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There was very little in the government’s response to Covid that was in any way new

In 1923 they are dealing with a highly infectious but not particularly deadly disease. It has even made the editorial pages of The Times of 14 December, parts of which I quote below. I have made some redactions to emphasise the parallels with a more recent epidemic but – so help me – I have done my best to retain the meaning. See if any of it sounds familiar.

The return of the disease… is extremely disappointing.

…during the present crisis the regulations based on [a government inquiry’s] conclusions have been scrupulously observed. Every possible precaution, in fact, has been taken. Everything that knowledge and experience can suggest has been done to stop the ravages of the disease, and yet so far none of the measures adopted appears to have produced any tangible result.

In view of the gravity of the situation, it is not, therefore, altogether surprising that the suggestion has been made that, since in this particular instance the policy… has proved ineffective, it ought to be dropped.

Fortunately, however, there is not the least chance that such a suggestion will be carried out. The whole weight of the [expert] opinion of the country is against it.

The real alternative, as [a member of the Great and Good] said yesterday, “is… between [the draconian policy] and letting the thing rip.”

…In thirty-one years, up to last March, [the] disease has only cost the country £1,000,000, whereas the loss every year… in Holland is two-and-a-half times as large…

In case you were wondering the disease in question is foot & mouth disease – a disease that affects livestock. While it is tempting to claim that the government during the Covid era was treating us like cattle… or sheep… or pigs, I am not sure that is true; they weren’t actually sending round squads to do us in. Even so the similarities are remarkable.

19 comments to There was very little in the government’s response to Covid that was in any way new

  • Fred Z

    Jesus, delete this post, you’ll be giving them ideas for next time, I don’t want to shot if I get the next flu variant.

  • Kirk

    If you go back and look at the history of the so-called Spanish Influenza epidemic, the parallels and approaches taken by the authorities in that instance and the recent COVID idiocy are painfully clear. Right down to the useless mask mandates, and complete denial about the whole thing causing countless deaths. The sole reason that the Spanish Influenza epidemic has that name is that the Western Entente censored the facts out of existence. The epidemic actually got its start here in the US Midwest, and may well have come out of China brought by drafts of Chinese coolie labor transported across Canada by rail.

    History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme. With irony.

  • WindyPants

    Wasn’t it found, in the 2001 Foot & Mouth outbreak in the UK, that it was the agents of DEFRA (the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) who were the biggest vectors of the disease?

  • Patrick Crozier

    Oddly enough, someone has written to The Times suggesting that slaughtermen tasked with killing diseased animals should perhaps remove their aprons before going down the pub.

  • Colli

    Oddly enough, someone has written to The Times suggesting that slaughtermen tasked with killing diseased animals should perhaps remove their aprons before going down the pub.

    I’m sorry… did they not do that before? Even if it was not forbidden by law, surely the proprietor would not exactly be happy with that?

  • DiscoveredJoys

    An ironic truth is that epidemics and (large) natural disasters cannot be controlled by governments. This is an affront to their natural and god given authority – so they do their best to control what they can to preserve their authority, even if their measures are ineffective.

    There I’ve boiled down the secret findings of the COVID enquiry without spending a penny. Those findings will never see the light of day, of course.

  • bobby b

    I would consider it to be almost best practices to take the butcher’s apron off even after the undiseased cows. As a baseline requirement for entry, even.

  • Stonyground

    I’m quite intrigued by the open admission that the measures being taken don’t work but we are going to keep doing them anyway. The use of the word ‘fortunately’ when stating that those who are saying that the measures are pointless and should cease will be ignored is interesting, fortunately we are going to ignore reality, really fortunate that. I also think that DiscoveredJoys has worked out what the problem is.

  • llamas

    As a younger man, I (and all my fellow students) knew every pub in London that had special licensing hours, as they were adjacent to the main meat, fish and vegetable markets (Smithfield, Billingsgate, Covent Garden). In those dear, dead days, all normal pubs closed at 10 or 11 pm, but the market pubs were open from midnight to around 8 am – since all the markets worked all night. So you could get a (legal) drink at 4 in the morning. If you wanted to.

    I hate to break it to the hygienically-minded, but the porters and stall workers would come into the pubs in their working attire, aprons, caps, boots and all, no-one thought anything of it, and they would get served without a murmur. Perhaps their appearances and fragrances were somewhat-unappealing, but they were nothing to what could be seen and smelled right outside.

    That was more than 50 years ago, though. Maybe things have changed.



  • Sam Duncan

    WindyPants: No, because DEFRA hadn’t been invented yet. And yes, because the old Department of Ag. and Fish was held responsible and abolished (rather conveniently for the European Project, by the way), so all the actual people who might really have borne any responsibility got herded over to the Environment and carried on regardless.

  • NickM

    I was a temp in 2001. I got a job at DEFRA (Rural Payments Agency – paying beef farmers to… er… have cows!) in Newcastle. Basically the Foot and Mouth thing meant the usual staff were too “busy” with that and they needed back-up. Hence me.


    Now, I didn’t see anything quite like that. But when I read about it in The Times (pay-walled) I wasn’t surprised because it was the most badly run organisation I’ve ever encountered. And trust me on that because I’ve temped a lot. It was fucking awful. I was sacked and re-hired once within 5 minutes. They had apparently confused me with someone else. I was also nearly sacked for racism (my computer had a screen-saver depicting Peter Reid – then manager of Sunderland FC in a way implying he was a monkey). Peter Reid is white and I hadn’t put it there (I do customise my computers but that’s my computers – I don’t do it with a temp Dell). Why did my someone mock the Sunderland manager? Because it was Geordieland! Anyway, it wasn’t even me. I was saved that time because all the other temps spoke up for me to the management.

    The management had been bussed-in from Cornwall and were a coven of three wyrd sisters who had no idea about the specifics of the tribalism of the NE but were covering their arses over even the vaguest hint of “racism”. They were awful. And on mega-cash for their station. I think the extra pay and the bright lights of Newcastle and Gateshead blew their bumpkin minds because they took very long lunchs at bars on the Quayside and knocked off two hours early to go shopping at the Metrocentre. They were totally blatent about how pissed they got and how much they’d spent at House of Fraser on frocks. They’d show off their hang-overs and their latest purchases the next day utterly shamelessly. They were career civil servants. They were unsackable. I was a temp.

    In the end I was “fired” (some of the temps were kept on) because I “typed too fast” and this was “discouraging” to the hunt and peckers. The job was data entry and I was too good with a keyboard. I was not disheartened. It was a relief to be honest. I walked directly to Pertemps and told them the score. They had a new job for me within the hour. My agent said she’d heard it all before about the RPA (and she’d seen my WPM score…)

    I have never worked for the government since. Some folks wonder why I like being self-employed (which has ups, downs and few creamy middles). I think I’ve answered that.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Llamas, thanks for that.

  • It wouldn’t surprise me if they were using that bastard Fergusson’s models either.

  • llamas

    Talk about being transported back in time. . . . I had about 15 minutes of Proust’s madeleine over this.

    I had a job as a plongeur and general kitchen layabout at a restaurant a mile or so West of Smithfield. Work started about 10 pm and we’d knock off about 4 am. A brisk walk East would bring us to the Hand and Shear public house at Smithfield. The regulars called it the ‘Fist and Scissor’, in homage to the artwork of the hanging sign. The license said that only those ‘having business’ in the market could be served, but, being restaurant workers, we could kind-of slide in. Real market workers, if in the bar, were happy to palm our money to the barman and make it kinda-sorta-legal. The Tube would start to run about 6, and it was round the corner to Barbican station and off to classes. There was also the Hope and Anchor, and the Fox. Oh, to be young again. Are any of those pubs still there, does anyone know?

    There was a barmaid of such stunning beauty, I can still see her face today. She worked the late shift at one of Paul Raymond’s ballets in Soho, and when she finished up there, she put her clothes back on and came and worked the morning session as a barmaid, at a different pub. Special licensing hours ended at 8, and she went off home to bed. Many a young student’s heart was lost to this vision of loveliness, but the word was discreetly passed that her boyfriend was a ‘face’ of some sort in the rump of the Krays’ ‘firm’, and that continued good health depended upon leaving her alone. Ah, the dear, dead days.



  • Snorri Godhi

    An ironic truth is that epidemics and (large) natural disasters cannot be controlled by governments.

    Our government did an excellent job of controlling the 1st the latest epidemic, and a reasonable job of controlling subsequent waves (would have done better with HCQ and ivermectin). Several other OECD countries did an even better job in the later waves. None of those governments was composed of English-speaking people.

  • bobby b

    llamas: “I hate to break it to the hygienically-minded, . . .”

    Not so much hygienically-minded, as “not-wishing-to-start-the-barfing-minded.” I have my own set of leathers for killing and butchering days, and they’d have to soak in bleach for a few days before I’d wander into an eating establishment with them. 😉

    People nowadays do NOT want to know where their meat comes from.

  • Kirk

    bobby b said:

    People nowadays do NOT want to know where their meat comes from.

    Dunno, myself… I’ve always thought that you should have been on a first-name basis with at least a few of your meals, in order to understand where meat comes from, and what it costs.

  • bobby b

    I’m searing a ribeye from Dorrie the cow tonight. Dorrie broke two of my toes a while back, so I’m feeling pretty good about this.

  • Paul Marks

    The origin of Covid in the Chinese lab was covered up – and people who told the truth were viciously attacked, most likely to save the reputations of American government agencies and Peter Daszack of the EcoHealth Alliance and the World Health Organisation, who had backed the research of the Chinese lab.

    Generally effective Early Treatments were systematically smeared, on an international basis, many people who could have been saved were allowed to die.

    Insane “lockdowns” were imposed, in many nations, that did NOT “save lives” – on the contrary the “lockdowns” have done terrible harm which will COST MANY LIVES.

    And then there were the “vaccines” – which neither prevented contraction of the disease or transmission of the disease, Covid “vaccines” that have injured and killed many people.