Is Boris a Lockdown Sceptic?

Having read Dominic Cummings’ twitter thread on the Government’s lack of preparedness for the pandemic – I had 10 hours to spare and thought, ‘Why not?’ – I began to suspect that Boris might be a lockdown sceptic. The central plank of Dom’s case against the PM in his thread is that he should have locked down earlier and the reason he didn’t is that he naively thought that a policy of shielding the elderly and vulnerable, and encouraging symptomatic people to quarantine at home, would mean ~60% of the population would become infected over the summer, thereby avoiding a second wave in the autumn/winter, when the NHS would have found it harder to cope due to the annual winter NHS crisis – the so-called ‘herd immunity’ strategy. Hmmm. Sounds pretty sensible to me – and to get an idea of how that would have worked out, we only have to look at Sweden, which avoided a hard lockdown throughout 2020 and had one of the lowest age-adjusted excess mortality rates in Europe.

Dom tries to swat this argument away in his thread, accusing “UK political pundits” of “spreading nonsense on Sweden/lockdowns”, and compares Sweden unfavourably with Denmark. A pretty feeble response, as we’ve pointed out numerous times on Lockdown Sceptics. (see Noah Carl’s piece on Monday for a comprehensive rebuttal of the “Yeah, but, Denmark” critique of Sweden’s approach.) No, the example of Sweden, which refused to lock down and whose health service never came close to being overwhelmed, remains a devastating riposte to the apocalyptic doom-mongering of people like Dom back in March of last year, who were screaming at the Prime Minister to lock everyone in their homes because… the NHS.

As I say, reading that thread, it seems pretty clear that Boris’s instincts were correct and the reason he switched tack in the week leading up to March 23rd was because he was surrounded by bed-wetting hysterics like Mr Cummings.

But today’s Daily Mail confirms it: Boris is a lockdown sceptic. I’ll let the Mail summarise the “explosive allegations”, which Dom has clearly leaked to them:

Boris Johnson referred to Covid as “Kung-Flu” and – before he was infected with the virus – offered to be injected with it live on TV to “show it’s nothing to be scared of”, Dominic Cummings will claim today.

They are among the explosive allegations that Mr Cummings, Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser, will make to MPs investigating the Government’s handling of the epidemic.

In an extraordinary claim, he will accuse the Prime Minister of being responsible for “thousands of deaths” by delaying a second lockdown when a second wave of the virus hit the U.K. in the winter. …

The Mail has learned that Mr Cummings will allege Mr Johnson:

* Argued against tough Covid curbs on the grounds that “it is only killing 80-year-olds”;
* Did say “no more f***ing lockdowns, let the bodies pile high in their thousands”.
* Said he regretted being “pushed” into ordering lockdowns because the “economic damage is more damaging than the loss of life”.

No doubt Boris could have expressed his scepticism more diplomatically – assuming Dom is telling the truth – but the substance of these points is correct: for those under 65 and with no underlying health conditions, the virus is nothing to be scared of; the average age of those who’ve died from COVID-19 in the UK is about 80; and the economic damage caused by the lockdowns will certainly outweigh the harms the lockdowns have prevented, if any.

Should anyone be in any doubt that Boris is a 64 carat lockdown sceptic, Dom has some more “devastating” points:

Mr Cummings will also say that before the decision, Mr Johnson vowed: “I’m going to be the mayor of Jaws, like I should have been in March (when the first lockdown was ordered).”

The Prime Minister has said that he regards the mayor in the Jaws movie – who refuses to close the resort’s beach even after a shark has killed tourists, for fear of damage to the local economy – as one of his “heroes”.

I must say, I take some comfort from this. Regular readers will know that until that fateful U-turn on March 23rd 2020 I was a huge fan of Boris’s and have struggled to reconcile the Rabelaisian, liberty-loving character I’ve known for the past 38 years with the furrowed-browed headmaster of the last 15 months. As I asked the journalist Quentin Letts in our recent Free Speech Union chat: How did Sid James become Hattie Jacques?

Turns out, Boris’s Jamesian side wasn’t entirely abandoned; it was just just kept in check by the Jacquists in 10 Downing Street.

Presumably, one reason Boris allowed himself to be pushed around by these chin-wobblers is because he was worried they’d accuse him of needlessly killing thousands of people if he didn’t do what they said. In which case, Dom’s suicide bomber routine is actually quite helpful. Boris allowed Dom to browbeat him into following his lockdown strategy and the disloyal bastard is still accusing him of being a mass murderer. So Boris has little to lose from ignoring these Cassandras from now on. They’ll turn on him whatever he does so there’s no point in trying to keep them on side.

It’s time to assert yourself, Prime Minister. At the next meeting of the Cabinet, announce that you’re going to reopen on June 21st come hell or high water and anyone who thinks that’s a bad idea should resign now or forever hold their peace. Thereafter, if the usual suspects start briefing against stage 4 of the Roadmap, including those snakes on SAGE, he should sack the bloody lot of them.

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