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The state is not your friend… example 57,459

The idea, then, that Boris and his Cabinet would have been able to simply sit there, apparently passively, while the virus ‘let rip’, was pretty implausible once the Chinese and Italians had gone into lockdown. The urge to do things would have been overwhelming. And it remains to this day. Letting the immune systems and common sense of the public take care of matters is anathema to our leaders, because it doesn’t involve them taking bold action or, indeed, doing anything much at all. This goes against the grain of their very psyches: in their own minds, they envisage themselves ‘winning’ in the war against Covid through their brilliant decision-making and uber-competence, and being hoisted onto the shoulders of the grateful populace and paraded through the streets accordingly. They don’t want nature to take the credit which they believe is theirs. In fact, it is pretty clear that they don’t really want the virus to reach natural equilibrium at all – they want to defeat it, preferably through some fabulous scheme.

David McGrogan, an Associate Professor of Law at Northumbria Law School

26 comments to The state is not your friend… example 57,459

  • Eric Tavenner

    being hoisted onto the shoulders of the grateful populace and paraded through the streets accordingly

    When they should be paraded about on a fence rail then thrown into a body of water, preferably a swamp.

  • Sam Duncan

    Or, as Sir Humphrey said, “Something must be done. This is something. Therefore we must do it.”

  • Mr Ecks

    This is a powergrab–an attempt to establish a CCP style tyranny using virus/vax scam. It is international and co-ordinated.

    They want this:


    because making uk an open-air jail is the only way they can force this on us:


  • Roué le Jour

    From whre I’m sitting western governments are acting in concert to destroy western civilization as we know it. I don’t think what Boris wants matters one way or the other.

  • John B

    ‘… they envisage themselves ‘winning’ in the war against Covid…’

    To add to: war on drugs, war on poverty, war on obesity, war on climate change, war on terrorism.

    A political class perpetually at war… with the citizens whom they are supposed to serve.

  • Y. Knott

    Or, as Sir Humphrey said, “Something must be done. This is something. Therefore we must do it.”

    Calvin Coolidge was infamous for his cautious approach, which (often famously) tended to save a great deal of money. He summed-up his philosophy as, ‘You have eight cans calling for your attention; there’s little harm in kicking them down the road as, once you catch back up with them, six of the cans will have rolled into the ditch and therefore are no longer a problem.’ Also see Sir John Cowperthwaite, for a lifetime of commonsense foils to bureaucrats who insisted on “doing something”.

  • Stonyground

    “From whre I’m sitting western governments are acting in concert to destroy western civilization as we know it.”

    The question that needs asking is why? What have these people got against their own culture? I know western societies aren’t perfect but they are, or at least were, a sight less imperfect that a lot of the others.

  • Roué le Jour

    I presume they think they’re going to make something better. Better for them, at any rate.

    The thing to remember is that politicians are overwhelming drawn from the “Better to rule in hell…” type of person. None of them wants to be the unassuming administrators of a free and prosperous people.

  • bob sykes

    Lockdowns (and masks) did not prevent one single covid case or death anywhere in the world, and the public health authorities, at least originally, never claimed they would. Lockdowns were designed to prevent the pandemic from overwhelming the medical establishment by slowing the rate of spread, and they did, which is why covid is still around.

    The number of cases and deaths is determined by the original number of people susceptible to the disease, less any vaccinated. In the US, only 10% of the people caught covid and only 0.2% of the total population died from it, and that’s in pandemic approaching two years duration. We have less than 50% vaccinated, so apparently a substantial fraction of the American population had some sort of immunity. Covid is a coronavirus like those that cause the common cold, so that might explain the apparent immunity.

    Widespread immunity to supposedly novel diseases is the rule. The Black Death killed one-third of western Europeans, but spared two-thirds. Of course there were earlier epidemics as early as the late Roman Empire that might have been Yersinia, and there might have been some surviving immunity among Europeans.

    The delta variant is shaping us as another common cold virus, but it will provide an excuse for the lunatics to run amok again.

  • Paul Marks

    Well my e.mails did not take as long as I thought – so I might be able to do this before my hip gives out from sitting too long.

    The idea that Prime Minister Johnson, or any minister, drew up these plans is absurd – that is not how governance works in the United Kingdom, not locally and not nationally either. Officials and “experts” would have made the decisions – perhaps a Prime Minister with a will of iron, some hero of Lord Of The Rings – say Aragorn, could have said “no”, but I do not think the Prime Minister is Aragorn King of Anor and Gondor.

    As for whether the Covid death rate would have been higher without lockdowns and so on – of course NOT, people who do not believe the figures of Belarus or Nicaragua have a harder task trying to explain away Sweden, or various American States. After all Florida only shut down for a few weeks – not a few months, and its death rate is much the same as ours.

    “But Florida is thinly populated and….” – no it is not, not any more. These days many millions of people live in Florida, mostly in big cities with very diverse populations.

    What would have saved lives is EARLY TREATMENT of Covid 19 – but Early Treatment was smeared, internationally smeared.

    This smearing is a terrible scandal – perhaps the worst scandal of our time.

  • Paul Marks

    Even the best politicians can be defeated by events. For example, I believe in South Dakota the virus got into the “Native American” population and that has meant that S.D. has the 10th highest death rate (rate – not numbers of deaths) of the 50 States.

    But the idea that locking down for a year would have prevented this is false. The decision to NOT lockdown in S.D. was the correct one.

    “Oh you racist, sexist…..” – the Governor of South Dakota is a woman, and the “American Eagle” cast of her face did not come from her ancestors mating with eagles.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    As my public policy professors used to say, “Doing nothing is also a policy decision”.

    It comes down to the perceived and actual competence of the politicians and bureaucrats. I keep saying that for my country at least, the dangers of covid are overblown (low obesity and diabetic rates), but the kiasi (scared to die) mentality remains strong in both the people and the government, and so our restrictions continue despite our high vaccination rates.

  • JohnK


    As you so rightly say, politicians do not come up with these plans. The plans are handed to them by their civil servants, ready made.

    Because politicians tend to be people who want to be seen to do things, they fall happily upon the plans given to them by their ever helpful civil servants. The option of doing nothing is not appealing to politicians. They do not go to the trouble of getting elected and climbing the greasy pole to high office just to do nothing once they get there.

    Of course, the plans presented to the politician, eager to “do something”, will represent whatever it is the civil service wants. They have all the time in the world to wait for the right opportunity. The British civil service waited 15 years to get the gun controls they wanted when a spineless politician called Douglas Hurd had to be seen to “do something” after the Hungerford massacre. It didn’t matter if it was the right thing, or even if it made any sense. It was something, and he didn’t have to bother his head thinking about it, the kindly civil servants gave it to him wrapped up in a bow.

    And that is how we are governed.

  • JohnK (July 27, 2021 at 11:18 am), the UK firearms-law changes in 1988, after the Hungerford shooting, though silly, were relatively minor. The UK firearms-law changes in 1997, after the Dunblane shooting, were huge.

    Readers who do not already know will be unsurprised to learn that in both cases (and especially the latter) already existing UK firearms law, if it had been applied with even minimal competence, would have seen both perpetrators deprived of their licences before these events. So I agree with JohnK that the “something must be done” syndrome was blatant in both cases. Twice, a decade apart, a tragedy revealed that existing firearms-licensing law was being crassly mis-administered. Both times, the response of politicians was to pass new laws (which they know how to do and like doing) rather than attempt to make the existing state apparatus do what it was supposed to be doing already (which takes them well out of their comfort zone).

    Dunblane was worse for several reasons. Child victims cause more distress than grown-up ones. To the usual suspects, the motivation and mental make-up suggested by the contents of the Dunblane perpetrator’s existing fat police file was something they did not want to discuss. But in large part, the problem was that the “something must be done” period coincided with an election – one that the Tories lost and Labour won. The Tory plan to “do something” was pushed upwards by the need not to be outbid by Labour. Labour’s “something must be done” then had to surpass the Tories’ excess to justify “vote for us, not them” on that issue.

    So while I agree in general about the civil servants keeping their plans ready, I note that the chief impact on UK firearms law in my lifetime was driven more by politicians than civil servants.

  • Jame Hargrave

    And now, alas, we can’t shoot the politicians,

  • bobby b

    Jame Hargrave
    July 27, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    “And now, alas, we can’t shoot the politicians”

    Well, don’t tell THEM that. People with governmental power ought to have some fear, too.

  • Albion's Blue Front Door

    What would happen if you were elected to parliament but did not make any new laws to show you were there? Would there be scathing comments in the MSM with attendant graphs showing law-making tallies of previous governments who passed lots of laws and imposed numerous regulations, declaring you were behind the average and therefore ‘not doing your job?’

    Does this fear haunt all politicians?

  • JohnK


    The 1988 Act largely put into effect the aims of the 1973 Green Paper, which was greatly to increase the controls on shotguns. These had been largely uncontrolled prior to 1968, and it seems the powers that be were concerned that too many Britons had guns, and resolved to do something about it. They made a mistake in 1973 by publishing a Green Paper which provoked a political backlash, so they never did that again. Instead they just waited for an opportunity.

    In 1988 there was no public inquiry into Hungerford, we just got a gun ban in the name of Douglas Hurd, a man so stupid he had actually been fined for failing to renew his own shotgun certificate. His status as a convicted firearms criminal did not seem to concern him as he moved to criminalise many thousands of fellow gun owners.

    In the case of Dunblane, the ban on pistols was not something the security state had any problem with. Concerns had been growing that pistol shooting had become quite popular since the 1970s, leading to more legally owned pistols. Clearly, to the official mind this was a bad thing, so a ban made them happy.

    Unlike Hungerford, there was a public inquiry into Dunblane, which unearthed the fact that the murderer should not have had a firearm certificate, and that Central Scotland Police were at best incompetent, at worst corrupt. Obviously, the only people who suffered were the owners of legal pistols.

    Lord Cullen who wrote the report did not recommend an outright pistol ban, but in this case you are right, the Conservatives proposed a ban on all but .22 pistols because they feared being wiped out in Scotland, which happened anyway. Tony Blair decided to make political capital and proposed a ban on all pistols. I doubt it affected the election. Labour was always going to win, and Major’s government was always going to get wiped out. It did show that Tony Blair was a deeply cynical and amoral politician, but anyone with half a brain knew that already.

  • asiaseen

    previous governments who passed lots of laws and imposed numerous regulations

    In my callow youth I formulated the idea that before any new law could be added to the statute book an old law had to be repealed. The same principle should, of course, also apply to regulations

    Ah! How foolish of me.

  • Paul Marks

    JohnK – do not forget the education of politicians.

    Politicians, and just about everyone else, are taught that “Social Reform” (ever bigger and more interventionist government) is a good thing – indeed that it is responsible for the improvement in living standards over the last 150 years. The idea that the areas that “reformed” the least are the best off now is never considered, and the idea that people might have been better off now had the “reform” not taken place is not considered either.

    So their minds are already prepared, by their “education”, for the ideas that are presented to them by the officials and “experts”.

    The consistent political types are socialists – real socialists who want the state to control every aspect of life. Ludwig Von Mises noted that it was the most intelligent and logical students who were the most fanatical Collectivists – because they took the interventionist ideas they were taught to their logical conclusion.

    That is taking “Social Reform” to its logical conclusion.

    It is the fake “right” who are the muddle heads – people who support more statism, but not “too much at once” and want to preserve their private wealth a bit longer.

    “We must concede everything that it is safe to concede” (Walter Bagehot – “The English Constitution” 1867) might as well be their motto – carved on to their grave stones.

    No inspiring vision, no logical principles – just a bit more statism each year whilst still trying to keep their own private wealth.

    They accept “arguments” that, if taken to their logical conclusion, involve confiscating their own wealth and controlling every aspect of their lives (not just the lives of other people) – so they deserve to lose to the consistent socialists.

  • Paul Marks

    As for Walter Bagehot – someone who wanted welfare for rich bankers (yes under certain conditions – blah, blah, blah) could hardly oppose more welfare for the poor.

  • Paul Marks

    The other modern patron saint of 19th century liberalism is J.S. Mill.

    Someone who, under his polite language, opposed large scale private land ownership (as he took the fallacies of David Ricardo to be the truth on land), supported worker coops rather than private ownership of industry, and never met a local government control or spending scheme that he did not like.

    And the “Conservative” alternative was Disraeli – with his “two nations” (falsely called “one nation”) set of ideas.

    It is surprising that civilisation has lasted as long as it has.

  • JohnK


    You seem to have described this current so-called Conservative government quite well.

    As Petronella Wyatt is quoted above, the old Boris (whom she knew very well) would hate what the current Boris is doing in office.

    Why is this? I suppose that unless one has a very strong will indeed, such as Margaret Thatcher, then once one is in office one is bound to be buffeted by events (“dear boy”), and to succumb to the easy prospect of doing whatever it is the civil service wants you to do. They have the papers all prepared after all, you just have to sign them.

  • Paul Marks


    It is quite possible that Mr Johnson hates the policies of the government he is the head of – I do not know, but it is possible.

    But how would he go about changing policy?

    Most of a politician’s time (even at local level) is about policy briefings and officials and experts telling us what must be done.

    There really is not a way of, on many things, saying “no – we are going to follow a fundamentally different policy”.

    This may not be so true of the United States – where in some State, State Governors seem to have more actual power – Executive control.

    One of the most absurd things a local councillor can say to a local government officer is “you work for me” – because they do NOT.

    It is not different at national level in the United Kingdom. If the Prime Minister went around telling senior Civil Servants and scientific experts (in independent agencies) “you work for me” – he would be assumed to have gone mad.

  • Paul Marks

    Independent agencies – a long process going all the way back to Sir Edwin Chadwick.

    The Civil Service itself – a long process going all the way back to Sir Charles Trevelyan.

    Nothing happened over night – it was a series of changes over a very long period of time.

    Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel would have been astonished by how little Executive power Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had (for example over the Single European Act of 1986), but Margaret Thatcher had a lot more actual Executive power than Prime Minister Johnson has.

    It has been a long process – including many laws and regulations that apply to how government works.

  • Richard Thomas

    To politicians, the “Trolley Problem” is not “Do I kill these people or those people?” but “What do I do to get reelected?”