Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA
The government in Italy is reported to be hiring 60,000 professional snitches to monitor their friends and neighbours and to sneak on anyone they see who is not wearing a face mask and obeying social distancing rules.
We really are moving well into the uncomfortable landscape of George Orwell country.
The professional snitches will not wear uniforms or badges so that they can merge into society unnoticed – and so they can spread their odious tittle tattle without being identified.
It’s happening everywhere.
Several police forces in the UK have asked citizens to report anyone who mentions or discusses conspiracy theories on the internet – though to be honest no one is promoting conspiracy theories in the UK more than Comrade Boris, the man who was voted in as a Tory but who has, I suggest, rapidly turned into Britain’s first communist prime minister. A conspiracy theorist is sometimes defined as someone who represents a point of view not generally accepted by the majority. Well, I think that makes Comrade Boris, Comrade Dominic, Comrade Neil and the rest of them fully fledged conspiracy theorists because I doubt if Comrade Boris would win a majority if we had a vote about his policies.
As in Italy, the police around the world have urged citizens to snitch on neighbours who might have broken lockdown or social distancing rules – though to be honest if anyone can work out precisely what the rules are I congratulate them. The rules seem to vary according to who is speaking and what day of the week it is. The confusion is, of course, all part of the plan to unsettle us and to make us uncomfortable – though some of the police forces who are encouraging people to tell tales on their friends and neighbours seem to be enjoying their new powers rather too vividly and I suspect that one or two police officers might have been watching too many movies about totalitarian societies. In the UK, at least four police forces have set up dedicated hot lines to make it easier for people to snitch on folk whom they think might have broken a law or two.
The bottom line is that snitches are bad for any society for exactly the same reason that they are good for governments.
The forces of law and order will always want to ensure that its laws are upheld (unless they are inconvenient for senior government figures). They will want to catch offenders, punish them as severely as they can get away with and make sure they don’t do it again – and that others don’t do it either.
Snitches and quislings are good for governments because they operate as additional members of the occupying force.
When you don’t know who the quislings are you become paranoid and worry about everyone. In such a world everyone is a potential snitch and everyone is a threat. That’s a miserable way to live but it is, it seems, the way we are now expected to live.
I mentioned `occupying forces’ and I was serious; that’s how I, and many others, now see our governments – as occupying forces. That’s why I use the word quisling to describe the snitches who making life easier for the oppressors.
Some governments around the world, including the UK government, have used the coronavirus as an excuse to bring in whole rafts of oppressive legislation, turning democracies into police states and removing freedom and privacy as if they simply did not matter.
In the UK the government’s new Big Brother spyware track and trace system seems to me to have been designed to remove the last vestiges of privacy and independence. Anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus will be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace staff and will have to give the names and contact details of everyone with whom they have `recently interacted’ (that’s the Big Brother jargon). It’s all rather reminiscent of the McCarthy era inquisitions in the United States. Those individuals who have been named must then isolate for 14 days. It is quite possible that within three months entire cities will be permanently in lockdown. I suspect that only Comrade Boris’s closest advisors will be exempt from the new laws.
(Incidentally, Comrade Boris and company are calling them rules and not laws but in my world if I can be arrested, fined and imprisoned for not obeying an order then it’s a law so let’s forget the Newspeak and call things by the proper names, please.)
The system also seems designed to limit the number of people we meet. Anyone who has an active social life and meets lot of people will be forever being put into unnecessary periods of lockdowns. Meetings of all kinds, including protests and demonstrations, will be things of the past. Now, there is a surprise: no demonstrations against the government.
And how safe will all this very private and personal information be?
Well, the woman that Comrade Boris has put in charge of the scheme is Baroness Harding, the wife of a Conservative MP and the former head of a British phone company called Talk Talk. While she was the boss there the company lost the personal and banking details of 157,000 customers to hackers. Her company was fined £400,000 for security failings which allowed the data to be taken with ease and the company shareholders are said to have lost £60 million as a result. Boris hired Ferguson, the mathematical modeller who gave us lockdown and Cummings, the advisor who ignored the lockdown. And now he has hired a woman most famous for losing personal information to be in charge of collecting personal information. There is at least a pattern there.
Experts are lining up to applaud the new system and to warn that reducing lockdown is dangerous. I think they’re looking at the wrong part of the problem. They are looking to see how many people are likely to catch the bug. And that is the wrong question. They should be concentrating on how dangerous the bug is. And the answer to the question they aren’t asking is: no worse than a bad flu. That was obvious back in March, when I recorded my first YouTube video. Everyone who disputes that should remember that the total number of worldwide deaths so far from the coronavirus is around half the total number of flu deaths in a bad year. Some experts are also ignoring the number of deaths caused by the lockdown – and that is already higher than the disease itself.
The government’s scientists seem to me to be over-complicating things. It is a perfect example of groupthink where a group of people meet, talk and then think alike.
This is, perhaps, a good moment to point out that the death rates seem to show that Britain’s policies have been among the worst in the world. The Norwegian public health authority concluded the other day that the virus was never spreading as fast as had been feared and was already on its way out when their lockdown was ordered. Countries where the people have been trusted to behave sensibly (covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze for example) have done much better than Britain – with its onerous lockdown policies. And it is worth pointing out that Vietnam, which is rather close to China, has had 327 cases but no deaths. Africa hasn’t had many lockdowns or many deaths. Of course, the way Britain has been counting the deaths probably has something to do with Britain’s very high death rate. Boris has a dilemma – if he keeps the total low then the house arrests look like overkill. If he lets the total rise too much then his policies look as stupid as they are.
There is no doubt that the police state will be strengthened by Comrade Boris’s absurd, impractical and entirely unnecessary laws – which will incidentally, destroy a number of industries. For example, no one will ever dare risk money making a movie or even a television programme in Britain if they know that the whole multi million pound enterprise could be brought to a screeching and very expensive standstill if one extra or assistant wardrobe mistress develops a sniffle.
The UK seems to have more vicious new laws than any other major country. It’s a safe bet that the UK is going to come out worst when this farce eventually struggles to a conclusion. British companies are doomed and that won’t do much good for the unemployment figures which are going to reach new records. The only people looking forward to the future are the police – it must be fun being a policeman in a police state.
As an aside I should mention that the police seem to be enjoying themselves everywhere. In the United States a woman was wrestled to the ground by police officers for not wearing her mask properly and a woman was arrested for taking her children to a park so that they could play and get a little fresh air. All over America clergymen have been arrested for trying to hold church services.
And inevitably, there have been some Americans eager to do their very best to support the police. Yesterday I saw a video of a woman being chased out of a store for not wearing a mask. The people doing the chasing were, of course, all dutifully wearing masks.
Heaven knows how people would behave if they were at risk of catching a serious disease. I wonder how many of these folk know that the coronavirus of which they are all so terrified has killed around half the number of people killed by a bad flu bug. I wonder how many wore masks last winter to try to protect themselves against the flu.
Finally, I wonder if snitches and sneaks know how much damage they are doing. The police are doing enough harm without members of the public joining in.
Snitches and quislings damage our trust in one another – they create fear, uncertainty, anxiety and distrust and attempt to force us to suppress our individuality and our sense of freedom and personal dignity.
That’s the real danger.
The snitches and quislings probably don’t realise it but they are doing permanent, fatal damage to our sense of society and our sense of community.
Copyright Vernon Coleman May 29th 2020
Vernon Coleman’s book How to Protect and Preserve your Freedom, Identity and Privacy is available as a paperback on Amazon.