Can we ignore government guidelines if they aren’t legally enforceable?

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Dominic Cummings’ reckless behaviour has opened a rats nest that could undermine the battle against the pandemic.

If we thought that all government rules were the same, we were mistaken. There are two kinds:

  • regulations where the police can fine us if we break them. For example restrictions on our movement (see regulation 6 here).
  • guidelines where the police can’t take action. For example, the guidelines to stay at home if you are infected.

Remember this when you read the following quibble from a Number 10 spokesperson: “The police have made clear they are taking no action against Mr Cummings over his self-isolation and that going to Durham did not breach the regulations.”

What the Durham police actually said was: “Durham Constabulary does not consider that by locating himself at his father’s premises, Mr Cummings committed an offence… (We are concerned here with breaches of the Regulations, not the general Government guidance to “stay at home”.)”

In other words, he may have flouted the government guidance on staying at home while infected, but the regulations didn’t cover that, so the police couldn’t take action.

This is a disaster.

The reality is that, if an infected person ignores the guidelines, it is far worse than if an uninfected person breaks the regulations. His Barnard Castle breach of regulations was far less serious, because he was no longer infected.

At the time he broke them, the guidelines said: “all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days” and “If you have children, keep following this advice to the best of your ability, however, we are aware that not all these measures will be possible.”

Cummings broke those guidelines on three occasions:

  • He went back to work, after he knew his wife was infected
  • He travelled 260 miles to Durham and did not follow the advice to stay at home to the best of his ability. (He has admitted he made no effort to arrange alternative childcare in London)
  • While he was still infected, he drove to the hospital to pick up his son (rather than asking the hospital to arrange transport for his son)

These may not have broken the regulations, but they did break the guidance.

Cummings’ recklessness exposes a serious weakness in the strategy to defeat the virus, that the most important rules to contain it are not enforceable by the police.

And every time Johnson changes the rules, he can legitimately be asked, “Is what you said optional, like the guidance that Cummings flouted; or is it a legal regulation where we could get fined?”

* George Kendall is the acting chair of the Social Democrat Group. He writes in a personal capacity.

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  • For anyone who’s missed this, latest government guidance is:
    “Ask Yourself – What Would Dominic Do?”

  • Matt (Bristol) 29th May '20 - 11:17am

    George, thank you.

    As an avowed social democrat, I’d be interested in your thoughts on a philosophical issue raised by the Cummings farrago:

    As you say his actions seriously stretch the relationship between ‘guidance’ and law — and by doing so they endanger the concept of ‘government / policing by consent’ that we had such emphasis on from government at the start of the crisis.

    How do we, as liberals or democrats, negotiate the relationship between our political ideals, ‘consent’ and ‘consensus’, particular when legislation touches on the personal sphere?

    Increasingly, it seems to me, more and more law, statutory guidance and political debate all focus on ‘intentions’ –
    – is the purpose of your journey necessary?
    – was the intent of your tweet to defame / spread hate speech etc?

    What do we do when a law drafted out of ideology (whoever’s ideology) is adjudged by a particular police force in a particular part of the country to be unenforceable because of a local consensus, or a withdrawal of local consent (let’s take fox hunting law for eg)? Or when a law is arguably misinterpreted due to a prevailing consensus?

    How much should liberals constrain their desire to over-legislate re: intention to ensure reliable compliance to whatever behaviour is judged to be necessary for a liberal / modern / advanced state?

    How do democrats balance a dynamic ethic of consent/consensus against a constitutional / democratic mandate that may lapse in praxis?

  • Peter Martin 29th May '20 - 12:08pm

    I’d have to say the answer to the question is ‘yes’. The obvious answer is to replace guidelines by regulations. Lib Dems seem to have a lot of problems with this, but you can’t have it both ways. You can only have guidelines if you aren’t too concerned about them being ignored.

    There does seem to be an over willingness on the part of Lib Dems to always expect the best of people. Like, for xample, you can give someone a UBI and they’ll use the money wisely. You can probably expect something like nine out of ten people to do that but there will always be one who’ll stuff it up for everyone else.

  • HIS DURHAM HOME. It seems Cummings name is on the deeds of the house. .Therefore it is HIS home. Result. He DID break the law by going to his 2nd home.

  • Maybe Dominic Cummins, Professor Ferguson and other high profile lockdown flouters (like the press door stepping them) don’t believe in the dire warnings they dish out to the general public or in the policy of house arrest they’ve inflicted on us. In short, their word is not to be trusted and they are taking the Michael.

  • Matt (Bristol) 29th May '20 - 4:37pm

    Thanks George for your thoughtful reply.

    I should have been clear that I meant I was speaking as a self-identified social democrat, although I know of course you do to.

    It does seem to me there needs to be some sophisticated political thinking about consensualism in society fairly soon (if we agree there is such a thing as ‘society’ or ‘community’, which I think the party does as one of its core values) as the preceding decade has done a lot of damage to the concept.

  • I can’t help feeling that 90% success for UBI might represent progress…How many people are stuffed by present arrangements?

  • Peter Martin 29th May '20 - 11:02pm

    @ Roland,

    I really don’t understand what you’re getting at. But it’s interesting how there’s always someone who wants to bring every thread back on to Brexit!

  • George Kendall
    I disagree. There is growing evidence that at best there is very little difference between countries that adopted lockdowns than those that didn’t. Japan has abandoned them after a short try, Ethiopia never bothered and has a low death rate, ditto for Belarus, South Korea only had limited lockdowns and so on. There is scant evidence that lockdowns are working. The countries I mentioned all actually have much lower death rates than Britain, Belgium or France, for example. Claiming that the death rates would be much higher without putting the country under house arrest, while ignoring the reality that this is not what is happening in countries that didn’t do the same thing is putting your fingers in yours ears and saying “no,no,no,no”.

  • George Kendall
    But they didn’t all have extensive lockdowns. Maybe testing actually reduces mortality figures by demonstrating that the virus is simply not as lethal as the models suggested.
    Taiwan did not lock down. Nor did South Korea or Vietnam. Nor has Japan. Nor has Belarus or Ethiopia. You are making my point for me. Britain did, Spain did, Italy did, New York has. If the models and solutions were right then you would expect to see an explosion of deaths in the countries that didn’t follow the draconian solutions. It simply has not happened. I suspect that lockdowns, like cutting fat from diets and the theory of hysteria (wombs causing mental health problems), is a medical fad that is being proved wide of the mark. The virus is more correctly a complication that exasperates comorbidities, but there are lots of those. What it isn’t is the Black Death or even the Spanish Flu. This is why I think it is important to get to the bottom of whether or not people are being deceptive or simply flouting rules. Do you want to keep social activities prohibited based on something that is possibly a nonsense, is what I’m questioning.

  • John Marriott 30th May '20 - 8:04am

    Now then, George and Glenn, before you continue trading blows ( by the way, do you folks ever go to bed?), you might like to read the following article from ‘The Critic’ a friend of mine sent me this morning. I hope I got the link right.


    I can’t say that I totally agree, as one death is too many for me, especially if it occurred under the kind of tragic circumstances that we read about all the time in this current pandemic.

  • John Marriott 30th May '20 - 8:08am

    I think I made a slight error.
    The link is:

  • Peter Martin 30th May '20 - 8:35am

    @ Glenn,

    ” Taiwan did not lock down. Nor did South Korea…… Britain did, Spain did, Italy did”

    I’m not sure what argument you’re trying to make here. Taiwan and South Korea had a much better earlier response, ie a much more effective system of testing a tracing, than Spain, Italy, or ourselves so they didn’t need to lock down to anywhere near the same degree.

    “…the virus is simply not as lethal as the models suggested.”

    And how lethal do the models suggest? 1%? Assuming that 50% of the UK population are eventually exposed to the virus would mean over 300,000 deaths. 1% is also assuming the NHS isn’t overwhelmed and the sick do get medical attention. You could probably double this figure if they don’t.

  • @Peter Martin – The point was the logical similarity of the argument, not about Brexit per-say, hence parallels and lessons that can be drawn.
    The irony is in the argument for legally enforceable regulation was being made by someone who supported the Brexit viewpoint that the EU over-regulated by having legally enforceable regulations. This might suggest you can teach an old dog new tricks…

  • Peter Martin
    I’m making a very simple point about death rates. If the models and policies are right countries that did not lock down should have much higher death rates than those that did. Japan, Taiwan, Ethiopia and so on suggest this is not what is happening. Thus the policies and models are unproven at best and more probably wide of the mark.

  • John Marriot
    I went to bed and woke up very early. I suffer bouts of insomnia.

  • Peter Martin 30th May '20 - 10:53am

    @ Roland,

    You’re missing the point about having legally enforceable laws and regulations. No-one is, or was, saying there shouldn’t be any. The disagreement was over who made them.

    @ Glenn,

    It might be a “very simple point” but it’s still wrong. Lockdown policies aren’t the only variable. Japan and Taiwan tackled the problem by aggressively testing their populations. We didn’t.

    I don’t know anything about the course of the epidemic in Ethiopia but I doubt we were in any position to base our policy response on what may or may not have happened there.

  • How is testing a magic bullet. Testing isn’t a treatment. It’s a way of measuring something. The treatment is what you do after the testing. After testing these countries didn’t impose lockdowns. Belgium, Britain, Spain, Italy, America and so on did. Which countries have the higher death rates. But by all means remain happy to have Hancock and Johnson tell you what to do and when you can do it.

  • Peter Martin 30th May '20 - 3:04pm

    @ Glenn,

    The purpose of testing is to identify those who are carrying the virus, isolate them, and only them, until such time as they are free of it, and so prevent the virus being passed on to others. Once that starts to happen on a large scale the virus will die out as it will be unable to replicate itself.

    It’s the same way we eradicate Foot and Mouth disease in cattle except we don’t engage in mass slaughter!

    So it may not be “a magic bullet” but it is a very effective measure.

  • Peter Martin
    I get what the purpose is. Japan did not do that. It briefly followed the trend of social distancing, looked at the death rate, saw looming economic problems and then ended them. Japan is a densely populated Island with an aging population. To be honest, I think some Labour people like yourself see the lockdowns as a sort of socialist reawakening and have invested too much in them. Look around, they’re actually being quietly phased out so that people can go back to having social lives and livelihoods without asking too many questions. On Monday it becomes possible for six people to meet outside. Why Monday and why six? On June 14 nonessential shops can open? Why not June 12 or even now. There are calls to relax social distancing by half a metre! Spain is planning to open it’s tourist industry on July 1st. I would suggest that the fetishistic attachment to arbitrary dates and silly rules are not driven by science, but by politics.

  • Peter Martin
    People are not cattle and as vegan I think cattle shouldn’t be cattle either. Foot and mouth disease is also not fatal. Another one of Fergusons great “successes”.

  • Glenn – in Japan and East Asia people wear masks a lot more in Europe. If you don’t wear masks in those countries, other people will actively avoid you.

    Taiwan literally banned travels and enforced quarantine from February. Same as Australia.

    Korea acted hard and fast within the first few days of the outbreak, with hotspots being quickly quarantined and schools being closed. Mass testing and digital tracing were carried out immediately. They did not wait like Britain did. Also, mask wearing.

    “Belgium, Britain, Spain, Italy, America and so on did.” – Australia, NZ and Canada did, all of them performed better than those countries, especially Australia and NZ which thoroughly suppressed the pandemic.

  • John Marriott 31st May '20 - 8:19am

    @George Kendall
    The article I quoted is, of course, not gospel. It’s just one side of the argument, and potentially a very dangerous one. The fact is that nobody really knowS what the final result of Covid-19 will be. What I have discovered from this latest ‘debate’ is that our friend ‘Glenn’ appears to be a vegan, which explains quite a lot! I’ve got nothing against veganism, by the way, or any ‘ism’ for that matter, as long as it doesn’t become compulsory.

    It’s the point of compulsion that I am making, which surely has been the problem all along in tackling what could be the main crisis, outside of war, of my lifetime. How do you, in a so called democracy like ours, make anybody do anything? I know of people, who have basically not changed their lifestyles at all in these past few months. Does that make them bad people? Yes, if they expect others to protect them by basically doing as they are told, which makes the Cummings affair, which has driven a coach and horses through the strategy of containment, so hard to take.

    This pandemic, left to its own devices, would probably have flourished and then petered out like most other pandemics in history, only to return at intervals in the future. However, given our knowledge and advances in medical science, is that really acceptable? Sure, many of those, who have sadly succumbed were near the end of their lives anyway, some may argue; but is that a justification to attempt what countries like Sweden appear to have done? The fact is that isolation will prevent the disease from spreading; but it’s still out there. Of course we should try to eliminate it, until the next virus jumps the species barrier. How long did it take us to eradicate smallpox, for example?

    How we get round this present ‘difficulty’ will not only be a test of governments. It will be a real test for the human race. Could it actually be the wake up call we have needed for some time? Some people used to say that we need a war now and again to sort things out. Well, isn’t that what we have got at the moment?

  • John Marriott 31st May '20 - 9:24am

    @George Kendall
    I disagree with nothing you have written in your reply. However, I still haven’t figured out how you know what my view on veganism is!*

    However, my original was deemed to long by the editors – I’d love to know how certain contributors get away with responses that might put ‘War and Peace’ to shame! So, I’ll take this opportunity to post the paragraph I omitted in order to get through to publication.

    The missing paragraph tried to deal with a two pronged approach to Covid-19. We should firstly try to treat the symptoms by a cocktail of existing drugs, as well as developing new ones, once the virus has invaded the body as well as try to find an effective vaccine to stop it in its tracks before it could do more damage. We may never find a vaccine. It might be like HIV-AIDS, where improved treatments have meant that sufferers can now often lead almost normal lives.

    *To save you further speculation, let me say that, although it may be distasteful to some, I actually enjoy eating meat, because we humans are set up to benefit from animal protein. My old next door neighbour in Halifax was what we used to call a ‘vegetarian’ and tried to convert her cat, without success. I always remember the expression on her face what she described how Charlie had tucked into a plate of raw liver.

  • Peter Martin 31st May '20 - 10:58am

    @ Glenn,

    I agree that Govt policy hasn’t been optimal. With the benefit of hindsight we should have closed the borders in February, and had a South Korean style system of testing and tracing which would have left us in the same position as , er, South Korea.

    But there weren’t many people calling for such policies at the time. No myself. Not the Labour Party. Certainly not the Lib Dems. We’re all at fault.

    But at least we didn’t base our policy on what the Ethiopians were doing! It could have all been far worse!

  • The lockdowns have not saved lives. In fact the old and the vulnerable they were supposed to protect were turfed out of hospitals to clear wards that proved not to be needed. Medical care for other causes of death have more less ground to halt. All to fight one disease. Are we seriously supposed to believe just about the only thing killing people is Covid 19. Does no one die of cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, the flu or anything else anymore. Doctors are allowed to put covid19 on death certificates on the basis of suspicion. Is it not possible that this inflates the death rate making the virus look more lethal than it is. Like Britain the majority of deaths in Sweden have been in care homes. The point being there that there is little evidence that lockdowns have worked. They can’t even protect the elderly in a closed environment. If you can’t lock a care home down, why on earth assume its working amongst the general public. Do you think Cummins is the only person making unnecessary journeys or that Ferguson is the only person who felt horny . Do you think that everyone is really avoiding their friends and relatives? It’s a farce and a sham, cant and false piety. We have been taken over by the health Taliban, stern curtain twitching old men dictating how far apart teenagers should be, banning dancing, banning going to the cinema, banning sport, prohibiting bits of “unnecessary” culture (galleries, museums, theatre ) they don’t take part in anyway. Welcome to the new normal.

  • Peter Martin
    You can joke about Ethiopia, but it has had very low death rates. And we based what we did on the police state run by the CCP and a 2006 paper on the concept of “targeted social distancing” derived from a high school project by a fourteen-year-old (Laura Glass).

  • John Marriott 31st May '20 - 11:34am

    “The lockdowns have not saved lives”. What kind of planet are you on, man? It’s blindingly obvious that lockdowns have saved lives. Whether they have defeated the spread of the virus is a different matter. What you are effectively saying is that those of us, who have gone by the rules, are fools. You’ll be telling us next that the vaccine against Covid-19, if it is ever found, will contain nano particles that will help the state control our behaviour. If this is what happens when you exist on a diet of nuts and berries, I’ll stick to my ribeye steak!

  • Glenn, give over, relax we all know your view, you won’t change others, I just look at Sweden, seems to be going steadily pear shaped there, they could well soon have a higher rate per million of the population than ourselves!! But this is a learning experience for the world and any overall judgement is very premature, let’s move on, in particular how on earth do we get out of the rut the party is in, or more importantly can we?

  • John Marriott
    All I will point out is that there is very little difference in the death rates of countries that locked down and those that didn’t. As for the nano particles jibe, I don’t believe in any such thing. I’m not into conspiracy theories.

  • Denmark, Norway, Germany.

  • And you can include poor old Greece as well, Glenn.

    “The measures put in place in Greece are among the most proactive and strictest in Europe and have been credited internationally for having slowed the spread of the disease and having kept the number of deaths among the lowest in Europe”.

    “Tugwell, Paul; Nikas, Sotiris (16 April 2020). “Humbled Greeks Show the World How to Handle the Virus Outbreak”.”

    “Giugliano, Ferdinando (10 April 2020). “Greece Shows How to Handle the Crisis” – via”

  • Glenn 31st May ’20 – 11:16am…………..The lockdowns have not saved lives…………

    Add Australia and New Zealand..Both of whom placed far stricter lockdowns and closed or restricted borders, both of whom have had minimal infections and deaths (100+ Aus. 21NZ)…
    Because of the initial strict lockdowns/restictions both countries are geeting back to normal whilst this country will take months more..

    Far from not saving lives their draconian measures lasted two months and now even full contact sports like Rugby League are up and running…

    A classic case of “A stitch in time saving ‘lots’..

  • David Raw
    Belgium, Britain, Spain, Italy, and so on. All locked down all high death rates. Compare and contrast with Japan or Belarus or South Korea. No lockdown and limited lockdowns. low death rates. My argument only needs to show very little difference between countries that locked down and those that didn’t. Yours and the pro lock lobby generally needs to demonstrate that countries that didn’t follow the rules were overwhelmed. It hasn’t happened. Anyway. I’m not going to keep arguing about it. The pro lockdown lobby have got what they wanted. They you’ve turned the country into a restrictive state that has banned live music, dancing, cinema, art events, sport, protest, decides which shops you can go into, and where a government official tells you when you can see friends or family. I’m not going to celebrate that or pretend to agree with it.

  • David Allen 31st May '20 - 8:08pm

    “Belgium, Britain, Spain, Italy, and so on. All locked down all high death rates. ”

    The high death rates were because lockdown was too slow, and the virus spread disastrously before adequate action was taken. Spain and Italy had the excuse of being taken by surprise, as the first countries of Europe to be hit by the disease. Britain had no such excuse.

    Britain, Spain, Italy, and so on. All too slow to lock down, all high death rates.

  • @ Glenn “My argument only needs to show…….Yours and the pro lock lobby generally needs to demonstrate”.

    I don’t need to demonstrate anything, Glenn. As a shielded person I think it more prudent to follow the advice of my specialist in the Transplant Unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary rather than yourself. It’s a fair bet that the Professor who saved my life nine years ago knows a whole load more about it than you do.

    And, by the way, I’m not a member of any pro-lock lobby. I simply use what passes for my intelligence and my common sense……. not just for my own good and the people I care about but what I consider to be the common weal.

  • John Marriott

    “What you are effectively saying is that those of us, who have gone by the rules, are fools.”

    You appear to holding to the natural human tendency to cling to sunk costs. If it turns out that a policy is not effective but is having adverse consequences, to continue it so you don’t have to admit to your self you made a mistake is ego over-riding reason.

    If you have evidence that a policy is good or bad then that is a valid basis to judge it, your possible feeling that you were foolish in following (or what would appear to be the case here, supporting) government regulation and guidance is not a helpful basis for judgement.

  • John Marriott 1st Jun '20 - 9:01am

    I’m not sure what you are driving at, except, perhaps, trying to appear to be clever. I have been considered ‘foolish’ by many people, especially by my nearest and dearest devoting so much of my life to the Lib Dems. Was it a mistake, by your definition? Possibly yes. Would I do it any different today? Definitively not, given the ‘second career’ my involvement gave me. However, there is no way that I feel foolish about staying at home, in other words, doing as I was told. Why? Because, draconian and ‘illiberal’ to some, it works in a rather crude and unsophisticated way, despite what people like ‘Glenn’ would have us believe.

    Whether it was the right thing to do or not depends from which side of the argument you are coming from. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. There was, in my opinion, a strong argument for forming a coalition government in 2010. OK, it didn’t quite take us to the Promised Land; but many of us thought it was right at the time. The same goes for the lockdown. Whether it massages anyone’s ego is a matter for others to decide.

    Please define what you mean by ‘sunk costs’. I’m afraid that, at my age, I’m probably a few too many brain cells short to get a handle on this expression. Going into lockdown was the easy part. Coming out is far more difficult as the costs need to be weighed. The fact that I personally think it’s premature is neither here nor there. It’s happened.

  • Peter Martin 1st Jun '20 - 9:47am

    @ FS People,

    There was really no alternative to imposing the lockdown when we did. We are a more densely populated country than Sweden or Ethiopia – another country to which we should have looked at for guidance apparently!

    Having said that it could have possibly been avoided if we’d got our act together with testing at much earlier stage. Govt policy hasn’t been optimum. But it could have been worse. They could have listened to the “its just a little flu” lobby!

    But we are where we are. It’s no good giving someone directions on the basis that they shouldn’t start from where they are. The way forward has to be testing and more testing as I’ve tried to explain here.

    @ Joh Marriott,

    “Sunk costs” are those that really should be written off. Gamblers often think they can recoup past losses by carrying on betting. If you hold some shares which aren’t doing too well it can be better to sell at a loss rather than hang on hoping they will recover.

    The concept doesn’t really apply here though. We have to change policies rather than abandon them completely.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Jun '20 - 10:26am

    John Marriott 1st Jun ’20 – 9:01am
    In economics and business decision-making, a sunk cost (also known as retrospective cost) is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered.
    Sunk costs are contrasted with prospective costs, which are future costs that may be avoided if action is taken.
    On coalition the problem was Gordon Brown, cannot work with him, cannot work without him, and knackered as Nick Clegg said. They needed to refresh, which they have done.

  • John Marriott 1st Jun '20 - 10:36am

    @Peter Martin
    Thanks for putting me right about ‘sunk costs’. As they say, you learn something new each day, even after nearly 77 years! As I have never really been a ‘gambler’ (only ever once been in a Betting Shop – to drop a leaflet) I wouldn’t have known that. My only chance on fortune came when I was for a number of years a member of my school’s investment club. My philosophy was always “Only invest money you are prepared to lose” (I was lucky as, when I left, I had made a tidy profit).

  • Sunk Cost ? In plain English, writing something off as a dead loss…… a football team losing 7-0 at home….. or the Liberal Democrat performance in December, 2019 ???????

    As for being effective, let’s judge that when the second spike comes, which it almost certainly will given the UK Government is run by the biggest collection of second rate snake oil salesmen I can recall in nearly sixty years of political awareness.

    Now that the showrooms are open again Down South would you buy a second hand car from Grant Shapps, Gavin Williamson, Robert Jenrick, Michael Gove or that ever reliable and trustworthy ‘sandpaperer ‘of truth, Johnson A.B. de P. ?

    And by the way, where is he most of the time ?

  • John Marriott

    What I was driving at was that you appear to believe you are rationally addressing the situation but you probably aren’t. We tend to not be very objective on topics like this (where a lot of emotion is involved) generally, but your comment interpreting someone taking the opposite view as effectively calling you a fool, suggests you are invested in your past actions in a way that could be skewing your perspective.

    As to sunk costs Peter Mann’s example of a gambler is one example but is used far more widely than that, people expending “political capital” is another way to consider sunk costs. You see it in decision makers reasoning in organisations too, and can make activists likely to double down on their own side.

    The data between countries actually tells an unclear story and the cherry picking you see above will not help get to a clear picture. Much of this will actually not be possible to make a proper determination on until later as more date has come in (if then).

    An open mind to the evidence is very important because it is not a short term game of “winning” against “the other side” in some silly game by pushing narratives, because we still have the remainder of this pandemic to go, and once it is over this will not be the last one. The UK has done particularly badly in outcomes but it is not at all clear that those who blamed this on an insufficient lockdown are right about the reasons for this.

  • John Marriott 1st Jun '20 - 1:58pm

    Crickey, mate (assuming you are male, as it’s hard to tell with people who are unwilling to reveal their true identity), how come you reckon you know so much about me? Perhaps you’ve caught a few of my posts on LDV. I’m sure that a few readers do question my sanity. They are, of course, entitled to their view.

    You know, I think that you are really reading far too much into what was largely a ‘throw away’ remark. What’s this about being “invested in your past actions in a way that could be skewing your perspective”? I tried Google translate; but it wasn’t any help. ‘Glenn’s’ largely idiosyncratic view of many things has certainly enlivened various threads over several years, usually in sparring with his nemesis, a certain ‘frankie’, who has been quiet lately. I go back to the remark the former made earlier in this thread, namely, that “The lockdowns have not saved lives”. Now, regardless as to whether you agree or not that locking down the population and generally the economy was a good idea, surely to argue that it didn’t save lives takes some believing. Unless, of course, you are arguing that most of the people whose death certificate contains the word Covid-19 were going to die later anyway, so why not a bit earlier? Surely not. Mind you, as you wrote in your last paragraph, “An open mind to the evidence is very important”. As for “winning”, how would it be if we could manage a “truce” with our latest enemy? Unfortunately, viruses like this one don’t do negotiations or truces for that matter. For them, as for us, it has surely got to be a case of win or lose.

  • John Marriott
    “how come you reckon you know so much about me?”
    Well I’m not sure why you think I believe I know “so much” about you. I have assumed you are a fairly neuro-typical human. Perhaps you are not, but it seems a reasonable assumption. Am I wrong?

    It is interesting you have taken a very literal reading to Glenn’s comment, I read it as something that could be read too ways. The literal reading being the less charitable one if you saw the two perspectives.

    The first is that no one will have been prevented from dying with COVID, which is highly unlikely to be the case, the 80 year old who dies in a few weeks’ time of a heart attack without COVID who wold have died last week with it in an alternative time line has of course been saved from COVID.

    The broader interpretation is that Glenn was talking at a net level in that the extra deaths due to side effects of lock down will be greater than those prevented due to the lockdown. Again within this we don’t know how Glenn is counting delays in death. Extra months of life would have been valued by my great grandmother and mother but wouldn’t have been by my grandmother or my father, I’m not sure it matters

    It is interesting you assume that when I am taking about taking “sides” I see one side as a virus who has by definition cannot be sentient. Clearly (given the discussion above you reference) “sides” are those in a debate about how to respond to the virus, I would say diverting form the point isn’t helpful however as you appear to not know what google translate does I can’t know if it is intentional.

  • Peter Martin
    “We are a more densely populated country than Sweden”
    How are you calculating that?
    83.2 % of the population is urban
    median age in the United Kingdom is 40.5 years
    88.2 % of the population is urban
    median age in Sweden is 41.1 years

    Even though these statistics suggest that Sweden should be worse off than us but is doing better under no lock down this is not a good basis for making comparisons, that would be the same cherry picking you see in other comments on here. You need to look at larger sets of data across many countries. The UKs outcomes look very bad when compared with countries which took a number of different approaches, the over simplifications we are seeing as an explanation is not going to teach us much.

  • John Marriott 1st Jun '20 - 4:25pm

    The reference to Google translate was my attempt at a joke. If you had read more of my posts you would know that irony (some prefer to call it sarcasm) is my middle name – or do I need to explain that phrase as well?

    You shouldn’t take everything literally. Perhaps it’s time for ‘Glenn’ to explain to us exactly what he means to put you and I out of our misery. I’ll ask him.

    Hey, Glenn, old chap, would you like to comment on Mr People’s view that you are “talking at a net level” about corona deaths? I’m blessed if I’m sure where he is going to with this.

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