Dr James Moreton Wakeley

The Government’s Shameful Use of Psychological Techniques to Terrify People

by Dr. James Moreton Wakeley Fear is our most powerful emotion. It triggers our deepest animal instincts and makes us act in irrational ways. We find ourselves fighting, fleeing, or hiding. We look only to our own safety, forget how to think, and become heedless of anything or anyone else. Fear is the ultimate master of the mind. Employing it as a form of influence, however softly, however subliminally, can profoundly change behaviour and cause lasting mental trauma. Enemies do it in times of war to undermine their foe’s morale and will to resist. It is the tactic used by totalitarian regimes throughout history to compel obedience. And it is the tactic that the British government, for the past year, has consciously employed to turn us into the compliant subjects of lockdown. Using such behavioural science to ‘nudge’ us into acting in certain ways is not new. As conceived by the Cameron government, harnessing ‘nudge theory’ to encourage people ‘to make better choices for themselves’ without resorting to the compulsion of law is not necessarily malign. Yet the ways in which behavioural science has been employed over the course of the past year demonstrates the deep truth of the old aphorism that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) is...

What Happened to the Good Old British Bobby?

by James Moreton Wakeley One of the most sublime hymns to England is to be found at the end of George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. Returning from the bitter battles of the Spanish Civil War, wounded in the neck, and having narrowly avoided further bodily harm in the bloodily fratricidal politics of the doomed Spanish Republic, Orwell looks forward to returning to a land at peace. To an idyll of "railway-cuttings smothered in wild flowers" and "slow-moving streams bordered by willows", inhabited by a gentle folk wearing bowler hats whose streets are adorned with "posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings". Fighting in the ranks of an international socialist movement though Orwell was, Homage to Catalonia is replete with such heartfelt musings on England. First among such sentiments is the notion that the police are nothing to be feared. Unlike the highly-politicised and faction-riven police forces of Republican Spain, or other such continental gendarmeries, Orwell saw the British bobby as a cheery friend of the honest citizen, who polices with consent rather than through force, and who would only go so far to arrest someone if they had, or were strongly suspected to have, broken the law. Saturday night’s footage from the vigil held in honour of Sarah Everard makes this image as remote from our age as the rest of Orwell’s...

The Failure of the Political Class

by James Moreton Wakeley One of the most striking things about the past year has been the uniform and all but unquestioning embrace of the novel policy of lockdown by Government, opposition parties, and the mainstream media. Even as the number of fatalities, hospitalisations, and cases collapse, the Government remains religiously wedded to the sclerotic pace of its easing strategy and news bulletins continue to duckspeak calls to comply with the most illiberal restrictions ever imposed on British society, refusing to interrogate these restrictions’ costs. Those who question lockdown orthodoxy, be they distinguished scientists, civil liberties campaigners, or journalists beyond the print and televisual oligopolies, are denounced as ‘deniers’ and shut down. Let us remind ourselves what lockdown means: it is the state-mandated end of normal social, economic, and political life. It involves everything from the forced-separation of families, to the capricious police over-enforcement of pettifogging, poorly written guidelines of dubious actual legality, to the total marginalisation of normal democratic and parliamentary procedures in what the admirable Lord Sumption has termed ‘government by decree’. It is an unprecedented policy taken from a totalitarian state and adopted by Britain and other Western nations at the cost of ignoring decades of research and established pandemic management strategies. It was the policy of panic. It has been sustained through the deliberate stoking of...

The Coddling of the Political Mind

by Dr James Moreton Wakeley Lockdown should end now. Its failure and cruelty as a policy is self-evident. The first lockdown was decreed amidst the panic and uncertainty of media hyperbole that drove the Government to ignore established guidance on pandemic management and to follow the instinctively totalitarian example of China. Continuing justifications have been found in the apocalyptic and opaque modelling of SAGE. Yet this name has proved to be as ironic as it is Orwellian. Almost a year on, SAGE has been shown to be wrong time and time again and strong empirical evidence now exists showing that lockdowns are not critical to combatting Covid. Cases were already falling before all three UK lockdowns were announced. Lockdown-averse Sweden has recorded excess deaths no greater than the EU average. The worst death rates in the USA are found in the states that have locked down the most rigorously, whilst those states that remained free have not fared dramatically worse than the average. Perhaps more importantly, the costs of lockdown are unnervingly apparent. The UK is now more indebted than ever before in its history. Children’s mental health is precipitously deteriorating whilst their education continues to atrophy. Last year, a Bristol University study suggested that the medical and societal impact of lockdown will kill five times more people in the...

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