Before the United Kingdom instituted its lockdown, it was intent on following the Swedish model of “mitigation” i.e. trusting people to do the right thing to avert the spread of the virus, rather than instituting draconian lockdowns. The British’s government’s reasoning at the time was based on an understanding that deadly diseases had not in the past been a reason to override people’s liberty and that populations acquire herd immunity through greater exposure to the virus. That is nothing unusual or cruel – allowing viruses to spread and mutate is how strains of viruses become weaker and humans develop immunity to them.
In response to disgraced Professor Neil Ferguson‘s dodgy and non-peer reviewed model predicting mass death that turned out to be wrong (true to form to his previous incorrect predictions on Swine flu and Foot and Mouth), Boris Johnson’s government famously u-turned and instituted a state-imposed lockdown, imprisoning all Britons to their homes. The reason given was to protect the NHS:
“To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from Coronavirus but from other illnesses as well.
So it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease.
Because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope.”
This was an historically unprecedented attack on British liberties. The Prime Minister himself said on Sunday when announcing a tentative roadmap to ease the lockdown that: “The people of this country began to put up with restrictions on their freedom – your freedom – of a kind that we have never seen before in peace or war.”
To translate, Britain has given up its freedom, at least temporarily, to bolster the NHS.
The UK’s new “national religion” is more like a cult. According to a poll in the Daily Mirror, apparently Britons think the NHS is “the coolest thing ever to exist.” In 2016-2017, Samuel J. Hooper, did an exquisite four part series that appeared on this site called NHS Heresy which detailed how horrendously bad the NHS is by global standards. Of note from Samuel Hooper’s expose was his discussion of a report by the think tank UK 2020 which found, along with many alarming findings about survival rates across different metrics, that: “46,413 people die each year because they were treated on the NHS rather than by the healthcare system with the best health outcomes in the world. The political consensus surrounding the NHS is causing people to die unnecessarily.” A great summary of the report that appeared in the Sunday Times can be read here.
In other words, in a normal year the NHS’s poor quality healthcare is killing people despite ever increasing funding.
The NHS has failed in handling the COVID-19 Crisis
So how has the NHS performed after being given the complete shut down of the economy and all British liberty in an effort to “protect it”? Horribly.
Currently, the UK has (allegedly – lack of testing and the question of whether one died of coronavirus or with the coronavirus is difficult to tell) the highest death toll in Europe and is among the highest death per million due to coronavirus (behind Belgium, Spain and Italy who had harsher lockdowns than the UK). Why are deaths in the UK so high? Arguably, the NHS.
The first reason is the NHS helped exacerbate the problem of UK deaths is the fact that the NHS caused the care-home crisis that is fuelling deaths throughout the United Kingdom. Currently, 40% of England and Wales COVID deaths have occured in care homes. In a fantastic expose for Spiked, Fraser Myers explained how not only have deaths in care homes from COVID occured from the NHS discharging elderly patients into care homes where residents and staff often do not have PPE, but, as the Telegraph reports, non-COVID deaths are occurring as part of this effort to “Save the NHS” and clear up hospital space.
The second reason is that in an effort to “protect the NHS” it is especially disconcerting when it is apparent that British people are not reporting other, more serious than COVID-19 conditions such as heart attacks and cancer. In a particularly stark and scary situation, Dr. Gemma Peters, Chief Executive of Blood Cancer UK stated that since the lockdown began: “two-week urgent referrals for cancer tests and diagnoses have fallen by an average of 76 per cent.” And this situation is not just a problem for cancer, as Chris Baraniuk in Wired explains: “the lockdown has had problematic side effects. From cancer to arthritis to heart attacks, there are all sorts of conditions that require timely diagnosis and interventions. Missing or failing to treat them could lead to a staggering number of otherwise avoidable deaths.”
Meanwhile, how “protected” is the NHS currently? So protected that there are estimated to be around 40,000 empty NHS hospital beds and A&E admissions are down by a third and the Nightingale hospitals built for COVID patients are mostly empty.
Thirdly, the NHS itself is responsible for the PPE shortages that have hurt its staff – as Dr. John Sydenham explained on this site last month. NHS England made the contracts that are causing this problem. In other words, the NHS endangered its own staff through its incompetence and red tape. No wonder NHS doctors, even before COVID-19, were quitting the NHS in record numbers.
There is no proof the Lockdown is saving Lives
Lockdown defenders will respond that even if there are incidental deaths related to NHS incompetence that, as the Prime Minister said on Sunday: “it is a fact that by adopting those measures we prevented this country from being engulfed by what could have been a catastrophe in which the reasonable worst-case scenario was half a million fatalities.” This claim is not true.
Comparing locations of places that have implemented lockdowns with those that have not does not show that lockdowns have had any beneficial effect on COVID cases or deaths. Further, every nation that has not implemented a lockdown has fared better than Britain – whether it be elderly and densely populated Japan, excluded from the WTO Taiwan, poor Belarus or Sweden – a nation that will have herd immunity in Stockholm this month and that Foreign Affairs noted: “has succeeded in bolstering immunity among the young and the healthy—those at the lowest risk of serious complications from COVID-19—while also flattening the curve. The country’s intensive care units have not been overrun, and hospital staffs, although under strain, have at least not had to juggle additional childcare responsibilities because daycares and lower schools continue to operate.”
However, the British government’s dangerous lockdown approach to “protect the NHS” – is not simply bad because it is creating short term deaths. It is dangerous because it is literally suffocating the liberty and economy of the people.
The Lockdown is devastating the economy
Economically, this lockdown is leading Britain to its worst recession since the Great Frost of 1709. Worse than the Great Depression, worse than the Financial Crisis, worse than the Long Depression, worse than the loss of America, worse than the South Sea bubble- epically, historically bad. What will this mean? Poverty. Crushing debt and oppressively higher taxes to pay for it. Due to the Lockdown half of Britons are getting their wages paid by the state – this is not sustainable. And the lockdown will ultimately kill more people than any people allegedly “saved” by the lockdown that “protected the NHS”. Beyond the UK’s shores the results of the lockdowns will be starker – and may even lead to mass starvation as the UN is predicting nearly 130 million people will be on the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. This is especially disheartening when one considers that at the beginning of the year, for the first time in human history, the percentage of people in absolute poverty had fallen below 10%.
The Lockdown is destroying ancient British liberties
Beyond even the absolute destruction of the economy inflicted on the United Kingdom in the effort to “protect” the NHS is the potential for a society that is unrecognizable. The government’s “Our Plan to Rebuild” document states explicitly: “our plan must countenance a situation where we are in this, together, for the long haul”, “we must acknowledge that life will be different, at least for the foreseeable future”, and that although it “is clear that the only feasible long-term solution lies with a vaccine or drug-based treatment”, it “is possible a safe and effective vaccine will not be developed for a long time (or even ever)”. One might ask, in response to this, why must we wait for a vaccine? Why does the UK not deal with the coronavirus like it did with the deadly 1968 flu, for example? The answer is also to be found in the government’s paper – specifically on page 13: “allowing the virus to spread in an uncontrolled manner until natural population-level immunity is achieved would put the NHS under enormous pressure.”
And there you have it. Life must be “different for the foreseeable future” because the NHS would be put under pressure. Notice the NHS is no longer in danger of being “overwhelmed” but only under pressure. Life as you know it cannot continue because a health service mustn’t feel under pressure.
Now what do they mean when they say “life will be different”? It means a world of permanent social distancing – until, if ever, a vaccine is found. A world of only meeting one member of your family – and in a park. It means no hugging. It means no shaking hands. It means no sports – at least not sports with fans in attendance. It means no trial by jury. It means no raucous debates in Parliament. It means if and when pubs are open at all people solemnly and quietly sit two metres apart. It means no after work happy hours. It means little children not allowed to play with another and being looked after with a distant figure in a mask. It means adolescents are not allowed to find love for the first time. It means no theatres. It means no night clubs and dancing into the night. It means no religious services. It means no large weddings. It means domestic abuse is able to thrive. It means no big reunions of old friends. It means no love. It means no joy. It means a bleak, grey dystopia. And for what must we enter this world? For the NHS.
Boris Johnson is traditionally known as a lover of freedom. He once said that his political mayor was the mayor in the movie “Jaws” who kept the beach open. He explained his reasoning as such: “in principle, we need more politicians like the mayor – we are often the only obstacle against all the nonsense which is really a massive conspiracy against the taxpayer.” With a lockdown threatening to destroy the livelihoods of the British nation to protect the NHS we currently are in the most massive conspiracy against the taxpayer the United Kingdom has ever known – and we need the Prime Minister to step up and stop it.
The Prime Minister is an uneviable spot. Just yesterday, the New York Times ran a story about how Boris Johnson getting the coronavirus himself made him change from being “relaxed about the pandemic” and “shaking hands with coronavirus patients in hospitals” to being among the most cautious leaders in the world. To change now, may level him with the accusation that he is fine with being lax on handling the coronavirus once he has recovered. Further, the lockdown is popular, to end it now would be politically unpopular at a time where his party has a massive lead in the polls over the weak, pro-lockdown Labour party.
However, leadership is not about doing what is popular or expedient. It is about doing what is right for those you lead. Boris Johnson understood that when he campaigned for Leave despite the position making him unpopular among his family, his class, the Tory leadership, and the city he was mayor of. According to Fraser Nelson, he is disturbed by how subservient the British people had been to the “stay at home” message. To use a Boris Johnson phrase, he needs to discover that “can do spirit” of his hero Winston Churchill and explain to his people the social, economic and public health devastation that will come if the lockdown is not lifted. He needs to scrap his government’s mad plan for a permanent dystopia and work to bring the country back together again. And finally, he must stand up for the British people, its liberties, economy and traditions against the sacred cow of an ever-expanding all-powerful bureacracy called the NHS. He must show courage soon – before it is too late.