Rishi Sunak now regrets what they did.
By Gary Scarrabelotti
Well, we can now speak freely. The lockdown jig is up. “The Science” isn’t, after all, “the Science.”
In the UK, Rishi Sunak, whose resignation as Chancellor of the Exchequer (5 July) precipitated the final collapse of Boris Johnson’s hold on the Tory leadership, has come clean about Britain’s lockdown strategy.
In sum, what the Brits were told was good for them in the Covid fight, was cooked-up in secret meetings by scientific advisors who, far from being masters of ‘the Science’ and confident in their judgements, were often divided and ultimately reversed key positions, as time went by, on what “the Science” was supposed be.
According to Sunak, the UK Government’s Covid advisory group, known by the august acronym SAGE, was often divided over such fundamental measures as mask wearing and lockdowns; SAGE minutes were written in such a way as to hide these disagreements; as the Covid scare deepened, SAGE actually reversed its key initial positions; it’s leading lights — Chief Medical Officer, Sir Chris Whitty and Chief Science Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance — openly admitted that lockdowns could do more harm than good but SAGE recommended them anyway; no “cost-benefit” analyses were undertaken; SAGE advice went directly to the Prime Minister’s Office at “No. 10” and was accepted without reference to Cabinet; some Ministers, Sunak included, resorted to using spies to find out what SAGE was telling the PM; and, finally, the PMO simply issued Ministers with directions on how they should answer questions about Covid measures the merits of which could not be seriously discussed at any level within the Government.
It’s good to have confirmed, what some have long suspected, that the “Masters of the Science” did not really know what they were doing and were much less confident of their positions than they themselves and their political masters gave them out to be.
One of the unanswered questions posed by Sunak’s account of events is whether SAGE massaged its advice to meet what its ultimate political master, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wanted to hear.
Sunak’s unburdening of conscience over what went on behind the scenes in Britain prompts one to ask what was really happening back here in Australia behind our own, until now, veiled government decision-making about how to respond to the Wuhan virus.
A new book hit our stores recently entitled Plagued: Australia’s two years of hell — the inside story. It’s mostly about how the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison dealt with the Covid “plague” or, perhaps more accurately, how Scott Morrison dealt with the “plague”. Written by Simon Benson and Geoff Chambers, both journalists for The Australian, the book’s launch was accompanied by a well-timed marketing blitz which zeroed in the book’s chief scoop: that Morrison had had himself ‘sworn in’ as an invisible Minister of two portfolios. We subsequently discovered, however, that the scoop proved not quite so great as the promo had led us to believe. It turned out that, actually, there were five such portfolios for which there were already duly sworn Ministers of whom four were wholly unaware of Morrison’s hidden presence.
About the book itself, I’ll say more another time. And, on the secret swearings-in, I’ll pass over them for now.
What I want, here and now, to draw attention to is to just two pages of Plagued: pages 80 – 81. On them, the authors relate how Morrison and his Health Minister, Greg Hunt, kept working on their senior health advisory group — the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) — to get the kind of medical advice they wanted, or thought they needed.
It seems that, back in early March 2020, the AHPPC — which included the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Health Officers of the States — was opposed, among other things, to mask mandates. This opposition stunned Morrison and Hunt.
“You have to put your hands to your head and say ‘What?’,” Benson and Chambers quote Hunt as telling them.
“… we had to keep going back to them on masks. We thought it was obvious that masks would make a difference. There wasn’t resistance from us. There was resistance from parts of the AHPPC.”
Now remember those words: “We thought it was obvious …”
Despite their protestations, then, Morrison and Hunt were not simply responding to their health advisers in pushing for this or that health measure. On masks, and later in the “pandemic,” on the mandatory vaccination of aged care workers, Morrison and Hunt became their own medical advisers, or were getting contrary advice from other sources yet to be revealed.
Now, it’s true — or it ought to be — that we elect our politicians, not to be ciphers in the hands of advisers, but to assess what advice is available to them and to make the call. So, it’s a serious retreat from political (and moral) responsibility when politicians defend their decisions on the ground that “We’re following expert advice”.
It is a much more serious matter, however, for our political leaders to claim that “We’re following expert advice” or “following the Science” when, in fact, there is no such advice or where “the Science” is uncertain, contested or has developed in directions at odds with the political decisions said to be based on it — as, indeed, it had in the matter of wearing masks. Formally, in that event, the politicians are lying.
However critically his present motives and less-than-fearless conduct in government might be judged, Rishi Sanak’s lifting the lid on how Britain’s lockdown policy was contrived, and fed into government without evaluation, is a breakthrough. And make no mistake, there is a well-drilled army of Brits ready to exploit it with a counter offensive upon Westminster and its science panjandrums. One of the lead voices of this army, Bev Turner of GB News, responded to Sunak’s big reveal with this defiance:
To us here is Australia, a similar, if less front pagey, crack in the decision-making façade has been exposed — unintentionally, I’d wager — by Benson and Chambers when they portrayed how Morrison and Hunt seemed to ‘know’ “the Science” even before asking their medical science advisers.
How was that then? About this, B & C are silent.
Trash that plan
What we Australians need to know can be formulated in one basic question: why was the detailed pandemic plan developed during Tony Abbott’s time as Minister for Health and Ageing (2003 — 2007) abandoned in the face of Covid-19?
Under this plan, into which years of research had gone, lockdowns were not recommended; mandatory masking was not envisaged; schools would not be closed; selected hospitals were allocated the task of treating “pandemic” victims while other hospitals, both public and private, were to continue providing, as far as possible, their normal services to the public; vaccines were, of course, considered an important part of any pandemic response, but so too was early treatment of the infected who, from Day 1 of a pandemic, were to be medicated with anti-viral drugs; and, finally, to create an emergency supply of these, significant Commonwealth funds were outlaid.
Why was this existing pandemic plan secretly junked in March 2020? Who made the decision and for what reasons? And what happened to the stock of anti-virals? Had it been refreshed and updated between 2007 and 2020? And, if not, why not?
There are some big questions here and they require full and frank answers. We won’t get them, however, by spelling ourselves and waiting.
Fraser Nelson’s piece in The Telegraph is brutally but aptly headed:
We have quite a bit of work to do here in She’ll-be-right Australia — where things haven’t gone orright — to strip away the pseudo-scientific mask on the decisions made to shut us down and to stick it to us with experimental vaccines.