We’re publishing an original piece today by Dr. David McGrogan, a Professor at Northumbria Law School. He points out that the gap between what senior politicians say and what they do could not be greater, but for some reason the public still clings to the belief that Covid restrictions flatten the curve. You can subscribe to Professor McGrogan’s Substack newsletter here.
‘Secret Santa gate’ is satisfying inasmuch as it produces some schadenfreude at Boris Johnson’s expense. And the sense of public outrage about his latest scandal is tangible. But I wouldn’t expect it to change much as regards lockdown and other restrictions. Remember Matt Hancock breaching the drinking curfew in the House of Commons bar? Remember when the Mayor of San Francisco was filmed contravening mask restrictions in the city – on two separate occasions? Remember when a gang of diplomats and MEPs were caught having an orgy during the winter lockdown in Brussels last year? Remember the dozens of other incidents we could all reel off in which lockdown-supporting politicians indicated the rules simply didn’t apply to them? Remember bloody Barnard Castle? Did any of these events stop further rounds of Covid restrictions arising?
The truth of the matter is that, for all the flouting of their own restrictions by the ruling classes, the general public seem incapable of doing the mental arithmetic. They never seem to make the inductive leap: Boris Johnson and his cronies have all of the data, have all the latest updates from their team of crack scientists and medics, and they clearly do not think that Covid is much of a personal risk. It is starkly, uncompromisingly revealed by their actions. They aren’t worried about having Christmas parties. They aren’t worried about ‘super-spreader events’. They aren’t worried about killing their grandmothers.
The natural question that should follow is: so why should we worry? And yet nobody is prepared to ask this question: not the general public, nor the media, nor parliamentarians, nor pundits. The truth of the matter is that while people enjoy being outraged about Tory sleaze, they simply aren’t very concerned about the wider implications. They will grumble and grouse, but they will continue to wear their masks, continue to cancel Christmas parties, loyally display their vaccine passports when the requirement inevitably comes, and work from home when told. We are kidding ourselves if we think that this latest distraction is anything other than theatre – and a way, perhaps, for the media to kick Boris while he’s down.
Almost a year ago, I wrote a piece on Lockdown Sceptics, as it then was, about the problem of ‘moral truth’. I made the case then that people are not swayed by fact-based argument; they instead look for a prevailing moral norm, and then try to comply with it. The moral norm is: lockdowns, mask-wearing and other restrictions ‘work’, they save lives, and therefore we should do those things. As time goes on, I become more convinced that this is the root of the problem, and you only need to consider Secret Santa-gate to see that it is so. Boris is being raked over the coals not because his actions reveal that most of the Covid restrictions are purely for show. He is being pilloried for going against the moral truth about ‘stopping the spread’. That is why we are stuck, irrespective of whatever scandals our politicians become involved in. And we will continue to be stuck, until the moral norm eventually (fingers crossed) shifts.