the South African measure was about controlling political opposition to the ruling party, and the quarantine measure is about stopping a potential new wave of tens of thousands of Covid-19 deaths? Pedantic constitutional purists might feel that makes a difference, too. And yes, that’s sarcasm.

  • SteveD

    By what right does the government limit gatherings?

  • Mr Ecks

    SteveD–It has cop thugs who are able to do so with weak white people.

    Said cop thugs don’t bother vibrant communities where cops attempting to throw their weight about would lead to violent confrontations. And anyone punching a coppers face in can hide among a mass of a tribal community many of whom don’t –or wont– speak English–and amongst which Plod has few informing scumbags.

    Plod doesn’t like being hurt/humiliated or showing other , larger groups in society that sticking together negates the state’s advantages.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “By what right does the government limit gatherings?”

    Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, Section 45C, subsection 4(b).

  • bobby b

    Government acts through citizen-bestowed powers, not rights. Rights belong to the citizens. Government has no rights.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Government acts through citizen-bestowed powers, not rights. Rights belong to the citizens. Government has no rights.”

    Ministers are citizens. The citizens bestow powers on those ministerial citizens by means of legislation passed by their democratic representatives, who are also citizens.

  • Mr Ed

    “By what right does the government limit gatherings?”

    Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, Section 45C, subsection 4(b).

    If the Courts of England were any use, that provision might not avail the government, there is Section 45D, which qualifies the powers in Section 45C:

    45DRestrictions on power to make regulations under section 45C

    (1)Regulations under section 45C may not include provision imposing a restriction or requirement by virtue of subsection (3)(c) of that section unless the appropriate Minister considers, when making the regulations, that the restriction or requirement is proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by imposing it.

    (2)Regulations under section 45C may not include provision enabling the imposition of a restriction or requirement by virtue of subsection (3)(c) of that section unless the regulations provide that a decision to impose such a restriction or requirement may only be taken if the person taking it considers, when taking the decision, that the restriction or requirement is proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by imposing it.

    (3)Regulations under section 45C may not include provision imposing a special restriction or requirement mentioned in section 45G(2)(a), (b), (c) or (d).

    (4)Regulations under section 45C may not include provision enabling the imposition of a special restriction or requirement unless—

    (a)the regulations are made in response to a serious and imminent threat to public health, or

    (b)imposition of the restriction or requirement is expressed to be contingent on there being such a threat at the time when it is imposed.

    (5)For the purposes of this section—

    (a)regulations “enable the imposition of a restriction or requirement” if the restriction or requirement is imposed by virtue of a decision taken under the regulations by the appropriate Minister, a local authority or other person;

    (b)regulations “impose a restriction or requirement” if the restriction or requirement is imposed without any such decision

    There isn’t a ‘serious and imminent’ threat to ‘public health’, at most a few individuals.

    And in terms of 45C (4) (b)

    45CHealth protection regulations: domestic

    (1)The appropriate Minister may by regulations make provision for the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination in England and Wales (whether from risks originating there or elsewhere).

    (2)The power in subsection (1) may be exercised—

    (a)in relation to infection or contamination generally or in relation to particular forms of infection or contamination, and

    (b)so as to make provision of a general nature, to make contingent provision or to make specific provision in response to a particular set of circumstances.

    (3)Regulations under subsection (1) may in particular include provision—

    (a)imposing duties on registered medical practitioners or other persons to record and notify cases or suspected cases of infection or contamination,

    (b)conferring on local authorities or other persons functions in relation to the monitoring of public health risks, and

    (c)imposing or enabling the imposition of restrictions or requirements on or in relation to persons, things or premises in the event of, or in response to, a threat to public health.

    (4)The restrictions or requirements mentioned in subsection (3)(c) include in particular—

    (a)a requirement that a child is to be kept away from school,

    (b)a prohibition or restriction relating to the holding of an event or gathering,

    (c)a restriction or requirement relating to the handling, transport, burial or cremation of dead bodies or the handling, transport or disposal of human remains, and

    (d)a special restriction or requirement.

    (5)The power in subsection (1) is subject to section 45D.

    (6)For the purposes of this Part—

    (a) a “ special restriction or requirement ” means a restriction or requirement which can be imposed by a justice of the peace by virtue of section 45G(2), 45H(2) or 45I(2), but

    (b)a restriction or requirement mentioned in subsection (4)(a), (b) or (c) is not to be regarded as a special restriction or requirement.

    The power relates to ‘an event or gathering‘ e.g. Cheltenham Races, The FA Cup Final, it does not say ‘any event or gathering’. If it did mean that, then Parliament would have put a ‘y’ after ‘an’.

    It may be that the ban on ‘gatherings’ is ultra vires. Hopefully the wonderful Mr Simon Dolan of Keep Britain Free will put forward a well-reasoned challenge. Even more wildly optimistically, a judge will apply the law in a sensible fashion.

    Also note that the power to order individuals into actual quarantine is in Section 45G, and it is exercisable by a Justice of the Peace, not a politician, so one might query whether or not the power to ‘quarantine’ returning travellers is actually within the scope of regulations made in general terms by a politician. After all, politicians to have a role within 45G (7)

    (7)The appropriate Minister must by regulations make provision about the evidence that must be available to a justice of the peace before the justice can be satisfied as mentioned in subsection (1) or (3).

    but that is only about the evidence that must be available to a JP. Albeit the traveller’s quarantine is not absolute, as you may go out to obtain food etc. if needs must.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “There isn’t a ‘serious and imminent’ threat to ‘public health’, at most a few individuals.”

    You might think so. But under the legislation it doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what the relevant minister thinks, and the relevant minister thinks half a million deaths is more than “at most a few individuals”.

    “The power relates to ‘an event or gathering‘ e.g. Cheltenham Races, The FA Cup Final, it does not say ‘any event or gathering’. If it did mean that, then Parliament would have put a ‘y’ after ‘an’.”

    Interesting point! The wording is ambiguous. But I think most judges would consider the intent of Parliament was that they would be able to ban more than one! It would make no sense for disease control to say you can pick one event but have to allow all the others to proceed.

    “It may be that the ban on ‘gatherings’ is ultra vires. Hopefully the wonderful Mr Simon Dolan of Keep Britain Free will put forward a well-reasoned challenge. Even more wildly optimistically, a judge will apply the law in a sensible fashion.”

    All that would do is result in Parliament passing new emergency legislation, to give themselves the power. They’d have the popular support for it, too, and Mr Dolan would find himself Mr Unpopular. Neither the government nor 90% of the citizens of this country are that stupid.

  • Snorri Godhi

    By what right does the government limit gatherings?

    It all depends on what you mean by “rights” — and i am surprised that nobody pointed this out.

    Here again, David D. Friedman’s distinction between moral, legal, and positive rights is crucial.

    When it comes to legal rights (which Nullius and Mr Ed have discussed), the answer seems pretty clear to me: in the UK, Parliament is sovereign. Legally speaking, Parliament has absolute, totalitarian powers, i.e. rights. But maybe i misunderstand British legal philosophy.

    When it comes to positive rights (which Mr Ecks has discussed), the answer is only a bit more complicated. As long as most people (including the top ranks of the police and armed forces) accept the sovereignty of Parliament, Parliament has the positive right to do whatever it collectively wants.
    Parliament would be well advised to use some restraint, but in this case it seems that no tipping point has been reached. People seemed to be much more alienated from Parliament when it opposed Brexit and Boris than they seem now.

    But perhaps Steve was thinking of moral rights? I do not see any reply to Steve focused on moral rights, and i certainly do not dare to write one!

  • Mr Ed

    Parliament has the positive right to do whatever it collectively wants

    That, in a nutshell, is what The Sage of Kettering calls the Blackstone Heresy, the doctrine of untrammelled Parliamentary sovereignty, overturning Dr Bonham’s Case as decided by Sir Edward Coke. The problem with reviving the principles of Dr Bonham’s Case – essentially that the courts may strike down any law repugnant to reason or to the Common Law – is that the judges these days may be more eager to destroy the Common Law and liberty than Parliament. To which I say ‘Put me in charge, I’ll be careful and judicious.‘. 😉

    Ultimately, all State power comes down to ideology, the power of the individuals in charge to get others to follow their diktats because they are believed to be entitled to rule and/or likely to be obeyed by others. When the ideology falls away, the Emperor’s nakedness is apparent, as it was with the sudden and thankfully almost bloodless collapse of the Soviet Union.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

  • MadRocketSci

    Isn’t this the guy you fought hard to elect so that Brexit could finally be enacted in good faith? Depressing that your right-wing stabs you in the back as much as ours does. It’s like trying to dig a trench with limp pasta as a tool. Does even Brexit look like it’s ever going to happen, or is this clown a total traitor?

    At this point I have no hope in politics. The future looks like one sort of communist hell or another sort of 3rd world anarchy (but not total anarchy, then you could shoot the looters). I suppose my hope has to lie in technology empowering individuals to survive and work around our disintegrating civilization. It wasn’t why I became an engineer – I wanted to build rockets and space colonies damnit! But I suppose small-scale tech also serves.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Does even Brexit look like it’s ever going to happen […] ?”

    Brexit has already happened. What’s currently being decided is the trade deal of the Brexited UK with Europe.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Mr Ed: at first reading, you completely fail yourself to distinguish between legal, positive, and moral rights. But let me re-read that after a good night’s sleep.

    Ultimately, all State power comes down to ideology, the power of the individuals in charge to get others to follow their diktats because they are believed to be entitled to rule and/or likely to be obeyed by others.

    No question here.

    Marx might have introduced this concept, afaik. Not all what Marx wrote is wrong.

    Samuel Finer called it a principle of legitimacy, and remarked on how military dictatorships are weak by lacking such a principle.

    Gaetano Mosca, who seemed to have a talent for awkward terminology, called it a ‘political formula’.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Marx might have introduced this concept”

    The Divine Right of Kings?

  • Snorri Godhi

    No, Nullius, i am talking about the meta-level.

    The Divine Right of Kings was the main principle of legitimacy for most of human history. But afaik it was Marx who introduced the concept of principle of legitimacy. I welcome evidence to the contrary.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “No, Nullius, i am talking about the meta-level.”

    I’m sure the Divine Right was discussed at the meta-level before modern times. But OK…

    “I welcome evidence to the contrary.”

    Possibly Max Weber? Or John Locke?

  • Chester Draws

    Estonia will have to open its borders some time. And when that happens, Covid cases will rise again, unless a vaccine is found first. You simply cannot keep a 14 day restriction on every traveller for ever.

    Sweden do not have this problem.

    It all comes down to whether a vaccine is found. The isolationists are betting a lot on this.

  • Mr Ecks

    You don’t need a vaccine for a damp squib flu.

  • Robbo

    Snorri, regarding Sweden’s pandemic response:
    1. The game is not over yet. We don’t calculate the league tables at half-time, as Chester points out above.
    2. The cross-national comparability of the data is dubious at best. Hopefully, in a year or two we will have a better idea of deaths from Covid, deaths with Covid, and deaths wrongly attributed to Covid, all based on unform global definitions, but right now we don’t have that.
    3. Any plausible like-with-like comparison is going to take account of local peak population density. Stockholm is much more populated than Tallinn, so we should expect more cases and more deaths ceteris paribus. The same applies to Vilnius and Helsinki.
    4. Some of us would rather run a higher risk and live as an adult than run a lower risk at the price of living like a child or a prisoner.

  • Mr Ed (September 9, 2020 at 8:44 pm), it is a pre-parliamentary rule of common law that the courts enforce laws voted in parliament. Obviously, this rule could never itself be a law voted by parliament, as any such law would have to be already valid in order to take effect.

    This, with a few other very fundamental parts of our constitution, creates a (very limited) space to resist ‘the Blackstone heresy’ if it were used to attempt a fundamental overturning of the whole common law – something that says nothing whatever about ‘repugnant to reason’ and puts a high bar on the meaning of the word ‘repugnant’ in ‘repugnant to the Common Law’ – high, but not impossible to meet.

    Burke has a careful analysis of this space, and of its limits, in ‘An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs’ – an analysis which ends with the warning that it would be ‘but a poor resource’ if the various parts of the constitution were to combine against liberty, instead of counteracting each other. He too wholly rejects ‘repugnant to reason‘, stressing that the right is to recover the old constitution (including the common law), not anything different from it however ‘reasonable’ someone claimed it to be.

  • Snorri Godhi

    There is still much silliness from Chester and Robbo.

    Estonia did open its borders, and yes, infection rates did go up, but there has been a single ‘official’ covid deaths since June 2.

    Meanwhile, Swedes have been kept out of the other Nordic countries.

    Keeping the borders open was the single most covidiotic thing that Boris did.

    As for Robbo, this is the silliest of his 4 comments:

    Some of us would rather run a higher risk and live as an adult than run a lower risk at the price of living like a child or a prisoner.

    Duh! if the rest of the Nordics and Baltics had to live like children or prisoners, how come GDP did not decrease more than in Sweden?

  • David Norman

    Mr Ed at 6.29 on 9 September and NIV at 7.01.
    Some basic legal principles affect the debate between you. It is, as NIV says, for the Minister to decide whether the threat to public health is serious and imminent. If he decides that there is such a serious and imminent threat his decision is potentially subject to judicial review but a case will only succeed if it can be shown that no reasonable Minister could have come to that decision. In my view the chances of a review succeeding against a ban imposed in the circumstances that prevailed early this year were negligible.

    On “an event or gathering”, the words are not in fact ambiguous. Under section 6 of the Interpretation Act 1978 words in the singular include the plural unless the circumstances otherwise require. I can see no reason why that qualification should apply here.

    I once said to NIV in another comment elsewhere that there was a whiff of the barrack room lawyer in what he said. Same again here!

  • Paul Marks

    The only positive thing I can think of from this demented edict, or all the rest of the arbitrary and unlimited (tyrannical) government power that this land, and many other lands, have suffered from – is as follows.,,

    Anyone who still defends what has been done and is being done has identified themselves as an enemy, an enemy of the fundamental, foundational, principles of liberty.

    They should be treated in the same way that they believe that the government should treat everyone else.

    They believe in no rights AGAINST the state (none) – so they should be treated as if they have rights themselves.

    As John Hampden made clear, when the state believes that its will-is-law and morally corrupted judges uphold this evil, it is the duty of people (of human beings) to oppose it. And to oppose those who support it.

    Politics, in many lands, is now brutally simple – allies and enemies.

    2020 has made the divide clear.

    As for Parliament and the political parties – so far they have utterly failed to defend the basic principles of law (of liberty). This may change – but so far, they have utterly failed.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “On “an event or gathering”, the words are not in fact ambiguous. Under section 6 of the Interpretation Act 1978 words in the singular include the plural unless the circumstances otherwise require. I can see no reason why that qualification should apply here.”

    Thank you! I’ve learnt something new!

    “I once said to NIV in another comment elsewhere that there was a whiff of the barrack room lawyer in what he said. Same again here!”

    I am not a lawyer. Like any non-lawyer commenting on the law, I have to go by the plain English interpretation of what the legislation says, which is usually good enough. What else can any of the rest of us do? Besides spending 4 years getting a law degree?

    But why single me out in particular? Is there anyone in the conversation above you wouldn’t classify as practising barrack-room law?

  • Mr Ed

    David N

    Some basic legal principles affect the debate between you. It is, as NIV says, for the Minister to decide whether the threat to public health is serious and imminent. If he decides that there is such a serious and imminent threat his decision is potentially subject to judicial review but a case will only succeed if it can be shown that no reasonable Minister could have come to that decision. In my view the chances of a review succeeding against a ban imposed in the circumstances that prevailed early this year were negligible.

    There is no point seeking a review on something that has passed and gone, only a claim for damages for wrongs suffered due to an unlawful act. Mr Dolan’s review does seem to me to be rather late out of the starting blocks, and on the specifics, it might not be going after the right target, as I shall refer to below. I would agree that in terms of prospects, most of Her Majesty’s Judges are not minded towards liberty, I think the bulk of the legal profession have a strong socialist/pro-EU bias, but that’s from 20 years in the law meeting lawyers, anecdotal.

    On “an event or gathering”, the words are not in fact ambiguous. Under section 6 of the Interpretation Act 1978 words in the singular include the plural unless the circumstances otherwise require. I can see no reason why that qualification should apply here.

    Section 6 (c) says that in any Act ‘words in the singular include the plural and words in the plural include the singular.’

    Your comment is not on point, it is not about the number of events or gatherings that can be prohibited, but the specificity of the power. The Minister must have specific events or gatherings in mind, see below. Here is what the excellent Lockdown Sceptics site (worth supporting via a donation) newsletter has to say from Lord Sumption, former aide to Sir Keith Joseph, Historian, barrister and retired UK Supreme Court Justice.

    A reader has kindly transcribed some of Lord Sumption’s remarks in yesterday’s Planet Normal podcast with Allison Pearson and Liam Halligan. His ability to speak in fully-formed, grammatically correct sentences is something else.

    I think Boris Johnson is a Jonhsonite and that will lead him in different directions depending on the circumstances. Boris Johnson’s main problem is that he is obsessed with PR and he is not intelligent enough to study a problem carefully and in depth. Those are his two main problems. I think the problem is aggravated by the fact that decisions are being made within government by a very very small number of people and that the principle qualification for admission to his cabinet is loyalty as a result of which he is not getting the kind of internal discussion and criticism which makes for better decision making.”

    “Well, the most important thing about the Coronavirus Act is that it is not the act which has been used to justify the lock down or other measures affecting citizens. There are no powers in the Coronavirus Bill to control the movements of healthy people. The government has in fact used the Coronavirus Act only to justify the financial implications of the lock down. Most of the Act is in fact concerned with authorising, with the minimum of parliamentary scrutiny, additional public expenditure.

    “The lock down and the quarantine rules and most of the other regulations have been made under the Public Health Control of Disease Act of 1984 which was extensively amended in 2008. Now, there is no agreement among lawyers about which I’m about to say but I do not myself believe that that act confers on the government the powers which it has purported to exercise. Because it is a basic principle of British constitutional law that you cannot invade fundamental rights and there are few more fundamental rights than liberty, by using general terms. You’ve got to be specific about it. And the reason for that is that if you use general words to justify draconian invasions of fundamental rights, there’s too big a risk that it will pass unnoticed in the course of the parliamentary process. To invade fundamental rights you have to have absolutely specific language. The only specific language in the Public Health Act which justifies invasions of liberty relates to people who are believed, on reasonable grounds, to be infectious. Ministers can only do things that magistrates could do and magistrates only have power to control the movements of infected people or to control the opening of infected premises. They don’t have power to control uncontaminated premises or healthy people.

    “The government has deliberately – I must assume deliberately because they have plenty of legal advice – they have used an act which to put it at its lowest, its application is profoundly controversial. In my view, an act which doesn’t confer powers. Now, the oddity is, the government does have power to do what it has done under another act which it has declined to use – The Civil Contingencies Act, 2004. The CCA is concerned with emergencies including health related emergencies and it empowers ministers to do anything that can be done by an act of parliament. Now you can’t get wider words than that. Why haven’t they used it? Now the only reason that I can think of for not using it is that the CCA has very stringent provisions for parliamentary scrutiny. A regulation under the act is only provisionally valid for 7 days unless it is approved by Parliament. Thereafter, it only has validity for 30 days; it has to be renewed every 30 days. Moreover, exceptionally there are provisions entitling Parliament to amend a regulation which is laid before it or to revoke it at any time. Now, the only reason that I can think of why the government did not use the one piece of legislation that’s plainly applicable is that it wished to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.”

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I think the problem is aggravated by the fact that decisions are being made within government by a very very small number of people and that the principle qualification for admission to his cabinet is loyalty as a result of which he is not getting the kind of internal discussion and criticism which makes for better decision making.”

    Perhaps he’s been advised not to feed the trolls? 🙂

    I agree. Internal discussion and criticism makes for better decision making. Let’s discuss this.

    “Now, there is no agreement among lawyers about which I’m about to say”

    One has to ask, why not?

    “Because it is a basic principle of British constitutional law that you cannot invade fundamental rights and there are few more fundamental rights than liberty, by using general terms. You’ve got to be specific about it.”

    “Life” is arguably a more fundamental right. Do half a million deaths carry any moral weight in this decision?

    Does “specific” here mean “narrow” or “unambiguous”? One interpretation is that invasions into fundamental rights must be as minimal as possible consistent with the purpose/justification, so as to minimise the loss of freedom. The other interpretation is that the wording must be clear and unambiguous so people know exactly where the borderline is, and are not in danger of either falling into hidden legal pit traps or being forced into steering clear of the grey area entirely and thus losing more freedoms than necessary. Either of those interpretations would be OK.

    But he appears to be interpreting it as “narrow” in an absolute sense: that you can’t give a general rule for deciding whether a case is covered, but must specify each case individually. Like saying you can’t give the police the power to arrest an unspecified someone for committing crimes in general, but must specify when and where each individual policeman can arrest each individual citizen and list every individual crime for which they can be arrested. It would be a very long list!

    If that’s his interpretation, then no wonder the lawyers are not in agreement!

    Anyway, the act doesn’t seem to agree.

    45C […] (2)The power in subsection (1) may be exercised—
    (a)in relation to infection or contamination generally or in relation to particular forms of infection or contamination, and
    (b)so as to make provision of a general nature, to make contingent provision or to make specific provision in response to a particular set of circumstances.

    and

    45J […] The powers in sections 45G, 45H and 45I include power to make an order in relation to a group of persons, things or premises.

    They can make general provisions in relation to groups of people. That’s my reading of the act, anyway. I am not a lawyer, but the government’s lawyers seem to agree.

    “The only specific language in the Public Health Act which justifies invasions of liberty relates to people who are believed, on reasonable grounds, to be infectious.”

    It doesn’t say “on reasonable grounds”. He just made that bit up.

    45G […] (1)A justice of the peace may make an order under subsection (2) in relation to a person (“P”) if the justice is satisfied that—
    (a)P is or may be infected or contaminated,
    (b)the infection or contamination is one which presents or could present significant harm to human health,
    (c)there is a risk that P might infect or contaminate others, and
    (d)it is necessary to make the order in order to remove or reduce that risk.

    Thus, the only people they can’t make orders in relation to are people who are definitely not infected, and those who cannot pass it on.

    The problem with infection control is that infections happen between an infected and an uninfected person. To prevent infection, you have to prevent such people meeting, so to achieve its purpose it must necessarily restrict the ability of the uninfected to meet with the infected, as much as vice versa.

    With this particular disease, we don’t know who is infected. We don’t know if having had it and recovered from it means you can’t become infectious with it again. We don’t know the limits of how far it can be carried on the air, or how long it can last on surfaces. There is nobody out and about in society we can be certain is not infected and infectious.

    “Now, the only reason that I can think of why the government did not use the one piece of legislation that’s plainly applicable is that it wished to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.”

    That seems to me to be more a case of lack of imagination. Has it occurred to him that another possible reason could be that he is simply wrong?

    And I’m not aware of any reason why Parliament cannot scrutinise the measures taken, if they want to. They had a lengthy debate at the time, and they have had regular statements by the health minister about the crisis since. And I think section 45Q in the act requires Parliamentary scrutiny of orders affecting people’s rights, anyway.

    I am not a lawyer, but I don’t find his case persuasive.

    It’s good to discuss and debate it, though! 🙂

  • “… the principle qualification for admission to his cabinet is loyalty as a result of which he is not getting the kind of internal discussion and criticism which makes for better decision making.” (quoted in Mr Ed, September 12, 2020 at 6:27 am)

    The Brexiteers in the cabinet are seriously out-of-touch with the Brexiteers in the country if not one of these loyalists knows arguments for why the government was on the right track with herd immunity the first time, should have ignored Neil Ferguson, should never have enforced lockdown whenever we were not within two not-too-pessimistic weeks of triage, should have remembered that lockdown was only about avoiding triage (slowing, not stopping), etc.

    Do half a million deaths carry any moral weight in this decision? (Nullius in Verba, September 12, 2020 at 12:42 pm)

    Do the million deaths that Allah will inflict on the US for brokering the Israel-UAE deal carry any moral weight in any discussion? Well, not to those do not believe in them.

    However I can (all too easily 🙂 ) believe that the minister has wide discretion to believe in tales of imminent woe whenever so inclined.

  • bobby b

    To the extent that English law mirrors American law in this area:

    You can use weak powers widely, and with little justification.

    You can use strong powers – liberty-removing powers – narrowly, and only with narrow, explicit justification.

    People are constantly trying to sneak in strong, widely-applicable powers over constitutionally-protected freedoms with vague justification. That appears to be what is occurring both here and there.

    There’s a saying here – “the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact.” It is generally used by people attempting to usurp constitutional protections of our freedoms.

    I do not know the English system of law, but in the “legal theory” sense, Mr. Ed’s explanation rings true. You can amend a constitution. You cannot simply say “ooo, this is very serious, so let’s put this constitutional protection of our liberty aside for the moment.” Every problem is “very serious” to someone. Every interference with our liberty is “reasonable” to someone.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “You cannot simply say “ooo, this is very serious, so let’s put this constitutional protection of our liberty aside for the moment.””

    I agree. But the problem here is that you have a *conflict* between *two* constitutional rights: the right to life, and the right to liberty. You can’t just airily dismiss the small matter of half a million deaths, or two million in the United States, and fix your gaze on only one side of the balance sheet. You can’t say “Ooo, protecting our freedom to pursue happiness is very serious, so let’s put the constitutional protection of people’s lives aside for the moment”.

    You can’t have both. Reality doesn’t let you. So you have to trade costs and benefits. And *every* option open to us has a cost.

    The people have the right to make that choice democratically. If the population collectively think millions dead is a price worth paying and they’re gonna Fight for the Right to Paaarty, then that’s their decision. In the UK, the population didn’t. 90%+ supported the government’s decision, or thought they should have gone even further. I don’t know about the US, it may be different there. I’ve not seen any surveys.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Do the million deaths that Allah will inflict on the US for brokering the Israel-UAE deal carry any moral weight in any discussion? Well, not to those do not believe in them.”

    Quite so. The USA has the liberty-violating anti-terrorism precautions (the NSA spying on the population, the TSA groping them, Guantanamo Bay, Extraordinary Rendition, …) in the name of saving lives from the Islamist terrorist threat. Not everyone believes in that, either. Same difference?

  • bobby b

    “But the problem here is that you have a *conflict* between *two* constitutional rights: the right to life, and the right to liberty.”

    The “right to life”? I’m not that familiar with the English constitution, but I’m pretty conversant with the US one, and I don’t see that anywhere.

    Our Constitution allows us all sorts of freedoms that might conflict with someone’s “right to life.” (SEE 2nd Amendment.) Your term would, I fear, subsume everything into one overarching “but it’s a good idea, so we can do it” exception that would kill the rule.

    You’re directly using the “it’s not a suicide pact” theory, and that theory only holds water when the constitution interferes with something that someone somewhere wants to do really really strongly. In other words, never, unless we jettison the Constitution when convenient.

    Again, you likely know more about the English constitution than I do. But if it operates anything like ours, you can amend it if you get supermajority buy-in, but not with a simple democratic majority. That’s what distinguishes it from mere laws.

  • I agree. But the problem here is that you have a *conflict* between *two* constitutional rights: the right to life, and the right to liberty.

    No, that is not what is happening by any reasonable definition of ‘constitutional rights’, not even close. So…

    The people have the right to make that choice democratically

    ‘The people’ making a ‘democratic choice’ is the antithesis of ‘constitutional rights’; that’s nothing more than the squalid daily to and fro of factional politics.

    If my ‘rights’ are amenable to ‘the people’ making a ‘democratic choice’ then they ain’t rights, they are impositions &/or permissions, and they sure as hell ain’t constitutional in nature, because few things are more mutable than something ‘the people’ get to vote on.

  • Boris the Bottler becomes Boris the Dictator.

    And where is Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition? Well, certainly not opposing, which is its job.

    That’s because the Opposition’s objection is not that Boris has done too much & abridged too many liberties, it’s that hasn’t done more.

  • Nullius in Verba

    The “right to life”? I’m not that familiar with the English constitution, but I’m pretty conversant with the US one, and I don’t see that anywhere.

    Oh, Sorry. I was thinking of the Declaration of Independence.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Does that not count?

    “‘The people’ making a ‘democratic choice’ is the antithesis of ‘constitutional rights’”

    It depends on your constitution. You could argue that the Koran, Haddith, and Sunnah serve the role of an immutable constitution, granting rights and duties, for permanent theocratic authoritarian government. Is that what you would call ‘constitutional rights’?

    Prohibition was implemented through the 18th Amendment, which passed based on a vote, and was repealed based on another. Constitutional rights, or sordid politics?

    The legitimacy of all government rests on the consent (or at least, tolerance) of the governed. Constitutions, laws, Parliaments and Princes, even religions, are all dependent on it and subservient to it. Why this constitution rather than that one? What if it doesn’t work any more? If you make a mistake choosing one, must you be trapped for all eternity with a bad, outdated constitution? Constitutions may be harder to change than other laws, but ultimately they rest on the same democratic foundation.

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    “If my ‘rights’ are amenable to ‘the people’ making a ‘democratic choice’ then they ain’t rights, they are impositions &/or permissions”

    Are you thinking of Natural Rights?

    It sounds like a wonderful idea. Absolute, inalienable rights not dependent on human cultures, belief systems, traditions, etc. and thus not vulnerable to human fallibility. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be able to agree on whiat those Natural Rights actually are. Locke proposed “Life, Liberty, and Property”. Jefferson changed the last to the pursuit of happiness. How can we tell who’s right? Somehow, it always seems to come down to how many people you can convince.

  • How many COVID deaths could Boris Johnson or Trump have prevented by acting differently? To a first approximation the likely answer is: zero. Recent studies find no evidence cross-country differences in lockdown policies have had any impact on COVID.

    So it’s a bit of a mystery why governments were and remain eager to plunge along a path with such meager benefits to offset daunting costs. The costs include not only the worst world recession in modern times but also the emergency powers states have seized to enforce the lockdowns and the resulting loss of civil liberties by citizens.

    The citizens’ loss has been the state’s gain. There’s also a new study that finds governments have declared COVID-related emergencies mainly because of the new powers they stand to gain, not the severity of the pandemic. For more on this, see:

    https://naimisha_forest.silvrback.com/the-mystery-of-the-lockdowns

  • Nullius in Verba

    “How many COVID deaths could Boris Johnson or Trump have prevented by acting differently? To a first approximation the likely answer is: zero. Recent studies find no evidence cross-country differences in lockdown policies have had any impact on COVID.”

    It’s not the lockdown policy that makes the difference, it’s about how quickly you react. It’s like a forest fire. If you catch it when it’s just started, one guy can stamp it out. After a few minutes it takes more effort. After a few hours, it takes a massive emergency mobilisation by multiple fire departments to tackle it. Lockdowns are the equivalent of the massive national response to stop the fire spreading, cutting firebreaks everywhere. It stops the spread accelerating, but doesn’t fully put the fire out. And 90% of the forest is still tinder-dry and ready to burn if you relax your guard.

    If they had locked down a lot earlier, the deaths would have been lower. If they had locked down later, or not at all, many more deaths would have resulted. In the UK, at the time of lockdown, the epidemic in the UK was increasing about 10-fold per week, every week. So if they had locked down a week earlier the deaths could have been ten times lower. If they locked down a week later, ten times higher. It’s not about ‘how’ or ‘if’, it’s about ‘when’.

  • APL

    https://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2020/02/13/corona-vires-has-the-government-exceeded-its-powers/

    Aslo, and it’s a pity, but Sumption seems to have become somewhat outspoken …… after he’s retired.

    But I see Mr Ed has already commented on Sumption’s remarks.

  • APL

    NiV: “But the problem here is that you have a *conflict* between *two* constitutional rights: the right to life, and the right to liberty”

    Your citation up thread was from documents associated with the US constitution·

    Where does the English constitution enshrine a ‘right to life’?

    Rather, I think that if you are already in possession of a life, and happen to have reached an arbitrary age (16)(18)(21) you should not be deprived of that life.

    Although the State is happy to do so when it suits.

    So in English law ( the focus of this lawful/unlawful discussion), I’m unconvinced as yet such a right exists.

    NIV: “it’s about how quickly you react. It’s like a forest fire. If you catch it when it’s just started, one guy can stamp it out. After a few minutes it takes more effort”

    Then lockdown when it occurred was an utter failure ( in terms of controlling the spread of the disease ). But a roaring success in terms of a governmental state grab for unlimited power.

    There being mounting evidence that this strain of COVID, COVID-19 was well established in the population last year, November December – which is entirely what you would expect from a seasonal flu outbreak.

  • APL

    bobby b: “The “right to life”? I’m not that familiar with the English constitution, but I’m pretty conversant with the US one, and I don’t see that anywhere.”

    I see bobby b has asked the same question.

    NiV: Does that not count?

    I’m pretty sure the Declaration of Independence is not equal to the US Constitution.

  • Ferox

    It’s not the lockdown policy that makes the difference, it’s about how quickly you react.

    I have no medical background, but it seems to me that there are three things that would be relevant to the effectiveness of a lockdown: (1) its timeliness, (2) its severity, and (3) its duration.

    (1) Timeliness – if the disease was well-spread by the time it was actually noticed (as seems likely), then to be effective the lockdown would have had to occur months before it did. And how do you know to do a lockdown when only a tiny number of people have shown any illness?

    (2) Severity – to be really effective, the lockdown would need to be much much more strictly enforced. Like a bucket with only a few holes, a somewhat enforced lockdown cannot prevent the spread of the disease, only slow it.

    (3) Duration – to actually work to prevent the spread of the disease, the lockdown would have to be enforced (strictly) until such time as nobody was sick with the disease anymore. Otherwise the cycle of infection and re-infection would just start all over again. So now how long will we have to wait before our leaky lockdowns are lifted? And what will happen then?

    Above all of that, of course, is the cost-benefit analysis. Let’s immediately dispose of the refrain: “If it saves just one life … “. There are lots and lots of things we could do which would save many lives, but we don’t, because the costs would be too high. Allowing the use of automobiles at all is one example which comes easily to mind. Banning them would save 30K lives a year just in the United States alone.

    So how much has our lockdown cost, and what benefit has it been? That is where a comparison of like populations in countries which did and which did not lock down would be useful.

    But the cost has been staggering. In my town, there are (permanently) closed restaurants and small businesses everywhere. Landlords are being crushed, because they now have no power to collect rents. When the bill for all this comes due, it is going to kick us right in the teeth, hard.

  • APL

    The only other place I can think of where a ‘right to life’ might be enshrined is in Blair’s Human rights act.

    Even there it suggests the State may not arbitrarily take a citizens life ( Except where the State deems it appropriate to do so 😀 ).

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Timeliness – if the disease was well-spread by the time it was actually noticed (as seems likely), then to be effective the lockdown would have had to occur months before it did. And how do you know to do a lockdown when only a tiny number of people have shown any illness?”

    Yes, agreed. Hindsight is 20:20. The reason they delayed as long as they did was that they didn’t have the data, and didn’t understand the potential consequences, until it was almost too late. Epidemics are sneaky – there is a time delay between infections happening and consequences becoming visible, which in combination with the exponential spread means the problem is usually far worse than it appears. The true situation with infections goes like 1, 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000, 100,000, 1,000,000, … while what the government can see goes like 0, 0, 0, 1, 10, 100, 1,000, … . It takes up to two weeks to show symptoms, and another week to become severe enough to end up in a hospital, so there is always a three-week queue of cases in the pipeline invisible to government statistics.

    The countries that locked down early were mainly the ones who had experience with SARS and MERS years earlier, and who had done lots of planning and had their procedures in place. Experience counts.

    It’s not about blaming Boris or Trump. You can only judge people on the basis of what they knew at the time. But if the populations of the UK/USA had acted a few weeks earlier (with or without government prodding), many fewer would have died. That’s just the way epidemics work.

    “Above all of that, of course, is the cost-benefit analysis.”

    Yes! Absolutely! This is what I’ve been going on about all along!

    ~We have got a choice between major economic damage and millions of deaths. There is no cost-free option. So either you take the economic damage to save lives, or you kill millions of people to save the economy. Or you can save *some* lives at *some* cost to the economy. Nobody should be saying that the economic damage is trivial, or can be ignored. It will cost lives, too.

  • APL

    NiV: “Yes! Absolutely! This is what I’ve been going on about all along!”

    Your costs were always preposterous. And to support them you called on authority in the form of Neil Fergusson who’s record of accuracy has been pretty dire, but consistently expensive.

  • Ferox

    The useful way to determine (roughly) the true, non-politicized death rate from COVID is to take the rate from a previous year and compare it to this year. So:

    (I don’t know anything about this site, and do not endorse any of their views. I just found this as a useful link to at least broach the topic – take with many large grains of salt)
    https://vaccineliberationarmy.com/2020/04/24/death-rates-2019-vs-death-rates-2020-per-week/

    I am trying to dig around in the CDC website to research this myself, but I suppose we will know for certain at the end of the year. Then we can count up the totals and see what COVID really did. For myself, I do NOT expect to see millions of additional deaths. I will be surprised if the additional death count is in the tens of thousands.

    My belief is that many of the deaths being attributed to COVID are actually due to other causes, with COVID being (at most) a contributing factor. Why? To undermine the Trump/Johnson administrations. If a Proggie were President in the US or Prime Minister in the UK the media would be going on and on about how hardly anyone was dying from COVID, thanks to the brilliance of Dear Leader.

    I can’t prove it. We will just have to wait and see. But in the end the counts of bodies will tell … there is no way to hide the math.

    EDIT: here is a link arguing the other way, with some interesting data on it.
    https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/mortality-in-the-u-s-noticeably-increased-during-the-first-months-of-2020-compared-to-previous-years/

  • Nullius in Verba

    “My belief is that many of the deaths being attributed to COVID are actually due to other causes, with COVID being (at most) a contributing factor. Why? To undermine the Trump/Johnson administrations.”

    The question isn’t “Why would anyone do that?” but “Why do you think they are? What’s your evidence?” Starting from a politically comforting conclusion and only then searching for the evidence to support it is going at it backwards.

    Also, it doesn’t undermine the Johnson administration, because he didn’t try to claim it wasn’t a problem. Once he realised the epidemic was serious, he took positive action, he showed leadership. His popularity rocketed *upwards* during the first wave.

    Trump’s problem was that he’d spent the last four years being attacked politically by his own administration of advisers, he had nobody he could trust, and he initially mistook the epidemic for just another political attack on his economic success. What he should have done is to take ownership of the response, and made the argument that his economic policies had put America in a much better position to weather the storm, and to recover swiftly from it afterwards.

    Anyway, there’s a graph here of the monthly number of deaths in New York City. You can see for yourself whether there were any more deaths than normal.

  • Ferox

    Anyway, there’s a graph here of the monthly number of deaths in New York City. You can see for yourself whether there were any more deaths than normal.

    Extrapolating very roughly from that graph, it looks like NYC has had about 5000 more deaths than usual. If we multiply that out by the rest of the nation (which has experienced a much lower death rate, for whatever reason) we would still come up with only about 55,000 deaths.

    That’s a lot. I think it’s a lot higher than the actual number is going to end up being. But, even taking that number, it is worth the economic costs that we have incurred, which are catastrophic? Remember that in a typical year, the US has around 2.5 to 3 million deaths. So we are talking about a 2% increase, if that.

    It’s a subjective question, I suppose (how much is human life worth), but one that is worthy of the harshest skepticism.

    And the reason I think the death numbers are being inflated is that when you drill into them, you find that almost everyone who is dying has co-morbidities. Are their deaths being caused by COVID? To use the common and silly example: if I have been exposed to COVID and get into a head-on collision with a truck, did the truck kill me or the virus? How will you decide which is which?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But, even taking that number, it is worth the economic costs that we have incurred, which are catastrophic?”

    Those deaths are on the other side of the balance sheet. The options you are picking from are:
    a) Lockdown, economic losses, and ~55,000 excess deaths.
    b) No lockdown, and two million excess deaths.

    But your argument can be applied equally well to the two million deaths, too – are they worth the economic cost? And if the population think they’re not and they’re willing to pay the price of two million deaths, then so be it. I’ve got no argument with that – it’s a question of values. I just think people ought to understand that that’s the trade they’re making.

    “To use the common and silly example: if I have been exposed to COVID and get into a head-on collision with a truck, did the truck kill me or the virus? How will you decide which is which?”

    What would you say if I told you that the truck didn’t kill you, because you had a co-morbidity?

    There is no unambiguous answer. In real life, the boundaries are all fuzzy.

  • Ferox

    two million excess deaths

    From where do you derive that number?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “From where do you derive that number?”

    Because the virus kills about 1% of the people it infects (estimated by the number of deaths divided by the number who have antibodies to the virus), and you need about 60-80% of the population to be immune for ‘herd immunity’. 1% of 80% of the population of the UK is 530,000, and 1% of 80% of the US population is 2,640,000.

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