Experts, politicians and the media

Beware the tyranny of experts.

Whilst like the next person if I fell ill I would turn to a good doctor to help me, that does not mean experts are always right or should make all the decisions.

It has been fashionable for some years to say experts should be in charge of more of our public policy decisions and politicians fewer. This resulted in some famous policy disasters chronicled here . It has also led to greatly contrasting styles of interview on the UK media, especially by the BBC and Channel 4.

If an “expert” is interviewed  they are introduced positively, they are rarely interrupted, they are asked questions designed to let them explain their knowledge and viewpoint. The interviewer is often on their side and usually concludes with a short summary of their main points to reinforce them.

In contrast a politician interviewed on the same subject is often introduced with some critical or derogatory reference or characterisation, interrupted often, asked questions which make allegations or allege views to the interviewee which he or she does not hold, seeks to set the interviewer against the politician with a superior moral position and ends with a put down or critical comment.

I have a bigger complaint about the way the so called expert is interviewed than the politician. I of course think interviewers should be challenging and put alternative views where necessary. When interviewing an expert we should be told

Who they represent

Who pays them

Their political affiliations where they have them

What their main qualification is

The interview should consider covering professional competence where relevant. For example, if interviewing an economist about the current crash, did they forecast it or the last one and what did they say about previous disasters? If they earn money from a related interest the interview should also refer to or ask about that. If the expert is a known supporter of  a particular political party or movement that too might need to be questioned.

No politician should be given an easy interview, but they should be allowed to state their case before it is probed and questioned. I sometimes am frustrated by interviews of Labour people because the interviewer talks over them to the point where we cannot hear what Labour does actually think or recommend about a crucial topical issue. I will look in a future post at the ploys interviewers use to ensure politicians come over badly.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    The main problem politicians have is that there are so many question that they do not want to answer, so they just obfuscate and refuse to answer. This as they know that giving an honest answer in one direction will make them unpopular with one side or the other. Where do you stand on abortion, the right to choose to die, the EU, drug legalisation, climate alarmism, men competing in women’s sports ….

    So they tend to stick to stating things that are so obviously true as to be not worth saying or fairly obvious blatant lies.

    Lies like “if we come out of the ERM interest rates will have to go up further” or the “NHS is very well prepared for this pandemic” or “we are repaying the nation debt”. “or we are cutting taxes” or Kahn saying “the Tube is very safe as they are using hospital grade cleaning solutions” Or Cast Iron claiming to a low tax at heart Conservative and EUsceptic. Or the new Chancellor saying the NHS will get “whatever it needs” to deal with the coronavirus – where are the many thousands of ventilators and heart and lung machines needed in two weeks then?

    It can indeed be very dangerous for politician (or other figure) to say things that are clearly true. For example on subjects like allowing men to compete in women’s sport, suggesting that the gender pay gap is due to choice rather than discrimination, even suggesting that not many women choose to study Physics or Engineering at higher levels.

    James Damore was fired by Google for stating the truth or Tim Hunt English biochemist saying sometime women in laboratories ‘fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry’.

    Or Gove saying “I think the people in this country have had enough of experts with organisations from acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong” This constantly being reduced to “we have had enough of experts”.

    • Hope
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Today we read ECHR found in favour of women’s right to abortion and same sex marriage over religious right not to participate. Two midwives cases dismissed. Get us out for the ECHR, it is a madhouse.

      Remainers like a Darling now all coming out saying Brexit should be delayed. No, negotiations should be cancelled because the EU demands, latest legal text, are in bad faith. Change our position to Invite mini agreements leading to WTO. No point wasting time let alone compromising our safety. We,could then cancel current transition/extension. We could then speed up and strengthen border controls. Open borders and freedom of movement do not look good anymore do they. Borders provide safety security and control.

      Kahn said we should accept terrorism as part of city life! No we should not. Nor knife crime and murder. He is making up excuses for his failure to keep Londoners and public of the country safe. Where is there a power to oust people like him where public Safety is compromised? The public voted against having mayors and police commissioners, extra layer of bureaucracy and cost, when will this be enacted by “the people’s” Govt?

      • Hope
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        What about the right of the unborn child!

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Eminent epidemiologists around the world thought that the UK Government’s strategy was satire at first – let’s hope that this is being revised as we write.

      As they say, “herd immunity” is to be achieved by vaccination, not by an actual mass epidemic, which may kill untold numbers.

      Thanks to experts, the Chinese have beaten this, it appears.

      If so, then how will this government explain their reckless actions in not even trying to the perhaps millions of bereaved?

      • Matt
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        Apparently the ‘wet’ markets are still going.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 6:18 pm | Permalink


          It’s inconclusive as to whether the virus came from there but hard to see how they help.

          The Chinese tried to stop them after SARS but they went underground and were even riskier, I read.

          They’ve chosen regulation and inspection instead now – looks like it needs to be far tougher.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    One can be fairly sure that almost any expert on the BBC (or channel 4) will have typical “BBC think” views (as indeed does almost everyone who works for the BBC. They will almost certainly be left wing, climate alarmist, politically correct, pro the EU, pro ever more government, government regulation and control of everything, pro a virtual monopoly (free at the point of rationing, the envy of the World) NHS and in favour of identity politics. Against freedom of choice for individuals and for more enforced by government ”equality”

    In short they will be wrong headed on almost every issue.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      How, after everything that has happened, which is quite contrary to what you were “sure” was going to happen, can you still keep claiming this certainty, day after day, on issue after issue, and with no evidence at all?

      Do you never learn?

      • Hope
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        South Korean Foriegn minister spoke sense today with their approach. More testing ad quarantining of people entering the country and testing of those leaving the country. There approach appears to be working going on the numbers.

        I think Govt. actions likely to savage the economy will cause far more harm than good. If the Govt, through the useless Home Office, can lose hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants what trust can we have regarding isolation, traveling and containment? Mr Rutman had his BBC statement and should now disappear quietly before the masses get angry with him, especially as his department’s failures have caused a reduction of hospital beds, housing and increase in crime to those underserving illegal immigrants.

        Time for proper border controls for our security, safety and well being. Money would be better spent than HS2. Haewei should now be reversed along with Hinkley. Any attempt by China, through its belt and road project- goods, services and finance, toinfluence control over countries totally indebted to it should be avoided at ALL costs. Including those deals which include a relaxation of immigration rules for their people. Has your Govt got clean hands JR?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        What has happened that was contrary to what I was saying, nothing that I know of at all? Perhaps you have not understood what I was saying.

        Matt Ridley in the Times today it rights as usual. I might be a sceptic but I am crying wolf and this time there really is a wolf.

      • NickC
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        Martin, Can you be specific? At all? Or do you think that your accusations of personal (mis)behaviour (in your eyes) will sway anybody who is rational?

        Do you never learn?

    • majorfrustration
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      C4 allowed Prof Ashton to give vent/rant last night with belated interruption.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        It makes a refreshing change from the BBC allowing Nigel Farage to do that, then.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        He was indeed a bit absurd with his silly attacks on Boris, but I do agree that the government has hugely under reacted, the NHS will be overwhelmed in just a few days time. It has far, far too few ventilators, trained staff and other essential equipment to cope. Many will die for want of treatment. We should have delayed the infection for as long as we possibly could to get this in place.

    • Hope
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      JR we still want the ritntomrecall MPs. If we ad this during the last three years it would have focused parliament and all those treacherous and traitorous MPs. Instead they cost the country a fortune, caused enormous trouble, tried to defy the will of the people and even worse allowed to keep their enhanced RPI pensions they denied everyone else. Letwin and co should be investigated for acting in concert with a foreign power against the Govt. Not allowed to creep off and now speak on the BBC to try the same all over again.

      When is the Lords going to scrapped? Under Govt plans most will be in self isolation if they are over 70!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        I wonder what “the will of the people” is in relation to this epidemic?

        No one in government seems interested in finding out, do they?

        • Hope
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          MaC, you do write such utter drivel. Prof HatemUK was vile towards our country because we voted to leave the EU. Remainers are using every trick against any lead leaver or body. BBC gives them a platform.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

            Whether the policy in tackling this virus is optimal or not will have an immeasurably greater effect on the well being of millions of families than whether or not the UK left the European Union.

            And yet the latter seems to have absorbed boundlessly more political energy.

            I wonder why?

  3. Shirley M
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Interviews (and the MSM) today are intent upon ‘educating’ the electorate into groupthink, and less about factual reporting and presentation of the news.

    It’s getting worse. There was very little questioning about Project Fear, and the abysmal record of those promoting it. They still get a free pass even though they have been proved wrong time and time again whereas those who questioned it or tried to refute it generally rarely get a chance to appear, let alone speak without interruption.

    What can be done about it? Getting rid of the BBC licence would be a good start.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, yet when there is very real justification for fear and panic measures, as with the coronavirus they, the MSM media and the government all hugely underplay it – many more will die as a result of this inaction.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Shirley, read up on what has been achieved in China, where the immediate crisis is pretty well over.

    • NickC
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      Shirley, I have had run-ins with the BBC on quite a few occasions. One incident occurred nearly 20 years ago when my wife was standing for UKIP. The BBC interviewer demanded “Why do you hate Europeans?”. Both her parents were immigrants from continental Europe.

      The BBC is rotten to the core. The biases that Lifelogic lists (left wing, climate alarmist, politically correct, pro the EU, pro more government, unthinkingly pro NHS, and in favour of identity politics) are endemic. The BBC is beyond repair.

    • Bob
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      “Getting rid of the BBC licence would be a good start.”

      Last week I received another warning notice from TVLA threatening to send TV inspectors to my home.

      Isn’t it time Sir John, that you leader followed up on his words and kicked the TVLA into touch? We are in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, people are being urged to curtail social interaction and self isolate, and at the same time this putrid organisation are sending people from door to door to investigate people’s TV viewing habits!

      How does that fit with the Govt plan to flatten the curve?

  4. Matt
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    I ask a solicitor’s advice and make my own decision. A surgeon does not cut me open without my consent – I may decide that no treatment is the best course.

    It is my decision based on advice. Sometimes I seek more than one expert opinion. I have received bad advice many times from experts.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      Lawyers often have an incentive to give you very bad advice indeed. Oh yes Mrs X and you are entitled to far more than that in the divorce settlement. Certainly Mr X you should not have to pay anything like as much as that to your ex wife.

      Let just spend near all your joint assets on legal fees and lengthy legal actions instead. Similar in most other litigation. They tell you that you have an excellent 90% case but by the time it get to court it is down to 50/50.

      Judges too have an incentive to give judgements than encourage more and more litigation to keep the show on the road – so they do.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink


      • Matt
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        An expert should offer a range of options, Lifelogic. He is not his employer’s boss.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          They often offer a range of option but if people are totally misled into thinking they have say a 90% chance of winning the case they tend to choose that one only to find they have been conned later.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    I see that Sunak not only failed to cut stamp duty rates he even put another 2% on it for overseas buyers taking it up to the totally absurd 17% top rate. Not at all that long ago the highest rate was 1%. Turnover taxes are always a bad idea at 17% they are absurdly damaging to mobility and efficiency. He also increase the climate change levy on gas. One can only conclude that Sunak is yet another green crap pushing, tax to death, big state socialist.

    Theresa May just now on BBC news at some (Women in Politics thing) says “we have different views in politics, but we should respect each other’s views”. Why? Respect has to be earned and deserved dear. How can one respect views of people like Corbyn, Mc Donnall or Miliband who wanted to steal people’s property off them and try to use this to buy votes and turn the country into a new Venezuela.

    Or indeed people like the disingenuous Theresa May who was the worst PM in living memory – even worse than ERM John Major, boom and bust Brown, counterproductive war on a blatant lie Tony Blair and Ted Heath. Only a deluded fool could respect these people or their views.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Got to disagree here with you LL, T Blair must be the Nation’s worst PM for a VERY long time; we all know why. T May was selected by a moribund, at that time, Conservative Party, and then unbelievably kept in power for 3 painful years, so I’d argue it was the Tory party to blame for making us suffer.
      We have to hope over 100 new Conservative MP’s will result in a renewed party to get us through Brexit. BTW, ref the Fisheries debacle, apparently we’ve agreed to something called ‘Respecting’ existing EU fishing rights… What does that mean? Doesn’t sound like a ‘win’ to me!

      • cornishstu
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        Respecting existing EU fishing rights sounds like a cop out to me.

    • BOF
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      LL you left out Cameron, of gay marriage fame, 0.7% of GDP to International Development corruption and ‘If the vote is to leave the EU I will issue Art 50 the next day’! Then he bolted.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Indeed good old Cast Iron low tax at heart Conservative (but never in practice) and pusher of expensive energy and green crap.

      • rose
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        But he gave us the referendum.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          You say that as if it were a good thing.

          • NickC
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

            It is.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          He was forced in to in and only did it as he thought he could win it by sloping the pitch.

    • NickC
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic, I agree with you 100%. Theresa May was the worst PM I have ever known. Her lies to her own ministers, her deliberate delays to Brexit, and her scrapping of the DExEU white paper in favour of Olly Robbins’ BINO nearly destroyed this country.

  6. agricola
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    I’m pleased you retain faith in the medical profession, the reason is perhaps that you are not qualified to discuss the detail of the problem you have. Fortunatly a good doctor will explain matters in terms you can understand. It is probably fair to assume you also respect the talent of those who fly you or drive your train. In all cases the professionalism is accepted, without the need to describe them as experts.

    Expert is an over used term. You really need to look at qualifications combined with what they have achieved with those qualifications. The BBC interviewer pays homage to experts because he or she lacks the expertise to argue with them. They also seem free to choose the experts whose opinions they wish to hear. Having done that why interupt them. Politicians are treated as people with opinions based on political criteria, mostly not the political criteria that drives the interviewer. Each side fights for space and ignorance prevails. Neither side is given credit for knowing anything. The real problem comes with such as the BBC because it has been allowed to become a political force, even worse one without responsibility. The ultimate insult is that we are taxed to pay for it whereas we only contribute to a political party voluntarily.

    Reverting to politicians in the HoC, I maintain there are too many lawyers. It would benefit as a governing body from having many more scientists, engineers and academics from all the disciplines. Do you have any meteorologists or geologists who can talk with any authority on our changing climate. Those that do pronounce on the subject only talk about the environment, possibly because rubbish is mostly a visible entity. They choose to ignore the Sun and its involvement in climate. It is not a benign entity, but without it there would be nothing to discuss and no one to discuss it.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Channel 4’s Kathy Newman argued with an expert (Jordan Patterson) and made lost.

      • Mitchel
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        Interesting that JP seems to have suffered a breakdown and has gone to Moscow for treatment/recuperation because he didn’t trust healthcare operators in the west not to pump him full of drugs.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Agricola, I also respect the talent of a fabulous cleaner, the person who actually cleans a whole tap and wipes down under the hand dryer blower and wipes down the wall too whilst we’re all washing 10x more per day.

      I admire cooks who don’t go outside to the bins to put out waste from kitchens into dirty bins, stand outside smoking then go back indoors to prepare food without washing their hands, I’ve seen people doing this!

      I respect waiting staff who don’t wipe their dripping nose on their hand. In fact I admire everyone that does their job carefully and with skill no matter what that job is.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    One of the main problems with the media is that nearly all the interviewers and staff are art graduates who simply do not understand very much maths, physics, engineering or logic at all. The “experts” come on (but are rarely honest or genuinely independent). The art graduate interviewer is invariably just not capable of questioning their views properly.

    Melvin Bragg (History, Wadham) for example presented many science discussions programmes on radio 4. His guest science experts would often explain some concept very clearly to him and Bragg would say “so what you are saying is …………..” and I would shout at the radio no you silly dope that is not what he was saying at all!

    And Bragg is rather better than most BBC presenters.

    • ukretired123
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      In a nutshell they are not numerate, innumerate, or
      Can’t add up like an infant.
      So go off at a tangent!
      Great for steering away from thorny problems hey?

    • outsider
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Dear Lifelogic: Interviewers do not need to be experts. Rather, they should
      1);use the basic journalistic rules of asking who, what,why, where and how.
      2) pose a question they do not think the interviewee would want to answer and
      3) do just enough research to find an obscure (preferably killer) fact that can be lobbed in to discourage the interviewee from flanneling.
      For instance, an interviewer might ask whether, to aid distancing, people should travel by car if they can rather than use crowded public transport?
      Useful fact: the Thai government has told all visitors ( if allowed in) to wear a face mask in public places.
      When dealing with experts, the “why” question is most useful and should be used repeatedly to explore answers.
      When interviewing those with adminstrative or executive responsibiity, the factual questions are more useful.
      What measures are you taking to obtain lots more repirators? Where will they come from? Who can make the here fast? How many will you acquire over the next two weeks?

      • outsider
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Ventilators rather than repirators. Sorry

  8. Jim
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    What we have here is panicky politicians. The experts’ approach would make a reasonable compromise between deaths and expenditure and economic damage. But armchair pundits, journalists, professional whiners and political point scorers are declaring that their approach would be better.

    Politicians want to be seen doing something, anything will do. Let us hand over the management of Corona Virus to mountebanks, projectors, politicians who lied about their degree and failed journalists. Let us keep under wraps directorships, lobby group funding and free jollies to far flung places.

    Realistically whether we end up with 100 deaths or 1000 or 10,000 is unknowable at this stage. Only experts can make a decent guess. Equally realistically non of these numbers is an existential problem, embarrassing to have over 1000 but politically survivable. Keep a cool head Sir John, watch out for political opportunists and keep the experts on-side, you need them more than they need you.

    You can solve this problem cheaply, credibly or quickly – choose two.

    • jerry
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      @Jim; “But armchair pundits, journalists, professional whiners and political point scorers are declaring that their approach would be better.”

      Hmm, more on that later…

      “Only experts can make a decent guess.”

      Never a truer word spoken accidentally!

      “watch out for political opportunists”

      What, you mean like yourself Jim, in my first quote from your comment?

      This crisis is beyond politics, if it is as serious as it appears, perhaps it is beyond just one political parties hierarchy and their choice of “experts”, time for a National government for the duration?

      History is littered with examples where ‘armchair pundits’ actually understood the importance of a key point the so the called “experts” either dismissed or were not aware of. Didn’t some “experts” scoff at the mechanical/electronic computational ideas of Alan Turin?

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Without panicking, you just have to look at the numbers to realise the scope of the potential problem in England. The numbers say between 5% (China) and 15% (Lombardy) of cases will require ICU facilities. England’s NHS has 4100 of which 80% approximately are occupied. 60 million people in England, so the numbers don’t stack up unless you delay, isolate the vulnerable and use that period to plan space, people and facilities to cope and control infections within a range.

      Unfortunately many, perhaps most, politicians get where they are by expressing emotions and don’t understand the reasoning or the numbers. Luckily Boris, unlike May, has people around him who get this. They just have have to persuade the emotives to do the job properly.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        I think that there was a miscalculation. That being that the Chinese would fail to control the epidemic in China, and that there would be millions of dead there.

        However, the Chinese seem to have stopped it in its tracks, and at only about three thousand dead too, so the spotlight is now firmly back on what happens here.

        If this country fails to deliver as did China, then there will be some very big questions to be answered.

        • Matt
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

          Let’s be fair here.

          It wasn’t us that wanted completely free and open borders.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

            What has that to do with UK people going on holidays to Italy? Or on business to China?

            If our borders were “completely open and free” then you would not be required to show your passport on returning.

            What is the matter with you?”

          • Matt
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

            What might have worked was a complete lockdown from China once news emerged of this disease.

            It would have meant exclusion along the lines of something that looked like – yes – racism.

            We’re not allowed to have that so here we are.

            The disease is here and probably far more widespread than stated figures. There is a way of responding without totally killing the economy (which will kill people.)

            Isolate the weak and the old.

            Let the disease run its course through the healthy population. The effects are mild in most cases.

          • jerry
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

            @Matt; It wasn’t the Socialists who in the 1980s wanted Globalisation either, requiring business trips to all sorts of places as @MiC points out.

          • jerry
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

            @Matt; By the time China knew they had a problem people had been flying all over the World to and from China…

            “There is a way of responding without totally killing the economy (which will kill people.)”

            I suspect you are in a very small minority in expressing such a view, economies can be rebuilt, as they were post WW2.

    • Matt
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Well I’m glad that UK policy is shaping up to be the one I proposed several weeks ago.

      I believe it to be the right one. A complete shut down will result in many deaths, not least because of the businesses and local culture lost permanently.

      If shut down goes on any longer there will be no-one left in a position to be able to feed themselves, let alone to pay to keep the vulnerable alive once the disease has passed.

      We are now getting an idea of what a Thunbergist reversion to pre industrial life looks like, except with too many people for it to support.

      • Matt
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        I believe the death rate to be inaccurate and my reasoning is that no-one knows how much of the population is infected. It seems likely that most mildly afflicted people are not reporting themselves ill.

        So those the worst ill and coming to doctor are in the minority and therefore the death rate is being assessed against a minority. The projected death rate may (I hope) be far less than predicted.

        In a lock down how many vulnerable people are going to die of starvation in their rooms ? How many people are going to be killed by lack of treatments for curable conditions other than CV ?

        The Gov’t policy is the right one.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

          You do know that the Chinese are just celebrating the closure of their last emergency hospital?

          Are you sure?

          • Fred H
            Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

            phew – – you are so gullible.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

            So they and WHO were lying, when they reported that the previous SARS epidemic had been extinguished?

            We will see, won’t we?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

          “The Gov’t policy is the right one”

          Well we shall see I think not. I expect that in just a few days many people will be dying for want of ventilators and other medical treatments due to their “accelerate the infection now and try to delay it later” policy.

          • Matt
            Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

            It isn’t an “accelerate the infection now…” policy.

        • steve
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink


          “The Gov’t policy is the right one.”

          Remains to be seen, in my opinion.

          Their strategy seems to be one of allowing the virus in so that we can build immunity.

          Whether this will actually work isn’t a certainty.

          Suppose the virus mutates ? Back to square one and the mutation is well established – too late to bolt the doors (which is what they should have done in the first place)

          • Matt
            Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:53 pm | Permalink


            It could mutate.

            I don’t for one second suppose that – with globalisation – that this is our last or worst plague.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

            There are other counsels other than that of despair, Matt, as the Chinese and South Koreans are proving right now.

          • Matt
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink


            Mine is not a council of despair but reality. There are going to be more (worse) viruses. Fact.

            We can get through this one without totally killing our economy.

        • jerry
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

          @Matt; “I believe the death rate to be inaccurate and my reasoning is that no-one knows how much of the population is infected. It seems likely that most mildly afflicted people are not reporting themselves ill.”

          Anyone else spot the oxymoron there, yet you believe the Govt policy is correct, the same policy that doesn’t require people to be tested for Covid-19 when it is suspected…

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      It is indeed unknowable, after all someone might find some drug or treatment that helps significantly with survival rates or a quicker vaccine than is currently expected. More people might have had it very mildly already without noticing and are already immune with luck.

      But barring some miracle my estimate for the UK is around 150,000 with perhaps 10 times more needing significant hospital care, ventilation or similar over the next three to six months. Let us hope the “very well prepared, they will get everything they need” NHS copes.

      Rather a pathetic questions by Marr to Hancock. He just kept repeating “we will do the right thing at the right time” and “we wants to do everything we can to save lives”.

      How many ventilators and staff do we have now and what will be able to ramp it up to over the coming weeks?
      Would we not have been better taking far more severe action to delay the spread to give the NHS more time to gear up?
      These were the obvious question not asked and information not volunteered, pathetic.

      He says he is going have Attenborough on next week talking about climate change, really why? By then we will probably have had over 500 deaths from this virus and by the week after that perhaps as many as 50,ooo.

      • steve
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:04 pm | Permalink


        Remember Mr Attenborough is no spring chicken, my guess is he’ll probably be isolated.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      Is it politically survivable, to have one in a hundred British people die, when the Chinese might have kept it down to one in three hundred thousand in China?

      Yes, provided that the people are not allowed to know about the Chinese success, perhaps?

      I see that news from China has virtually disappeared from most news sources now.

  9. To Come
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Ensure the NHS drivers accept cash rather than card payments.
    What a set of nutrient deficit sugar and salt diminished dumplings the government are.
    Do not expect the internet to hold up forthcoming and phone communications nor the mail

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    BORIS JOHNSON is putting British industry on a war footing to help deliver the equipment that the NHS needs to respond to the coronavirus pandemic reported today.

    Well I would have though this would have been done many weeks ago, rather late now!

    We were assured that the NHS was “very well prepared and would get everything it needed” by Hancock and Sunak. Clearly if they were well prepared they would already have had stock such equipment or at least local suppliers who can assemble such emergency equipment very quickly so did they? It is not that difficult to manufacture ventilators etc. and we have had many such warnings with SARS and all the other threats.

    But government far preferred spending hundred of £billions dealing with the non real/vastly exaggerated threat in 100 years with their idiotic war on CO2 plant food. Gove types even taking advice from Greta Thunberg and Cameron hugging huskies. Even Sunak. in his budget last week still pushing carbon neutral economic lunacy and pissing £billions down the drain on it. Perhaps Grata can advise Hancock on virus!

    • Mark B
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink


      They are tidying up the Tory brand post Thatcher.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Drägerwerk, a German medical technology giant reported that the country’s government has ordered 10,000 ventilators.

      So how many ventilators have the NHS got already, how many have they ordered and when will they be delivered? The government have released their bell curve diagram of infections (helpfully with no scale on either axis of course) showing how they want to flatten out the peak so it is below the NHS’s ability to cope.

      A far better approach would have been to delay the infection as long as possible and flatten out the peak as well. This so that the NHS and government could have had more time to increase their maximum capacity and give them more time discover more about which treatments give the best survival rates. I wonder how many will die as a direct result of this decision. Many times the number who died due to the idiocy of the senior fire officers sending people back to their flats at Grenville.

      Yes we have indeed had enough of experts who get it wrong. Especially when it is (or was) fairly obviously wrong.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        Had we been in the EU of course Drager would be shipping those to us first (not).
        Our Remainer friends have gone all quiet.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

          Had manufacturing in the UK not been hollowed out then there would have been no need to import them.

          • NickC
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

            Martin, It was EU policy to hollow out UK manufacturing within the EU.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

            Rubbish, Nick. Do you remember Thatchers lauding of “the service sector” when such comments were made back then?

            People with good jobs in manufacturing generally vote Labour.

            There’s your explanation.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

            So you are still opposed to the end of coal production in this country Martin?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        Who knows?

        There again, if a loony, quasi-religious cult obsession with outsourcing everything to the private sector didn’t prevail, then perhaps we would know?

        • NickC
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

          Martin, Government spending of around 45% of UK GDP is not “a loony, quasi-religious cult obsession with outsourcing everything to the private sector”.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          Bit harsh on Labour and its PFI policies.

    • Hope
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      JR, instead of carping like LL, I suggest Govt. asks our brilliant engineering companies like Rolls Royce, BAE, Cobham, Weir group and others to put their best brains to the task for equipment. Hopefully Porton Down already tasked to find a cure.

      In the Second World War Hamleys the toy maker changed its factory to make and mass produce sten guns- which they did very successfully. Easy to make and deadly to you use.

      The demands of the EUROPEAN are not in good faith instead of deferring or delaying negotiations as remainers want, call a stop the negotiations. Off re a schedule of min agreements leading to WTO. I note today ECHR states religious grounds of midwives not to participate in abortions are less than human rights for same sex marriages and women’s right to abortion! How about the right to life of the unborn child! Get us out of all aspects of the madhouse.

      JR, I still want to know how much we are liable for EU? Open borders and freedom of movement does not appear such a good idea anymore from EU and the globalist! Borders provide control and safety. I am thoroughly disappointed that the govt did not and has restricted movement of those entering the country particularly from hotspots. It was not allowed for foot and mouth and CJD, why not better control of humans to reduce the the speed of spread if that is the strategy?

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        A fleet of foot engineering company could come up with 50K ventilators in 6-8 weeks, perhaps less. You need the F1 people like Petronas Mercedes on this, NOT the ones you mention.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      War footing…..pop. circa 67million, active cases today 1,100

      Whats been highlighted to me is the number of ‘expert’ doctors on panels, ngo, committees, boards etc etc ….if only they did the actual first job they where employed to do i.e be a doctor, maybe we wouldn’t have a storage in the NHS

    • Newmania
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Yes I agree with that .
      There are no antiseptic gels in the shops
      There are no face masks in the shops
      The Health Service seems entirely unprepared
      Contingency plans for shutting schools are not high profile and they must be
      Sort it out !

      We are in a place where we need government to perform its basic function well. They have all our support. The measures that can be taken are pretty clear but as yet I do not see the urgency we need .
      I honestly hate to say this but I do wonder of there is the necessary administrative capability when we are taking on Brexit at the same time – it not a cheap political point , have your Brexit by all means , but can we just right now focus on keeping as many people alive as we can?

      • Matt
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        All health systems are entirely unprepared.

        Saving lives.

        Just what do you think the government are trying to do ?

      • Matt
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

        Timing is critical.

        We can only endure so much lock-down without economic meltdown to go with it.

        This will kill many more than the virus.

  11. Bryan Harris
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    It’s not just the media that treat alleged experts with such tenderness The government listens to and provides experts for many things. Many court cases, especially those involving negligence have to include an ‘expert’ – and sometimes these experts have failed us all miserably, using their prejudices instead of their experiences.
    It’s an over-used term that suggests ‘beyond reproach’ and it is a fallacy.

    WE should stop using these practices. We should by all means refer and listen to people with experience, but with a large pinch of salt, knowing that such people may have a very narrow view of life…. Stop putting these people on a pedestal – Bring back common sense ….!

    • Mark B
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      To me it is the belittling of the populace that gets me. They treat us like small children.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Indeed, it is surely a silly system that on some technical matter (such as evidence of shaken baby syndrome for example) the jury hears “experts” on both sides and then the untrained laymen have to decide which experts they prefer to believe!

      I particularly remember that case where one poor family had had two children who had died of cot death. Mathematically illiterates for the prosecution claimed the probability of a single cot death was 1 in 8,543, so the probability of two in the same family was around “1 in 73 million” (8543 × 8543). … based on the totally idiotic assumption that two SIDS deaths or genetically similar children in the same family was independent. I shouted at the radio then too.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        Sorry – two cot deaths of

    • Julian Flood
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Nullius in verba.


    • ian wragg
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      I’m always puzzled by the BBC wheeling out Roger Harriban as energy and environmental expert. He’s an English graduate from Cambridge with absolutely no technical expertise whatsoever.
      He is constantly in our face about climate change when he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.

      • Lester Beedell
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Ian Wragg, I agree wholeheartedly, the Brussels broadcasting corporation have an agenda, I’m so pleased that Laurence Fox had the guts to speak up,on Question Time, and the Luvvies Union have apologised 👍👍👍👍

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        I met him a while back, he’s a pleasant enough chap, he clearly is a “believer” in the religion but, as you say, he has little understand of physics, energy engineering or even climate at all. He just repeats all the guff the endless alarmist organisation come out with – without questioning it.

      • margaret howard
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:48 am | Permalink

        ian wragg

        “He is constantly in our face about climate change when he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.”

        Are our government ministers any better? Do the secretaries of state for defense, transport, education etc have special knowledge in their particular fields or are these jobs given as rewards for services rendered?

        • NickC
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          Margaret H, There is a difference between managing an enterprise and being a scientific expert on a particular topic. Doh . . .

  12. jerry
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    We don’t need “experts” most people just want/need the facts…

    • Andy
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      All evidence to the contrary.

      It is a fact that the world is heating up.

      It is a fact that Brexit has made you poorer.

      But I don’t doubt that you are a Brexit backing climate change denier.

      • jerry
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        @Andy; Non of what you say is a fact, it is merely yours or some “experts” opinion. To take your bullet points;

        1/. No one is doubting the climate is changing. What some of us argue is that we have no evidence that we are deviating from the norm, for all we know the last 200 years could have been abnormal, meaning we are simply returning to the norm, and doubt that this change is being driven because the modern world emits a little bit more CO₂.

        2/. Brexit will likely make me richer, assuming we do meaningfully FTAs beyond the EU and their one-size fits all trade agreements with other countries…

        3/. I voted to Remain in 2016…

      • Edward2
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        One degree since 1850 measured globally and since 2000 a fall in the rate of increase.

        Brexit hasn’t made us poorer living standards continue to increase..
        Even the very pessimistic Treasury report could only say that in 15 years from now we might have a tiny bit less growth than we might have had.

      • Northern Monkey
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        It’s a fact that attributing global warming to human activity is only an unproven theory.

        It is also a fact that British economic growth was reduced during our membership of the EU, making us all poorer.

        And yet, I don’t doubt that you are a Thunberg-worshiping EU remaniac who thinks that no positive vision of the future is possible for a UK outside the EU.

        But so what?

      • Matt
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        No-one denies climate change. Are you being deliberately obtuse ?

      • NickC
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        Andy, As usual you parade your opinions as “facts”. Your opinions do not carry more weight just because you stamp your foot and squawk “fact”.

        The world cooled for the Little Ice Age, it is now returning to its previous temperature.

        Brexit has not made me, most people, or the UK, poorer.

        But I don’t doubt that you are a Remain backing climate doomer.

    • jerry
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Why does the govt need to “buy private hospital bed space” from private hospitals, did the govt have to buy such beds during WW2 or did the govt simply them under govt control them for the duration…

      • steve
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink


        Exactly. I was saying just that to my lodger this morning.

        When you consider the private health care sector will have poached many an NHS doctor and nurse over the years, I think these beds should have been offered.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Like they needed to be told “75% of our laws are made in Brussels and the UK has no borders” you mean?

      • jerry
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        @MiC; Stop, before others start citing EU directives at you, and the fact that whilst the UK was not in the Schengen Area EU27 citizens were free to come and go as they pleased – they just needed to show their passports when they did!

      • Edward2
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        You talk only of laws.
        If you add EU created rules regulations and directives that figure isn’t far off.

        No borders…yes they are open to the EU 450 million people.

      • NickC
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        Martin, All our laws (not just 75%) must conform to EU laws. Why? Because EU laws have primacy (they still do, until 31 Dec at best), and so does the CJEU. The UK does have open borders with the EU – unlike Schengen we can check people coming here – but we cannot stop them.

    • Tony Sharp
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      They are never provided – the more facts you ask for the increase in Thurnbergian hysteria is the only answer.

  13. Mark B
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Yes, there are experts, and then, there are experts. I think the general public is quite adapt at noticing things 😉

    As we must ask; “What qualifications does an expert have ?”, we must also ask; “What qualifications do MP’s have ?” All too often we have politicians that are simply not in command of their brief and fall victim to various interests. A politician that is well versed in a particular field is much harder to bully or hoodwink. Knowledge is power, as they say.

    So what skills /expertise does our kind host think one needs to be a good PM ? I ask as previous PM’s recently have not been up to much.

  14. Kevin
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    “It has also led to greatly contrasting styles of interview on the UK media”

    I had this perception in mind when I watched Sky News’ Stephen Dixon interviewing the Government’s chief scientific adviser on the subject of COVID-19. In this case, however, I thought Dixon looked distinctly troubled throughout the interview, and asked some very pertinent questions.

    On learning that the Government’s apparent strategy for responding to the virus is to achieve “herd immunity” by means of a 60% infection rate, Nixon pointed to an estimated 1% mortality rate, and observed: “That’s an awful lot of people dying in this country”. By my calculation, if the House of Commons is representative of the population at large, that would mean, of 650 MPs, 390 would be infected, and between three and four would die. Given these figures, it would appear to be in MPs’ self-interest to vote down the Johnson Government; and, in so doing, I suspect they would again be representing the people.

  15. Len Prale
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Which Tv channel do you watch? The ones I watch host know-nothing politicians like Nigel Farage and Mark Francois and give them unlimited uncritical airtime.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      I only get Owen Jones Ash Sakar and Greta
      Can we swop TVs?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Oh, Farage knows plenty, about how to exploit tabloid-engendered misconceptions among millions, in order to stir up anger and hatred.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        It is funny how not a single left wing person get taken in by the loud voices on their side.

      • Fred H
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        you learned at the feet of the master?

      • NickC
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Martin, Wrong as usual. I became first sceptical of, then opposed to, the EU many years before I had heard of Nigel Farage or UKIP. And millions more like me. You need to look at what Lord Peter Shore said in the 1970s.

    • NickC
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      You are Len Grinds, and I demand my £5.

  16. SM
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    John, your most salient point is the reference to experts’ records – no matter what their field, have their proposed solutions worked, or have their predictions come true more than once?

    And both experts, the media and the public should try to bear in mind that no-one is 100% infallible.

  17. Fred H
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I wonder if others will join in the Lifelogic diary today – the Ides of March.
    The damage done to the aviation industry will seal the death knell of a future additional runway to any southern airport.
    On another topic will there be a pollution comparison between London now or some days ago, and that in say one week’s time? It would be very interesting to me.

  18. Richard1
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    The point on political affiliations is important. Yesterday I saw a clip of a professor of health policy called prof Ashton who was exceptionally dismissive of Boris Johnson – saying he is trying to sound like Churchill Etc. So I looked him up. He’s a Labour Party member. It should have been said. This man may disagree with Boris but these kind of aspersions when of course Boris is doing what he thinks is the best thing based on advice, are just point scoring.

    I fear both here and in the US there are commentators whose visceral hatred of Boris / Brexit / Trump is also informing their view on the course of action on Corvid19 the US and UK govts respectively have taken.

  19. Richard1
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Particular veneration is reserved for experts who take a liberal-left perspective. Economists who criticise ‘austerity’ for instance. Oddly, since you can’t really find an economist who is in favour of it, we don’t hear experts critical of the euro.

    We also see starkly now that experts can disagree with one another. That’s fine, it’s what we should expect. But we should hear more of that. For example we should occasionally hear from those many experts who think there is some global warming but we do not face a ‘climate emergency’ and accordingly should not turn the world economy upside down to try to mitigate it.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Clarification above: you can’t really find an economist who isn’t part of the EU establishment who is in favour of the euro.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      I see Guido Fawkes is making this point, and prof Ashton referred to above is in fact a far left labour / green / anti-Brexit activist. He is regularly on the TV with no intro to his virulently left wing political affilitions.

  20. Andy
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I suspect your plan would backfire quite badly on Brexiteers and climate change deniers.

    Many are part of the Tufton Street set. We have been asking for a long time about their particular expertise and who funds them and they seem very reluctant to say.

    Facts 4 EU – which you quote quite regularly on your site – doesn’t say who is behind it. No names to check the veracity of the ‘facts’ they provide. But it does use the word Remoaners which says all we need to know.

    So, yes. Let’s do it. Proper experts are mostly not on your side.

    • Matt
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      We’re getting an early viewing of what shut down and crash-the-western-economies Thunbergism might look like in the EU.

      That’s your side, that is.

    • John C.
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Can you explain, Andy, how, according to you, Dr Redwood has got every single issue wrong in every respect for at least a couple of years?
      Could it be that you are just full of bile?

    • NickC
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Andy, Could you list the people that actually deny the climate changes? I know of none at all.

  21. Thames Trader
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Add to the deferential treatment of experts by the BBC –deferential treatment of EU politicians and anyone from the EU Commission.

    Also, how many times does the BBC news lead with “A report just published….” and then proceed to attack the government.

  22. MPC
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    The question is how or can we achieve balanced coverage/interviewing in the televised media in particular? I strongly believe most ordinary people see through the practices you describe which accounts for the BBC losing viewers of its main news programmes. After the Virus it’s the climate issue that is most serious and costly. Comparisons with how ordinarily people felt about the EU vs elite media coverage are striking. If only we could see a few contrarian commentators/experts on TV interviewed about the so called climate crisis. With Carbon Neutrality by 2050 we now have a government wedded to effective support of pseudo science so it won’t be easy but I still believe truth will out eventually.

  23. Andy
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    So the experts say over 70s should self-isolate – possibly for months – to protect you from the Coronavirus.

    This is a dilemma for many of you.

    The experts say it is for your own safety – and also for the safety of others.

    Are you going to do it?

    I can guess the answer most of you will give.

    • SM
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Why don’t you tell us how you will assist the over-70s of your acquaintance who may have to self-isolate?

      Will you offer to do shopping, bring books and films for them, or give them a call regularly to let them know they are not forgotten?

      Or will you metaphorically spit in their face?

      I can guess from your previous bilious outpourings what answer you will give.

      • Andy
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        We’ve already offered. We are surrounded by elderly residents – we’re just about the youngest family on the road – and we sent a message out to the residents association early today that we would help with what we can.

        We’ve also offered help to elderly relatives though they live some distance away so it may depend on whether we’re allowed to travel.

        I don’t dislike old people. I dislike old people being treated differently to everyone else. You get all sorts of benefits just because you are old. That is wrong.

        Incidentally, Coronavirus will financially benefit you all further. When jobs go – which they will – they won’t be your jobs because you don’t work. And you still get your pensions regardless. Oh how wonderful it would be if everybody had that sort of financial security.

        • a-tracy
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          Do your neighbours and relatives know your true feelings about them and their perceived benefits Andy? Perhaps you should have a chat with them about it.

        • Fred H
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

          those of us who thought we had financial security – now threatened by the virus – did so by saving, investing, running a business etc in the working years of our lives – all that while most raising a family with no foreign holidays, some with no holidays, and mortgage rates minimum 8% often up to 13%. Then just as we thought we could relax and retire we found our elderly parents needed us. For many this coincided with our offspring needing to have us do the school runs, the childcare, the grandkids staying for the long summer holidays. I write this just to tip you off for what you have in store. But then you probably won’t take part – will you?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Looks like the Government might be shamed into proper action by the Chinese, who have stopped it at around three thousand deaths out of a billion people, Andy.

      Whereas our leaders have said that we should expect hundreds of thousands out of just sixty-seven million.

      How do they think that history would remember that?

      • margaret howard
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink


        “How do they think that history would remember that?”

        Exactly for what we know they are – a government of big business that puts money before people.

        MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!!!!!!

        • NickC
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

          Margaret H, Exactly for what we know you favour – an EU empire that puts political power, big business, and money before people.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

            The figures, as to the proportion of the populations dead in each respective country will be the irrefutable evidence as to which governments cared the most or the least about them.

            So far China has held it down to around one-in-three-hundred thousand of her people.

            The UK will have to prevent any more than about two hundred in total to beat that.

            What do you think the chances are?

          • Edward2
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

            Martin that is a very odd way of looking at epidemic statistics but I realise that you are desperately trying to blame the government for party political reasons.
            China is a huge continent with a few hugely populated cities hundreds of miles from each other and is a controlling communist dictatorship state.
            The UK is a very different country with very little distance between major cities.
            Controlling spread is much more difficult.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          Big business employs tens of millions of people.
          Pays many billions in tax each year and invests in pensions for their staff.
          But you hate them.
          The odd mindset of the left.

    • Fred H
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      yep Andy – you guessed it – – one middle finger.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      It isn’t for their safety, it’s to regulate the demand on ICUs.
      The NHS is well prepared for this emergency we were told – after reports of lack of ICUs (principally through lack of suitably trained nurses) even before the crisis hit.
      Large numbers of sick people not getting the treatment they need will make government look bad, which is their chief worry.

    • outsider
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Dear Andy, Thank you for your heartfelt concern. Yes it s a dilemma though I am relieved not to be a 60-year old commuting to work at rush hour on the London tube or Leeds buses.
      There is a wide spectrum of circumstances, from someone in an old folks home to someone living alone or a deux in a country cottage and growing their own vegetables. We all have to work out our own best solutions. (Joan) Lady Bakewell says she is following all the guidance except that she needs to go out for a walk..
      Personally, I have bought some basic dry wholefoods by mail order to keep me going without shops on a boring vegan diet for 2-3 months, once the fridge is empty. But I plan to use my car to visit safer open spaces in the countryside. It is all a matter of compromise. We can reduce the risk of potentially fatal infection but not eliminate it.
      Best wishes to all in the unlikely event that this is my last comment.

    • John C.
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      It must certainly worry you that the policy is clearly to protect older people while the virus works its way to exhaustion through the likes of you. An admirable sacrifice, Andy.

      • Andy
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        The policy is to protect the government. We have fewer intensive care beds than most European nations. We do not have enough ventilators. The average age of people in intensive care because of Cornonavirus is less than 50. But others countries are better placed to treat them.

        At the end of this we will look back in scorn at 10 years of Tory mistreatment of the NHS.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

          We do not have enough ventilators…now..
          We had enough before the virus struck.
          Did we hear you predicting such an event or calling for more ventilators months or years ago?
          No we didn’t.
          The figures on intensive care beds don’t include critical care beds which the UK has.

          The NHS funding has gone up every year for decades.
          Many billions extra are going in this year too.
          But it will never be enough for you.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

            After SARS and MERS, WHO and medical opinion across the globe said that it was only a matter of time, and not much time, before attempts to control such outbreaks would fail, and that governments must be prepared.

            Your selective amnesia must be very handy.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

            Experts predict all kinds of potential disasters.
            They want billions spending on every report they write.
            But there is a finite amount of available funds so Government has to decide on priorities.
            So we now know you would have had a huge contingency force of people, buildings and equipment set around doing nothing costing billions every year from the 1960s on a just in case basis.
            Those billions would have been taken from which budget?
            Education Housing Defence Welfare?

  24. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    “ploys interviewers use to ensure politicians come over badly.”
    They ask a question and almost immediately interrupt as answer is being given.
    They talk over so that the interview becomes incoherent.
    They show bias with facial expressions and voice intonations.
    They follow with an interview one of their colleagues to critique what has been discussed.
    They are not imparial and regularly breach the statutory broadcasting code but no action is taken against them, probably because the regulator Ofcom is simpatico.
    In most cases they are acting as propagandists not seekers of facts.
    They have an agenda and see their role as indoctrinating us to their views.

  25. agricola
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    A lady of similar age to myself asked this morning what Boris might have in mind when, if as reported, he will impose a four month quarantine upon the elderly under wartime measures. I suggested that maybe she should pack a bag and await a knock on the door to be then labelled and sent by rail to deepest Wales for her safety. It might of course be the Isle of Man.

    As of yesterday we have such a measure here in Spain. Effectively confined to barracks, except for visits to medical centres, farmacias, and the supermarket. We can neither fly into nor out of the country. No great hardship and quite sensible , we can sit back and enjoy the climate. The irony is that it is a climate the UK is so fearful of acquiring.

    As in the UK these measures are taken without absolute knowledge but sincerely in the best interests of our various populations.

    The one question I would ask is how did this particular virus arise. was it by natural evolution or was it an escapee man made virus. Almost every nation has such establishments so it is not far fetched to ask the question. Even when the answer is known, will the people be denied a straight answer with a fifty year ban , the usual way of hiding the truth.

  26. Everhopeful
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    It is all a self fulfilling prophesy.
    These “experts” are either the ones who set us on this disastrous course 40 or so years ago or they are the “experts” taught and nurtured by the previous lot of “”experts”.
    By allowing liberalism into the system ( cultural Marxism) those who should have known better have allowed us to get to the point of rejecting the internal combustion engine!
    We now deal in beliefs rather than facts. AND we can be censored for the wrong belief!
    And never mind interview techniques…everyone must know by now that only the politically correct “expert views” ever get an airing.
    Have a look back at all the “expert” mopping and mowing over similar past “outbreaks”and wonder exactly WHAT all these “experts” learned.
    Not a lot it would seem from all the OTT and conflicting advice!

  27. Dave Andrews
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    When I started out in engineering more than 35 years ago, there was a saying in the industry that the word expert was composed of two parts. The first, “ex” denotes a has-been. The second “spirt” is a drip under pressure. This in a discipline where being right or wrong could readily be determined by experiment. I might aspire to claim some expertise in my narrow field, but I don’t need challenging by interviewers when nature frequently tells me I’m dead wrong.
    If an “expert” can’t give recent examples of where he has been dead wrong, then either his subject is trivial or ambiguous, and he can’t claim expertise in anything.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      And a “consultant” uses your watch to tell you the time

      Maybe not the doctor type consultant though..

  28. Julian Flood
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Sir John, it depends on the expert and it depends on the interviewer:

    An interesting consequence of the failure of the BBC to produce objective and reliable journalism over Brexit, climate change hysteria etc is that I find that I no longer trust them on any subject. Now, when we need a dispassionate and reliable source of information, there is no-one to trust. Science has been corrupted, politicians are exposed as the self-servers they are (present company excepted of course), newspapers are merely mouthpieces of the ultra-rich who own them, broadcast media is riddles with those who are there only to push their politics..

    Who now speaks truth to power? Damn few.


  29. hefner
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Very sensible and a similar transparency should also apply to MPs so that their often multiple outside interests are readily put into the open when interviewed. Like consultant for this or that pharmaceutical, financial, automobile, food or extractive industry.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Their interests and any payments they receive are public information easily looked up.

      • hefner
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, on the Parliament Register of Interests. I know that. As you seem not to be aware any MP (of any party) interviewed on the MSM is very rarely (practically never) asked about their outside interests.
        So would I dare say your comment has very little value. But thanks anyway.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

          You are welcome hef.
          I am aware MPs are not often asked about their outside interests before being interviewed.
          But unlike experts interviewed on TV who are really opposition party activists the MPs interests are clearly available as a publicly available database.

  30. Irene
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    You seem to consider yourself to be an expert in/on the media now, the programme-making process,. You are not. You are a mere observer of the end product. Your suggestions are nonsense. Unless every MP interviewed is to be asked the same questions, every single me they are interviewed, in order to establish their suitability to pontificate. Although that could expose their unfitness to act as though they have superior knowledge and experience..

    • Edward2
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      It would be nice if TV companies were to say who these experts really are instead of introducing them as simply experts.
      Who funds them might be a useful guide too.

      Many lately have had strong affiliations to one political party and are allowed to say what they like with no one else there to give a different view.

      You carefully talk only of MPs
      We know which party they belong to.

  31. ukretired123
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Excellent common sense as usual from Sir John which is why you are a treasure cutting through the underhand tactics and stick to your guns regardless as they froth and throw bric-bats showering you with nonsense.

    The old saying “An Expert is a drop of water under pressure” was ahead of its time.

  32. formula57
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Beware the tyranny of infotainment industry operatives (being the class of posturing fools who have largely replaced journalists).

  33. Everhopeful
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Trust in “experts”?
    Trust in govt?
    Not after the things they have done.
    We used to trust them but not any more!
    No way!

    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    The Left will take full advantage of this CV issue to promote their position and their influence. The public sector vested interest will also take full advantage of the current, tedious, deliberately incited hysteria to call for more funding and more powers

    This faux-crisis will encourage even more nose-in-trough behaviour by the dependents

    • Everhopeful
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      They are positively cheering it on …and saying some pretty horrible things on line. Not to mention the usual rubbish about “saving people before the economy” as if ill or well we don’t all need a strong economy.

  35. ferdinand
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more. My father in law said “never trust an expert” on the same grounds you have stated, – who or what says they are an expert, and who funds them.

  36. Caterpillar
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I think that the Government experts/advisers, at least from last Thursday, should have been allowed to clarify the advice much more in interviews, and the interviewers concentrated on pertinent issues to that end to begin with. The interviewers are not expert interviewers, they do not seek appropriate information. I didn’t hear one interviewer seek to clarify what a new constant/continuous/persistent cough was, I didn’t hear one interviewer seek advice on how someone without access to a thermometer would recognise early fever. This questions may be easy but it puts the message in a conversation which helps communication. I did hear interviewers rant about not closing schools (clearly explained on Thursday and many times since – I truly worry that there is expertise missing in some parts of education when the head of a teachers’ union seeks the same explanation that has already been clearly given). I did hear interviewers rant about the PM hiding behind the science, a really peculiar line of questioning. I can only conclude that the message of timely self-isolation did not get through and our infected growth rate will not slow/delay as intended. It seems that for the media, hasbeens, experts not in the govt advisory team the desire is for more deaths, more panic and more chaos- that will be the story that keeps giving for their future careers.

  37. Audit
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    An Economic Impact Assessment should be made of the Trump ban on our Country and put on that side of the Virus Economic Assessment titled “That Caused Directly By UK Government Panic and Ill-Advised Behaviour. ”
    Make it a long page…with ability to add more pages as the clock ticks

  38. David L
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    One of the lecturers I had at Agricultural College described “expert” thus – “ex = past it, and spurt = an annoying leak of water.

    • oldwulf
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      David – I was told:
      Ex = past it
      Spurt = a drip under pressure

  39. BOF
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    ‘Who they represent

    Who pays them

    Their political affiliations where they have them

    What their main qualification is’

    Sir John, this is the nub of it, and we are never told!

  40. Robert Bywater
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I profoundly disagree with you on that sir John. We need more scientific expertise in government, not less.

    I take your point about checking the background, credentials and motivation of the appointed experts. That should be a given. Scientists already have a mechanism for checking the validity of any conclusions, it’s called peer-review. This should be introduced into all work that the experts do, and the politicians too, come to that.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      “Peer review” aka group think or get your mates to review.
      Try getting views which are not of the consensus peer reviewed and published.

      • hefner
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        As far as I know, papers by some atmospheric scientists not following “group think” like Dr. Judith Curry or Prof. Richard Lindzen have a very long list of papers published by scientific journals using peer review. Would I dare ask what personal experience you do have of peer review?
        Do you ever think that you might be the one suffering of group think?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        No, it isn’t. It is exposure to the criticism of people who are of equivalent scientific knowledge and standing, but in all walks of like and in all countries.

        That is mainly why the modern internet was developed.

        Researchers and institutions publish themselves, just as we are doing right here and now.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          Hef and MiC
          If you want a successful career in academia you have to keep with the script from undergrad level until you get Professor status.
          The groupthink has invaded Universities and even the Nobel prize.

          Martin..the posts on here and the internet are not counted as peer reviewed academic papers

          • hefner
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

            Edward2, follow-up question: have you personally suffered from such a ‘group think’?

            MiC, I am afraid you are both right and wrong. . * The self-publication among individual scientists is very limited.
            * In the last 15 years the paper version of journals from various professional societies are being replaced by web versions of the same journals.
            * Also a lot of new journals (some linked to old-style science societies) on the web have sprung up but the refereeing process is now much more open, for example opening the submitted version of a paper to comments to anybody having an access to that journal.

            The refereeing process includes these different steps:
            – When a manuscript is submitted, the editorial committee usually chooses one of its members to act as paper editor for this manuscript.
            – The manuscript is then open to comments either by a limited number (2 ou 3) of referees chosen by the paper editor (specially in the case of traditional journals) or open to comments by anybody having access to the journal website.
            – Comments are then passed to the authors with the paper editor having the responsibility to define the status of the manuscript providing the list of comments leading to that decision: rejected, minor revision, major revision, accepted.
            – Accepted, meaning possibly correction of spelling mistakes, better legends to figures (usually authors are given one month to submit the corrected version).
            – Minor revision: when the conclusions of the paper are not questioned but some clarification are needed (one to three months are given to resubmit a corrected version).
            – Major revision: when at least one of the conclusions is questioned, usually because of methodological questions, and thus further work is requested (six months to submit the new version).
            – Rejected: when basic methodology and/or several conclusions are questioned.
            – In all cases, a full report with the list of comments is sent to the authors.
            – When submitting a revised version, the authors should address the comments one by one.
            – Even after submitting such a revised version
            the authors cannot be sure that the paper is accepted as this new version is sent back to the original referees who had said they wanted to see the revision. A second round might be required.
            – So the main point is that for journals publishing hard science the refereeing process is still very strict
            (at least in the few domains I am aware of).
            I could not possibly comment on the refereeing process for social or medical science journals.

            Sorry to have been so long, but given the substance of some of the comments above, I thought it worthwhile to give details.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            No, but they are counted as “published”, which defeats your original comment.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

            Published on the internet is completely different to what is meant by getting an academic paper published and recognised.

          • hefner
            Posted March 17, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

            MiC, I can only agree with Edward2.

            It is not because a report of some kind is available on the internet that it has gone through any review process by other people, independent of the original group of authors.
            Similarly the institutional framework in which such reports are published might be quite different, really institutional or pressure group or individual.

            Would you readily compare reports on a broadly similar topic, say, one by The Geological Society (funded 1807), one by the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain (PESGB), one by Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth and indiscriminately give them all the same value?

            I would hope any reader to be able to see the differences in objectives between the different sources.

  41. Pete S
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Not referring to Prof John Ashton, by any chance ??

  42. Stock Shark
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    If we wait a bit we can buy second-hand, loads of ventilators from Italy cut price for bulk buying.

  43. Kendall Massey
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Too many left wing people (often Labour Party members) have been palmed off to us as “experts” – the BBC is especially guilty of this.

  44. glen cullen
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Rather than taking a single experts view on a given subject eg climate change, in the days of old, the BBC would always interview two experts on the same subject but with differing or opposing views…..sadly this is no longer the case, the BBC etc choice an expert that closely follows their agenda

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Exactly and interview by some daft lefty arts graduate who had a the usual BBC group think opinions and is not up to thinking for themselves on the topic other than in the most superficial way.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Exactly and then they are interviewed by some overpaid, daft, lefty, arts graduate who has all the usual BBC “group think” opinions and is not up to thinking for themselves on the topic in hand. Other than in the most superficial and simplistic way.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        The most glaring example of group-absence-of-think is the mindlessly repetitive chanting and parroting of rubbish, that we get from europhobics and other conspiracy theorists in comment threads like this.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

          Have you seen the continual propaganda pouring out of pro EU think tanks?
          Funded often with many millions from globalists.

          You think the EU will bring about your beloved socialist state but you are being fooled.
          The EU is led by a rich new aristocracy who love big global businesses.

  45. Yossarion
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Having watched the News and seen Prof John Aston over the last few days He is quite clearly pot stirring for the sake of it.
    He was at His best last night shouting down a Dr who was in support of the Government approach and is recovering from the virus and then calling on the PM to resign and be replaced by Rory Stewart who is not even an MP.
    WE know that most who are dying have life threatening issues, how many of these people are only alive today because of the modern drugs and if they lived fifty years ago could have been taken out by the common cold?.

    • bill brown
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 4:20 am | Permalink


      What you are raising is not really a point when the country is facing a major crisis, say something relevant

    • dixie
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Some put a “prof” or title in front of their name and instantly become an expert in everything, a statistician magically becomes an epidemiologist.

      Is he a professional or an activist, or both? As a government advisor he should not be independently briefing the press and certainly not against government policy, unless he has already resigned.

  46. bill brown
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Sir JR

    Interesting perspective but what is needed here is a much more active government intervention to safe our private employers.

    The government should be compensating for part of the salaries for the employees that the employers have had to send home as it is now the case in a number of European countries and it is intervention now and not a lot of promises but no action form this government

    • margaret howard
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      bill brown

      This government is on the side of big business not make the life of ‘ordinary’ people more comfortable. They’d sell their own grandmother for a profit.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

        Odd how they got loads of ordinary people to vote them in with a huge majority bill.

        It is the EU that loves big business and they love the EU

      • NickC
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        Margaret H, Whilst Remains are on the side of the EU empire. They’d sell their own grandmother to profit the EU.

  47. APL
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    JR: “If an “expert” is interviewed they are introduced positively, they are rarely interrupted, ”

    If an expert is introduced on the BBC, you’ll frequently realise they are in the employ of an organisation ( NGO, ‘Charity’, or Civil Service** ) that pays them to present a particular viewpoint.

    The BBC doesn’t give both sides of an argument or issue. The BBC has an agenda to promote. Nothing, particularly not the BBC Charter will get in their way.

    And as the media talking head circuit quite small and incestuous, they all hob nob with each other and the Politicians, in a stinking little club of overpaid misinformation.

    ** Including the BBC all paid for or receiving subsidies from the British government.

  48. APL
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I see now the Chinese Communist party has threatened to with-hold medical supplies to the West.

    Can anything have thrown our thirty year error into starker relief?

    • forthurst
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      To the USA, not the ‘West’. Perhaps it is time for the US to put its war-mongering nutters into quarantine for an extended period until such time as international co-operation can be put on the back-burner once again and the loonies can once again talk about winnable wars against Russia and China whilst surrounding them with military hardware and accusing them of ‘aggression’.

      • APL
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

        forthurst: “Perhaps it is time for the US to put its war-mongering nutters into quarantine ..”

        As things in the US currently lie, that’s the Democrat Party you speak of.

        Trump has tried to withdraw from Syria, is trying to Withdraw from Afghanistan, has avoided a direct attack on Iran. But Democrat operatives in the US bureaucracy assisted by UK deep state Christopher Steele seem to be frustrating him.

        And it’s worth remembering it was Hilary Clinton, David Cameron and that French chappie, who bombed Libya back to the stone age, and assisted in the reintroduction of Islamic slave markets in Tripoli.

    • John C.
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      I can remember commenting about 20years ago to a fellow shopper, that everything on sale was made in China, and that we no longer make anything ourselves. We shook our heads and said it will all end badly.

    • Richard
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Chloroquine – Prof Didier Raoult (One of Europe’s most respected and published experts in infectious diseases) believes that COVID 19 may be successfully treated with the widely available, off-patent anti-malaria drug Chloroquine.

      Chinese authorities have established it’s effectiveness and Japanese trials are nearing completion, demonstrating very promising results.

  49. Tony Sharp
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Sir John,
    A good sumamry regarding the MSM’s introduction of ‘experts’ to colour their reporting – opinions. The most glaring is anything to do with ‘Climate Change- AGW’. None of the ‘experts introduced have qualifications in geophysics, meteorology or carbon effeciency analysis. They are simply Green Energy lobby representatives. Every one of them has eithe rno qualification or a sham one, such as Climatology Studies, Geography, Demographics and even Social Anthropology.
    As for the ‘2,000 Scientists’ have endorsed the ‘Climate Change- AGW findings’ promoted by the IPCC, (based on a fantasy model promoted by Mann’s Hockey Stick Graph,) it is very easy to find that out of the several hundreds of thousands of STEM graduates those of little knowledge at all who are not in fact research scientists to ‘endorse’ this and you would to exclude those working in Green Energy Lobby research funded projects.

  50. Ian @Barkham
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Lets be honest, no one knows anything. There is no experience as yet gained on the current situation – its just guess work, but also contradictory.

    Over 70s to be on lock down/isolation for 4 months. But, they mustn’t stock pile and mustn’t shop. So if the virus doesn’t get them starvation will. Who thought that up.

    Online food shopping is OK if you are rich, you are happy to pay over the odds for the convenience. The UK state pension barely pays for heat and light let alone food. So going by the headlines at the moment we are saying lets get rid of anyone that has paid for their future by hard work through-out their working life then we will have more money for those that ‘expect’ rather than contribute. You couldn’t make it up.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Rubbish. Lots of people know a great deal thanks to international collaboration – something that many here appear to hate.

      If you don’t want to listen or to believe them then that is quite another matter.

      However, the statistics of death in different countries for different courses for action will, in a little time, show conclusively who was right and who was utterly recklessly wrong.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Collaboration is fine.
        Belonging to a supranational United States of Europe who control your laws borders and money is a very different thing.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

          Pulling out of the EMA – collaboration – will mean that this country will face delays in getting any vaccine or treatment for coronavirus which might be developed in the European Union. And they will probably happen there first.

          Leave means leave, yes.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 16, 2020 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

            Most pharmaceutical companies are outside the EU and are multinationals who will offer such things for sale to the UK.
            Israel is my bet to be first to market followed by the USA.
            Presumably you will not buy from them.

    • jerry
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      @Ian~Barkham; “Lets be honest, no one knows anything.”

      Except there is knowledge from some countries that have had the virus for weeks and months, and that knowledge is being provided to and by the WHO – makes it even more strange that some govts seem hell bent on ignoring it…

      As for the over 70s lock-down idea, indeed, who thought that one up! How many otherwise productive workers will choose to also isolate with a widowed frail parent/in-law, what if they are parents themselves and the schools then get closed, would the other parent also have to leave work to care for the children, that’s now two people not working, repeat that a few million times…

      Its as if they are coming up with ideas and then not roll-playing the knock-on affects, worse still ‘leaking’ the idea to a cooperative reporter in the MSM to see what the public reaction might be.

      “Online food shopping is OK if you are rich, you are happy to pay over the odds for the convenience. “

      Never mind having a computer, have suitable internet access, have the knowledge to use e-commerce safely. If the govt are going to set up, perhaps using the military, some form of supply provisions to pensioners then this might work. Without close contact how is payment going to be taken where the pensioner can not or does not want to use e-commerce?

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      The point being is the MsM picks up on a sound-bite that the Government feeds them and never the full thought out reasoning. Government is feeding anxiety and fear by being a bit dumb on who and how they say things. Is Government buying into the same ego trip as the media?

      • Andy
        Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        Tell you what. If you object to what you call in a derogatory way ‘main stream media’ then ignore it. Get all your information from your ill informed sources on Facebook instead. Good luck surviving the next few months.

        • Fred H
          Posted March 16, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

          you too, kids at home REALLY bored, you unemployed, grocery shortages, just this diary to vent your permanent angst.

    • Bryan Harris
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      From the heart – and so accurate.

    • John C.
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Two points. 1.Clearly it will be impossible to stop anyone going out to buy food. food suppliers are already finding it to difficult to deliver efficiently. They could not cope with supplying all over 70s., Quite beyond possibility.

    • Al
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      “So if the virus doesn’t get them starvation will. Who thought that up.” – Ian @ Barkham

      The same people who thought that ensuring workers who self-isolate would get the sickpay they are entitled to would encourage all workers to do so – and then forgot that people on zero-hours contracts don’t get sick pay at all. They are also among the workers most likely to spread it: delivery drivers, retail workers etc.

  51. margaret howard
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink


    “It has been fashionable for some years to say experts should be in charge of more of our public policy decisions and politicians fewer.”

    Pity the experts weren’t listened to and the politicians won the day to wage war on Iraq costing the lives of so many people. I remember the hubris at the time.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Military experts were greatly in favour

  52. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I never allowed myself to be called an expert. I accepted I was a specialist but that’s far as I was prepared to go.

  53. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I hear Mr Hancock is urging/requiring manufacturers who can to make respirators urgently. Givernment will buy them he says. He says we haven’t enough and we can no longer get them from overseas.

    Will this be a lessen learned by government that we must become more self reliant and self sufficient in more than strategic esentials but generally? And put nation before their globalist thinking.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      And how is the short term planned, for profit only, fragmented, understaffed, bottom-line ruled, private sector supposed to do that in an unforeseen emergency?

      • Edward2
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Because it is those companies who make things who will provide the food, pharmaceuticals and equipment needed.
        Not some overpaid public sector paper pushers in Whitehall

  54. everyone knows
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The virus will vanish, as mysteriously as it appeared.
    Get ready to get back into the stock market at the bottom of this dip 😉

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Many things are mysterious to you, I surmise.

  55. BillM
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the new Culture Secretary will create such a format for the BBC to adhere to.

  56. forthurst
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Why when we have a Chief Medical Officer do we also need a Chief Scientific Advisor who is also medically qualified? Does the government not need to take advice on a range of scientific topics where knowledge of hard science and engineering are crucial? I note that Prof Whitty whilst fighting the ebola epidemic was concerned to limit the spread of that disease. He was also Chief Scientific Advisor during the ‘novichok’ incident; I don’t recall him going on the record in support of the government’s case. How are the Skripals, by the way?

    I’m reading about initiatives to bring forward the availability of a covid-19 vaccine and of a medication that appeared to assist the recovery of someone whom British triage experts might believe should be denied treatment.

    If herd immunity via mass exposure is the solution to covid-19, why not every other viral disease? Vaccination provides herd immunity; why has this point not been put forcibly to the government? Even the WHO whose leader has been appearing reading prepared scripts is nonplussed. After all coronavirus could kill many people this year and reappear next year after mutation into covid-20 and kill more people which is why we have vaccination against seasonal flu rather than a one off shot. The most dangerous expert is one whose knowledge on a specific topic is limited but that he is afforded the role of expert on it, nevertheless.

  57. Dennis Zoff
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Quite right John.

    I too have had professional training on how to deal with journalists. This training has been invaluable over the years. It never ceases to amazing me how derisive some journalists can be, in particular during International discussion (TV) forums.

    The best advice given: think twice, answer once!

  58. Ian @Barkham
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm, over 70’s isolated. Does that mean we wont see the likes of Corbyn? Does that mean those that currently attend the HoL now recognize they have been honored for service and are not political appointees as such have no voice in the upper house of a democracy?

    The Supreme Court is making itself redundant and will have no place, back to normal with outstanding Law Lords.

    If there is any integrity in Government, in Democracy, it is one law for all and we are all in it together. Once just one individual is placed above the rest of us, the rule of law and democracy is lost.

  59. steve
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Well JR you see many of these so-called experts have Labour / Liberal / Green affiliations. They are seen as politically on message by a left wing biased media and therefore allies.

    However we ordinary folk live our live in the real world, and are savvy enough to know when we’re being had over.

    We recognise political bias when we see it.

    I think I can speak on behalf of ordinary people and assure you that when we see biased interviewing it actually has the opposite affect to what the broadcasters intend, i.e. we hold the biased media and their pals in further contempt than we did before the interview was aired.

    Hypothesise ; If there were a referendum on the BBC Licence fee, what do you suppose would be the result ?

    Understand your angst Mr Redwood, but be assured the vast majority of us are not taken in by the crap, and of experts, particularly scientific and climate alarmists…..follow the money.

  60. BeebTax
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    There should definitely be more transparency about “experts”.

    In some cases experts are there to comment on narrow technical issues where the interviewer is just there to tease out information (e.g. some medical breakthrough, or why an aeroplane malfunctioned, or a dam failed).

    But in many cases the issues are much broader, subject to political/economic considerations and open to debate – and it is here that the bias of the media lets rip. I wish there were a UK equivalent of Fox, so we got to hear some alternative views from the BBC/C4 orthodoxy.

  61. ian terry
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    You cannot make it up. Aĺl these numpties buying over the top toilet paper and everything else are prepared to stand in a nose to tail queue to get it out the store? If this is an advert on our education system then it’s time to throw the towel in and admit we failed as families and a country in teaching common sense.

    • jerry
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 3:43 am | Permalink

      @ian terry; Yes people are stocking up, and they are doing it because the Govt has -in effect- told them to; People must prepair, you might have to lock yourself (and family) away for “x” number of days. Even “x” keeps changing, first it was 14, then 7, and now for pensioners it might be 120+ days – look out for all the Grans & granddads doing a ‘supermarket sweep’ on Monday morning, assuming they didn’t do one on Sunday!

      Seems to me that someone within govt, most likely within the No.10 policy unit, is very good at forming ideas but very weak in planning out just how those ideas can be turned into functioning diktat that will not impact detrimentally on other areas, BEFORE announcing the idea as Govt. policy, and to think they claim to have human behavioural experts in the team.

      If this is an advert for our governmental system then it’s time to….

  62. ian terry
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Thank the lord for good gin and vodka blue,its about the only things that can make our present situation acceptable to the many residents of this country who valued fellow man and especially their neighbours.

  63. Javelin
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Remember to eat fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and get fresh air and sunshine. There is good scientific evidence (such as furin cleavage and Vitamin D) but I’m not going to give you the details. Don’t fall into trap of staying indoors and eating pasta

  64. Ginty
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    It is quite obvious that it is media reporting of toilet roll shortages is what is causing toilet roll shortages !!!

    • steve
      Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink


      I think you are partly right, but remember the best way to make more profit out of a commodity is to ‘create’ a shortage.

      The supermarkets have said there is no supply problem, so why the empty shelves ? Also as if by magic [some] toilet paper is back on the shelves again the next morning, despite no overnight deliveries.

      They must think we’re daft as hell.

  65. Time Lod Community
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    We know we have been heard btw “for a laugh”

  66. Jack Falstaff
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    It is not only with interviews that the BBC repeatedly reminds us what poor quality it exhibits.
    Only just now we have witnessed how one of their “on-the-spot reporters” in Madrid was speaking about the devastating effect of the coronavirus while a camera showed completely empty streets in a highly built-up area with nary a stray dog in sight, let alone any sign of human life.
    “It was just days ago that this area was a hive of activity, but now look,” he said.
    I don’t know whether it matters but maybe I should have mentioned that he had opened his report by informing us that he was in the heart of the city’s financial district and today is….er…well, SUNDAY!

  67. ed2
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    The BBC are saying they have secret documents the government believe 8 million are going to be hospitalised. This is utter garbage. That would be over 10% of the entire population. Why are these things being leaked?

    • Fred H
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      they will publish when the news editorial staff let the ink dry……

  68. a-tracy
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    John, do you know if the elderly people dying in hospitals (35 now) were already in hospital or care homes or did they get the virus from their home bases and entered hospital though getting the symptoms?

    If the deceased were at home did they have certain carers go each day and have they been tested? Same question for those that were already inpatients in hospitals have the staff been tested on these wards? Do they have anything in common?

  69. APL
    Posted March 15, 2020 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    The Federal Reserve has just dropped rates to 0%
    Futures lock limit down right out of the gate.

    Smart. So much for ‘experts’.

  70. Prigger
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    The deaths per million for the virus in Italy where it is RED HOT is only 30 per million
    30 per million worst scenario
    let that sink in
    The UK government should,resign asap. Certainly not fit to govern without a shadow of a doubt

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Look up “exponential”.

      • Fred H
        Posted March 16, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        and histrionic.

  71. MeSET
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    I did tell you I had been trained for survival. I’ll restart polishing my book tomorrow. I don’t work in a Virus environment now. I’m immune!!!We are rising!

  72. margaret howard
    Posted March 16, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I wonder if all the people here deriding experts, will be happy to have their appendix taken out by the gardener or the cleaning lady.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Some people are real and independent experts and some people “claim” to be experts but are soothsayers or con merchants. Some thinks cannot be predicted however expert you are. Experts also disagree with each other.

      The UK government’s corona virus experts seem to disagree with nearly all the others around the world.

      The more read & consider the numbers the more convinced I am that the Government has made a very serious & massive error that will kill thousands more. Thousands who did not need to die. They need to do a huge U turn immediately to slow transmission as far as is humanly possible until the NHS can cope.
      Otherwise the NHS will be totally overwhelmed. Two MPs have already tested positive (out of 650) and that is only the ones they have tested! MP may not be typical but at that % perhaps as many as 200,000 people in the UK might already infected and 40,000 of them might require hospital care in just a few days time.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Let me put it to you this way
      If two experts give you two very different opinions which one are you going to believe?

    • Fred H
      Posted March 16, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      well you claim thousands of NHS staff have left, perhaps they are now working as gardeners and cleaners.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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