Welcome to my day – 19 July: Freedom (to ignore the consequences) Day?

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the new “new normal”, when we’re all encouraged to throw off the shackles of Covid restrictions and return to our old lives. That is, unless you’re immuno-compromised, or minded to take into consideration that those around you might be cautious, or unvaccinated, or… well, you know the rest…

So, what have we got today?

Katie Hopkins (you remember her, yes?) is awaiting her deportation flight from Australia, having been flown in by a local television station to take part in their version of Celebrity Big Brother (and yes, the definition of “celebrity” is clearly being stretched gossamer thin here). Flouting Australia’s incredibly tight quarantine rules was one thing – telling the world via Instagram that you were doing it and deliberately so quite another. What is it about faux-libertarians and consequences?

De Pffefel and Rishi are self-isolating today, as my colleague, Andy Boddington, noted yesterday. One interesting question – was the controversy designed as a means to allow the Prime Minister to transfer quickly to the rather more pleasant surroundings of a country house with its parkland rather than being trapped in an (admittedly lavishly furnished) flat in Central London where there’s no opportunity to go for a walk? At least it offered Robert Jenrick an opportunity to tour the Sunday morning politics shows defending the indefensible before being hung out to dry by another u-turn.

There’s been another “Alston Report” published today, this time on the impact of privatising bus services in England outside London. It would be fair to say that the promises of the 1984 Buses White Paper have not been met, with fares up by 403% since 1987 – almost as much as house prices! Some of the findings won’t come as much of a surprise to those of us in rural villages.

So, be careful – and considerate – out there today. The freedom that you hope to enjoy isn’t available to everyone else, and liberalism is about both individual freedom and communal responsibility…

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70 Comments

  • John Marriott 19th Jul '21 - 9:35am

    “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose” – ‘Me and Bobby McGee’
    There’s really no such thing. To enjoy ‘freedom’ you need to have a clear sense of what responsible behaviour means. Sadly, that is clearly lacking amongst some of us, if Wembley and Silverstone as well as countless beer gardens etc. are anything to go by. Welcome to ‘Superspreading U.K.’!

  • James Fowler 19th Jul '21 - 9:57am

    Yes, it’s easy to score a few points off the chump in No. 10, and yes, minor change to the status quo is too small to be worth it, while major changes are obviously far too radical and it’s only responsible that they should be postponed for further consideration… Sounds familiar? It’s the story of every change ever proposed – which is why inertia and conservatism are such powerful forces.

  • Peter Martin 19th Jul '21 - 10:03am

    How about “Freedom to infect everyone else day?”

    The Lib Dems should be happy about the change. It does chime with a philosophy of faith in the natural responsibility of the individual. Consequently, they consider the Labour Party to be too authoritarian.

    These pictures showed what happened at a minute past midnight today.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I would be inclined to be slightly less reliant on the natural inclination of many to do the right thing.

    https://metro.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/SEC_88256716.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&zoom=1&resize=964%2C506

  • George Thomas 19th Jul '21 - 10:09am

    “As Liberal Democrats we are true believers in devolution.” (John Armah | Thu 15th July 2021 – 6:45 pm)

    Err…

    I think your final sentence is well put though. I will quote it now so attention can return to it:

    “So, be careful – and considerate – out there today. The freedom that you hope to enjoy isn’t available to everyone else, and liberalism is about both individual freedom and communal responsibility…”

  • Looking at the Guardian photos of the clubbers at the Piano Works nightclub in London I can imagine them chanting Mel Gibson’s infamous nonsense “They may take away our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”

  • I’m so pleased that the repression of the young is ending. The thing is the restrictions were not really a sacrifice for people who do not do a great deal. Of course youngster are going to revel. It’s been banned for a year and a half. They are not in same health boat as middle-aged and older people. They absolutely should be out there partying instead of sat at home eating cheese on toast huddled by the telly as if they were at deaths door. What I’ve learned during lockdown is that I don’t really have a lot in common with or a great deal of sympathy for people my age and older who have been imposing their fears onto the whole of society. I won’t be going to raves or clubs, but that’s because I’m too old. It is not because I think people who do are “selfish” or “irresponsible”.

  • John Marriott 19th Jul '21 - 10:52am

    @Glenn
    As you know, I like to quote song lyrics to make a point – just as Joe Bourke likes to quote facts and figures 😀. Well, how about “Girls just want to have fun”? I suppose that Cyndi Lauper wouldn’t object if I changed ‘girls’ to ‘boys’. I suppose that just about sums up your philosophy of life. Old people, what a drain on society! I was young once. I’m old now. Unless they trip up, that’s likely to be the fate awaiting all those young, and not so young bloods out there today enjoying their new found ‘freedom’ today.

    They say a society can be judged by the way it treats its old and vulnerable. That’s clearly, from what you keep telling us, a society of which you wish to be no part. I just hope you really are in the minority.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 19th Jul '21 - 11:05am

    Isn’t liberalism supposed to be all about letting people make their own choices?
    I find it very disappointing that the party is being so negative about the move away from restrictions, and towards personal responsibility.

  • Judging by my own grandchildren I do not believe all young people feel the way that Glenn perceives them, yes some people from all age groups are selfish and irresponsible but please stop tarring them all with the same brush and needlessly causing tensions between the age groups, there is enough misery in the world already.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 19th Jul '21 - 11:12am

    John Marriot, sadly, there wasn’t much consideration for the old and vulnerable during lockdown. Elderly and disabled people in care homes were banned from having visitors, or from going for outings. Some even had DNR notices placed on them, without their, or their families’, permission. Restrictions may have been presented as being about caring for the elderly and vulnerable, but this was not the reality

  • @Catherine
    “Isn’t liberalism supposed to be all about letting people make their own choices?
    I find it very disappointing that the party is being so negative about the move away from restrictions, and towards personal responsibility.”

    It is not quite as simple as that, Liberalism whilst encouraging personal freedoms and choices also recognise responsibility and duties towards others….

    The European Convention on Human Rights, given further effect in UK
    law through the Human Rights Act 1998, recognises that individuals have
    responsibilities towards one another. For example, our right to freedom of
    expression set out in Article 10 of the Convention specifically recognises that
    the exercise of this freedom ‘carries with it duties and responsibilities’. In other
    words, there is a recognition in the Human Rights Act that our rights do not
    exist in isolation. There are limitations on our conduct which allow us to co-exist
    harmoniously. Article 10(2) of the Convention provides:
    The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and
    responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or
    penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society,
    in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the
    prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the
    protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure
    of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and
    impartiality of the judiciary

  • Might I suggest that it wasn’t the general population that wanted the people in care homes and their families to suffer the way they did during this pandemic, the trauma was caused by the inadequacies and heartlessness of this present government.

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Jul '21 - 11:31am

    @Catherine Jane Crosland
    “Isn’t liberalism supposed to be all about letting people make their own choices?”
    Without any consideration of the impact their choices may have on others?

    “I find it very disappointing that the party is being so negative about the move away from restrictions, and towards personal responsibility.”
    But what if some people do not behave responsibily? If their irresponsible choices result in others becoming ill, maybe very ill, maybe dying, what about the rights and freedoms of those people who become ill?

  • Barry Lofty
    I do not see people enjoying dancing and social lives as “selfish”. I think it is entirely natural and is a good thing. I think that banning social social activities out of fear is the selfish.
    John Marriott
    I’m a middle aged man. I have my own health problems and scares. I just do not expect the world to stop in sympathy. The reality is that the older you get, the closer to death you are. It is not reasonable to expect everyone else to stop what they are doing because you are scared. That is where I stand. Girls and boys wanting to have fun, is their business not mine or yours or the governments. They work hard doing jobs that keep the country going and they deserve a social life.

  • Catherine

    ‘Isn’t liberalism supposed to be all about letting people make their own choices?’

    Spot on, as seen on numerous occasions ‘liberalism’ seems to mean whatever you want it to mean.

    What’s the point of mass vaccinations & keeping lock down ?

  • Freedom & personal Responsibility are simply two sides of the same coin, one without the other will soon decay.

    Wearing Masks in enclosed spaces or crowd exemplifies this principle, the point is to slow transmission of the virus – to protect the crowd.

  • John Marriott 19th Jul '21 - 12:29pm

    Mrs Marriott has just returned from some morning food shopping. Here are her admittedly unscientific findings concerning mask wearing in our area just outside Lincoln. Lidl: all but two customers wearing masks; but not staff. Our local shopping centre: most people wearing masks including shop assistants. ASDA: about 60/40 in favour of masks. You can draw your own conclusions.

    @Glenn
    Yes, have ‘fun’; but NOT if that ‘fun’ impacts on your fellow citizens no matter how old or vulnerable they may be. What 19 July is launching is a massive gamble. To say it is “irreversible” is sheer reckless rubbish! Of course we hope it works but nobody should make themselves a hostage to fortune, especially if they are supposed to be running the country (at least a large part of it).

  • Glenn 19th Jul ’21 – 10:28am………….I’m so pleased that the repression of the young is ending. The thing is the restrictions were not really a sacrifice for people who do not do a great deal………………

    I wonder if you just post such hyperbole just for ‘devilment’?

    Regarding “not really a sacrifice for people who do not do a great deal”??? Your idea of ‘a great deal’ seems to look no further than ‘getting legless, among complete strangers in a nightclub’..Lorenzo Cherin, on another thread, talks about being isolated in a single bedroom flat; his idea of a ‘great deal’ might just be getting out for a peaceful walk.

    As for ‘repression of the young’?? Being young, if I recall, means believing that you are immortal and that consequences don’t apply; They aren’t, they do and sometimes the young need regulations (seat belts, crash helmets, etc.) to protect them from their ‘immortality’..I’m reminded of a paragraph by Bill Bryson about the deterrent affect of seeing his friend spending his life sitting drooling on a porch due to “One too many acid trips as a young man”…
    Long Covid affects the young and may last for years (if not a lifetime)…The latest studies talk of ‘significant numbers’….I wonder how many rushing to nightclubs even understand the risks of long term organ damage, fatigue, breathlessness and brain fog, aching joints. depression, etc.?.

  • I agree very much with Catherine Jane Crosland.

    If protecting people was the only consideration then liberals would have supported the Iraq war, ID cards, longer detention without charge, snoopers charter etc as these were all designed to protect people.

    Instead it is a question of finding the right balance between protecting people and upholding fundamental principles of liberty and individual rights.

    When confronted with this dilemma many people just say something about libertarianism and misquote JS Mill.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 19th Jul ’21 – 11:05am:
    Isn’t liberalism supposed to be all about letting people make their own choices?

    It’s a highly infectious pathogen so you’re also making choices for those you cause to be infected either directly, indirectly, or influentially (by setting a poor example of infection mitigation behaviour to others). As someone famously said: “Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins”.

  • Expats
    My idea of doing stuff is the normal stuff people were dong before the governments decided that copying the CCP was a good idea and before scared people applauded them for doing it. Me, when I was young, I never felt immortal. I was in and out of hospital too often. I grew up hyper aware of my mortality. This is why I’m not susceptible to guilt trips by people like your good self. That and I think people having fun and getting together is cute. I like people, I like to see them happy and I refuse to demonise normal human interactions out of selfish fear.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jul '21 - 3:43pm

    Thanks to expats , who read my comments on another piece. We might not all agree on everything, but when each of us do, it strong. Here, as often we are in agreement, and with most. i am very busy, yet also busy being very isolated.

    It is necessary to explain to Peter Martin, who is a friend here, yes, individual responsibility is Liberal, but so too is social responsibility. You regularly misunderstand our party as centre to centre right on issues it is centre to centre left on.

    The Harm principle of Mill, unlike anything Conservatism, or indeed Socialism, contains in those philosophies, in a few words or sentences really sums up our party.

    At liberty to do what one likes, unless it causes harm to others. And the only reason to impose on liberty, authority, is for self protection.

    This current awful crisis actually of epidemic level problems, reveals the need to do as Mill allows or encourages. We lose certain “liberties,” because they who do not want to, are , in better informal language, taking liberties!

    Catherine Jane, a true friend of mine and most here admire her surely, please realise, though you are correct on the treatment often of the old, these restrictions are needed, and as social Liberals we need social responsibility now more, not less!!!!!!!!!

  • @Glenn,
    This weekend my partner has had to temporarily close a third-sector business providing CoViD essential services to circa 140 vulnerable adults. This is because the son of a member of staff attended the Euro final at Wembley and even though being double vaccinated had a positive PCR test result on Friday. For normal people, the processing of PCR tests isn’t expedited, so until all relevant staff have been able to either get their results from a PCR test or obtained the required number of negative LFT results she has closed the service, in part to protect the service users but also to protect the care homes where many reside.

    So whilst I have sympathy for the social plight of the young (and having two teenagers, I get to see it everyday), we do need to be responsible and encourage safe partying – probably in ways similar to safe sex, because their partying can have adverse ramifications…

  • Glenn 19th Jul ’21 – 3:28pm….Expats….My idea of doing stuff is the normal stuff people were dong before the governments decided that copying the CCP was a good idea and before scared people applauded them for doing it. Me, when I was young, I never felt immortal. I was in and out of hospital too often. I grew up hyper aware of my mortality. This is why I’m not susceptible to guilt trips by people like your good self. That and I think people having fun and getting together is cute. I like people, I like to see them happy and I refuse to demonise normal human interactions out of selfish fear………………

    We decided to delay isolation strategies, eat out, back to work, delay a second solation, have a normal Christmas, cancel Christmas, etc., etc., In fact, we have not copied anyone and have 150,000+ deaths (with many more to come)..As an aside, a friend in N.Z. e-mailed me to state that the ongoing ‘in-joke’ is that their success is based on doing the exact opposite of the UK’s policies..

    BTW ..I think lemmings are ‘cute’ but, like many humans, they can’t understand how their individual ‘selfish’ actions (in their case excessive breeding in bounteous years) result in mass deaths..

  • Roland
    Complain to the government about their useless NHS app and the seeming failure the vaccine. You’re talking to the wrong person. The state got you into this pickle, not me or anyone else. I do not think we should have gone down this path at any point ever.
    Expats
    Lemmings don’t throw themselves off cliffs. It’s a myth. They’re pretty good swimmers. But they are quite cute.

  • Steve Trevethan 19th Jul '21 - 8:43pm

    Might we consider using, developing and promoting the concept of freedom differentiation?
    Might we start with Mr F. D. Roosevelt’s « Freedoms to » and « Freedoms from »?
    Might we consider the needs of too many of our children to be free from hunger and from cold as well as the freedom of some adults from wearing infection reducing masks?

  • Glenn 19th Jul ’21 – 5:00pm Expats, ……Lemmings don’t throw themselves off cliffs. It’s a myth……….

    I know, but their population boom causes irrational migration and subsequent death..

    As far the human young goes, Johnson’s latest “Party like there’s no tomorrow” (passports for September) makes the actions of lemmings look rather rational..

  • Expats
    The population growth causes them to seek out new environments. There is nothing irrational about that. It’s a survival strategy.
    I am never going to agree with you. I think what has been done to society by copying the CCP is a disgrace. Nothing is going to change my opinion on that and I am not going to pretend to even give an inch. As for the vaccine passport? It’s pretty obviously pandering and P.R. to satisfy the “something must be done, this is something” crowd. If it was a necessary health measure they would not wait two months to introduce it. It’s a gesture to give authoritarians and busybodies something to gloat over.

  • Nonconformistradical 20th Jul '21 - 8:37am

    “The population growth causes them to seek out new environments. There is nothing irrational about that. It’s a survival strategy.”
    Same for humans as for lemmings?

  • John Marriott 20th Jul '21 - 10:07am

    With ‘Glenn’ back to his best, where’s ‘Frankie’ when you need him? Bless😀

    PS Sorry, I forgot. Brexit’s over, isn’t it?

  • David Franks 20th Jul '21 - 11:07am

    we all face limits to our freedom every day and I certainly do not seek the freedom to go about my lawful business whilst randomly infecting other people with the virus.

  • John Marriott
    The thing is don’t like arguments. I remember years ago one of my lecturers opining that all argument is futile because the act of arguing simply reinforces the opinions held. I tend to express an opinion only when I’ve fixed it as an iron clad unchanging immovable object. Most things, I have virtually no opinion on at all.

  • @Glenn – I find it interesting that you think we are blaming you for the mess this government has made out of CoViD.
    My original comment was just an observation that young people don’t exist in isolation – there is a young person closer to you than you may think.

    The challenge, which you haven’t seemed to acknowledge is how do we enable young people to ‘party’ with some degree of safety both to themselves and the wider society they are members of. However, we do have to accept that, given the precautions that were taken over the Euro’s final, there will still be risk and some transmission; CoViD is here to stay.

  • Peter Martin 20th Jul '21 - 11:57am

    @ Glenn,

    “…… is this a five minute argument, or the full half hour?”

    https://montycasinos.com/montypython/scripts/argument.php.html

  • John Marriott 20th Jul '21 - 12:22pm

    @Glenn
    We all know where you stand on this issue and I would say that, generally speaking, most LDV contributors don’t appear to agree with you. As someone who is used to being in a minority politically speaking, it’s quite nice to find myself in a majority in terms of public health.

    You are in a minority on this issue. Get used to it and MOVE ON!!

  • Johnson..”I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on Covid fatalities. The median age is 82 – 81 for men 85 for women. That is above life expectancy. So get Covid and live longer. Hardly anyone under 60 goes into hospital (4 per cent) and of those virtually all survive. And I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff. Folks I think we may need to recalibrate.”

    In any ‘Pre-Johnson’ UK such an utterance from an MP, let alone the PM, would have forced a resignation…
    Judging by the non-reaction in today’s UK, Johnson may well be correct and the fault is mine for having lived too long (78)…
    It seems that the scenario of the 1967 novel ‘Logan’s Run’ has begun…However, for those ‘partying with no care for the old'(er) the ‘Lastday’ is for one’s 21st birthday.”Ask not for whom the bell tolls, etc.”

  • John Marriott

    I know I’m in a minority. But I have no intention of being a silent one.

    Roland
    I’m a parent. I’m very aware of the young they have nowadays. My advice to them is don’t hang out with old people and definitely don’t take them clubbing. I’ve had covid and the shots. The latter I took for convenience and because I was told repeatedly that this would protect the vulnerable (I’m in that grouping), thus allowing society to open up again. Personally, I think some people have just got too used to the state imposed restrictions, are enjoying the power over others a bit too much and never really want it to end. It’s always going to be “just another month, just keep this restriction a bit longer, when this group is jabbed, when hell freezes over” and so on. I don’t agree with them, never have and never will.

  • Barry Lofty 20th Jul '21 - 1:45pm

    [email protected] The words you quoted from Johnson just sums up what a nasty self serving hypocrite he is, quite different from the persona he likes project to the British electorate. The quicker he is found out the healthier we will all be and the happier our country will become!!

  • @ Glenn

    You are always worth reading, please keep it up and don’t be put off by the comments. There are certainly a few people here who do agree with quite a lot of what you say.

    @ Expats

    Why are Johnson’s alleged comments at all controversial? Have you looked at the data yourself? It is difficult to see how anyone looking at the actual data rather than media hype would reach a dramatically different conclusion.

  • @Marco

    “Why are Johnson’s alleged comments at all controversial? Have you looked at the data yourself? ”

    They are controversial because regardless of whether the figures are accurate or not, to make such an insensitive crass joke about “catch covid live longer” when 10’s of thousands of families have lost loved ones, where not able to be there to support them and comfort them in their last days / moments, to not be able to grieve properly or give them the send off they deserve…..It is abhorrent and insensitive on all levels and shows he is unfit for office.
    If any other public figure or minister posted something like this on social media it would be a sacking / resigning offence. The fact that Johnson thinks he can get away with this as typical harmless Johnson buffonery and because it was not said “publicly” it doesn’t matter, well it does matter, he said it to his Ministers and aids in his capacity as the Prime Minister of this country. He has insulted thousands of families and it damages our reputation on the world stage. He is no better than Trump and needs to go

  • Marco 20th Jul ’21 – 1:[email protected] Expats……….Why are Johnson’s alleged comments at all controversial? Have you looked at the data yourself? It is difficult to see how anyone looking at the actual data rather than media hype would reach a dramatically different conclusion…………………..

    If you don’t find “That is above life expectancy. So get Covid and live longer. Hardly anyone under 60 goes into hospital (4 per cent) and of those virtually all survive. And I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff”. controversial then you and I live in different worlds…

    A tasteless joke whilst tens of thousands died????? As for “NHS overwhelmed stuff” my local hospital was unable to cope with anything other than Covid and staff (a neighbour is a senior nurse) were working ‘double shifts’…

    As I said, “Another planet’!

  • @ Expats, Matt

    The point you might have made is that the most common age of death is higher than the median age (About 85 men 87 women) so when someone reaches 82 they are expected to live a few years longer.

    Yes a lot of his comments said privately may have been insensitive but surely we take his point which was that the threat to most people was milder than he had himself realised or been led to believe by the people advising him so he questioned the need for a blanket lockdown response.

    Most people aren’t aware of the facts Johnson was referring to and they might have been much less willing to accept the unprecedented reaction if they were.

    For context in the 1918 “Spanish Flu” pandemic the average age of death was about 27.

  • Barry Lofty 20th Jul '21 - 4:55pm

    That this country is lead by a Prime Minister as insensitive and ignorant as the present incumbent and in the situation we ALL find ourselves in is a tragedy, and to imply that the thousands of deaths were only in the elderly population is an insult to all the families who lost loved ones who were much younger. What is it with some people that they cannot face the reality of the situation as inconvenient as it is??

  • @Marco

    No, I do not accept anything that you are saying because the facts remain
    (1) Hospital admissions and ICU wards were running at capacity, ICU had to be expanded by converting surgical wards into ICU wards, meaning more and more elective surgery having to be cancelled which has caused the NHS back log and non-covid deaths
    (2) having high levels of covid in the community and in hospitals put millions of people at risk, ie cancer sufferers, transplant patients, people who are immune supressed and all other Clinically extremely vulnerable people and their immediate family members who live with them
    (3) long covid is causing organ damage in hundreds of thousands of people which could add to our public health crisis
    (4) NHS staff working in ICU are exhausted, it is one thing to work under those conditions for a couple of months for flu season, it is something else entirely to expect them to do it 24/7 52 weeks of the year with no end in sight. Many of those staff also had to sacrifice seeing their own family members if they were clinically vulnerable due to the risk they posed to them.

    I could keep going till about point number 50, but I wont waste my time Marco as you are completely deaf towards anything other than your own view point

    Had we have not locked down he situation would have been far, far worse, you might wish to continue to be in denial but it is a fact

    It is impossible to put a “ring of steel” around the vulnerable whilst everyone else carries on as normal, because those vulnerable people still need access to carers, medical staff, food, repair works to their homes and most importantly access to their own family members.

    Short of air lifting all the vulnerable to some remote desert island with a team of medical staff and air dropping in supplies there is no such thing as a ring of steel around the vulnerable whilst the rest of society carries on as normal and allows the virus to rip.

    So unless you can come up with a solution that does not involve society abandoning the most vulnerable members of our communities, be it the elderly or clinically extremely vulnerable and their immediate family members who live with them and so thus also needs to keep safe……..

  • Jayne mansfield 20th Jul '21 - 5:29pm

    @ Barry Lofty,
    Barry there is ongoing study by ISARIC4C. The findings can be seen in a short, readable report by UK Research and Innovation headed, ‘ One in two hospitalised COVID -19 patients develop a complication’.

    Whilst complications rise with age, it should be required reading for young, healthy people who believe they are invulnerable. I would argue particularly so, as the take up the vaccine is slowing down.

  • Barry Lofty 20th Jul '21 - 5:49pm

    Jayne mansfield @ Thank you Jayne for that link, I agree it should be required reading for everyone.

  • Marco 20th Jul ’21 – 1:52pm:
    Why are Johnson’s alleged comments at all controversial?

    As well as being insensitive it shows a lamentably poor understanding of statistics and science. That’s not just a criticism of Johnson though – it applies to almost all politicians of all parties. In parliament we desperately need far more politicians with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees rather than PPE, arts and social science. It might also help if they had done a proper job before entering parliament. Few politicians seem equipped to even ask the right questions.

    Have you looked at the data yourself?

    I have. I’ve also looked at a few research papers on the subject.

    It is difficult to see how anyone looking at the actual data rather than media hype would reach a dramatically different conclusion.

    Anyone with a basic understanding of actuarial statistics would reach a dramatically different conclusion. Life expectancy at birth maybe 81 years, but many people die at younger ages from childhood illnesses, accidents, cancers, heart attacks, etc. If you manage to make it through to 81 your life expectancy isn’t zero; it’s another eight to 10 years (depending on gender, where you live, and other factors). Also the frequency distribution of Covid deaths isn’t a normal bell-shaped curve centred on 82 years. It has a much longer tail on the younger side than on the older side; for obvious reasons a much higher percentage die in the 52-62 years old band than in the 102 to 112 years band.

    Research shows that after adjusting for impaired life-expectancy due to Long-Term Conditions the average Years of Life Lost (YLL) per Covid death is just over a decade (11.6 years for men, 9.4 for women)…

    ‘COVID-19 – exploring the implications of long-term condition type and extent of multimorbidity on years of life lost: a modelling study’ [March 2021]:
    https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/articles/5-75

    Results: Using the standard WHO life tables, YLL per COVID-19 death was 14 for men and 12 for women. After adjustment for number and type of LTCs, the mean YLL was slightly lower, but remained high (11.6 and 9.4 years for men and women, respectively). The number and type of LTCs led to wide variability in the estimated YLL at a given age (e.g. at ≥80 years, YLL was >10 years for people with 0 LTCs, and <3 years for people with ≥6).

  • @ Jeff

    You responded to my comment at 1:52 but unfortunately didn’t notice my comment at 4:34 where I acknowledged the difference between the median life expectancy and the most common age of death.

    I don’t doubt that the statistics you quote are correct but they don’t really tell me anything about how the risk of this virus compares to other viruses we already live with or past epidemics that were not dealt with by lockdowns/suppression.

    Nobody denies that this is a serious virus for some (apart from one or two nutters like David Icke and Piers Corbyn) but the data ultimately suggests that as pandemics go Covid is comparatively milder than others.

    What Johnson was saying in his less than ideal way was that there was not an overwhelming case that he had no alternative to lock down at the time of his comments but that it was a subjective decision.

  • @ Matt “as you are completely deaf towards anything other than your own view point”

    Leaving aside the unnecessarily confrontational tone of the above, it’s obviously not true as at 4:34 I acknowledged a counter argument to mine before anyone else made it.

    “It is impossible to put a “ring of steel” around the vulnerable”

    It is possible to focus protection on those most at risk. It hasn’t been tried in many places but it has been done to an extent in Florida where they have had better outcomes than California.

    Focused protection is a subset of lockdown and is based on voluntary cooperation so there cannot be any ethical concerns about it that don’t apply to lockdown as well.

    Furthermore, lockdown “lets it drip” rather than rip, in other words you get the same number of cases just dragged out over a longer period of time. Under lockdown essential workers still go to work eg in health, transport, construction. Repair operatives and carers still go from house to house and multi-generational households still live together. They can all therefore spread the virus.

    So all of your concerns about focused protection already apply to lockdown.

  • @Glenn – your response giving a little more insight into your personal circumstances is appreciated.

  • @Marco

    So what is this focused protection and how does it work? Its a wonderful terminology used by professor Gupta, but as far as I know she never actually set out what it involved, what policies the government would need to introduce and for how long it would last and how it would cover the entire over 65 population who were at risk ( If they so chose they wanted to be included) along with all of those 3.5 million people who were regarded as extremely clinical vulnerable and dont forget it has to include immediate family members who live in the same household in order for this ” focused protection” to work so we are now up to almost a 1/4 of the population. So if you can now explain how you throw the ring of steel around that….

    Foe example, those living in multigenerational house holds with vulnerable grandparents, do you remove the grandparent? or do you remove the child?

    For the family living on the breadline with 2 children one of whom with Cystic Fibrosis, The mother is a stay at home carer, the father working to make ends meet as a bus driver, the other child is a teen and at high school.. Do you remove the father and the teen from the household?? Do you take the teen out of school and subsidise the fathers wages???

    These are fine words “focused protection” but without giving it any context or indeed any thought into the practicalities when it would need to cover almost 1/4 of the population.

    We have not had lockdowns in real terms in my opinion, we have had half-baked “semi-lockdowns that have always come to late and then been released again to early, however, even they were far better than allowing the virus to rip which would have cost far more lives, seen the health system collapse completely which in turn would have resulted in the public locking themselves down if there was no health service to treat them. That would have then been far more damaging to the economy in the long term and to public health and to society…

    Marco your faith in the professor Gupta and GBD is misguided, they have been proven to be wrong for all the reasons we set out the other day, which you conveniently chose to ignore. The theoretical epidemiology was wrong and we now have 16 months of date and history to prove it was wrong, im afraid you need to learn when you are flogging a dead horse

  • James Fowler 20th Jul '21 - 11:52pm

    @Glenn. Whether you are in minority here or not is irrelevant. There are few things worse than the spectacle of a self righteous majority in full flow. Liberals must never cease to question oppressive morality and ‘parliaments of the saints’, liberals must also keep on dissenting, challenging and demanding that the people who aspire to govern our lives justify themselves. The greater the powers aggregated (such as through lockdown) the greater the liberal challenge should be.

  • Nonconformistradical 21st Jul '21 - 7:44am

    @Glenn 20th Jul ’21 – 11:35am
    How would you describe’argument’ and how would you describe ‘constructive debate’?

    “I tend to express an opinion only when I’ve fixed it as an iron clad unchanging immovable object”
    How do you arrive at your fixed opinion?

    “Most things, I have virtually no opinion on at all.”
    Such as?

  • Nonconformistradical 21st Jul '21 - 7:57am

    @James Fowler
    “Liberals must never cease to question oppressive morality and ‘parliaments of the saints’, liberals must also keep on dissenting, challenging and demanding that the people who aspire to govern our lives justify themselves.”
    I don’t disagree with that. But are liberals not entitled to question opinions and actions of others as well? And ask people to justify their opinions, especially if the opinions conflict with observable evidence?

    “The greater the powers aggregated (such as through lockdown) the greater the liberal challenge should be.”
    I don’t disagree with that either. But how do you protect those vulnerable to the virus – or are they expendable?

    And how do you stop the NHS from being overwhelmed with Covid cases and falling way behind on treating other health problems?

  • John Marriott 21st Jul '21 - 9:26am

    I started off this thread two days ago and cited ‘freedom’ as my main theme. What I have read so far, when you wade through the statistics and the grandstanding is, to my mind, clear evidence that freedom (of expression) is alive and well. What the various arguments do NOT seem to challenge is the fact, as Mark wrote in his final paragraph, that “The freedom you hope to enjoy isn’t available to everyone else”. Surely that has got to be the reason for us all to exercise caution.

  • Marco 20th Jul ’21 – 4:34pm…………[email protected] Expats, Matt..The point you might have made is that the most common age of death is higher than the median age (About 85 men 87 women) so when someone reaches 82 they are expected to live a few years longer…..

    I could have made umpteen points..However, The ‘extra’ average lifespan at 80 for a male is almost 10 years…However most early deaths were in carehomes and the average ‘stay’ in aresidential care home, pre Covid, was 30 months…

    ‘Data’ can be manipulated to support almost any opinion..Churchill was right about ‘statistics’..

    You might not find Johnson’s crass attitude, as per the e-mail, controversial/offensive but I, and many others, cannot understand why

  • @ Matt The GBD is not prescriptive because it is a global declaration so it would be up to individual states to decide how to implement it. They do have ideas on their website: https://gbdeclaration.org/frequently-asked-questions/

    So in the example you give, it depends on the circumstances. Often it would be the grandparents who were evacuated but not always.

    In general, I don’t believe that the people in your hypothetical examples were treated any better under lockdown than they would be under focused protection which has now acquired a new relevance due to the situation with immunocompromised people.

    @ NCFR “how do you stop the NHS from being overwhelmed with Covid cases?”

    Er, have more hospital beds? Spend some of the £bns being spent on furlough on expanding NHS capacity instead?

  • @Marco

    So in other words Marco, you have no idea how you would go about protecting all the over 65’s (who wished to be included) and all the clinically vulnerable…You do not know how you would rehouse all those that needed to be rehoused, or how you would introduce policies and protections for families that did not want to be split up where a family member is clinically vulnerable.
    So basically the idea of running a “theoretical epidemiology” study on how to let a virus rip through the community whilst throwing a protective shield around those who need it and want it, without actually knowing how this would be achieved is quite clearly nonsense and useless

    “Er, have more hospital beds? Spend some of the £bns being spent on furlough on expanding NHS capacity instead?”
    which of course can be done over night, we can magic NHS staff to work the hospitals out of thin air.

  • @ Matt

    Yes there are answers to that, for example if people need to be rehoused then they could be accommodated in vacant hotels/b and bs as is done for people facing homelessness or fleeing violence. That would not be difficult.

    Another example the GBD give is of a bus driver in their 60s with a health condition who has had to go to work throughout the pandemic whilst a young person with a white collar job has been furloughed. That is not right, the bus driver should have been given a right to a paid sabbatical if their job could not be done from home.

    I think focused protection would have done more to protect high risk groups than lockdown and would do in future. What you seem to be saying is that because you can’t imagine how it would work then no one else can. However I am happy to answer any new points you make about it.

  • @ Matt Your regular correspondent (who I understand wants to let it rip in the dubious name of freedom) might like to reflect on the fact that over 1,500 NHS and Care staff have died of Covid up to the beginning of June.

    Source GP magazine, 10 June 2021 : “Matt Hancock has told MPs that 1,500 health and care staff have died during the pandemic – but denied PPE shortages were to blame despite evidence of clinicians having to use ‘bin bags’ as protection”.

  • @Marco

    As I pointed out to you earlier, the “ring of steel” had to encapsulate up to a 1/4 of the population when you take into consideration all the over 65’s, the clinically vulnerable and family members who live with them. That is why it was so discredited Marco

    And remember at the start of this pandemic, when professor gupta has been proven wrong in her opinions that we had already reached herd immunity
    we were only able able to test 2,500 people a day for coronavirus and there were no 30 minute lateral flow tests at this point, and yet her opinion was that we should throw a ring of steel around the vulnerable and allow the virus to rip through the rest of the community as quickly as possible in order to reach herd immunity ( Over 3 months)
    So please explain again, how you not only shield all those people, but you also would need to ask a significant proportion of the care profession to shield from society as well where a virus was being “encouraged” to rip as these shielded group would need access still to “virus free ” medical staff and carers..

    Even once the lateral flow tests came out, these are not really the answer for keeping the elderly and vulnerable safe, the 30 minute tests are not anywhere near accurate enough for detecting infection in the early stages of the illness, hence the reason why so many care homes experienced a lot of deaths in the 2nd wave also. Care staff would take daily tests which would throw up negatives, despite many being positive and it was only when they were submitting their weekly PCR Tests they were finding out they were infected which of course is to late then as the virus was back in the care homes, this happened to both of my sisters working in different care homes and there are similar stories across the country.

  • Furthermore Marco, Covid does not only hospitalise the elderly and those with underlying conditions ( Though they tend to sadly have worse outcomes) . Anyone of any age can end up needing to be admitted to hospital for covid complications its a very indiscriminately virus, so again, allowing the virus to rip in very large numbers throughout the population would have put a huge stress on the NHS which would still mean ALL THOSE with underlying conditions needing hospital treatments like organ transplants and cancer treatments having their operations cancelled because with large amounts of virus in the communities and hospitals makes it too dangerous for them to undergo treatment, Can you really not see it?
    And as David points out to you, we lost over 1,500 medical and care staff to this pandemic, how many more do you suppose we would have lost if we allowed the GBD to let rip???? There was no vaccine, so therefore in order to reach herd immunity, we would be requiring the front line staff to get themselves infected as well….

    The whole things was and still is, full of flaws, but you chose not to see it

  • David Raw 21st Jul ’21 – 8:07pm:
    …over 1,500 NHS and Care staff have died of Covid up to the beginning of June.

    Indeed; and disproportionately from people with melanin-rich skin who were consequently highly likely to have been deficient in vitamin D. There is abundant evidence that vitamin D is highly protective against infection, hospitalisation, and death. That the benefits of high-dose vitamin D supplementation are dismissed by SAGE, NICE, and the medical establishment more generally is perhaps the biggest scandal of the pandemic. Tens of thousands of lives may have been saved in the UK alone.

    ‘Excess deaths from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Doctors during the Covid-19 Pandemic’ [22nd. November 2020]:
    http://www.drdavidgrimes.com/2020/11/covid-19-vitamin-d-deaths-of-doctors.html

    Most weeks in the British Medical Journal we can read six obituaries to UK doctors who have died. […]

    The obituaries are accompanied by names (obviously) but also photographs. It has therefore been possible to assess the ethnicity of those who have died. I have divided them into two groups, White and BAME (Black African and Asian Minority Ethnic groups). […]

    What is most dramatic and disturbing is the complete lack of overlap between the ages at death of the white and BAME groups.

    Age range White: 84 to 107

    Age range BAME: 46 to 79

    Average mean age White: 91

    Average mean age BAME: 62

    As with the Cigarette Smoking and Lung Cancer study, published in 1950, we are dealing with only doctors, a homogenous group. We can therefore eliminate confounding factors such as income, housing, or socio-economic status. […]

    The link between skin colour and Covid-19 deaths in the UK is deficiency of vitamin D. Melanin in the skin is a superb sun-shield that blocks 80% or more of the UV light that is incident upon the skin. […]

    One conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that a melanin-rich skin and presumed vitamin D deficiency appears to be much more dangerous than the coronavirus. The virus might have caused death in the very elderly but ethnicity and vitamin D deficiency caused death to be 30 years premature. […]

    There has been a very disappointing research activity in the UK during this pandemic, just the [unfunded] study from Tameside having been reported so far. […]

    This level of ignorance at the centre of government advice is frightening.

  • @ David Raw

    Those deaths are all tragic, however there is a difference between “1,500 NHS and Care staff have died of Covid” and “1,500 health and care staff have died during the pandemic”.

    The virus did let rip in hospitals where, as in care homes transmission rates are independent from transmission in the community so healthcare workers were more exposed to COVID than most people.

    Furthermore, the NHS has 600,000 – 800,000 public facing staff and the mortality rate of healthcare staff has been similar to the population overall.

  • Peter Martin 23rd Jul '21 - 11:20am

    Last week I was expressing the opinion that it was too risky to loosen all restrictions on the 19th. The data which was available at the time supported such a view. Case numbers were rising quickly and looked to be heading for 100k per day. Even Sajid Javid acknowledged the figure.

    However, the situation does look much more promising this week. The seven day average has shown its first decrease for since the start of the ‘third wave’. This is consistent with the peak of the third wave just having passed at 47k cases per day. The death and hospitalisation rates will continue to rise for some time yet but a peak in those numbers will arrive in 10 days or so.

    So. it looks like the government might get away with it after all.

    Google ( Covid stats). Set the graph to UK, All regions, 30 days.

  • @Peter Martin

    I hope you’re correct, however, the drop in cases coincide with a drop in testing in schools and also the measures that were lifted on Monday have not yet taken effect yet.

    But I sincerely hope you are right, especially since the hospital admissions and deaths are already exceeding the forecasts.

  • Peter Martin 24th Jul '21 - 10:19am

    @ matt,

    Yes, a good point about the numbers of tests. This could be, as you say, because fewer are suffering symptoms and don’t feel the need to be tested. Or, it could be many don’t want the inconvenience of being given a positive result if their symptoms are only mild.

    I’m not sure if your point of hospitalisations and deaths exceeding forecast is quite right. The Uni of Warwick put out some quite pessimistic forecasts some weeks ago which have so far proved to be just that.

    I like to think I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist. But my previous more positive outlook did change when the third wave started and as we felt the impact of the Delta variant. There could be worse variants to come of course.

    So we should keep a close look at the total numbers of infections, hospitalisations and deaths. We shouldn’t burn our masks just yet!

  • Peter Martin 24th Jul '21 - 10:38am

    @ Jeff,

    It is tempting to jump to the conclusion that Vit D levels and the degree of skin pigmentation explains your observations but there are confounding factors too. A 90 year old doctor, or former doctor, is much more likely than a 60 year old to be white, and probably male, for example.

    There will be other genetic differences, besides levels of skin pigmentation, between different ethnic groups.

    This is not to say that people shouldn’t take Vit D supplements. They won’t do any harm. But if there is any real evidence that they are the critical factor that many claim then we might expect doctors to be aware of this especially when their own health is at stake.

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