Isabel Oakeshott is a journalist and critic of pandemic containment policies who was unaccountably hired by disgraced former UK health minister Matt Hancock to write the Pandemic Diaries: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle Against Covid. Hancock hoped that this exercise in autohagiography would rehabilitate his reputation after revelations of an extramarital affair forced him out of office. The joke, it turns out, is on him. Apparently, he gave Oakeshott an archive of over 100,000 WhatsApp messages to assist in her writing. She’s now leaked that archive to the Telegraph, who are gleefully and selectively publishing them in an ongoing series they call The Lockdown Files.
As with all selective leaks, there’s reason to be cautious here: We don’t have access to all of Hancock’s communications or even the full WhatsApp archive, and the scattered and sensationalising Telegraph reporting – which emphasises Hancock’s rude remarks and sniping at the expense of political content – inspires less than full confidence.
Still, there’s a lot to ponder here. For example, there’s Hancock plotting about when to “deploy” news of the alpha variant in order to “frighten the pants of[f] everyone” and remove political obstacles to restrictions. There’s renowned Science Follower Boris Johnson refusing to lift lockdowns after being told that reopening was “too far ahead of public opinion”, then later regretting his decision to implement a second lockdown after hearing that the mortality models he had found so convincing were out of date and wrong. There’s Hancock hesitating to implement advice on testing care home residents for Covid, out of vague concerns that it might “get in the way” of achieving his publicity-driven testing targets. There’s Johnson introducing school mask mandates after being advised that the issue was “not worth an argument” with First Minister of Scotland and noted virus lunatic Nicola Sturgeon. There’s education secretary Gavin Williamson acknowledging that teachers’ unions were a major force behind school closures and that teachers “really really do just hate work”.
Since the very beginnings of this plague chronicle, I’ve said that lockdowns flowed directly from China, through the WHO, to the West, where they rapidly became a self-reinforcing phenomenon in their own right. They were driven by autonomous political and institutional forces rather than nebulous globalist conspirators, and we have now had multiple leaks, from Germany, the United Kingdom and the US, which everywhere paint the same picture:
1) The earliest pressure for lockdowns came from within public health institutions, government-adjacent scientific advisors, and the bureaucracy more broadly – not the political arm.
2) Western governments feared non-compliance with lockdown measures and took very deliberate steps to terrorise their citizenries to ensure their cooperation. In this they enjoyed the wholesale collaboration of the press.
3) Cabinet officials and other politicians channeled bureaucratic pressure and growing popular alarm (in which they were complicit) to seize initiative and power from rival governmental actors. They regarded public panic as a resource and an opportunity to be exploited accordingly.
4) Measures were determined not by Science, or even by educated guesses or coin tosses – but by the limits of what was practically and politically possible at any given moment. Maximum masking, maximum lockdowns, maximum vaccination, everywhere and always.
5) Every slight uptick in infections set off a self-reinforcing cascade of messaging and restrictions. Bureaucrats and politicians struggled to satisfy what they perceived as near-bottomless public appetite for restrictions by issuing new rules, which required still more propaganda to enforce, and radicalised public sentiment still further.
6) The formulators of lockdown policy were increasingly disabused of SARS-2 risk after the first wave, but continued to press for all possible closures, above all because they feared the political consequences of failing to contain infections.
7) This entails that they had some measure of faith in their own policies, in part because they were not immune to their own propaganda. Measures like masking, introduced because they were “effectively free” and have “a very visible impact” came to be trusted as genuine infection-controlling interventions.
It always irritates some people when I say this, but it’s just the truth: The people responsible for the last three years of economic destruction, psychological injury and mass pharmaceutical experimentation are callous and evil, but they’re also just really dumb. None of this meant anything, none of this was for anything, and that’s the bitterest pill of all. Every last person in these text messages, from Johnson to Hancock to other ministers to random experts and everyone else, has absolutely no idea what they’re doing or what the purposes of their restrictions even are. Lockdowns were every inch the crazy illogical senseless chaotic policies they appear to be. They are the fruit of shallow low-wattage government functionaries who have a planning horizon extending no more than two weeks, who judge their own success or failure via press coverage, and who regard the public as dimwitted cattle to be herded in expedient directions.