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Samizdata quote of the day – until there are consequences, nothing changes

Lockdown ruined Britain – and our deluded leaders couldn’t care less.

It was a catastrophic error: we should have pursued a liberal Swedish or Floridian approach. Lockdowns saved or extended comparatively few lives but inflicted huge economic, social, health and psychological damage, left behind a ticking cancer time bomb and caused or exacerbated most of the pathologies of contemporary Britain.

Yet there is something very wrong with our national conversation: why are we so reluctant to accept our mistakes, to connect the dots, to link lockdowns with Broken Britain? How is Matt Hancock able, with a straight face, to tell the Covid Inquiry that Britain must prepare for wider, earlier and more stringent lockdowns in the face of future pandemics? The delusion is staggering, the hypocrisy sickening, the mendacity breath-taking.

Allister Heath

26 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – until there are consequences, nothing changes

  • JohnK

    Well he’s not wrong, but what will happen? This so-called inquiry looks rigged from the start.

    My only hope with regard to lockdowns is that the sheer cost will dissuade governments from pursuing them in future. They wasted £300 billion on furlough, £38 billion on test & trace, and untold billions on substandard PPE. There is no way you can do that every few years. So I would hope that the sheer unaffordability of lockdowns will preclude their use in future.

    Am I being too optimistic? It’s not like me.

  • Roué le Jour

    Hancock observed that Britain survived the lockdowns, albeit in a much impoverished state, and concluded that the lockdowns should have been much more severe.

    I assumed at the outset that Sunak’s plan was to destroy the Conservative party, retire from politics and take up a lucrative position in the financial sector. So far, so good.

  • Ferox

    Is there a compelling reason why we should not assume that those who wrought so much destruction achieved precisely the results they intended?

    They were raised to hate capitalism, to hate Western (white) culture, to hate individual liberty (which delays the emergence of the Utopia).

    And they are not stupid. Why wouldn’t we connect their outcomes with their intentions? If someone who intensely dislikes me starts randomly swinging his arms around in my close vicinity and hits me on the nose, I would have to be an idiot to believe it was an accident.

  • And they are not stupid.

    You’ve clearly not met many top tier politicians in the flesh or attended boozy events where they just talk unscripted. They are overwhelmingly herd animals, swept along by institutions designed to make them “go native” and not be othered.

  • Ferox

    I was talking more about bureaucrat-creatures like Fauci. The top-tier politicians are largely PR in my opinion. Not that they aren’t shit – they are, but they come and go like “champions” in the WWE. Meanwhile the actual machine is run by unelected people who do what they like regardless of the banner color of the ascendant Party.

    And those people are convinced that the entire west is evil and must be destroyed. Why are we surprised when that is what is happening?

  • Alan Peakall

    To amplify Perry’s point, the only policitican more influential than a then back bencher (Nirj Deva and Kwasi Kwarteng) whom I have met personally was Theresa May. I firmly believe that my gut reaction to her calling the 2017 General Election, namely: What on Earth is she playing at? How does she expect to increase her majority to more than … oh, about 38 at the most?, was based on my recollection of that encounter.

  • Paul Marks.

    First the international establishment denied that the virus was from the labs in Wuhan – even though they knew it was.

    Then they pretended there was no Early Treatments for the virus – even though there were Early Treatments that could have saved most of the people who died.

    Then they pretended that lockdowns would save vast numbers of lives – the lockdowns will, of course, end up costing lives (poverty kills).

    Then there was the “mask farce”.

    Finally the international establishment told us that the Covid injections were “safe and effective” – when they know they were not very effective and very dangerous.

    When will the lies, such as the lies of the liar Mr Hancock, stop? As far as I can see the establishment have no intention of ever ceasing to lie – about Covid or anything else.

    After all there is a notice for a voluntary support group for victims of the Covid injections in many towns – including in the supermarket I am just about to go to. But the international establishment just continues to lie.

    Still it has been a “learning experience” – now we know that governments and major corporations are joined-at-the-hip (“Stakeholder Capitalism”, “Public-Private Partnership”, “Corporate State” – whatever you want to call it) and that neither could give a damn about human life, caring only for the agenda of international “governance”.

  • Paul Marks.

    Perry – I wish I could argue with what you say about most politicians, but the facts are very much on your side.

    A few Members of Parliament will tell me that they voted against this or that piece of utter insanity that comes before the House of Commons.

    But then they will tell me “and only 6 of us voted against this” (this utter insanity), again and again some total lunacy is presented before Parliament and only a handful of M.P.s vote against it.

    The obvious question is “why do nearly all Members of Parliament not oppose such madness?” – to which the answer is something “they do not actually support it, they prefer not to think about it – they just follow the line”.

    As you say Perry “herd animals”.

    After all if a politician, even a local councillor like me, “steps out of line” they are punished – so politicians (or most politicians) learn to “follow the line” presented to them by officials and various “experts”.

    One must not be seen be a “racist” (by going against “Diversity” – i.e. Critical Theory Marxism), or be seen as a “Denier” – by going against “Green” taxes and regulations.

    Soon even ordinary people who oppose any of the “Woke” agenda, political or cultural, will find themselves forced from their jobs, and denied banking or payment services.

    Any real dissenter will find themselves homeless and starving on the streets.

    That is very much the international agenda.

  • JohnK


    I agree, senior bureaucrats like Fauci are not stupid, but they can be greedy and evil.

    In Fauci’s case, under US law if there is a valid treatment for a condition, there cannot be emergency vaccine authorisations. Therefore Fauci could not allow use of Ivermectin, HCQ et al, as it would have scuppered the “vaccines”. It must be remembered that Fauci is hand in glove with Big Pharma, and receives money from them for “patents” he has a stake in, even though he is a career bureaucrat who has done no clinical research since 1968.

    I wish there were more to it than “follow the money”, but it’s usually the way, and I think it is the case here. As ever, the little people don’t count. Was it Stalin who said that a million dead is just a statistic?

  • bobby b

    ” . . . why are we so reluctant to accept our mistakes, to connect the dots, to link lockdowns with Broken Britain?”

    None of these ideological fights – lockdowns, climate change, transing minors, support for foreign wars, racial preferences – are conducted with a view towards finding a correct answer.

    We now see complete support for one side or other of each issue based only on which tribe you join and support by taking a position.

    People do not argue that catastrophic global warming is a real danger based on science and as a consequence fall into one of the several political camps. They do it backwards, arguing for whichever view is held by the tribe they have chosen, irrespective of the scientific merits.

    People no longer consider the science. They consider how each view will position them in society. If I profess to believe “x” and “y”, I will be considered meritorious within my tribe.

    This is how otherwise intelligent beings can, with a straight face, claim that 2+2=5. Only bad people argue that 2+2=4.

  • Snorri Godhi

    And they are not stupid. Why wouldn’t we connect their outcomes with their intentions?

    Intentions? The intentions that YOU impute to them.

    Such imputations might be accurate — in which case they are not stupid but insane.

    Or they might be inaccurate — in which case they are not stupid but insane.

    It’s a one-way bet.

  • Snorri Godhi

    We now see complete support for one side or other of each issue based only on which tribe you join and support by taking a position.

    Bobby is to be complimented for a remarkably fair assessment.

    None of these ideological fights – lockdowns, climate change, transing minors, support for foreign wars, racial preferences – are conducted with a view towards finding a correct answer.

    While in broad agreement, i still insist that the postmodern culture wars (transing minors, racial preferences) are qualitatively different from the quasi-scientific debates on covid and CAGW.

    Debates over foreign wars take us to an even higher intellectual plane.

  • Steven R

    at least in the US, the whole crisis made Trump’s economic gains crater, costing him votes, and required the use of mail-in balloting which are far easier to count fraudulently, so it worked exactly according to plan.

  • Penseivat

    Either we are governed by incompetent numpties or, as some believe, these numpties are merely following the instructions of their masters, the elite of the WEF or Bilderberg. The aim of Soros, Fauci, Gates, et al is, in the case of the UK, to place it in such a political and financial situation, that the rejoining of the EU is seen to be the only way out. That way, they control the whole of Europe. It has already started in the UK, with the watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) in Brighton destroying the city by increasing car parking to such an extent that motorists are staying away, leading to a massive deficit in accounts, and causing small businesses to pack up and leave. The shortfall will be met by the taxpayer (again). Sad Dick Khan’t extending his ULEZ to stop motorists to prevent anybody driving in Londonistan, apart from government, military, and authorised officials, leading to Soviet Zil lanes. And that is only two examples.
    How far down the road will ordinary people being restricted to travel, while the elite continue to fly their private planes all over the world to preach at meetings that we must cut down on carbon emissions?
    The Frankfurt School Marxists have been planning this for years and are slowly bringing it to fruition. Whoever we vote for in an election, we will end up with different pigs at the same political trough.

  • Steven R

    I think no one expected Brexit to pass and when it did they had to come up with a Plan B, which was to pretend it didn’t pass and continue taking marching orders from Europe. Your betters in London will only do otherwise when absolutely necessary and even then only when forced to and will drag their feet the entire way.

    My government in the US is more or less the same thing, only instead of answering to Europe, we answer to the DNC (the GOP is only good for acting as a minority party because A) they don’t need to actually do anything and B) promising to do something if they just get reelected is where the big money is), who want many of the same things the European elite want.

    But none of them want to live in that world and none of them will. Bug protein and mass transit and owning nothing and enjoying the benefits are for the plebs, not the members of the Inner Party.

    And the sad thing is we aren’t going to be able to vote our way out of this.

  • Paul Marks.


    Yes – the ordinary officials and politicians may not have known XYZ (although many of them did know – after all I knew, and I have no special sources of information), but people such as Tony Fauci did know.

    The international establishment, including the scientific establishment (yes including the medical establishment) have behaved despicably – putting a political and cultural agenda above human lives.

    Steven R. – yes the establishment did not expect the British people to vote for independence, or for the American people to vote for Donald John Trump.

    The Collectivist establishment were so confident of victory that they did not bother to rig the votes in 2016 – a “mistake” they will not make again, as they blatantly rigged the votes in several States in 2020 and 2022 (and the Wall Street Journal crowd think that rigging elections is just fine – and sneers at anyone who complains).

    The officials and corporate managers seethed with hatred over the people voting “the wrong way” and so just carried on – disregarding the referendum and election of 2016.

    The courts continue to disregard the vote in Britain – the Court of Appeal spat on it just today (we are not allowed to defend out own borders – “European Convention on Human Rights” – older the than the E.U. but they are joined at the hip these days).

    And the banks and international financial system continues to conspire with governments to in the future, destroy all real dissenters – no job, no bank account, no payment services. So dissenters end up in cardboard boxes, begging for food on the streets.

    That is their “compassionate” plan, to show how much they “care about people”.

  • Paul Marks.

    In an earlier comment I mentioned to Perry that politicians (even local politicians) who dissent are punished.

    And when I went in for a meeting this evening I overheard that a colleague had been suspended for something he has said on social media – one despicable councillor was gloating about the suspension.

    I do not know what the colleague has written – but he is a Christian, so I can guess.

    Of course, it will be my turn for punishment soon enough. The sort of thing I write on this site is more than enough to “merit punishment” in the “free world”.

    But I continue to believe that Mr Putin is no answer – as I have often said, people who turn to him are like desperate drowning people who clutch at a poisonous snake.

    There may be no answer.

    We may have to prepare ourselves for disgrace, humiliation and a hard death.

    Either in prison – or begging in the streets.

    We shall have to see – let us hope I am being too gloomy.

  • Steven R

    That is their “compassionate” plan, to show how much they “care about people”.

    That’s been like that through almost the whole of human history. Our betters know what is best for us and we should be properly grateful, and also know our place, or they will crush us totally. There have only been a very few times where that was not the case, even in “democratic” societies. Even once the democracy genie was let out of the bottle, our betters went out of their way to give us the illusion of control while they just did what they wanted behind the scenes. The only thing that ever changed was who our betters were, from strong men to the Church to industrialists to populists to political theorists to terrorists, it has always been a story of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Ten thousand years from now it will be the same story, only with different names.

  • Fraser Orr

    why are we so reluctant to accept our mistakes, to connect the dots, to link lockdowns with Broken Britain

    I find it hard to believe that Heath could ask such a dumb question. Why are politicians reluctant to accept their mistakes, or connect the dots between failures and their policies, or accept that their choices lead to the pickle Britain finds itself in? Isn’t the answer self evident?

    But contrary to the assumed conclusion — that Covid was bad for Britain — I’d suggest that those who run the state are very happy with the way it all went. After all, despite what they tell you, the basic goal of all of government and politics is to get re-elected and get more power and money. The Tory’s might be pretty sad about their inevitable doom on the former, but I assure you the civil service is very happy about all the extra power, money and control they have over everyone. Even better, they have set a precedent for the future that allows them unlimited power whenever they chose to declare whatever emergency they happen to come across.

    This precedent is perhaps the most dangerous outcome for Britain, which is why an honest assessment is absolutely necessary. And it is also why you will absolutely not get one. After all it is just the civil service investigating itself. Fortunately Britain has a rather more robust press than where I live. I’d be interested to see what they all say about it — though apparently the often reliable Telegraph seems to have lost the plot a little if their editor is anything to go by.

  • DiscoveredJoys

    Lockdown was a success. Nothing to do with the epidemic, just lots of ordinary people (the Rude Mechanicals) frightened into changing their lives at the commands of the Elite. Cost a lot of money of course, but it was not ‘the Governments money’ it was ordinary peoples’ money in taxes and future taxes. People were deliberately frightened with their own money! In terms of Command and Control lockdown was a success.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Even before the UK started lockdowns, more people were socially distancing, avoiding crowds, etc. To some degree, there would have been an economic,social and psychological hit. What furlough schemes did, however, was make it possible for such distancing to go on far, far longer than otherwise would have been the case. So to channel my inner Paul Marks, the credit bubble mindset made a lot of this possible.

    I think part of the problem is that a lot of “sensible” people bought into the perma-lockdown approach, to the idea of “you want to kill granny if you disagree” mindset, and some may have suppressed guilt about this. But instead of an open admission that our policy reactions were wrong, or ill-informed, there is a refusal to even let the case for lockdowns be on the table.

    Additionally, I note that the likelihood that COVID-19 came out of a Chinese lab (funded by international and domestic Chinese money), and that China has been obdurate about the issues around it, aren’t really being much talked about by the political class. It is easy to see how people suspect that part of our establishment has been bought.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Fraser Orr writes: I’d be interested to see what they all say about it — though apparently the often reliable Telegraph seems to have lost the plot a little if their editor is anything to go by.

    Be a bit more charitable. Unlike 99 per cent of journalists, A Heath has been pointing out the absurdities of policies such as extended lockdowns for a long time. He did so from the start. As for his supposed naivete, give me a break. This is a chap who often writes about the self-interest, the “mission creep”, of Whitehall and Brussels. So I am sure Heath knows that some people had a “good pandemic” (just as it used to be said that X or Y had a “good war”). Even so, given the obvious damage done, which is too big to ignore, it remains shocking that so many in public life aren’t honest about all this. It is, after all, hardly controversial to note the damage to young people’s education, or the way that people who are already mentally vulnerable went over the edge.

    And it is a good thing that people such as Heath continue to harry this government, and our “opposition” on their stupidies, dishonesty and evasions.

  • Paul Marks.

    Steven R.

    One mvst be carefvl of “first they smash yovr face in then they say yov were always vgly” – things were not always as bad as they are now, and we mvst not fall into the despair of thinking that they always were and always will be this bad.

    Fraser Orr – not jvst the Civil Servants, do not forget the many other official bodies (government and corporate).

    Bvt yes – the lockdowns were a great svccess from the point of view of some people, svch as Governor Newsom of California – a third of small bvseness enterprises destroyed and the economy even more vder the control of a few vast corporations – jvst as he wanted. Very mvch in line with international plans.

    This is all in line with international plans.

    By the way – my apologies for ving the letter v a lot – another letter on my keyboard appears to have worn ovt.

  • Jim

    “Yet there is something very wrong with our national conversation: why are we so reluctant to accept our mistakes, to connect the dots, to link lockdowns with Broken Britain?”

    Simple – most people (a large majority of a size never seen on any one side of the political divide) were sh*t scared by covid and wanted more than anything else for ‘someone to do something’ to make it all go away. As such most of the public are complicit in all the major covid mis-steps – lockdowns and vaccines. Only the weirdos such as those on this and similar sites who stood against the covid madness want the truth to be revealed, want the guilty men and women arraigned. Everyone else either is still a true believer, or (if they have subsequently changed their mind) has a guilty conscience. Either way none of them want a Covid Truth and Reconciliation commission. They either want what was done declared ‘The right thing to have done’, or they want it all brushed under the carpet so they don’t have to consider their own part in it.

  • Kirk

    You can make any system work, so long as said system is responsive to failure. That’s the essential problem with socialism; absent the market, you’re dependent upon the decisions of people who’re insulated from failure’s consequence, and never held accountable.

    The situation has to be thought of in terms of system; if there’s a feedback loop, of any sort, then you can make it work. You want one-man rule? Then, when that one man proves to be an idiot or fails, you replace him with someone better. The “one man” is entrenched? You’re screwed; you can’t replace him or route around him.

    The current crisis of Western governance can best be thought of as a failure of system, in that the feedback loops aren’t feeding back. There are no consequences to failure, or the failures are so diffuse and far-off that no consequence can be delivered to the failed decision-making authority.

    The things that we’re missing the most are accountability and consequence: If Fauci were being dragged out and set afire atop a bonfire, then that would serve as a salutary lesson to his fellow unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats. But, he ain’t having that happen, so he and his ilk get to keep on keeping on with their unaccountable little fiddles and power-trips.

    You really have to analyze a society, organization, or government in terms of purely mechanistic fit and function: What are the process feedback loops? Where do the corrections come in, and who delivers them?

    Right now, most of those are gone. By design. Because idiots thought it would be wise to off-load their tough jobs of making decisions and being accountable for them to unelected subsidiaries like the US Federal bureaucracy and the EU. Politicians did this because they liked it; it gave them a cut-out: “Oh, I’m sorry… That’s the Department of Agriculture doing that…”, rather than “Oh, yeah… Sorry! Bad law, bad idea… My mistake…”

    You’ve also got the other problem I’ve been railing about for years and years… The people running these institutions have not a clue how they actually work. They think that they’re on top of it all, making decisions that are enforced by fiat, through their merest whim. “I write a memo; I send an email: Thus, shall it be…”

    World don’t work quite like that. The idiots need to go out and look at the real reasons people do the things they do, the ones they don’t want. There are factors out there, beyond reach of a memo or legislation, that they have to account for. Those are the things that actually make people do what they do.

    It’s like the precipitous drop in birth rates; why are they happening? Well… There are a thousand-and-one things that go into it, and you have to address all of them to fix the problem. On the one hand, we wanted smaller and more fuel-efficient cars; we mandated extensive and expensive safety systems for transporting those kids that ain’t being born in cars… So, they weren’t born, because they don’t fit and the potential parents can’t afford elaborate safety seats to coddle them in. All “good ideas” promulgated by well-meaning numpties that have precisely zero idea about what the actual downstream effects of their “good ideas” will be…

    That’s the root of the problem, right there. Zero accountability, zero consequence for the idiots. Look and see what happened to those EPA officials here in the US who killed a thousand-mile stretch of a major river via an unnecessary mine breach they demanded be made… None were fired, none were disciplined, and they even got promotions and performance bonuses for that period.

    And, you wonder why things are so poorly-run? LOL… Yeah, totally inexplicable, that.

  • Jim

    Kirk has absolutely nailed it.