We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – NHS religious cult update

Why does everything have to be justified on the basis that it will help the NHS? Especially when the NHS is failing its patients so badly? UK healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP now ranks fifth highest in the OECD, yet the system isn’t delivering even the most basic forms of care. Some 2.7 million people are sitting anxiously on the waiting list.

Kate Andrews

There’s a word for this

Catastrophic care protocols

If you have not seen this, discussing catastrophic care protocols, it beggars belief. If anyone with more germane technical knowledge can pick holes in this, please do so in the comments because if this is entirely correct, we should be looking at a Nuremburg level response.

Related 1: from Chris Littlewood
Related 2: from Norman Fenton and Martin Neil

This brings a whole new meaning to “brigading” on social media

What is the 77th Brigade for? According to its own website, the mission of this unit of the British Army is to CHALLENGE THE DIFFICULTIES OF MODERN WARFARE. Despite the capital letters I do not feel hugely better informed. It continues,

We are a combined Regular and Army Reserve unit. Our aim is to challenge the difficulties of modern warfare using non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of the opposing forces and adversaries.

Um, okay. I would not want the difficulties of modern warfare to go unchallenged. I would even be up for them challenging the easy bits of modern warfare while they’re at it. However, before I give my wholehearted support to “adapting behaviours of the opposing forces” I would like to know what adapting-without-a-to means in normal English. Is it us changing them or them changing us? The question is pertinent because according to a whistleblower who contacted the civil liberties organisation Big Brother Watch, the last part of the line about the target of the British Army’s behavioural adaptation squad being “opposing forces and adversaries” seems to have been quietly dropped.

This link allows you to download a Big Brother Watch report called Ministry of Truth: the secretive government units spying on your speech.

The key findings are:

  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Conservative MPs David Davis and Chris Green, high profile academics from the University of Oxford and University College London, and journalists including Peter Hitchens and Julia Hartley-Brewer, all had comments critical of the government analysed by anti-misinformation units.
  • Targeted speech included public criticism of the government’s pandemic response – particularly lockdown modelling and vaccine passports – as well as journalists’ criticism of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and MPs’ criticism of NATO
  • Soldiers from the Army’s 77th Brigade, tasked with “non-lethal psychological warfare”, collected tweets from British citizens posting about Covid-19 and passed them to central government – despite claiming operations were directed strictly overseas
  • A counter-misinformation unit pressured the Dept. of Health to attack newspapers for publishing articles analysing Covid-19 modelling that it feared would undermine compliance with pandemic restrictions.
  • MPs and journalists were featured in “vaccine hesitancy reports” for opposing vaccine passports
  • Contractors paid over £1m to trawl social media for perceived terms of service violations on selected topics and pass them to government officials
  • Counter-disinformation units use special relationships with social media companies to recommend content be removed
  • Front organisations aimed at minority communities were set up to spread government propaganda in the UK
  • BBW have provided a jolly little template that allows you exercise your legal right to find out if you personally were having your social media posts monitored. However that does seem to involve giving the government the real name behind your twitter handle, which in the circumstances…

    Samizdata quote of the day – Let’s not re-write the recent past

    Becoming vaccinated was the easy choice, not the hard one. There was never any evidence it was the sensible choice and it could be argued – and this may seem harsh – that if you were determined to be part of the group, wilfully and determinedly deaf to any counter-argument or even call for caution, absolutist in your own belief in you virtue and knowledge, irrationally frightened of death, unthinking, superficial and glib, fearful of other people’s opinion of you, filled with desire/fear to comply with the powerful for safety or favour, then becoming vaccinated was the only choice. But these are not exactly admirable qualities.

    Common Knowledge Edinburgh

    I suspect this article will annoy some people as it is a divisive issue. I do not agree with every point of the article either (I am not anti-vaccines per se, I just don’t think this particular one made any sense), but it does raise points worth pondering.

    Samizdata quote of the day

    It was generally known [the Inspector-General said] that great quantities of opium were grown up-country and smuggled into the wealthy cities in violation of the law with the connivance of the provincial and military officials. The illicit growth, transport, and consumption had become a serious problem, and the question arose whether the Chinese Government should not recognize an evil that seemed ineradicable from China, create a monopoly of the drug, and license users at rates, of course, as nearly prohibitive as practicable.

    – Sir Francis Aglen, The Times, 25 January 1923 as dredged up by yours truly for this week’s episode of What the Paper Said.

    You were entirely in the tank, Jacinda

    ‘Jacinda Ardern has announced she will quit as New Zealand prime minister ahead of this year’s election, saying she no longer has “enough in the tank” to lead’, reports the BBC.

    ‘Ms Ardern choked up as she detailed how six “challenging” years in the job had taken a toll

    Labour Party MPs will vote to find her replacement on Sunday.

    The shock announcement comes as polling indicates the party faces a difficult path to re-election on 14 October.’

    The only shock was that she chose to jump rather than be pushed. Still, she can comfort herself with the thought that though her support inside New Zealand may have diminished, she remains much esteemed by the great and good worldwide.

    He who pays the piper says when the tune stops

    “Canada wrestles with euthanasia for the mentally ill”, reports the BBC. Actually, the headline starts with the question “Who can die?” to which I would have thought the answer was obvious. But while death undoubtedly comes to us all eventually, when the state pays for healthcare it pays the state to make death come sooner:

    … last autumn, authorities launched an investigation after at least four veterans were prompted to consider Maid [the acronym for Canada’s medical assistance in dying programme] by a Veterans Affairs case worker, who now no longer works for the department. In one instance, veteran and paralympian Christine Gauthier said she was offered the option by the employee after she asked for a wheelchair ramp to be installed in her home.

    Progressivism, the shield against Covid

    This tweet by “the Rabbit Hole” is possibly the most damning, and the funniest, single image of media double standards I have ever seen:

    In case someone else buys Twitter and it goes away, the image shows matched pairs of headlines from Vox, the Washington Post, Forbes, ABC News, the Insider, CNN, CNBC, the New York Times, the Verge and the AP. Every one of these outlets decided to run essentially the same pair of stories a few months apart. Taking but two examples,

    The Insider said “Don’t blame Black Lives Matter protests for the spike in coronavirus cases across the US” and “The Capitol insurrection seems to have caused a superspreader event among lawmakers. Some Republicans refused to mask up.”

    The Verge said, “Blaming protesters for COVID-19 spread ignores the bigger threats to health” and “COVID-19 cases in the Capitol are only the tip of the iceberg.”

    And so on for the rest of them.

    I can remember a time when if separate reports written by many different journalists in a whole bunch of famous newspapers and TV channels all said the same thing, it made me more likely to believe them.

    Eppur there has been record spending on the NHS

    Paul Waugh, the Chief Political Commentator for the Independent‘s spinoff the i Newspaper, tweets, “On @BBCr4today, Unison’s @cmcanea did an excellent job of explaining why Govt claims of “record” funding for the NHS are misleading. (ie health inflation higher than normal inflation + demographic pressure)

    Here’s a key graph to remember whenever you hear ‘record’ spending”

    His tweet then shows a graph of the average annual increase in government spending on health in 2019/20 prices for various governments plotted against time. Note that inflation is already accounted for by having all the spending figures at 2019/2020 prices. If spending on the NHS had merely kept pace with inflation, the bars would all have a height of zero. As it is, all of the bars are positive. Therefore not only has there been record funding for the NHS under this government, there has been record funding for the NHS under every government.

    Whether one thinks this a good thing or a bad thing, it is a fact.

    Samizdata quote of the day – the venal fallible state is vastly too powerful edition

    As far as Hancock was concerned, anyone who fundamentally disagreed with his approach [to Covid] was mad and dangerous and needed to be shut down. His account shows how quickly the suppression of genuine medical misinformation – a worthy endeavour during a public health crisis – morphed into an aggressive government-driven campaign to smear and silence those who criticised the response. Aided by the Cabinet Office, the Department of Health harnessed the full power of the state to crush individuals and groups whose views were seen as a threat to public acceptance of official messages and policy. As early as January 2020, Hancock reveals that his special adviser was speaking to Twitter about ‘tweaking their algorithms’. Later he personally texted his old coalition colleague Nick Clegg, now a big cheese at Facebook, to enlist his help. The former Lib Dem deputy prime minister was happy to oblige.

    Such was the fear of ‘anti-vaxxers’ that the Cabinet Office used a team hitherto dedicated to tackling Isis propaganda to curb their influence. The zero-tolerance approach extended to dissenting doctors and academics. The eminent scientists behind the so-called Barrington Declaration, which argued that public health efforts should focus on protecting the most vulnerable while allowing the general population to build up natural immunity to the virus, were widely vilified: Hancock genuinely considered their views a threat to public health.


    Hancock, Whitty and Johnson knew full well that non-medical face masks do very little to prevent transmission of the virus. People were made to wear them anyway because Dominic Cummings was fixated with them; because Nicola Sturgeon liked them; and above all because they were symbolic of the public health emergency.

    Isabel Oakeshott, laying out a damning narrative of the government’s response to Covid. Strangely, the linked article’s very feeble final paragraph seems at odds with the listed litany of woe Matt Hancock and his ilk were responsible for.

    Samizdata quote of the day

    COVID is only a problem for people with some form of compromised immunity and/or comorbidity.

    It has always been thus.

    As Dr McCullough would say – “it is amenable to risk stratification and effective early treatment” (whatever “it” is, which you will understand is not actually that important if you read on).

    The “hammer” approach is actually a great analogy. It’s just like this other one: “A sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

    My favourite way of expressing it at the time was taking a homogenous approach to tackling a heterogeneous problem.

    Absurd, illogical, inefficient, doomed to inevitably fail even absolutely let alone in terms of relative cost/benefit.

    Several months later, the best epidemiologists in the world articulated it in The Great Barrington Declaration.

    What’s truly incredible is that any of this needs saying. I can still clearly recollect Covidians arguing that it was not easier to protect the vulnerable (who were already mainly corralled in hospitals and care homes anyway) who numbered no more than 2% of the population, than it was to shut down the other 98%.

    Joel Smalley