Wednesday 30 September 2020

Worst ever government – part III

We English do not understand sufficiently how the Russians love us for our easy victory over tyranny, and despise us for the small use we have made of our victory. 

Hugh Walpole - The Secret City (1919)

A sobering observation but Walpole was right, we never made much use of our victory over tyranny. Spend decades selling oversimple political solutions for important but complex issues and sooner or later things just fall apart. Too many dud moves have accumulated in the great game. Too bad – we lose.

The coronavirus debacle is a hint of what is being done by the elites to stop things falling apart after decades of political ineptitude. The answer is something which doesn’t work but it suits the elites to give it a go – totalitarian rule. Forget democracy, that has gone the way of the dodo.

The only significant political message from the coronavirus debacle is the draconian police state response by supposedly democratic countries including the UK. The pandemic has gone but the police state continues and it has become painfully clear that this aspect of it is not accidental. How did a police state come to be seen as a solution in a democracy? Simple – there is not enough democracy left to make a difference, merely the shell of what we once relied on.

In a tightly connected world such as ours, even an unforeseen pandemic can be used to further totalitarian political moves which were never unlearned even after the disasters of twentieth century fascism and communism. Here in the UK we see this quite clearly in the coronavirus disaster. The political trend is entirely totalitarian and there is not much further to go before it is complete.

Tuesday 29 September 2020

The thing is - nobody cares

To live up to its 2060 commitment, 
China must ditch coal - but will it?

60 per cent of China's power comes from coal - so how likely are Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent climate pledges?

Nobody cares. China will do whatever seems best for China, now and for the foreseeable future. Forty years from now is not the foreseeable future, although reliable contact tracing may be with us by then - the Chinese version. 

Monday 28 September 2020

Nitrogen Triiodide


I well remember the fun we had making this stuff during my schooldays. The things we do just to make a loud bang.

Sunday 27 September 2020

The PH Index

I’ve just spent minutes on end inventing the PH Index as an important measure of political ineptitude which also applies to the world beyond politics. Is there a world beyond politics? Well if there is the PH Index applies to that too.

PH stands for Pig-Headed which seems to be one of the major personality traits of the political class. The only observable personality trait in many cases. The PH Index goes from 0 to 14, chosen because it is analogous to the older pH scale of acidity and alkalinity. A PH of 0 would represent the complete absence of pig-headedness while 14 would be total pig-headedness although clearly neither are achievable in real life.

Most natural PH values occur between 4 and 9 which again correlates well with pH values found in the natural world. Most of us are Pig-Headed to some degree, but a PH of less that 4 is unusual because it implies an almost saintly level of dispassionate weighing of pros and cons and we all know how annoying that can be.

However, a PH value greater than 9 takes us into even more annoying political territory. Jeremy Corbyn is a superb example of a person with PH value somewhere between 13 and 14. He doesn’t quite reach 14 but still a stunning achievement even by Labour Party standards. Matt Hancock is an oddity though, because he has a PH value of 15 which is impossible. More research needed there obviously.

It is early days but Boris Johnson seems to be about 12 to 13 although he could be an example of assumed pig-headedness. He knows a high PH value is absolutely essential for political success without apparently realising that it also contains the seeds of political destruction. In his case a PH of 10 or 11 might be politically safer.

Saturday 26 September 2020

Contact tracing forever

Strange times. Some obvious conspiracy theories thrown up by the coronavirus debacle are clearly plausible, especially those relating to the creepy imposition of a police state.

One obvious possibility thrown up by the UK coronavirus shambles is how automated centralised contact tracing could become permanent. The justification is not difficult to foresee because mild pandemics such as influenza have always been a regular part of life. There is no need to be a fly on the establishment wall –

Lessons learned, why not do something about it, we have the technology, we know it makes sense…

The justifications are already in place - tick. Neither is it difficult to foresee the coronavirus pandemic being used as evidence that something even worse could descend on us without warning - tick. Next time think of the children – tick.

Coronavirus contact tracing may be patchy and glitchy at the moment but that misses the point. It can be made to work well enough technically and after the pandemic nonsense runs out of steam it could be switched on again. Eventually it could be encouraged for almost any form of public activity from going to the pub or café to public transport to shopping. To begin with it need not be mandatory, merely accepted as sensible by a sufficiently large number of people.

We already know that public acceptance is not likely to be a major hurdle if virtue signalling and personal safety are stirred into the narrative. About a third of the adult population may be sufficient to push it further even if another third opposes it and another third is in the don’t know camp. Especially if the media push it from health angles.

It’s another plausible conspiracy theory where it is so easy to see how sinister beginnings will not be seen as sinister by a substantial section of the population. The narrative will always include prominent references to privacy safeguards. Yet safeguards or not, some will accept it anyway and that could easily be enough for any government to quietly dispense with privacy at some point.

Friday 25 September 2020

Is Boris Basically Bonkers?

The evidence -

Via Tallbloke we have this from the BBC.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he wants to make a "big bet" on renewables, turning the UK into the "Saudi Arabia" of wind power.

Talking via video link to a roundtable discussion at the UN in New York, he said the country held "extraordinary potential" for wind energy.

He said the UK should embrace a range of new technologies to achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

The UK holds the presidency of the UN climate conference, known as the COP.

What is the nutcase saying here? We clear out the people and turn the UK into a giant wind farm to supply other countries with intermittent electricity? Surely Prime Ministers should as far as possible restrict themselves to pronouncements which are not so obviously bonkers.

Maybe not though. Maybe he is just as casually cynical as Tony Blair with much the same political outlook.

Thursday 24 September 2020

Trump's CRT ban

Mercatornet has an interesting piece on Donald Trump’s ban on Critical Race Theory.

With the November election just around the corner, it’s only to be expected that President Trump would seek to rally conservative voters and drive his supporters to the polls. So, when his administration, on September 4, instructed the federal government to eliminate all training in “Critical Race Theory,” some thought it was just a red-meat stunt to excite the Republican base. Others saw it as an act of right-wing censorship and an obstruction of racial progress.

In truth, there’s much more to this development than mere politicization and censorship.

The issue raises an old question - how does political propaganda with such weak intellectual standards find its way into academia and education? As the piece states, all we really have is zero-sum class warfare. Crude it may be, but eventually it may destroy us. 

Critical Race Theory is a branch of Critical Theory, which began as an academic movement in the 1930s. Critical Theory emphasizes the “critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures,” as Wikipedia states. Critical Race Theory does the same, with a focus on racial power structures, especially white supremacy and the oppression of people of color.

The “power structure” prism stems largely from Critical Theory’s own roots in Marxism—Critical Theory was developed by members of the Marxist “Frankfurt School.” Traditional Marxism emphasized economic power structures, especially the supremacy of capital over labor under capitalism. Marxism interpreted most of human history as a zero-sum class war for economic power.

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Worst ever government part II

Do not follow up a Folly. Many make an obligation out of a blunder, and because they have entered the wrong path think it proves their strength of character to go on in it. Within they regret their error, while outwardly they excuse it. At the beginning of their mistake they were regarded as inattentive, in the end as fools.

Baltasar Gracian - The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)

Following on from the Tuesday post about conspiracy theories, they may be dubious for a number of reasons, one of which occurs when they leave out the powerful ebb and flow of uncontrolled circumstances. However, powerful people usually try to take advantage of uncontrolled circumstances once they have grasped the implications and the opportunities.

Which leads us on to a popular and clearly plausible conspiracy theory about the coronavirus debacle. The endlessly protracted UK government response to this relatively minor pandemic certainly suggest a degree of covert opportunism. As if eco-loons have been promised something significant. To my mind this is an entirely plausible conspiracy because of another pandemic, the global eco-loon pandemic.

The UK government still appears to be committed to ludicrous, damaging and pointless climate change policies and pandemic measures are an entirely obvious opportunity to suck a considerable amount of consumer consumption out of the economy. A temporary suck perhaps, but the underlying aim probably concerns the cementing of unforgettable precedents with an eye to longer term behaviour modification.

There is an unmistakable sense of psychological manipulation in the political atmosphere at the moment, apart from the obvious pandemic scare stories and bleak exaggerations. As if David Cameron’s Nudge Unit has been tasked with using the pandemic to nudge us very firmly towards more abstemious lifestyles more consistent with environmental fantasies.

This of course is not new. Malthus has long been a source of middle class anxiety about the masses getting above themselves. What we appear to be witnessing now is that anxiety translated into political moves in a very old game. A culmination of many decades of zero sum political propaganda ultimately rooted in Marxism –

There is only so much to go round and we don’t think you should have more than your fair share, and by the way we apportion your fair share.

Covert as always, wrapped up in virtue as always, crudely misleading as always, flat out wrongheaded as always – but that appears to be the underlying opportunity being grasped very firmly indeed. Forget the private car, the holidays abroad, the unlimited travel and the freedom to be an active part of a free economy. Forget freedom.

The Big Book of Boris Government - Parable 1


Tuesday 22 September 2020

Monday 21 September 2020

It this our worst ever government?



A rhetorical question, but as soon as we ask it we are reminded how poor our governments tend to be and how difficult it is improve things via the feeble levers of our democracy. Here in the UK there is still an enormous temptation to view the coronavirus debacle from a specific standpoint –
  1. We need to do what we are doing.
  2. It’s inconvenient but maybe we’ll wait and see.
  3. We are doing more harm than good.
To my mind, number three has obviously been sound for some time - we are already doing more harm than good. We had to develop some level of herd immunity anyway and the number of deaths, although tragic, is now very low in the wider context of human mortality.

Instead of pretending to protect people we may as well go back to the herd immunity policy. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, minimise interpersonal contact as far as possible, protect the vulnerable and pay attention to general hygiene. Apart from that it may as well be business as usual. Pretending won’t help.

Yes – this is certainly a contender for our worst ever government and Boris must be a contender for the worst ever Prime Minister.

Saturday 19 September 2020

What is there left to say about Bedlam?

We’re all imprisoned, of course — all of us middling people, who don’t carry our freedom in our brains.

Edith Wharton - Autres Temps... (1916)

A major blogging problem at the moment is what to say about this level of madness. What do we say about loons, charlatans, liars, creeps, drama queens, imbeciles, nihilists, fanatics, dreamers, cranks and out and out shits?

Friday 18 September 2020

New wave predictions

The UK is "now seeing a second wave" of Covid-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, adding, "it's been inevitable we'd see it in this country."

Mr Johnson said he did not "want to go into bigger lockdown measures" but that tighter social distancing restrictions might be necessary.

It is understood a new three-tiered set of restrictions is being considered.

I suppose it must be there somewhere if the Prime Minister can see it. Must take a closer look.


I learn something every day


Thursday 17 September 2020

Trump's Conventional Logic

James Allan has an interesting piece in Quadrant on the appeal of Donald Trump.

Let me start by laying my cards on the table. Back in 2016 I predicted both the Brexit vote and the Trump win before they happened. Clearly this was in part luck. Partly it was also wish-fulfillment – I wanted both those outcomes, and humans being what they are it was easier to believe what I wanted to believe. But also it was in part due to my then conviction that much of the mainstream media and much of the Establishment had become massively disconnected from the concerns and worldview of the ordinary voter. Candidate Trump ran not just against the Democrats. He also ran against the dominant wing of the Republican Party (many making up today’s ‘Never Trumpers’) and against the outlook and biases of most of the press.

The whole piece is well worth reading, but this paragraph is particularly telling when it comes to the core of the Democrat and Republican approaches.

On top of that the Republican Convention trotted out war veterans, football coaches, Indian chiefs, small business owners, but not the great and good of Hollywood and the Davos caste that populated the Democrat Convention. Basically, the Republicans were big on optimism, big on individual personal choice, big on America as a great country. They left it to the Democrats to try to walk the difficult tightrope of calling half the country racists and then proclaiming ‘but hey, let’s unite’.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Bait and switch - the viral version

As we know, bait and switch is a common political tactic seen all over the place. So common is it that we may as well take it as an inevitable aspect of any political platform. But as ever we should be aware of it. 

Bait-and-switch is a form of fraud used in retail sales but also employed in other contexts. First, customers are "baited" by merchants' advertising products or services at a low price, but when customers visit the store, they discover that the advertised goods are not available, or the customers are pressured by salespeople to consider similar, but higher-priced items ("switching").

More useful as a political term I'd say but no matter, Wikipedia always has to be used with discretion. 

The EU is a good example of bait and switch. Offer free trade – get mass immigration and totalitarian politics. Climate change is another good example. Offer a clean environment and undemanding virtue – get totalitarian politics again. What a coincidence.

Brexit is a good example of David Cameron and the wider political class forgetting the switch part of bait and switch. Maybe this suggests that political bait and switch fans are not necessarily the sharpest knives in the drawer. They thought the referendum vote could only go one way – so no switch. This is why there have been such frantic efforts to insert a Brexit switch retrospectively. Keir Starmer has been keen on that one, suggesting that he is definitely a bait and switch fan.

The coronavirus debacle is another example where the sudden appearance of the pandemic and subsequent stable door bolting have exposed the mechanics of political bait and switch. Offer competent government-led medical intervention as bait - get a complete shambles which like Brexit has to be sustained by another unplanned switch. Gosh it’s totalitarian politics again.

It is possible that the coronavirus switch to a police state is intended to secure totalitarian control when Brexit is implemented in case people think freedom was on the cards. That level of foresight seems unlikely but given the ingrained nature of bait and switch is surely not impossible.

Monday 14 September 2020

Brilliant sustainable diversity

Science Minister at Vitae Connections Week 2020

In a recorded message, Amanda Solloway spoke about the promoting a culture of wellbeing for researchers and improving the way we evaluate research...

Blimey - what a vacuous pile of politically correct waffle it is too.

And the great privilege of being Minister for Science and Research is that I get to meet these amazing and diverse people – from the brilliant researchers working on nuclear fusion at the JET laboratory in Culham, to the medical scientists working on coronavirus treatments at the University of Birmingham and the wonderful people working on the Boundless Creativity programme...

Diverse and sustainable funding

And we also need to fund that work properly.

We must look seriously at whether the system of short-term grants for projects is really working, really supporting people to do their best work. Or whether it’s instead promoting a monoculture of bureaucracy and risk aversion.

I want us to think about how we can use our funding to support creative and brilliant people, and places, not just the most promising projects.

Worth reading as yet another example of how narrow our political class is. May as well appoint junior bureaucrats as ministers.

Sunday 13 September 2020

Do masks really work?


I suppose compulsory vaping could at least allow people to avoid the deadly exhalations of others. Maybe Matt and co should start school children on basic vaping lessons.

Saturday 12 September 2020

The chip goes here


Losing control

The UK is “on the edge of losing control” of coronavirus, according to a former government adviser.

Former chief scientific adviser and member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) Sir Mark Walport said the only way to stop the virus spreading is to reduce the number of people we all come into contact with, adding that there is an “extremely strong argument” that home working should continue.

Sir Mark Walport told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “I think one would have to say that we’re on the edge of losing control.”

Hmm - is this what losing control looks like ?


Thursday 10 September 2020

Sinister and Vain

Mighty pride, with its thousand baleful heads, stirred his wretched heart. Vanity, that powerful agent within us, works us measureless evil.

Victor Hugo – The Man Who Laughs (1869)

The UK coronavirus debacle could be sinister in a totalitarian political sense, but it could also be the outcome of extremely stubborn human vanity. This would be vanity where the main actors are absolutely unable to accept the consequences of being horribly wrong about the severity of the pandemic and their gross overreaction to it.

The consequences for expert advisors could be a blight on their careers as government experts with all the loss of professional standing, personal kudos and perhaps income.

The consequence for Boris Johnson could be ignominious political failure, the loss of his position as PM before he goes full term or the loss of the next general election.

The consequences for Matt Hancock could be the loss of his ministerial position, his political ambitions and any personal loss such a public failure may imply.

It is easy enough to see vanity at work here, but this is where vanity and sinister totalitarian trends join hands because totalitarian trends appeal to people who cannot be wrong. There is a powerful element of vanity in that too.

So sinister it is.

Wednesday 9 September 2020

They have done that on purpose

The wisest of all, in my opinion, is he who can, if only once a month, call himself a fool — a faculty unheard of nowadays. In old days, once a year at any rate a fool would recognise that he was a fool, but nowadays not a bit of it. And they have so muddled things up that there is no telling a fool from a wise man. They have done that on purpose.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Bobok (1873)

Coronavirus: Too many people getting COVID-19 tests are 'not eligible', says health secretary

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the Government would eventually like all Britons to take a coronavirus test every morning to unlock the nation

On and on and on...

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said "we must act" to avoid another lockdown as virus cases rise in England.

He set out a new "rule of six", restricting gatherings to a maximum of six people, enforced with fines or arrests.

Mr Johnson also outlined a "moonshot" plan to control the virus with mass testing.

It comes as the UK reported another 2,659 coronavirus cases, the fourth day running of over 2,000 reported cases.

"I want to be absolutely clear, these measures are not another national lockdown. The whole point of them is to avoid a second national lockdown," Mr Johnson said.

He added "it breaks my heart to have to insist on these restrictions".

Meanwhile the epidemic slips away into the long history of political insanity -

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Good going for eighty

An 80-year-old hiker who went missing for three days in the Yorkshire Dales has spoken at a press conference arranged in a bid to track him down.

Harry Harvey spent three nights wild camping after becoming separated from a walking group between Gunnerside and Tan Hill, North Yorkshire, on Saturday.

In our Ramblers walking group, even experienced walkers tended to drop out of the longer walks by their mid seventies. I wonder how many MPs could match Mr Harvey's endurance? We ought to find out.

Monday 7 September 2020

Pumping it up

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted he is "concerned" after the daily number of UK coronavirus cases reached its highest level since May.

Official figures show 2,988 new COVID-19 infections were reported in a 24-hour period.

It is a large rise on Saturday's figure of 1,813 infections.

With positive test results being described as infections, a sense of masturbatory panic seems to be wafting through the ministerial air like a sweaty attempt to raise some kind of erection. Not that I know anything about that, but there is an embarrassing discrepancy between hardly any coronavirus deaths and official efforts to keep the drama pumped up via the somewhat opaque world of test results.

Wasn’t there something about a lost sense of smell being symptomatic? Maybe the inability to be embarrassed is a symptom of something too. Unfortunately we are so familiar with it that we don’t notice when our political leaders display the symptoms.

Sunday 6 September 2020

The Slimewarbler Incident

The other day I found myself browsing through some old Galactic Resource material. Not something I usually do but I’d just completed a shift in the old Pluto Observatory and hadn’t enjoyed it as much as usual.

Maybe the remoteness of Pluto is getting to me. I’ve never really taken to the place – all that frozen nitrogen may inspire poets who don’t work there but it doesn’t do much for me. Anyhow, I had this idea that a spot of historical research would clear the bugs from my brain before another shift came along.

I only went as far as Moonbase of course, no point dropping all the way down a gravity well like Earth. I’d only have to climb out of it again and that’s an expensive game. Anyhow, going back to that historical stuff in Galactic Resource, I stumbled on the Slimewarbler Incident which I knew about but had almost forgotten.

As anyone would expect, the dear old Galactic Resource has masses and masses of info on the Slimewarbler Incident and Guide pointed me towards a huge discussion on when it is supposed to have started but I skipped all that. It started round about 2000 as far as I’m concerned, but why the interest and why would I snub Guide?

Simple answer – one of my ancestors was involved and managed to record some of it before Earth was Purged. I don’t know much about him, but he was some kind of engineer. Guide has it all stored away of course, but as we all know she doesn’t think much of the personal angle and tends to discourage it.

However I still have my ancestor’s diary written on some kind of thin, flexible organic material called paper. I’ve had it preserved and translated of course because I want to pass it on to my descendants eventually, but here is an extract where it is easy to see definite evidence of Slimewarbler contact.

July 1st. Had some discussions with H about our plans but we have to complete a preliminary carbon footprint assessment before October. This stuff makes me tired but we have to do it.

Weird isn't it? Or try this.

October 4th. Met our October target but have been told bridge design is not sufficiently gender neutral and we have to revisit that. Maybe the tablets aren't strong enough. 

Much of the diary is just as cryptic as this because I don’t think it was ever intended to be read, but there are fascinating hints of the strange lives they led in those far off days. The things they worried themselves sick over are not always easy to understand but that’s the Slimewarbler influence. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and just tell them all about the Slimewarblers.

The Slimewarblers really screwed them up and it just gets worse and worse until Galactic Ethics spotted what was going on. Naturally they had to Purge so I’m not sure how my diary got out. Maybe it was evidence taken away before Purging.

As we all know, the Slimewarblers go in for illegal preaching to untouched civilisations and at that time Earth was untouched. Then the Slimewarblers arrived although to this day nobody seems to know how they got through. Galactic Resource has plenty of theories but nothing solid.

Incidentally, Slimewarblers look a lot like humans so acceptance was never a stumbling block for them. The ludicrous nature of their preaching should have been a stumbling block but as we know, it wasn’t. It’s a pity I suppose, but it all happened a long time ago.

Saturday 5 September 2020

Coronavirus - Not So Great Expectations

A common criticism of Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus debacle is his lack of consistency, his supposed tendency to make U-turns. It is an odd criticism. The likely consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have been grotesquely exaggerated and much criticism of Mr Johnson seems to imply that his handling of it should have been grotesquely inflexible too.

Another curious aspect of the whole coronavirus mess is how willingly compliant many people seem to be, almost as if they relish the restrictions. Perhaps this is a clue as to why government response to the pandemic has been so far adrift from the risks, even though it soon became apparent that those risks have been wildly exaggerated.

We navigate through life by avoiding surprises. The coronavirus lockdown was an opportunity to reduce a whole range of popular expectations – economic, political, travel, lifestyle, freedom to choose and general freedoms. All these expectations were managed downwards by pandemic politics which has continued long after the UK epidemic disappeared round about mid June.

Politics is the art of the plausible and a major aspect of that is managing expectations down to a plausible floor. Manage expectations downwards and politically inconvenient ambitions are managed downwards too. 

Achieve that and failure can plausibly be presented as success.
Achieve that and discontent may be managed downwards too.
Achieve that and a supine political culture is almost assured.

Yet there is only sporadic protest at the draconian and wholly unwarranted treatment of a pandemic known to be no threat to millions of healthy people. There may be a number of reasons for this level of acceptance, but reducing expectations reduces surprises and we are programmed to avoid surprises.  

A moderate but heavily exaggerated pandemic was a political opportunity and it can hardly be a coincidence that it was taken up so ruthlessly. A unique opportunity to manage mass expectations downwards. A socialist dream came true - and Boris Johnson is a socialist.

Friday 4 September 2020

Let's add 'don't want to go to school'


Diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal cramps in children could be a sign of coronavirus infection, UK researchers say.

The Queen's University Belfast team have been studying children and say this may be worth adding to the checklist of symptoms.

Currently, the officially recognised symptoms in the UK are a fever, cough and loss of smell or taste.

Anyone with any of these should isolate and get tested for the virus.

Maybe we should also add 'don't want to go to school' to the list.

Thursday 3 September 2020

Sources of contempt

The other day Mrs H and I were on a walk which took us straight through a popular high moorland beauty spot. On a path leading away from the beauty spot we encountered a number of outsize people headed towards it on an afternoon stroll. After we had squeezed by them on the narrow path Mrs H quietly asked me if there was a car park nearby.

We had climbed all the way up from the valley so it was an obvious question. Those outsize folk must have been thirty or forty years younger than we are, but there was no way they had arrived via the same climb. Yes there was a nearby car park. Only roadside parking but it had to be there. We glanced at the parked cars then strode on towards the downhill and often muddy section of our walk. 

Stereotypes fall into place so easily and so often they are far from inaccurate. It is remarkable how much stereotyped contempt ordinary voters put up with from the media and ruling classes and the evidence of our own eyes tells us where some of it probably comes from.

Stereotypes reflect what we see around us because that’s where their value lies - and they do have value. Hence it is easy to see where the politics of contempt originates. Take the people we see in any town centre or shopping centre. Would we trust all the adults we see with important political decisions? The establishment doesn’t and unfortunately it is not difficult to see why.

Tuesday 1 September 2020

Seeking sanity

Boris Johnson probably made an unwise move when he carried out regular coronavirus briefings flanked by two experts. It was a very public way of reinforcing something we already knew. In this situation any Prime Minister is merely a conduit for whichever form of advice dominates his political attention. When the coronavirus debacle turned up in the UK, the captain of the ship admitted publicly that he doesn’t know much about the sea.

This impression reinforced something else we already knew – there are many similar situations. It is  a core problem with government advisors and experts, those people who effectively run things but we never get to vote for them.

Ordinary folk are able to browse the internet in search of sane advice and that is not a suggestion that the advice Boris Johnson had to follow was not sane. With hindsight it was grotesquely over-cautious and grossly patronising but not insane. Almost insane perhaps, but with that same hindsight the advice clearly came from ludicrously cautious officials and/or experts rather than wider and more flexible consultations.

Yet we ordinary web surfers do not have to accept such narrow limitations drawn from a patronising perspective. We examine stories, scenarios, examples, contrarian opinions, data and experiences to gain a multifaceted view of anything we choose. If we wish.

Boris was not in a position to seek out the best pandemic advice because he had to go with what seemed to be the politically safe consensus and stick with it. He was in effect powerless and made the mistake of showing it quite clearly in his TV briefings. In other words we vote for the actors, not the people who write the script, run the show and take the money. Again this is something we already knew, but Boris made it far too obvious.

He now comes across as a man hoping for a spot of good luck while trying to make the coronavirus mess seem like a necessary mess. It wasn’t but in our political system it was. It’s a problem for modern democracies. The days when political actors had a hand in their own scripts are gone and we don’t vote for the script writers.