Understandably, many New Zealanders are not rushing to doff their cap to their newly ennobled former leader. “For the pointless ruin this posturing lightweight did to her country, in any rational world she’d be getting a fair trial, three months solitary on bread and water and a firing squad,” huffed one.
Very well said, sir, but Ardern is far from alone. We are living in a time of honours without honour, a time when British villains of the pandemic are gonged as heroes before the Covid Inquiry has had a chance to pronounce on their performance.
“When the tide goes out, you find out who is swimming naked,” is a saying attributed to investor Warren Buffet, about economic crises. The same applies to the pandemic. This week, as The Telegraph reported, a bombshell study found that lockdown reduced deaths in England and Wales by only 1,700. A “drop in the bucket” set against the 200,000-plus “missing” cancer patients, to take just one sorry example.
That’s “missing” presumed dead. (See the mysteriously high excess deaths in the home.) Or missing and then getting a terminal diagnosis 18 months late because some fool decided it would be a good idea to shut down vast swathes of the NHS. (An idea so ingenious no other country copied it.)
Yet, the Chief Medical Officer when all that was happening – or, rather, not happening – is now Sir Chris Whitty, knighted for services to public health and tackling Covid.
Curiously, at his very first Covid press briefing with sidekick Sir Patrick Vallance in March 2020, Whitty was extremely honest about what the UK was facing. A new virus was on the scene, most people who got it would be absolutely fine, although the elderly and the unwell should take extra care. Better not attend large social gatherings for a while, to avoid hospitals being overrun. Generally, though, we’d have to live with this relatively innocuous virus until herd immunity kicked in or a vaccine was invented. No real cause for alarm was the message.
Just two days later, under intense pressure from an ignorant, screeching media, and after a wild prediction by Prof Ferguson and Imperial College modellers of 400,000 deaths if we didn’t close the country, Whitty changed his tune.
You can call that realpolitik or cowardly capitulation to the mob. What is in little doubt, though, is that decision to lock down, endorsed by Whitty, led to what the new report calls “a global policy failure of gigantic proportions”.
Earlier this week, I met a former senior civil servant who had worked on the “green book” UK pandemic plan. She said lockdown wasn’t even mentioned because everyone knew the consequences would be so disastrous. What the plan recommended was “incremental” measures, in proportion to the threat level.
Yet, it was Whitty who got the knighthood while Oxford University’s Professor Carl Heneghan, arguing throughout for balancing the risks and benefits of restrictions, got spied on by agents of the state for “disinformation”.
The self-same “disinformation” that was reviewed and approved by the likes of Whitty and known as the UK pandemic plan.
As Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) says in the 2004 film I, Robot: “Somehow ‘I told you so’ just doesn’t quite say it.”
Those of us who called it right, those who can say, “I told you so” (many fantastic Telegraph readers among that defiant, incredulous number), those of us who pointed out that lockdown was bound to kill more people than it saved, were reviled or cancelled. Today, we have to watch as the ones who, in many people’s opinion, got it so wrong become knights and dames of the realm.
Additionally, Patrick Vallance was a Sir before Covid but he was further elevated in 2022 to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. Perhaps the honour was for those childish doom graphs designed to terrify the viewing public into compliance?