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]

Nigel Farage says ‘Say No to House Arrest’ – and a perspective on Red China

A video blog from Nigel, asking questions in his usual style about the lockdown and what it is for, police behaviour, and posing some questions about the UK’s relations with China. Then a China Uncensored video giving a view on the Red China ‘cure’ for coronavirus. He also has a good word for Stephen Kinnock going to see his Dad on his Old Man’s birthday.

A British politician calling for liberty, there is one.

And from China Uncensored, (a Taiwanese-backed channel I believe), a contrast on the American media’s soft touch on China with what has been going on.

Melanie Phillips on why she left the Left – and in particular on antisemitism

Just now, a lot of people have a lot of time on their hands, and might therefore be open to the idea of watching and listening to a talking head for the best part of an hour. Accordingly, I now recommend this video interview, which I myself have just watched for the first time. Steve Edginton of the Sun newspaper asks a few short questions. Melanie Phillips supplies some much longer answers.

At the end of the interview, Phillips mentions a couple of relevant books she has written. These are her novel, The Legacy, and her memoir about how she used to work for the Guardian, Guardian Angel: My Journey from Leftism to Sanity.

A lot of us also now have more time for books. For actually reading them, I mean.

Melanie Phillips did this interview a few days ago. I wrote this Samizdata posting about Labour antisemitism in May 2018. I deduced what I did from the distant din of battles which I was not personally part of. Phillips tells the same story from direct personal experience, along with several other closely related stories.

Like I say: highly recommended.

Derbyshire police droning on

Drones are fun. I understand that. But people do need to use them responsibly.

The BBC reports: Coronavirus: Peak District drone police criticised for ‘lockdown shaming’

Derbyshire Police filmed people in pairs rambling in the Curbar Edge area of the beauty spot on Wednesday.

In pairs. Not mobs, pairs.

Officers said travelling to remote areas for exercise did not count as “essential travel” as permitted under government lockdown rules.

But travelling to remote areas and flying your drones there, that’s essential.

UK civil liberties group Big Brother Watch branded the move “sinister” and “counter-productive”.

The 90-second clip, shot by the force’s drone unit, showed people walking their dogs and taking photos.

It said “the message is still not getting through” about stopping the spread of coronavirus, despite government guidance and several police posts.

One Twitter user called it “the worst kind of nanny policing” while others pointed out that the walkers were away from crowds.

Here is the tweet in question. I am glad there was some pushback. This response from “miroirdufou” was polite but effective:

Hi. Please explain (in terms of epidemiology) exactly what harm these people are doing, taking quiet exercise away from crowds, in small numbers? And if they’re doing no harm, leave them alone?

This chicken has more freedom than anyone in Britain

A free chicken

Here is a free-range chicken in a layer flock at a site somewhere in Northamptonshire in the English Midlands. It roams free, it does not risk an unlimited fine for leaving its home without just cause, it can associate with chickens other than its flock, or any feathered or non-feathered friend. It does not have to queue to get into shops to buy basics, (nor did it ever), nor justify itself if it wishes to stroll around more than once a day. Although its parents were cooped up because of bird ‘flu a few years back, it knows only liberty. Mind you it doesn’t have the right to bear/bare arms, nor any right to free speech, nor protection against unreasonable searches or seizures. No one is going to ask it to self-incriminate, well, perhaps next week.

It is not required to keep itself 6 feet, 6 and three-quarter inches (or 2 metres) from other chickens not from its yard. It is not under sentence of death as it is not raised for meat. Welcome to the UK, where the chickens run free and there once was liberty. Do you think the concept might catch on?

Mind you, at least we are safer from the virus now, aren’t we.

Oh-oh

Gordon Brown says world leaders should create temporary global government

A little thing you can do to help businesses struggling due to the quarantine

You could pay now for a session with a business such as a hairdresser, gym or restaurant that has been forced to shut during the quarantine, the voucher to be redeemed whenever the establishment re-opens. The appointment could be for your own use, or as a gift for someone else. It might be a way that someone who has been in isolation can thank whoever did their shopping, while helping the proprietors of the business get some cash coming in when they need it most.

What will you yield?

Duke Gorlois of Cornwall: “Lord Uther, if I yield to the sword of power – what will you yield?”

Uther Pendragon: “ME YIELD !!!??”    (from the film Excalibur*)

We are yielding quite a few liberties to the dread virus – to the need to flatten the curve of disease to what the NHS can handle. Steve Baker’s speech says it well.

As regards mere money, the government will provide tide-you-over assistance to those whose cash flow cannot outlast these measures. Their loss will still be a net loss (and since all the government’s money is ultimately provided by us, the tide-you-over sum will one day be repaid with interest) but there is help for those facing outgoings with no incomings.

How about the liberty account? As we yield many liberties, could the state perhaps yield back a few others they have taken? Might the police who will now ask, “Is your journey really necessary under our latest emergency regulations?”, include all who were previously asking, “Is your remark really permissible under our modern hate speech laws?” Any chance the power of the state, when not enforcing the new rules, could be wholly focussed on fighting things the public consider criminal, not things the politically correct consider offensive?

It is a fair question (to the state, but even more to the ‘elite’ apocalypticists): if we yield to the danger of the virus – what will you yield?


* (Quoted from my old memory of the film. If I’ve remembered it right, I think Uther’s grammar is wrong here – it should be “I YIELD”.)

We are all Uighurs now.

The ramblings of our Prime Minister this evening, no data, no projections, no reasoning other than the projected incompetence of our nationalised health care system, no laws cited (but they are there), and have been since 10th February 2020, backed up by threats and fear-mongering, announcing restrictions on the UK in an echo of what the Chinese Communist Party is imposing on Uighurs, evidence the triumph of the Chinese Communist Party in crushing the West, without (and indeed on account of not) lifting a finger.

And yet the borders remain open, as far as we know, to flights from hotspots such as China, Italy, Spain and Iran. This has all been thought through, and Johnson is content that it be so, is he being played or a player? if we wanted loo roll shortages and economic chaos and inflation we’d have voted in Corbyn last December, a man who is in power in terms of outcomes, but is not in office.

Might they deal with you too, Sadiq?

Violating lockdown has joined hate speech on the very short list of crimes that the mayor of London does want enforced. He favours having the army deal with lockdown violators.

Some 15 years ago, the lieutenant-colonel who was to handle a key part of lockdown if terrorists hit London with a bioweapon was someone I knew well. “Lucky you”, my friends said, when that chanced to come up in conversation. “While we’re being gunned down by the ruthless soldiery as we try to flee the capital, you’ll be able to slip through the lines.” – to which I replied (jokingly – they thought! 🙂 ), “You don’t know her. She’ll shoot down her friends with the others; why do you think she got the job!”

I think my friend would have made full colonel if she’d stuck with it, but the time demands on the rest of her life would have been too great and she is now happily pursuing other choices. I don’t know who would be in charge if the army were called in, but I hope they’ll have the same willingness to call Sadiq Khan out – not least because the only consideration that might make him and his kind hesitate to see the crisis as “a terrible thing to waste” is the worry that others might think the same.

What joining a union can do for you

In Laurence Fox’s case, get you Officially Denounced – and then a payout for being denounced.

In the midst of a pandemic, this story, comparatively trivial but not without consequences, may have passed you by.

Laurence Fox is an actor and musician. Two months ago he caused rather a stir on the BBC political panel show Question Time. I posted about it here: Has the BBC stopped putting bromide in its actors’ tea?

As I said in that post,

The actors’ union Equity helped spread the story by calling on actors to “unequivocally denounce” their fellow. Yes, those exact words. Equity has now backtracked, but it went to prove Mr Fox’s point.

In the end Equity had to do more than backtrack. On March 13th the Guardian reported,

Equity apology to Laurence Fox sparks string of resignations.

The entire race equality committee of Equity has resigned in protest after the actors’ union apologised on its behalf for criticising Laurence Fox’s views on race and paid an out-of-court settlement to the actor after he threatened to sue them for libel.

I am sure they will be greatly missed.

The former star of the detective drama Lewis also used his appearance on the BBC discussion show to insist it was “racist” for an audience member to call him “a white, privileged male”.

“We’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe,” he said at the time. “It’s so easy to throw the card of racism at everybody and it’s really starting to get boring now.”

In the aftermath of his appearance, minority representatives of the actors’ union made a series of accusations on Twitter against Fox, saying he wanted to “berate and bully women of colour attempting to discuss issues of race and gender discrimination”.

Narrator’s voice: he didn’t really.

On Friday, the actors’ union issued a carefully worded statement apologising for the comments, with sources saying a payment had been made to the actor: “We are sorry that in the tweets he was called a ‘disgrace’ by Equity. It was a mistake for Equity as an organisation to criticise him in this way. Nothing in Equity’s later statement was intended as a slur on his character or views, or to suggest that he should be denied the ability to work. We would like to make that clear. Equity and Laurence Fox condemn prejudice unequivocally in all its forms.”

Daniel York Loh, the former chair of the race equality committee, said he and his eight other colleagues on the committee, elected by the union’s minority ethnic members, felt forced to resign as a result of the decision to apologise to the actor.

I think that should read “as a result of the decision to apologise to their own member”.

He tweeted: “Equity and La*rence F*x can issue as many joint statements and apologies as they like. It’s nothing to do with me and I apologise for nothing.”

If Mr Loh says that Equity’s apology is nothing to do with him, I assume that means that he has not just resigned from the union’s race equality committee but from the union itself – which in practice would mean that he has resigned from being an actor. A principled decision indeed.

Fox, a member of a well-known acting family, previously said he was concerned he would not be able to work following the intervention from the Equity race equality committee. A source close to Fox said a particular concern was its call for him to be “unequivocally denounced” for his comments on race, which could have reduced his ability to earn money from roles and make a living to enable him to look after his family.

Having lost its race equality committee, Equity might like to see if it can manage without replacing this expensive luxury.

Samizdata quote of the day

No; fuckwit lefties of twitter – That the crashcart has arrived and a medic is urgently applying paddles to a patient in arrest does *not* mean a defibrillation session every morning would do us all good.

– Guy Herbert

Destroying our economy to save the NHS?

This is probably one of the few places in the internet, never mind the regular media, where people can get to debate the wonders of socialised medicine without being under the burden of proving that they are not evil. In the UK, we have had since the late 1940s a healthcare system that dominates the field, with a relatively small private sector. The National Health Service, funded from tax and run as a monopoly, with politicians and civil servants allocating resources, was modeled, as so many post-war institutions were, on the idea of state central planning. The narrative of the time was that planning was the way to go, unlike all that messy, chaotic “laissez faire” that had been associated, however wrongly, with the Great Depression and so on. (Here is a good paper on the NHS by the Institute of Economic Affairs.) I can also recommend this book, by James Bartholomew on the many problems with the UK welfare state.

The NHS, like many of the other socialised medical systems in much of the developed world, faces the monstrous coronavirus. And so much of the current policy approach – the UK is going into more of a lockdown as of this weekend – is designed, so it is said, to flatten the potential surge of infections and deaths, so that the NHS and other systems don’t collapse. The cost/benefit calculation is being made that it is better to smash the world economy, to force millions into idleness, possibly for months, and tide them over with cash payments funded from vast amounts of debt, than it is to allow the NHS/other to be forced into a nightmare of running out of resources. In some ways I can see the merits of preventing a horrendous surge in deaths; I also think that saving the NHS and other models of healthcare is a sort of virility test of today’s Welfare States. Nothing can be done to admit they have limits, even if that means economic damage on a major scale.

That cost/benefit calculation may look just about defensible now, but what about in two months’ time, particularly if there is no real sign of a deceleration in the virus, but if the struggle to buy even basic household necessities leaves a lot of people in real hardship? I assume that farmers and others in the food production business are not being told to stay at home, but such is the level of madness about this situation that I wonder. I’d like to know how locking people in their homes for months is going to be enforced.

There are also health considerations to be taken into account by such a lock-down, particularly if it goes on for months on end. Humanity is not designed for prison, and those of us in relatively free societies (“relatively” being the operative word) will move from being restless to downright homicidal of this goes on into the summer and beyond. There aren’t enough police to keep everyone cooped up in their homes.

Those bastards in the Chinese Communist Party have a lot to answer for. And yes, COVID-19 began there, and it shows how derelict some of our media/political class has become that is frowned upon to point that out. (The anger is rising, and will have major consequences for our geopolitics.) It would be rather ironic to think that something unleashed by a Communist state, whether by accident or whatever, has put such pressure on Welfare State societies in the West.

Final point: I was due to give a talk tonight at Brian Micklethwait’s place about the recent calls for anti-trust assaults on the Big Techs such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, and I was going to look at parallels with the campaign to break up J D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil more than a century ago. One thing you can say about Rockefeller, was that as well as being a brilliant businessman, and philanthropist in the area of healthcare, among others, he also understood the importance of integrated supply chains in commerce. He’d have looked at our current predicament with interest.