Postcard From London

James Allan, the Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland, was in London recently to see his two children. He has now returned to Australia, where he and his wife are holed up in a quarantine hotel, but he has written an account for Lockdown Sceptics of his seven-week stay in our capital. We’ve filed it under our ever-growing “Around the World in 80 Lockdowns” section on the right-hand side. It’s a corker – one of the best postcards we’ve published so far. Prof Allan, who writes regularly for Spectator Australia, isn’t just a common-or-garden sceptic – he’s a raging sceptic. I know I occasionally pour scorn on Australians – not so much the descendants of convicts as the descendants of turnkeys, given how they’ve acquiesced to lockdowns – but that’s nothing compared to Prof Allan’s reaction to the supine compliance of Londoners. Here’s an extract.

A few things struck me quite powerfully. The first was how eerily empty London was as we walked around each day. We wondered when the great city of London last looked so deserted – not during WWII’s Blitz, not during WWI or the Spanish Flu, not at any point going back at least to the 17th Century. And for what? For a virus that in no-lockdown Sweden has led to 5,000 excess deaths for the year. Tops. And that’s if you don’t correct for population growth or an ageing population. For a virus that has a fraction of a soupcon of the lethality of the Spanish Flu, and all that it has concentrated on the elderly and vulnerable (who one might think should be the overwhelming focus of concern and action).

Next there was all the propaganda everywhere. The BT tower made me want to vomit – “Stay inside. Stay safe. Protect the NHS.” I always thought health services were there to protect citizens, not the other way round. (Leave aside that for someone like me who has lived and worked in a lot of countries the NHS product is one of the worst I’ve ever experienced, perhaps marginally better than the health service in my native Canada but miles worse than Australia’s, New Zealand’s, and even Hong Kong’s.) Meanwhile the orchestrated clapping was nauseating. Can you imagine our ancestors clapping for the Battle of Britain pilots? Or those pilots wanting this to be done?

And let’s not forget all the posters on bus shelters, straight out of some authoritarian government’s propaganda handbook. “Look him in the eye and tell him you can’t work at home.” Or “won’t wear a mask”. Or “It’s not that serious a disease.” These slogans ran below a photo of some deathly ill looking chap with an oxygen mask. Again, leave aside the subtle manipulation here that is involved in showing photos of actors far below 83 years old, that being the median death age from Covid. It is also dishonest because it presents only one side of the equation. The young are being decimated not by the virus – for them it is less risky than the flu – but by the Government’s response to it. Same for many workers in the private sector – though not, obviously, politicians and bureaucrats who will come out of these lockdowns that they themselves imposed better off materially than they went in. Where are the bus shelter posters of students who’ve lost a year of their schooling, or the many tens of millions in the Third World who are now newly in poverty, or those who’ve lost businesses and family homes with the slogans “Look them in the eye and tell them these lockdowns were necessary”?

I also noticed that defenders of Boris’s supposed libertarian instincts had less and less plausibility as time went on during my seven weeks in Britain. If Boris Johnson is a South Dakota or Florida Governor-type libertarian, with a whole-hearted commitment to civil liberties and freedom and a willingness to make tough decisions in their defence, then I’m a marsupial. Any backbone the Prime Minister had has been slowly dissolved away by his SAGE advisers, the panic-mongering press, and his Cabinet in his transmogrification into an invertebrate. Go back and read what he used to say about Remainers and see how much applies to him now.

At any rate, I came away from a seven week trip into the home of “the scary new Covid variant” with a sense that in two generations Britain had gone from the people who stood up to, and defeated, Hitler to the people who largely cowered in their homes, masks in place, because their Government told them to do so. Because of a virus that over 99% of those who catch it would survive!

This one is very much worth reading in full.


One Response to “Postcard From London”

  1. ian says:

    The WW2 version of Britain was every bit as much under control as the Britain of today is. Bear in mind though, we are not all sitting cowering.