(L-R) Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak during a news conference on the coronavirus at 10 Downing Street on October 22, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Henry Nicholls- Pool/Getty Images)
Artillery Row

Why has Boris locked us up again?

The Government’s coronavirus strategy is all about protecting the Conservative Party brand with an eye on the next General Election

I’ve been talking to people close to Downing Street, trying to figure out why Boris has insisted on imposing a second lockdown in spite of the data suggesting it’s completely unnecessary. Has the Government been captured by SAGE, who in turn have been captured by Bill Gates and Big Pharma? Is it part of some Great Reset conspiracy? Or just the usual balls-up? This is what I’ve been able to find out.

Boris is desperate not to go down in history as the Prime Minister who cancelled Christmas

In private, everyone in the Quad (Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock) acknowledges that the apocalyptic data presented by Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance at the Downing Street press briefing last Saturday was just flim-flam intended to create a rationale for a second lockdown. But the Quad are worried that in certain northern cities, e.g. Leeds, where post-lockdown disobedience has combined with urban lifestyles (blame the plebs, etc.), there is a genuine prospect of hospitals becoming overwhelmed and that has got them rattled.

Note, this anxiety isn’t just due to Covid-19 admissions, which aren’t likely to be higher than they were at the spring peak, even ‘oop North. Rather, this time NHS Trusts have been ordered not to turn away non-Covid patients if they can accommodate them – the NHS is trying to avoid becoming a Covid-only service again, given all the problems that has caused – so some hotspot hospitals are having to cope with operating at their usual winter capacity levels alongside an influx of Covid-19 patients.

They’re not at breaking point yet, in part because the influx of Covid-19 patients is being compensated for by a lower-than-usual number of patients being admitted for other respiratory infections. But because the reasons for that aren’t understood – are masking and social distancing really suppressing flu and pneumonia, but not Covid-19? – the at-risk hospitals can’t count on respiratory infections not increasing, alongside rising Covid-19 admissions, which might push them over the edge.

Forget about protecting the NHS. It’s all about protecting the Conservative Party brand

Could the system flex to accommodate any overspill, with patients being admitted to neighbouring ICUs? Probably (this is normal), but another difficulty is that there are fewer specialist intensive care nurses than there were in March/April, partly because some of them have asked to be reassigned to other departments after the stress of the first wave and partly due to hospitals obsessively testing all their staff using the unreliable PCR kit because they’re terrified of “healthcare-associated infections” (nosocomial transmission of the virus). The upshot is there are fewer intensive care nurses and some of those that are still around have been sent home and told to self-isolate after testing positive.

Another issue is that those with young children who’ve been sent home from school and told to self-isolate – because a child in their bubble has tested positive – are having to stay at home to care for their kids. And yet another issue is that some schools and NHS trusts are ordering staff to self-isolate for 14 days if one of their children has been identified as a “contact” of an infected person, even though that’s not something NHS Test and Trace are insisting upon.

So, the Quad is terrified that some hospital trusts in northern areas will become overwhelmed and the BBC will start broadcasting pictures of people dying in corridors on the nightly news – which is political Kryptonite, according to the Rasputin-like figure of Dom Cummings.

People will ask, “What was the point of Lockdown 1.0 if the precise thing it was designed to prevent is now happening?” Forget about protecting the NHS. It’s all about protecting the Conservative Party brand with an eye on the next General Election.

But the Quad is terrified that if they only clamp down on northern cities, as they’ve sort of being trying to do up to now, then the myth of a disease-laden, persecuted and under-funded North, already being wailed about by Messrs Burnham, will take even more root. Boris and his top team are paralysed with fear of being accused of abandoning their new friends in the North.

The Quad have run out of ideas, although they never really had any to begin with

So a national lockdown – even though it’s completely unnecessary and they all privately accept that – is a desperate propaganda exercise intended to restore the national Blitz spirit of the spring, even if it costs HM Treasury £1.8 billion a day, decimates the hospitality and aviation sectors and drives tens of thousands of high street shops out of business. They’re also concerned that, without said Blitz baloney, the chippy northerners, whipped up by Burnham’s rhetoric, won’t comply with any new regulations.

Another factor: Boris is desperate not to go down in history as the Prime Minister who cancelled Christmas, hence the promise to come out of lockdown on 2 December. Although that’s also because the furlough spigot needs to be turned off at some point – the staff of the Debt Management Office are having a collective nervous breakdown. Seriously. Some of them are off with stress.

In effect, the Quad are caught in a trap of their own making. Lockdown 2.0 is another needless measure designed to minimise the political fall-out from the countless other pointless measures they’ve taken. The economy has been thrown to the wolves in order to buy yet more time for the Conservatives to save face.

In reality, the Quad know there’s chance of an effective, accessible vaccine any time soon. Indeed, it might never come, and the four horsemen know that, too. And everyone in the Government – even scapegoat-in-waiting Matt Hancock – knows that the PCR test is hopelessly shonky and NHS Test and Trace, which was only ever a £12 billion PR exercise, is a slow motion car crash (thanks to false positives and the staggering incompetence of the various companies the Government has outsourced delivery to). But at least it’s one of the few ways the Government can be seen to be doing something – anything – even if it’s a shitshow. According to one insider, it’s the equivalent of juggling plates in an effort to stop a rainstorm.

Witty and Vallance are slavishly pumping out propaganda in order to justify whatever crackpot idea Boris comes up with next

One final point: this doesn’t appear to be a case of SAGE pulling the strings, browbeating Boris and co into doing their bidding via its envoys Witless and Unbalanced. Rather, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Officer are doing the bidding of the Quad, slavishly pumping out propaganda in order to justify whatever crackpot idea Boris comes up with next. They’re terrified about the coming reckoning, with newspaper investigations, public inquiries, lawsuits, etc. heading down the pike, so they want to be able to say, “We were just following orders, your Honour.” But as a general rule, Witless and Unbalanced think there’s more risk of them being punished for insufficient caution, rather than hysteric alarmism, so they continue to harp on about “reasonable worst case” scenarios behind closed doors, even though there’s absolutely nothing “reasonable” about them.

In short, the Quad is at a loss about what else to do. Lockdown 2.0 is yet another attempt to defuse a ticking bomb that may never explode. They daren’t risk a snagged tripwire in a couple of Northern outposts, but the only way to stop the Wildlings drinking themselves senseless and staggering all over the battlefield is to confine the entire country to barracks. They’ve run out of ideas, although they never really had any to begin with.

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