Heading for a big economic downturn worldwide

The new Governor and the Bank of England have risen to the task in the last few days. They have thrown everything into keeping banks and markets liquid. They are offering huge facilities for banks to lend on to the many individuals and companies that will need credit, and have now signalled they want gilt yields to stabilise. They have announced substantial new buying of government bonds, and operated at scale on  Friday to stabilise the market of gilts where prices had been falling. The commercial banks must  now show speed and purpose in offering loans to companies that need them, and need to curb their appetite for ultra high rates on the money they advance as overdrafts.

The government last week upped  their fiscal response to try to match the challenge. I have always argued the priority is to avoid mass unemployment from widespread redundancies. The new scheme to burden share on wages should go a long way  to help businesses keep their teams together while we await an upturn in demand.  The business rate holiday for the worst affected sectors and the direct cash grants also help. We still have not seen any decent response for the self employed, who are also an important part of our economy and should be helped.

Some argue that the large sums the government plans to borrow and the huge sums the Bank of England is committing to this task are excessive and dangerous. In a situation where there would  be a very large fall in economic output some offsetting action is needed. Millions of people are temporarily banned from working in their jobs or have to stay at home to look after children or to isolate themselves so  the government and Bank do need to offset some of this unprecedented hit to jobs, incomes and activity.

As the government has decided to close down a large part of the private sector, banning tourism, leisure, much travel, entertainment and hospitality, it needs to see it has to do more to plan for the consequences. Lots of discretionary spending areas from new homes and cars to clothes and many household appliances and furnishings will also drop sharply or effectively be banned.

Meanwhile there will be a continuing surge in demand for more food, food retail and home delivery.  As many people used to have more than 5 out of their 21 meals a week at their place of work or in a restaurant of fast food place there will be a big transfer of food demand to the supermarket as they eat at home. This requires switching food from caterers products to retail products and needs volume changes to the delivery system to households. There will be strong demand for smartphones, laptops and digital services, for home entertainment and for business digital systems. There will be more strain on domestic utilities as families stay home and load the broadband and electricity networks.

The government is  busy trying to divert more resources into NHS and social care. It  is buying up bed spaces, hiring in more medical staff, offering to buy huge quantities of tests, ventilators, pharmaceuticals and  protective clothing to handle a big outbreak. It also needs to help the private sector direct resource to home deliveries for all who have to self isolate, to ensure quick adjustment to the new patterns of food buying and consumption and the delivery of drugs where prescribed..

As the government is discovering, if it disrupts one thing like closing schools it has to help ensure enough people can still get to work in all the areas that do need to continue. As it closes restaurants, school lunches and works canteens it has to ensure all that food can be replaced through supermarket purchases. As it takes out train and tube travel and slashes services, it has to leave enough working for the key workers to get to the hospitals, broadband systems and electricity grid to keep things working.

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  1. Peter Wood
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    You ray that the retail banks must now provide loans and facilities to assist small businesses; where is the incentive/compulsion to do this? From a lenders perspective why would he lend to a small business that is more likely now, than at any time in the last 7 years, to go bust?

    Second, with the Treasury issuing enormous amounts of risk-free Gilts, which have a 0 risk weighting, why wouldn’t the prudent banker purchase and sit on those?

    This method of ‘creating liquidity’, or new money, is inefficient at transferring cash to those who need it, it is mostly kept by financial institutions to spend on investment assets.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      So the BoE supplies money to the banks, who then use it to buy UK gilts. Why does the government not cut out the middle man and get the money from the BoE direct?

      • Hope
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        JR, some of us were astonished that your govt for,ten years claimed its central economic plank was to balance the deficit and then pay down the debt by 2015. This was delayed delayed and abandoned. Sunak at the last budget, when this virus had started, decided no balanced deficit and there would be one forever more at about 2-3%. Wasteful spending put in overdrive for HS2 and the like. You even wanted more debt,a couple of weeks ago! Despite it going against what you stood to be elected on three times! It was a socialist budget of tax and spend when taxes are at a fifty year high with very poor overwhelmed public services. The last budget graphically demonstrated it was in stark contrast to what your govt had said and was elected on three times! It ade a nonsense of the past ten years, Labour loved it. Corbyn last Sunday now shouting even louder his economic plan was right all along decried by the Tories and the Tories following it!

        Mass immigration to increase GDP was central to this despite lying to the public to cut to tens of thousands and 70% of the population wanting it. The dishonesty by your govt over economics and mass immigration over ten years is breath taking.

        And still more come in by plane by the thousands from hotspots, while we are told to stay in!

        • Hope
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

          Even in Italy one of the senior officials questioned over the weekend how long they could keep the people and economy in lock down despite people dying from the virus. Because the healthy, disabled, those in need of care will need to work to help tradesman continue the supply of food, agriculture, machinery etc.

          Johnson and his Govt. has not specified how long the shut down will continue, even to the despicable question asked by May in parliament, she has a lot to answer for.

          In February people had flooded homes and will need tradesman to make them liveable again. Some had sewerage in their houses. Lock down will be a nightmare and health hazard for these people.

        • Hope
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

          Stalin Johnson now imposes house arrest while still importing thousands from hotspot countries. What an absolute disgrace he is. He makes Corbyn look a saint.

          Don’t blame me I do not vote for him or May or Cameron. This is what mass immigration has brought on our country by the Tory party.

        • Hope
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

          I think it would be easier if loud mouth Piers Morgan took up residence at No 10. Johnson is unable and incapable of making a decision himself, as soon as it is unpopular he dances to the loudest tune. Utterly Gutless. Utterly clueless.

          Last Friday he did what Macron told him today he did what Morgan told him. Time him to walk.

          • margaret howard
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 12:30 am | Permalink


            Give it a rest.

      • Peter Wood
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        Money for Mates!

        QE, which is what this is, is sold to us, the public, as the solution to our clogged up banking system and will enable Pub Pete to borrow for his 2 man business. It is not. It is designed to enable the big financial institution to maintain, indeed enhance, their hegemony over the economy, and cover up incompetence. The big boys get bailed out, the minions are left wither. It’s a disgrace.

        • acorn
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

          Google the following and have a read of Prof Steve Keen’s piece for Open Democracy:

          The ten graphs which show how Britain became a wholly owned subsidiary of the City of London (and what we can do about it)

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      I have already spoken to four banks they have been fairly useless. They say you, the owner, have lots of other property assets and should borrow against those not from us. This of course takes a long time so sort out with approvals valuations and legal charges especially in the current situation and the damaging professional landlord red tape. The banks are useless expensive middle men the help needs to be direct from government.

      • jerry
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        @LL; No the banks are not ‘useless’, it’s just that you choice of business has always had this sort of funding problems – as you admit yourself; “[securing loans against my assets] of course takes a long time so sort out with approvals valuations and legal charges”, and it has always been thus (assuming the lender was employing diligence).

        Now you expect the banks to throw caution to the wind, just because you chose to rent out properties rather than be an Estate Agent, a builder or set up manufacturing something that would use your scientific education/knowledge…

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

          Of course they are useless, many went bust and most still have share prices well below what they were 10 years back. This despite largely ripping of most customers, increasing fees and margins hugely and being bailed out by tax payers. RBS bought ANB Amro without due diligence and paid perhaps 20 times its true value! Barclays were keen to do the same insane purchase. Plus we have all the PPI mis-selling, interest rate swap mis-selling and other insurance mis-selling and duff investment selling too.

          I have a manufacturing company, a property development company, a document storage company, a building materials company some other interest and some property rentals too. The main problems in borrowing on the rental side is new idiotic red tape by government and FCA and government decree (particularly on people with several properties) and idiotic changes to tax laws that tax profits that are not even being made. What have the government got against tenants and landlords that they want to kill the industry?

          • jerry
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

            @LL; The banks are not useless for 99% of people or companies, if you really do have manufacturing and other companies beside property rentals then surely you have assets that are easier to value and thus secure a loan against – unless of course those are just basically ‘shells’, with manufacturing done off shore and thus nothing tangible here in the UK…

      • Hope
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        LL, Tory govt promised radical banking reforms ten years ago and nothing came of it. No one prosecuted etc, Fred Goodwin cost the country and taxpayer a fortune he gets hundreds of thousands in pension and was a Gordon Brown advisor!

        MPs just awarded 3.1% pay rise to £82,000 and a £10,000 advance on their credit card.mthey put themselves first and foremost! The swamp needs clearing including the Lords, not increasing!

        • jerry
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

          @Hope; What a selective memory you have, the 2008 banking crisis had its roots back in the 1980s deregulation and the bonus driven Yuppie culture – the Fred Goodwin’s and Madoff’s of the world were a product of that mantra.

          “The swamp needs clearing”

          Hmm, the Socialist Workers party has been saying that for decades…

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

          At least they have not starting installing intensive care beds and ventilators specially for themselves in some hidden locations yet or have they? Are people who are in the Lords classified as essential workers?

      • acorn
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        LL, you should get out of the buy-to-let (BTL) business asap. It won’t be long now before you will have no option but to sell out to a Housing Association / Local Council Housing Department; which may well be one and the same soon.

        Nobody in Westminster or Whitehall wants a BTL based housing infrastructure; apart from legacy right wing MPs. This virus thing presents a great opportunity to crush the 1% elite’s neoliberal agenda.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

          But the elite neo liberal agenda is to crush the SME competition and buy to let landlords.
          You’ve got it all wrong.
          Multi national big business and the rich elite love big government and especially the EU

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

            What, you mean Google liked the European Union forcing them actually to pay tax?


            Could you quote someone from them, saying how much they loved that, Edward?

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

            Is that anything other than a huge red herring?

    • APL
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Peter Wood: “You ray that the retail banks must now provide loans and facilities to assist small businesses; where is the incentive/compulsion to do this?”

      How can a businessman or businesswoman possibly put together a business plan if the government can just step in and close the business for three months?

      The horrendous irony of a supposedly Tory government turning the whole economy into a command economy over the space of a weekend, is actually, if I weren’t living through it, UNBELIEVABLE.

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        APL have the government said the businesses they have forced to close will close for three months?
        I thought this close down was a couple of weeks whilst they tell all those most at risk to self-isolate and then lower risk areas of the UK will come back online. If it is three months SME businesses won’t survive and any furlough payments won’t be paid.

        • APL
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

          a-tracy: ” .. will close for three months?”

          Sorry a-tracy. I didn’t mean to give you cause for extra worry. No, I don’t think they have.

          It seems bad enough that they’ve told cafe’s, pubs, clubs et al to close for a week or so.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Dear Peter–I agree with your first paragraph. As an ex-lending banker I have remarked before, some time back, that the concept of Credit Analysis often seems not to exist in Sir John’s otherwise well-argued articles–What the putative borrower “needs” is but a very small part indeed of such analysis.

      reply Of course credit risk is part of my understanding. These schemes are meant to lend against a government guarantee for the loss of revenues created by the virus policies, on the assumption that the underlying business is solvent. If this gxoes on too long then strong businesses become weak and weak businesses become insolvent.

  2. Ian Wilson
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    My apologies if this strays a little from your post today, but scientist Roy Spencer PhD has done an analysis with results so remarkable they must surely be the most promising prospect of quickly bringing Covid 19 under control.

    He has found an astounding inverse correlation between the prevalances of malaria and Covid 19. In the 40 countries worst affected by malaria incidence of coronavirus is 0.2 per million population whereas in the 154 countries where malaria is absent, the equivalent is 68.7 per million, 334 times higher. It is highly probable this is due to use of anti-malarial drugs such as choroquine.

    Combined with apparently successful trials of these drugs against the virus in France, China and perhaps elsewhere and good results where it is used “compassionately” in US hospitals, this must be one of the best hopes we have of containing the epidemic. Are ministers directing priority research on this line of attack and ensuring large-scale supplies of these drugs?

    • Pominoz
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink


      I have seen other references to anti malarian drugs which appear to be an antidote or prospective cure for Covid 19.

      Further research of this is essential and should be the subject of Government funding.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Correlation may imply causation but not necessarily.

      There are other studies relating the transmissibility of the virus to temperature and humidity, and to other local factors, which may explain it too.

      However, further research is nonetheless warranted, and I gather that it is happening.

      • Julian Flood
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        Yes. Dr Spencer has made an error of attribution – it could be exposure to the malaria parasite confers immunity, it could be turmeric consumption it could be many things.

        Post ergo proper hoc? Maybe not.


    • outsider
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Dear Ian Wilson, This is certainly worth a punt. Even if the UK-available drug proved useless, the cost would be a drop in the ocean compared with the economic cost of the NHS preferred response. If it proved successful , particularly at prevention, it could make an enormous difference to people’s living standards over the next 5 to 10 years.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    All good points.

    Meanwhile the government are still under reacting badly and the NHS is clearly going to be overwhelmed within days. Even now medical staff have insufficient protective equipment and a lack of rapid or sometimes any testing. This is putting both medics, patients, people who travel near them and there families at risk. Also this is decreasing the capacity of the NHS.

    Still some good news the UK death rate increase yesterday was only a 17% increase which surprised me a little. Perhaps people were being more sensible about a week ago despite the government’s serious under action. The average daily increase UK was over the last five days was 32% and over the last 8 days 51%. If we get a lower increase than 17% again later today that will be very good news indeed. But I do wonder if the Sunday figures were an anomaly for some reason – I hope not.

    Italy have now got it down to below 12% as we surely could too (if we locked down far more). At 12% it is doubling only every 6 days but at 32% it doubles in just 2.2 days and is 7 times as large in just a week. Getting it down to below 12% would give many more days for the NHS to prepare and get extra equipment in place before the deluge.

  4. Ian Wragg
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    How come Singapore is coping without trashing the economy.
    Overkill in Europe

      Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      Absolutely. I smell a rat. Laura Pennins over at CW can sometimes indulge in hyperbole but she’s spot on today with her article about Johnson.

      I have watched the actions of politicians and the rise of authoritarian politics in the UK since 1997. The oppressive actions of this PM does not surprise me in the slightest. He is simply carrying on the pattern of people like Blair, Cameron and May, especially May.

      The State’s become our father and our mother. I find that disturbing, deeply troubling. It constantly harangues. It constantly intervenes. It bombards us with propaganda. It dictates. It threatens.

      What is troublesome is that both main parties believe an all powerful State is the way forward.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        This is not a time for libertarian individualism.

        This is the most serious challenge that our country and the world has faced in our lifetimes.

        If we do not restrict ourselves in our actions, then hundreds of thousands of our fellow countrymen and women’s lives will be lost. It is the same for many countries, we are not alone in doing this.

        I commend our Prime Minister for accepting what must be done, and I do not think that there is any point in lamenting lost opportunities or wasted time. We are where we are.

        The more diligently people follow the plan, the shorter the time for which it need be imposed.

        I do not for one moment think that Alexander Johnson wants to live under these conditions any more than you do.

        • VCR1
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

          This is the most serious challenge that our country and the world has faced in our lifetimes.

          Its a hoax

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

            Try telling that to the families of the dead clinical staff around the world.

    • Stred
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      By acting early in detection, and isolation with rigorous checking and adequate hospital treatment. In China, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea the economy has continued or is reopening. In Europe the undetected cases are ten to twenty times the reported number. The epidemic has been increasingly steep and exceeds the Chinese. Italy has more deaths than China already and Spain and France are catching up. The UK has done less testing and has less beds, equipment and protective clothing for health workers than Italy and the rate of increase is likely to be a few weeks behind.
      The suppression measures are being ignored as in Italy but so far the rules are less strict. Much work is continuing by home working and distancing in factories. Many younger workers will be immune soon and a test to find out who has immunity will be become available. The Chinese components will be available soon. Farmers can work in the fields and take precautions. Brewers can make beer and can it. Trucks can be driven and bring food and goods.
      The downside is that the overkill will be in people with up to half a million in Italy, France, Spain and UK and up to 2 million in the US, unless the testing and treatment and isolation of the old and vulnerable bring the figures down to a tenth of this. The isolation may take until late summer until the epidemic dies down. Having the wife around permanently could cause problems.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Because they acted promptly, followed WHO advice, when the number of cases was small.

      The UK did not.

      • jerry
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        @MiC; Not only that but society in Singapore is totally different to most developed western nations, if the govt tells the population not to do something the activity stops, and with the sort of the attitudes posted to this site by some were they are should be above the instructions or the instruction is stupid.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        Much truth in that. Far too little actuion far too late (and any actions taken (even if they are finally taken now) will not take effect for about a weeks time.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink


          Still some encouraging news, UK deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours are only 19% up it was running at over 50%. So the actions people took to limit the speed of infections a week or so back are working a little it seems (despite the grossly negligent the under action of government in my opinion) and Sadiq Kahn encouraging people onto the packed Tube only a few days back).

          Boris today seems finally to have realised that the NHS is likely be overwhelmed – a great shame he has worked this out three weeks too late. I see that Italy currently have 3204 (up 6.5%) people now in intensive care with the virus. How many do we have here in ICU and how many bed and ventilators are currently free?

        • Julian Flood
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

          Yes. Dr Spencer has made an error of attribution – it could be exposure to the malaria parasite confers immunity, it could be turmeric consumption it could be many things.

          Post ergo proper hoc? Maybe not.


        • bill brown
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:58 am | Permalink


          very good and relevant point, thank you

      • Edward2
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Singapore is not even the size of London or Paris.
        Far easier to control and trace and treat sufferers.

        • Fred H
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          and a major proportion of workers live in high rise blocks for miles going out from Changi.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

          China managed it too.

          Would you care to describe its size and population?

          • Edward2
            Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

            One area locked down by the Communist dictatorship.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

            Do you know how many different regional
            languages are spoken in China, Edward?

            Many times more than in the European Union, old chap.

            It has been an historic effort by a remarkable people.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

            Yes I do.
            But that is totally irrelevant.

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        WHO said not to wear masks! The Singapore people were told otherwise.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          Indeed I am sure that masks would have slowed the infection spread to some degree, this despite all the UK government’s and their “experts” propaganda to the contrary. It must surely make it harder for droplets of infection from one person with a mask on to pass into the mouth or lungs of another person with a mask on and must at least reduce the dose.

          If nothing else it is a reminder not to touch your face and to take care!

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      They haven’t over complicated the systems with rules and regulations for the sake of them.

    • Andy
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Singapore took it seriously from the start – unlike Europe and the US. Singapore was affected by SARS and MERS so had some experience.

      It caught affected cases, it tested and tested and tested some more, it contact traced and isolated those contacts. The wisdom of its response and the failure of Europe – but particularly the UK and US is staggering.

      Johnson and Trump were caught napping. Johnson was too busy with Brexit and Trump is just incompetent,

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


        Quite a surprise that you are not a Trump (nor a Johnson) fan!!

      • Edward2
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        How did your EU heroes Merkel and Macron do?

        • bill brown
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:56 am | Permalink

          Edward 2
          Much better than Johnson who started off by saying we will sort it out and do not worry

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:28 am | Permalink

            I thought you might need to add your automatic pro EU opinion bill.
            Everyone started off like that.
            And France has (per million people) three times the rate of infection compared to the UK.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        Brazil and the Philippines have serious problems too, then there’s the Lega Nord etc. in Italy.

        There seems to be a pattern, doesn’t there, Andy?

        Oddly, leaders who get elected by surfing a wave of delusion and misconception, by repeating endless falsehoods to the credulous, don’t seem to be so good at dealing with inescapable facts, do they?

        • Edward2
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          Complete nonsense again Martin
          You are desperate to criticize this government by using any angle you can dream up.
          You should rename to
          Martin from Momentum

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

            This government have been terrified into a U-turn, by visions of how history would remember them for the terrible hecatomb that they were about to precipitate.

            If they are very lucky, then they may now escape the fate apparently awaiting Bolsonaro, Trump etc.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

            Your lefty fantasy will not happen.
            You still cannot accept we voted first to leave the EU and elected a Conservative government with a huge majority.

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Perhaps thousands of Singapore people didn’t go to Northern Italy skiing and Spain for their half-term break.

    • hefner
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      What about its size (268 sqm, roughly 26m by 14 m), 5.85 m people on such a reduced area (density 21,600 per sqm) and a political system where freedom of expression is ‘contained’. There are Covid-19 cases in a bit more than half of the city.
      Being a major international flight hub it is likely to have contributed to the wider infection abroad in particular to other South-East Asian countries. Is that what you want for the UK?
      As for the economy, please wait for Singapore’s 2020 Q1 and 2 economic figures and then you might be able to repeat your comment, which is only true based on 2019 figures.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Hmmm …. why is a tiny city state which is one of the richest per capita in the world based mostly on financial services different to a large country with a population over ten times bigger and much lower GDP spread across many sectors such as tourism and retail ? It’s a mystery isn’t it.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        OK, Roy, then how about China? Population 1.4 billion, new native cases of CV: none.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

          You really believe that is true?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

            Have you a better source than WHO?

            Please give it.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

            As I’ve said before the UN take figures from national governments.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

            So the UN, of all those nations, consider that those stats are at least not worthless then.

            Seems like some kind of recommendation.

            WHO have dismissed some of those from the US, however.

            Haven’t they?

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

            My original comment still applies.
            You and the UN believe the figures China gives out.
            More fool you both.

  5. Yardstick
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    It’s a bit rum for Boris and Khan who both have enthusiastically overpopulated London and which has the highest deaths by plague to call for people to keep their distance..now

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      I here there is an exodus going on from the cities now.

    • Bob
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      “It’s a bit rum for Boris and Khan who both have enthusiastically overpopulated London and which has the highest deaths by plague to call for people to keep their distance..now”

      Very good point.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      London’s population has only recently just passed what it was before WWII.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Sorry I copied the wrong number over – it was a 20% increase in deaths yesterday in the UK not 17%.

    • APL
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic: “Sorry I copied the wrong number over – it was a 20% increase in deaths yesterday in the UK not 17%.”

      You are a right little Casandra. You and the BBC.

      Give us the percentage of Covid-19 deaths in the NHS as a percent of total deaths in the NHS.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        That is not really relevant. It it the rate of increase. The UK deaths so far are 281 and are going up at an average of about 32% over the last five days (slightly lower yesterday thankfully). This rate of increase if continued whould give 13,700 death in just fourteen days with perhaps something like 200,000 needing hospitalisation.

        If this happens the NHS will clearly be overwhelmed and the mortality rate will rise hugely for both the virus patients and probably for anyone else needing urgent care too.

        • zorro
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

          So are we still on course for 10,000 deaths by March 30th as per your prediction the other day. When we get absolutely nowhere near that, I will be interested in your rationale.

          Perhaps you will say that the government played a blinder…?


          • Lifelogic
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 1:56 am | Permalink

            Not at all. I said this was the position “if the rate of increase continues” it was then running at over 50%. I urged stronger action from the government to slow this rate of increase so as not to overwhelm the NHS. Fortunately some people have been sensible and the spread of the infection has decreased a little (now down to 19%).

            The government did too little to late.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Why? They are irrelevant. They are not as a result of an exponentially-expanding epidemic.

        • APL
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          Martin in Cardiff: “Why?”

          Because if you want to inform people, rather than terrorise them (which is what the BBC is currently doing), you give them the facts in a calm informative manner.

          Not headline news, ‘Deaths from Corona Virus doubled to thee hundred’. That is a hysterical fearful headline. But it’s what the BBC specialise in.

          If they reported CV deaths as a % of NHS deaths it would be less than 1%, which is hardly worth a headline at all.

          Martin in Cardiff: “exponentially-expanding epidemic ..”

          You may be right. But you are all wrong about the time-frame.

          This strain of covid, Covid-19 has been in the UK since last autumn.

          We have have a high rate of Chinese students in the UK and they have been travelling back and forth all through the autumn and winter. There has been a direct vector into the United Kingdom from China.

          The virus also seems to have a significant ‘silent attack’ rate, up to 80 – 85%, so there is a high chance that a very large number of people in the UK have already been infected, but don’t even know it.

          There is a very good chance that we may be on the verge of achieving herd immunity at which point the virus will die out by itself.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. This virus has a markedly low death rate, what % of deaths are due solely to Coronavirus? Modern medication keep people white dreadful illnesses alive. In fact in previous generation they would long ago have succumbed.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          Please look at the desperate scenes from the hopelessly overwhelmed Italian hospitals – which have far more emergency beds than the UK – and realise that the UK is days away from similar numbers of gravely ill people, Lynn.

          There is no tested proven treatment for this virus as yet.

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        I wondered that too APL, how many other deaths were there in the same period?

        Sir John, please ask and let us know. Government are expecting certain of us to carry on and keep calm and the likes of Lifelogic don’t help this.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          Keep calm and carry on, but be very careful not to get infected. This as in two weeks time the NHS will very likely be totally overwhelmed. If you get it badly and end up in hospital in the nest few weeks you might not get much help.

          Let us hope the rate of increase in virus deaths today is less that it was yesterday.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      I see Germany is cheating again. Deaths attributed to the underlying cause rather than the virus. Same in Russia, 37% increase in pneumonia deaths but only a handful from the virus.

    • Graham Wheatley
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Yeah. To a total of 233 – virtually all of whom had ‘underlying’ health conditions.

      What have been the hitherto annual historical figures for fatalities from ‘normal’ seasonal ‘flu? Compare with those figures………

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        So it doesn’t matter to you, that hospitals are so overloaded that they have to stop all other work, then?

        • zorro
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

          They are not overloaded. Some are actually empty almost waiting for the supposed onrush.


          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

            Not almost. They are doing exactly that and it will happen.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    The government need to relax the pension rules so owner can borrow or draw from their pension funds to lend to their businesses. Then repay the money later to the fund without any penalties or taxes from the restrictive pension rules. Why has this not yet been done.

    • APL
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic: “The government need to relax the pension rules so owner can borrow or draw from their pension funds to lend to their businesses.”

      You can already take out 25% tax free, how much more relaxed do you want?

      And by the way, when you retire, and you’ve used your pension fund to prop up your ailing business. I’d rather you didn’t come asking the State for another bailout. Thank you.

    • Bob
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      “Why has this not yet been done.”

      Why hasn’t overseas aid been stopped? They’ve been borrowing money to throw away for years and now we’re left with nothing in reserve. Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.

    • IanT
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      As a former business owner LL – I used my Directors pension fund to support my business through hard times and I can tell you that it is a very dangerous thing to do. When it came to also betting our home on the business, I realised it was finally time to let go. A very hard decision at the time but the right one with hindsight. as we at least still have a roof over our heads.

      You can start up in business again if necessary but it’s very hard (if not impossible) to rebuild a decent pension or start over in the housing market when older.

      Many small businesses are facing this nightmare situation now – and my advice is simple. Don’t risk everything you have to keep your business going and frankly – don’t trust your Bank to be your friend either – they are not.

      • oldtimer
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        I think this is right. Keep a roof over your head before going in hock to a bank. I suspect many small businesses will close down – the government has already shut up their shop for them – and wait to restart if and when that is feasible.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        very very true words

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        I agree IanT

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        I certainly do not trust the banks since 2008 they have behaved appallingly HSBC even charging 40% on all personal overdrafts currently 400 times base rates and that is to all customers.

        My businesses and investments are fairly diverse and I am confident they will be fine. But short term borrowing from my pension fund would help the cash flow for a few months.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Not wise advice in my view, particularly at this stage.
      A SSAS would have already been set-up if it was part of the plan. In that case, with a SSAS owned property, a rent freeze might help the business out at little cost to the pension fund. Otherwise don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  8. Peter
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Well there is nothing going on around my way. At the local railway station there were no other passengers and nobody in any of the carriages when the train arrived. All the countless restaurants and cafes were closed apart from few offering a takeaway-only service.

    So there was drastically reduced economic activity and also a very boring state of affairs despite the glorious sunshine in the middle of the day.

    On a more upbeat note, there were toilet rolls on the shelves of the local Iceland in the middle of the day. It’s almost like a modern version of seeing the first cuckoo of spring.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Just back from M&S (Central London). Lots of food, hardly any people – YIPPIE 🙂

    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I am suspicious that this event is now being abused for political ends. The contemporary western political leader is quite simply not to be trusted. There’s no doubt authoritarian governments will use this event to impose excessive social control but political leaders of western democracies must understand that this event cannot and must not be used to institute laws that contravene ancient liberties and freedoms

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      When the epidemic is over in a couple of months and the death rate below 5,000 (worse case) we must not allow the State to claim a victory! They will have proved that their ‘modelling and extrapolation’ is criminally misleading. They must be made to ditch the same strategy on ‘climate change’ and te scrapping of all known transportation and heating.
      Government must be put right back in its box, and the borders of countries must become much more robust!
      Brexit bigtime!

      • zorro
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        Exactly, and what about those scientists from London who claimed 250,000 deaths, probably the same lot who would have supported the 65,000 death figure for swine flu which was actually 457!!


    • Mark B
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. But not just governments, Pseudo-International (UN-WHO) ones too 😉

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

        Oh yes! No more supra-national Government. We need to remove all hope of One World Government which we have the people thinking about it.

        Italy has such an ageing population because all their young people have been forced to leave! Third time EUROPE has been laid to waste in 100 years by the same country.

    • Al
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      “I am suspicious that this event is now being abused for political ends.” – DOMINIC

      There is a lot to be concerned about here: the potential conversion of mobile phones into trackers which appears to be being slipped through with hardly a mention. The use of a test which has the same problems as the FCoV test: it can tell if antibodies are present but not if the virus is, so if someone has recovered from it they will still show as positive. And the fact that the government doesn’t appear to be following the same rules everyone else is.

      The people gathered at our local park this weekend contained local known civil servants and councillors, which rather undermines the government’s stance that people should stay at home. (Sharing a picture of themselves at the park right above a stay-at-home forward…) Councillor workers are still expected to be in their offices, not working from home. Our council is still holding public meetings, the next being on Tuesday, where the public must attend or be disenfranchised. I’d like to say I trust action will be taken against the Council for arranging it, but it really does seem to be one rule for them and another for everyone else.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Not at all sure about this 2 metre distance guide, you can smell cigarette smoke or vaping smells from over ten yards away showing that you are often breathing in air from other people’s lungs even at this distance. I know someone with a horse allergy who had a severe reaction when a horse ran past her well over ten yards away (the wind was in coming her direction). The BBC had pictures of people exercising in very close proximity in outdoor part exercise areas or outdoor exercise bars etc.

    Clearly the guidance in the UK should be expressed in yards, feet or fathoms anyway.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Agreed, people need to use common sense.

      If the wind is blowing in the wrong direction it doesn’t matter if you are 2 metres away or 20 airborne virus could easily carry that sort of distance…

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      That is why people, particularly the better informed from the Far East, wear filter masks at all times outdoors. Breezy conditions are particularly troubling, when warm breath has no chance to rise before blowing into others’ faces.

      Also there’s no proof that it is not passed skin-to-skin or surface-to-skin – i.e. infecting through the skin – so the wearing of gloves is, I think, advisable too.

      Thanks for all the factual and logical posts on this topic, incidentally.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      The guidance follows since spread seems to be by respiratory droplets not from airborne single virus (about 100nm in size). If the latter were the case then why distance at all, some airborne FMD has spread around 50 miles. Admittedly some of the 1 to 5 micron range droplets might be going out to around 5 metres, I guess you’ll need to look up the distribution of droplet sizes and calculate probabilities.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Does anyone have info, on how many virus units are needed on average to transmit the disease?

    • hefner
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      you might be right on the understanding of units, but a stupid person remains as stupid whether their height is measured in m and cm or in ft and in.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink


      They are just making it all up as they go.

  11. Javelin
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink


    Commercial bank loans will become very important to help
    build the recovery. There need to be a timely decision process from request to completion after the covid19 outbreak has been brought under control.

    Currently the average time from request to completion of commercial loans is 3 months. Sometimes over 6 months.

    This is mainly because of UK and EU regulatory rules on affordability need to be checked. This has resulted in complex decision making by underwriters in banks. In order for banks to afford this complex underwriting the process has been outsourced to India. As India has the same inter generational family living as Italy I think there may be severe problems providing commercial loans by UK banks over the next year.

    The average time to completion of a commercial loan needs to be brought onshore and brought down from several months to several weeks or even several days.

    There is a solution. Banks are currently working on machine learning, where a large number (eg 75%) of loans can be made automatically within a very short time, even 2 days, rather than the current average of 3 months. I understand most British banks are currently developing machine learning algorithms. This would involve software automatically checking clients requests by looking through their bank details. This would reduced or remove the dependency on India and would speed up the issuance of loans.

    However any new machine learning “model” needs to be given regulatory approval. The regulator would need to make sure I these machine learning models look at businesses viability prior to covid19 and not during the Government imposed recession. These models should be made to not look at activity prior to March and should take into account the Government bailout. There is a danager most commercial loans will not be given unless this is imposed on banks.

    I think it would be beneficial if the treasury asks all commercial banks to have their automated machine learning models ready within 3 months so that they can be used to provide commercial loans when the covid-19 outbreak has been brought under control. This would help the economy to recover much faster and help people regain employment.

  12. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    John you mention home deliveries. I believe this is very important. I am 63. My husband is 73 with lung problems and cancer. Obviously he is vulnerable. I tried to get a delivery from my supermarket yesterday but there was nothing available for the next 3 weeks. I feel supermarkets are one of the places where any of us is likely to be infected. There is no organised shopping and people are being crammed together which is exactly what we are being told we must not do. I worry that I will bring the disease home to my husband. We are all at risk from shopping for food and essentials. NHS workers were all crowded in together yesterday. We need a system brought in and quickly because I think contamination is happening this way.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      I’d suggest you order a mask FFP3 from Amazon and gloves for yourself when you go out, take them off carefully and wash your hands and face thoroughly when you get home, I’d change my clothes too and not put my coat and shoes near my husband.

      Check out home deliveries from Iceland and Amazon Prime as well as the regular supermarkets. The problem with lots of little family owned shops being closed down by the supermarket majors opening up mini-markets is you can’t get personal service from them where they would put a box up for you from a phone call like John used to do in my local shop. Don’t be too proud to ask friends and family to help out or put out a message to their friends to help you.

      All my best wishes.

      • Stred
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 4:23 am | Permalink

        Taxi drivers, who are short of business could offer a shopping and delivery service.

  13. Alan Jutson
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Certainly agree supermarket home delivery needs to be ramped up if we want to keep people off the streets, typical wait at the moment 3-4 weeks , that is if you can even book a slot.

  14. Mark B
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    This is what happens when you fail to fix the leaky roof when the Sun is shining.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Mark B

      The problem is Mark the Government (of all colours) have never let the sun shine, they have got more and more tax revenue for decades, but rather than let that build into a credit account, they have continued to borrow more and more each year to spend (in many cases waste) in excess of the rise in tax income.

      Hence we are where we are.

      Same situation with many families and businesses, they were all prepared to carry a huge amount of debt, because they thought their income would continue to rise year on year.

      • APL
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

        Alan Jutson: “Hence we are where we are.”

        Yet, you now believe the government is acting in your best interests?

        Tell that to the horse marines!

        • Alan Jutson
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:28 pm | Permalink


          The published death figures over the next two months will prove if the Government action is right or wrong.

          Agreed ?

          • APL
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

            Alan Jutson: “Agreed ?”

            Well, we will be able to draw some conclusion from that information, yes.

            If shutting down the economy is the thing to do to restrict the spread of the virus – why as some others have pointed out – are we still allowing flights from those countries severely impacted by the virus to land in the UK?

  15. Know-Dice
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Off topic

    Although people may be happy that the likes of McDonald’s are closing their doors, be aware of the downside that this means more people needing to use other food suppliers which will be more crowded.

    Is this a good idea?

    • jerry
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      @Know-Dice; Have you ever visited one of their modern outlets?!

      Yes it is a good idea, or perhaps you and some others who have zero care for the health of those who work in such places should volunteer to staff them, working in a shoebox, always rubbing shoulder with your colleagues, not 2m safety at all.

      I hope that McDonald’s and others will make their fleet of fridge lorries available to the wider food distribution network.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Why are people happy McDonald’s are closing their takeaway service? Will they be happy if supermarkets close, supermarket deliveries close, the milk stops, the tv stations, the sanitation and on and on.

      • jerry
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        @a-tracy; Surely the supplies that would have gone to McDonald’s and others will now result in extra supplies entering the supermarkets or the smaller retailers, I doubt it will be going to landfill…

        Looking at the McDonald’s press release it looks like they will be donating what is already within their own supply chain to good causes around the country.

    • Fred H
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      haven’t had a McD for many years but if push comes to shove, I’d like to be able to drive-through and have ‘something’ to eat.

  16. Kevin
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I assume that Mr. Johnson has no intention of giving the 27 member states of the EU – whose direct responsibility is for the common good of their own peoples – extended legislative authority over ours.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      The Lisbon Treaty has no remit in any of the areas of law necessary for measures to counter this epidemic, and nor does the withdrawal agreement.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

        Kevin never mentioned the LisbonnTreaty.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

          No, he wouldn’t, would he?

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

            No because he wasn’t referring to the Lisbon Treaty..

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

            How is any other country to have “legislative authority” over the UK unless it submitted to that by Treaty?

            You are simply time-wasting with these endless non-points.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

            I dont think so.
            Kevin spoke of his worry that the PM might give the EU extended legislative authority over us.
            That was what he said.
            It was you that talked about an existing treaty that ended when we left the EU.

    • steve
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink


      Not unless he wants riot.

  17. Dave
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Banks are being kept afloat by massive injections of currency- which would be fraud in a sound money economy. Meanwhile production of real goods has cratered so government is also injecting increasingly large amounts of currency into business and thereby private hands. Currency supply going up, supply of real goods going down. That can only bring hyper inflation and a crash far worse than the 1930s. Most people will be completely financially ruined by this. Farmers will find it increasingly difficult to plant crops and feed livestock due to supply difficulties. Add to that the record cold and wet affecting food production worldwide in the last couple of years and you have a perfect storm. Government should start looking at mass hydroponic and aquaponic systems to produce very large amounts of food all year round if it has any hope of avoiding starvation.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      Yes. I cannot see anything but. Famine is coming.

      The cure is far more lethal than the disease.

      It would have been better had we not known this disease was coming.

      “WTF was that ? Oh well. Lower pension liabilities, healthcare issues – let’s rebuild”

      In 1918 they started with a war ravaged economy and boomed once the flu had passed.

      Our first move is the wreck the economy – before the flu has even started. I simply cannot believe what is happening.

      Do I even WANT to survive ?

    Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Tories in government, Labour in power. It’s been this way since 2010 but even more so at this point. Political principles sacrificed on the altar of political convenience.

    McCluskey, the TUC and McDonnell cannot believe socialism has been delivered without them firing a shot

  19. Lifelogic
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    The Life insurance issue needs addressing too, no one should lose existing cover at this time if they are just unable to pay the monthly premium unless this is for more than 12 moths or something similar.

    • Pominoz
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink


      How about twelve butterflies?

    • APL
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic: “The Life insurance issue needs addressing too, no one should lose existing cover at this time if they are just unable to pay the monthly premium ..”

      I am utterly gobsmacket!!

      To see formerly Red in Tooth and claw advocates for the capitalist system demanding more and more state intervention.

      Now I understand why the Tory party is infested with collectivists.

  20. steve
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink


    Yep, things are not going to be the same after this. I suspect there will have to be a change to the west’s relationship with China. This is now the fourth global disaster to come out of that country, Viz; H5N1, H1N1, SARS ….Covid 19.

    Is it a price worth paying? personally I don’t think it is.

    In any event economies around the world will need many years to recover, some of them possibly comatose for decades.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Yes the media are very silent on why this disaster has happened. it did come from the revolting open animal markets in Wuhan it seems to be clear. but the reason this is a global disaster is the cover up. it seems likely it was known about for up to 2 months before the world was alerted. The WHO took until mid-March to declare this a pandemic and as late as mid-Jan was declaring that this wasn’t even a health incident the international community needs to worry about! Why – who in the UK media or politics is looking at this and asking?

      In our gullible left-wing media, also in the US, its instead full of how incompetent Boris is or Trump are. Easier targets I guess.

      It will indeed lead to a very big change in the relationship with China – at every level people will be much more wary in future. One unfortunate effect of that will be everything will get more expensive. with all this money printing as well, inflation will be back.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        Look, it doesn’t matter whether your house is on fire because of arsonists, by your own accident, or because of lightning.

        You want a proper fire engine to arrive, not a clown car, with oval wheels and buckets of feathers.

        • Anonymous
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:56 pm | Permalink


          (Thank you, Martin. I needed that. I hold you in highest esteem, even though you are a lefty !)

          • Anonymous
            Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

            *Communist* China, actually, Martin.

            Those cheap goods not so cheap now, eh ?

            Now. ‘The fire’ is not actually the virus – it is the wrecked economy which will take the NHS and everything with it and will likely cause great famine here and in Europe.

            I think that Communist China should help out with that seeing as it can’t control hygiene in a food market and then failed to tell us about this virus and failed to block its OWN movements to prevent global contagion.

            In fact I withdraw my previous complement realising what you are trying to excuse.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

            China is no longer communist.

            It is an authoritarian, state capitalist regime.

            I don’t know the extent to which its people are happy with that, but many on the Right in these columns seem to want a very similar thing here, where the Left are eradicated.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

            That is just a totally ridiculous analysis of communist China.

    • APL
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      steve: “Is it a price worth paying? personally I don’t think it is.”

      Agree, this price is too high.

      The original idea was that we trade with then and coax them to a more liberal approach to civil society.

      Now, you can be arrested for walking outside your house on the street.

      So, I ask you. Which society has moved toward which?

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        Now, you can be arrested for walking outside your house on the street.

        As you can in Spain, France and Italy – coming soon to London

  21. Anonymous
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Please do not publish the above, John.

  22. Andy
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    So workers – who have been told to stay at home to protect the elderly – are losing their jobs by the thousands or are being told they will only get 80% of their salary. (Less if they earn more than £30k).

    Will my council accept 80% of my Council Tax Bill? Will my electricity company accept 80% of my electric bill? More to the point when will the pensioners whose lives we are saving be asked to cough up some cash too? And collect only 80% of their state pensions?

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


      Many of the pensioners in certain parts of the world are collecting 50% or less of their legitimate state pensions.

    • Fred H
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      With reduced income tax the 80% will be worth more.
      When we have state pensions that reach income tax level lots of us will rejoice.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Have workers been told to stay at home to protect the elderly?
      I have looked on line and can’t see that advice from the government.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      There will also be 2 classes of people next month

      Those that are public servants, teachers police and local govt etc that can self-isolate on full pay and

      Those that work in the private sector that wish to selfisolate but cant in the fear of being made redundant i.e go home no pay

      • ed2
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        I am a small business, if I self isolate I die of starvation and end up homeless. All I want is the govt out of my life. This is a nightmare.

    • Glenn Vaughan
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      “Will my council accept 80% of my Council Tax bill? Will my…” etc. – Andy blah blah.

      Will his mother please confiscate his computer and spare us his sick vitriol aimed at pensioners?

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      ‘only’ get 80% of their salary – only – this is more than generous and is dependent on SMEs being able to remit it from reserves.

      Your Council hasn’t closed as it? I thought all their services were operational?

      You’re getting electricity aren’t you?

      However, I wonder now beds have been requisitioned from private healthcare and their services are no longer there for people paying the premium will they have to reduce their charge for the period is no longer provided?

      Will our Universities have to return the third-trimester fees or not able to charge them?

      I wonder if all those in State companies that are furloughed are only getting the same deal as everyone else in the private sector max £2500?

    • outsider
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Dear Andy, I have some sympathy with your plea, having just received notice of a rent increase with immediate effect.
      You are fundamentally mistaken, however, to think that most workers who are losing their jobs and being told to stay at home are suffering “to protect the elderly”. It s to protect the NHS from being swamped. We pensioners, unless already under NHS care, are well aware that we are on our own should we contract the virus.
      If that were not the case, “herd immunity” would be acquired much faster if everyone who is not in unavoidable contact with the elderly or those with “existing medical conditions” went about their daily business normally, armed only with face masks and disposable gloves.

    • agricola
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      I know you hate the elderly. That is the attitude of someone who has never had parents. The state pension is at best around 7k per annum, low by any standard and you want to reduce it to 5.6k. I find your prejudices disgusting.

      • Tim Hutch
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        If you have a full NI record (35 years) the state pension is £8,767.20 pa.
        Less of course if you’ve contracted out at some point e.g. due to membership of a Final Salary or public sector scheme.
        And it’s triple locked.

        • graham1946
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

          Less if you are a long term pensioner. The minimum does not apply to them. At the moment the basic is £129 per week with a possible top up by pension credit.

    • graham1946
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      The UK pension is already the lowest in the civilised world. We paid for it for 50 years and had we been allowed to invest the money in private pensions rather than the money being filtered off to the young for having kids they can’t afford, teenage pregnancies with free housing etc despite never having paid anything in, we would have pensions approx 20,000 per annum instead of the sub 7,000 as it is. We have paid for your upbringing, your education and healthcare, so a little gratitude might not go amiss. You complain of supporting the elderly, well we paid for you for a lot longer and we still pay tax.

      • Andy
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        According to the Office for National Statistics teen pregnancy rates in 2016 were the lowest since records began in 1969. And the rate has fallen further since.

        It seems a bigger percentage of Baby Boomers were pregnant as teens than millennials.

        And I am not grateful to Baby Boomers because you have actually not paid for anything. You had free higher education – and you denied it to us. You had cheap homes. And your failure to build denied it to us. You had gold plated final salary pensions schemes – which you have denied to us. You received child benefit for your children – which you have denied to many of us. You received the huge economic benefits of Margaret Thatcher’s single market – which you have denied to us.

        I do not dislike old people. I dislike the system which treated old people ludicrously unfairly compared with how it treats everyone else. None of us get the huge handouts you all get. And you’re all fine economically during this outbreak. You own your homes – your income remains unchanged. It’s a breeze for you.

        We are the ones losing our jobs, losing our homes, having our wages cut. And we are doing it to save your lives. A little gratitude is in order.

        And then, when this is done, we need to take your assets and redistribute them fairly,

        • Edward2
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

          You forget in your rant that every generation paid loads of taxes.
          It didn’t start with your generation.
          Your generation has a much higher standard of living and life expectancy than the previous generation.

          Some errors in your rant need responding to:-

          1. Higher education wasn’t free, there were grants.
          if your parents were poor you got a grant but most got either part grant or no grant.
          Parents were expected to make up the shortfall or you had to get a part time job.
          The full grant wasn’t enough to live on.
          2. Few got company pensions pensions and fewer still got gold plated final salary ones.
          Apart from some in public sector jobs.
          3 Homes were cheaper in relation to average earnings but mortgage rates were much higher, often double figures.
          4 Child benefit was always taxed if you earned a higher than average wage.
          5 Figures give a benefit of the Single Market as being one or two percentage points on GDP.
          So the beneficial effect on people was tiny and went unnoticed.
          5 “Huge handouts”, you have low interest rates, low inflation, tax credits, housing benefits and lower income tax rates.
          Stop your moaning.

          • Fred H
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            Edward – -trying to educate Andy about life 40/50/60 years ago might be a waste of time – like others on here, he doesn’t want to understand.

        • graham1946
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          Totally un-supported tripe as usual. One day you may get a fact or two rather than a bigoted rant. 2016 did see a fall, but look all through the nineties and early 2000’s (your age group now). Baby boomers were simply not a bigger percentage of pregnancies – that is just a made up Any figure. Pregnancy for them was a hazard, and a disgrace, not a lifestyle choice and most pregnancies resulted or ocurred in marriage. Also most were gainfully employed, paying taxes, not choosing pregnancy as a lifestyle choice for a free life on the state, with the fathers running faster than Usain Bolt. You also had free University if as you say you are mid forties. Most did not have gold plated pensions and millions are living on the state pension alone (look at the figures for pension support). You get child benefit and education for your kids), As usual, total pap, from start to finish with a vicious bigoted edge. You won’t get my assets. When I die there will be nothing left.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      presumably you mean people getting the state pension? that isn’t much. there would be no more reason to confiscate the income or savings of a private pensioner than there would be to take a bite out of your bank account or say requisition your house and give you 1/2 the money and tell you to move somewhere else.

    • steve
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Permalink


      “So workers – who have been told to stay at home to protect the elderly – are losing their jobs by the thousands or are being told they will only get 80% of their salary. ”

      Worse than that, Andy. If you read Boris’s lips what he actually said was : ‘UP TO’ 80%. Which doesn’t guarantee 80%.

      “Will my council accept 80% of my Council Tax Bill?”

      If you pay by standing order you could try it.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

      I expect the lock downs will fail – the economic hit becoming unsustainable – and we will give up and decide to endure the mortality rate anyway.

      I can’t help think it would have been cheaper and more effective to fund assisted lock-down for only vulnerable people… or is the truth more frightening – that obesity (at any age) makes one vulnerable to Covid 19 complications and pneumonia ?

      In which case our fatality age will average something like 45 and the death total will be one of the highest.

      This is why we might be in lock down.

  23. alastair harris
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    or, they could have spent the money on building capacity in the health service!

  24. Lifelogic
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    The Times leader today ends:- The country needs to know that Mr Johnson has a coherent strategy. Otherwise the prime minister who dreamt of being Churchill may find himself cast as Neville Chamberlain.

    They (and indeed Piers Morgan today) are quite right, far more serious action is needed now (it should have been done weeks ago but better late than never). This so as to prevent the NHS being totally overwhelmed in a week or so and to save thousands of people (who did not need to die) from dying for lack of proper medical care from the overwhelmed NHS.

  25. Ian @Barkham
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    The Government is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It is not feasibly possible for a monolithic system of Government and control such as ours to ‘ever’ get a handle on every little detail in such a complex society.

    All along they should have pushed management and control down to those closest to the action. Then the greater majority would have less pain and only a few would need further guidance and hand holding.

    You cant have a community spirit all the time Government does not permit responsibility at individual and local area.

    Government must start trusting the people. The system that has evolved is stifling quick responses, self reliance and respect – it is actually dangerous.

    • everyone knows
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      The Government is stuck between a rock and a hard place

      We do not have a government, we just have a load of goons who work for the MSM.

  26. George Brooks.
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    The 5 million self employed have been mentioned several times and politicians have used this group to score points and criticise the government. Only a small percentage work in travel, hospitality and leisure the hardest hit sector of the economy. A lot are in the building trade and related areas and there is no need for them to stop working and the same is true of many other sectors.

    They chose to be self employed to keep their tax bill down. Now they have got to put up with the fact that it is much more difficult to set up a scheme that makes sure they are supported that we the tax payer is not ripped off. You can’t have it both ways.

    Off topic. It is NOT the government that is likely to put us in ”lock-down” but the action of that relatively small number of stupid, ill-disciplined members of the public that continue to ignore social distancing. Grow up, switch your brain on and think of others.

    Reply Many builders may b e laid off as new home sales have fallen

  27. zorro
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    You point out the simple consequences of the actions being undertaken which need to be mitigated by government action to ensure that supplies are properly diverted and reinforced. The government had better get this right or it will cause more damage and create more deaths which will not be COVID 19 related even if it becomes easier to put it on the death certificate as so in the future.

    The cure must not be more disastrous than the threat!


    • jerry
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      @zorro; Is there something worse than death?…

      We are still a long way from the debt levels caused by WW2, our food supplies are a long way from being at the risks seen during WW2. Social and economic cohesion is a long way from the damage caused by the Great Depression of the 1930s.

      • zorro
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely – you need to tell that to the government!! They are the ones mentioning ‘war’ to justify their measures


        • jerry
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

          @zorro; After tonight’s ham-fist of an announcement from the PM they are past reason – so someone can still go to work and catch/spread the virus but can’t go to a electronics shop to buy a new computer that would allow them to work from home. They can buy food at a supermarket but can’t buy a new cooker to cook it in. They are meant to stay at home but can’t go to a DIY shop to buy a new tap that will allow them to have running water in their home, but of course they could call a plumber who might also catch/spread the virus from/to a family.

          What’s the status with regards MOT test stations, have MOTs been suspended, as happened recently in NI (for a different reason) or is that going to be anothert infection point?

          Boris spent four & half minutes justifying himself, telling most of us what we already knew, and 30 seconds telling us about the new restrictions, I’m still not sure if the self-employed can go to the bank to put a cheque in – oh hang on I think the WELSH First Minister said something about banks and post offices remaining open – or if collecting a cheque from a customer counts as essential work, after all without money how can the SE buy food.

          Sorry, we need another Ian McDonald (MOD) or a John Snagg (BBC) to make clear detailed and concise announcements.

          • jerry
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

            Just to follow up, details to of the ‘retail’ outlets allowed to remain open appear to answer some but not all of the above questions, according to documents released late last night (after 11pm) by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and even then it appears to have taken two attempts to get the correct info available.

  28. Caterpillar
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    The Govt should immediately publish forecasts of the UK’s standardised mortality rate for this and the following two years under the current model of trashing the market mechanism, trashing societal interaction, and throwing away democracy (for 1 or 2 years not 1 or 2 months) compared with a standardised mortality rate forecast under a calmer set of social distancing measures. If the government cannot give the numbers in terms of standardised mortality rates over the coming years based on different possible choices, it should not be given more powers.

    The danger of the path being taken has been completely ignored. No economic mechanism, no societal interaction, no education, no opportunities; in the context of a food importing, densely populated country this could rapidly lead to unrest/riots, malnutrition/starvation and a Govt having to put the people down.

    I am now more worried than I have been. I mistakenly haven’t, so-called, panic bought, but now I see the Govt closing everything, I see drive-thrus (which can maintain social distancing easily) close, I see supermarkets’ hours reduce not increase. I expect the Govt to close more outlets and have more control over the food supply chain next. A Govt controlling the mobility (transport, jobs, education) of its people and its food supply is truly frightening, such a Govt should not be gaining any more powers.

    The UK was a country of which we could be proud (admittedly a minority ashamed) of fighting for freedom, liberty and democracy – millions have died for this – now the Govt is throwing those values and the economy in the bin. It is throwing the UK and the freedom of the individual in the bin.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      As more things close / reduce hours including transport more people are pressed into smaller spaces – the case in point obviously being the tube today.

      Many years ago I lived in London in a minute ‘studio’. This allowed space for food storage for a couple of days of breakfast and no more. Of course one would only really spend time sleeping there. Essentially living in a prison cell size studio didn’t matter as one went out to work, eat, exercise, socialise. As the Govt takes away more freedoms and places to spend time it really should not ignore the state it will be forcing people to exist in.

  29. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    The government have had to take a decision due to media coverage. Let pictures of overwhelmed hospitals be shown which would bring them down when opposition parties claimed (like Lifelogic at the moment) that the hospitals should have been prepared for a several hundred percent increase in requirement, all that latent capacity being paid for just for this moment or they can trash the economy and adopt MMT monetary policy, printing and spending.

    They chose slow death rather than quick death.

    Interesting to see the media demanding police out on the street during the conference yesterday, good to see that at least that made Mr Johnson startled (I think he has risen to the challenge OK).

    I was very impressed with Dr Harrries yesterday. She will not be able to cure us but I did feel she had the knowledge to build and deliver a strategy.

  30. ian terry
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Sir John
    Out of these real life situations there always seem to appear beacons to give us hope that all is not failing. Two ex high profile footballers nowbusinessmenhaveofferedtheir hotel for the use of NHS staff on difficult shift patterns to try and help them and also to try and keep their staff together. Yes itmayhelptheir business in the longrunbutfull praise to Mr Neville and Giggs for putting themseves forward to try and make things better. What an example to some of our multi millionaire social, sports, and pop stars not just wringing their hands out and banging their gums but doing something helpful and worthwhile. Cynically i do wonder if they would ever be considered for recognition similar to that of the multi millionaires previously mentioned. Also for all these every day local heroes doing their bit to try and make a difference.

  31. Stred
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Mayor Khan has attended the security meeting and decided that his contribution will be to reduce the number of tube trains to help the staff, with the result that the trains are too crowded to social distance. It’s even better than when he advised that the trains would be cleaned in the morning and be a safe way to avoid infection.

    • jerry
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      @Stred; Why are others, non essential workers, still using the LU, that is the question people should be asking. Perhaps TfL should simply suspend all but essential workers Oyster cards use for the LU (yes I’m aware that would require some sort of cross-database registration system for such workers).

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      He said they would be cleaned with hospital grade cleaning products and were perfectly safe just a few day back! Just how stupid does he thing we are? Daft enough to elect him though I suppose!

  32. jerry
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    The typical Tory response continues, throw life lines to big corporate business (some foreign owned) but leave the self employed to the wolves – often the very big corporate business the SE taxes are bailing out.

    This morning it is announced that they have nationalised the debt, but the privatised TOCs will retain their future profits once the crisis passes, if the TOC were (about to become) insolvent then simply take all the franchisees back in house as per normal – as happened to Northern Rail only a month or so back.

    • JoolsB
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Spot on Jerry, I will lose around £20K but the best the government can offer me is £95 a week if I want to go down the benefits route (which I don’t). I’ve tried the HMRC hotline this morning as the Government suggests and the best the recorded message can do is suggest ringing back next Monday. I’ve tried writing to my MP but he hasn’t bothered to write back. It seems unlike employers and employees, we self employed aren’t worth saving.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink


      • a-tracy
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

        JoolsB imagine you are a small employer with dozens of staff, if you’re closed down you have to pay the wage bill March and April with £0 turnover coming in, whilst paying all your other bills, rent, hire purchase, insurances, phone charges, rates (there are only certain business types promised rates free period). You’re not only concerned for yourself as a self-employed worker but many others and it’s not clear when or how you will get any furlough payment back. You don’t know if you can keep a job-share skeleton staff going furloughing a week about, if you could keep some work going, it is by no means a given that all these cafes and restaurants, clothes shops can afford pay people the benefit.

        • glen cullen
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

          100% correct

  33. Norman
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The world was in a highly febrile state even before the arrival of this virus, because of Climate Alarmism – just think of the measures that governments were going along with! No doubt the bush fires down-under, the floods, the locusts and increased volcanism, etc did affect the global psyche, ‘men’s hearts failing them for fear’.
    Although the response to COVID-19 is consistent with that self-destruct mindset, is it disproportionate when you consider responses to previous viruses that arrived on the scene in recent years, e,g. SARS-1, MERS and H5N1?
    Did we really need to close down economies for the sake of a virus that’s mild and non-fatal for the majority of the working population, when it would have been enough to simply protect the frail and elderly with effective self-isolation, and to get the NHS rapidly tooled-up? Is it too late to adjust, I wonder? Perhaps at least, once the above measures are in place, we could shorten the lock-down. ‘Listen to the scientists’ can get you in big trouble, and should not mean ‘trash wisdom, common sense and sound judgement’. Observe the canny reticence of countries like Russia.

  34. Pat
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Sir John

    Efforts by all of us will help to limit the epidemic

    A couple of suggestions:

    A register of citizen suggestions should be established to ensure that none slip through the net

    As the virus passes through the population it will create a cadre of immune previously infected people, many young, who may be detected by testing. It would be good to organise the increasing numbers of these people to limit spread eg by allowing them to fulfil high contagion risk tasks be they on supermarket checkouts, driving taxis or assisting in hospitals

    Great advances are being made to provide more ventilators. The pinch point may be competent people to operate them. Existing medical staff are insufficient. Let’s look at training up volunteers. This is most urgent.

    Thank you for all your efforts

  35. John E
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    A lot of the photos that I see used to illustrate concerns about people failing to maintain distance are very misleading. They are taken from a distance with telephoto lenses resulting in a foreshortening effect which makes people look much closer to one another than they really are. It’s very dishonest.
    If families are living in the house together how is it a problem if they go for a walk in the park together?
    Please don’t respond to the media hysteria. Base decisions on facts and science. The Mail Online is particularly deplorable in causing unnecessary anxiety in its readership.

    • hefner
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Your point is only true for items appearing along the axis of the telephoto lens. Any relative distance perpendicular to that axis is still the same as one that would have been seen by a standard lens. If two people are at extended arm length from each other, whatever lens one uses, they will still appear as such.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        I’m a keen amateur photographer and long lens do distort distances and angles too, if tilted up or down.
        So I tend to agree with John E

        • hefner
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

          Obviously it distorts distances and angles but the RELATIVE distance perpendicular to the axis of the telephoto lens is still kept. So the picture of people walking next to each other taken from behind as in the pictures on the front pages of newspapers yesterday still shows whether people were close or not.
          Can’t you read or are you so keen on ‘scoring points’ that your brain gets blurred/out of focus.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

            Long lens make things appear closer.
            The press used that technique to print pictures which made people look closer together than they really were.

            Take a photo with long lens of say a car race coming towards you and the cars appear very bunched.
            Take the same photo with a 28mm lens from side on and suddenly you see the gaps between the cars.

            Continuing your tradition of no post without a sarcastic personal comment I note.

          • hefner
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            True the perspective is modified and gives the impression that people distributed along the axis of the telephoto lens are closer. Not question about that. But I have to repeat, if two people were next to each other with arms extended in the direction perpendicular to the direction of the lens so as to just touch each other by the tip of their fingers, whether you use a 24mm or a 300mm lens, in the resulting pictures, the people will still be seen touching each other by the tips of their fingers whatever the focal one uses.
            And if anything I think you really deserve my scorn.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

            In that particular example I agree.
            But my example is more relevant to the techniques used by some recent press pictures where it was used in some shots to make people look like they were much closer to each other than they actually were.
            Scorn now hef?
            You really ought to just keep being sarcastic.
            It suits you much better.

  36. James Bertram
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Two excellent articles on Saturday and Sunday from BrexitFacts4EU (link at top of page) put the virus into perspective. The main point:
    ‘Some basic facts to remember
    Today on an average March day, 1,430 people will die in England
    In an average year 123,500 people will have died in England by the first day of spring (today)
    In the whole of the UK this year so far, 144 people are reported to have died from the Coronavirus’

    I added: I suspect that the ‘panic’ will kill far more people than the virus itself. The damage of these panic measures to the world economy is huge. If it continues for any length of time there will be an economic depression. That will result in further impoverishment of our health services; and further impoverishment of peoples in the Third World, leading to a massive loss of life over time. Too, with people in home confinement for any length of time, and no social outlet for their frustrations: for those with partners there will be a marked increase in divorce, domestic violence and murder; for those alone, there will be increased anxiety, depression, suicide, or just the lack of will to live. Too, many self-employed, and many investors, face financial ruin, with similar social consequences.

    The government really needs to explain this to the public, face down the fearmongering media, and change course. Far more people will die of this ‘panic’ than anything else.

    • Fred H
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Currently there will be fewer road accidents, other transport fatalities, DIY accidents – but suicides might be up.

    • Andy
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      They won’t – but I understand you apologists for fake news always need something to whine about.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        You are confusing real impact with risk impact.
        Easily done.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      As someone else wisely said here, by your “logic” you would be unconcerned, if only five percent of your house were ablaze.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 2:09 am | Permalink

        With the government was still fanning the flames.

    • L Jo
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Indeed,Mr Bertram. And the government should have ‘faced down the fear-mongering media’ weeks ago,instead of allowing the press to set its own agenda of ”let’s stir up the panic and make more money”.

      • glen cullen
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        My local ASDA (I am sure there are other supermarkets) yesterday had completely re-stocked with full shelves including bread, milk and toilet rolls…..wont be seen on the news media (lets show people in Italy instead)

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      fully agree

  37. Mark
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Some very good news. WHO has finally got its act together to fast track testing internationally of four treatments that have shown promise in small scale testing, including chloroquine and remdesivir.

    Large scale testing will allow the effectiveness of these treatments to be established to help calibrate what they do to reduce illness severity and duration. I suspect they ought to be looking at the claims about chloroquine as a prophylactic, lowering the chances of getting the disease as well.

    If these treatments reduce severity then it will lower the demand on hospitals and ICUs, as well as reducing the mortality. A really successful treatment might even allow a change in strategy altogether, aiming at the currently discredited herd immunity.


    • forthurst
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      In the Times newspaper a letter from six academics, “”Sir, the UK is losing a very small window of opportunity to minimise the disease burden from Covid-19 and prevent a health system collapse.”

      “We recognise the severe constraints on capacity for testing but, while that is being addressed, the government must implement social distancing, extensive case finding and contact tracing to reduce community spread to give time for the health system to prepare and cope.

      “Hence we urge the government to enforce restrictions on movement between and within areas with high and low rates of infection, such as London, while ensuring that the most vulnerable in society are supported.”

      It is essential that the government acts to limit the spread of this virus before their is a nationwide pandemic with total economic and health systems collapse. They must limit travel internal and especially external and start testing, testing, testing, tracing, tracing, tracing NOW. If the the spread can be rigorously controlled, some areas could be ‘normalised’ to some extent with total lock down in others.

      In China according to the DM, Professor Li Lanjuan, a member of Beijing’s expert team on the virus, said she was ‘very worried that imported cases could trigger another large-scale epidemic in our country’. Do we have an expert team on coronavirus in this country or are we still listening to Vallance? (I expert the Chinese Chief Scientific Officer is currently giving advice on Hypersonic missile development and leaving dealing with the virus to actual experts).

      There needs to be an immediate rack down on the movement of drug dealers, especially of the ‘county line’ variety. Kick pc out of the window if necessary.

    • Bob
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Chloroquine inhibits replication of the virus in human cells.
      It has been widely used as an anti malarial drug for many decades and it was proven to be effective when used in the treatment of SARS another coronavirus with similar characteristics to COVID-19.

  38. David Banner
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    At last, a voice of reason amid the hysteria caused mainly by the mainstream press. The Italian National Institute of Health are examining the supposed fatalities caused by Corona Virus and at present have reported that the average age of the patient that dies is 79 and over 99% have had serious underlying conditions and that they cannot say with any certainty that the virus caused these deaths. In other words they could well have died of their underlying conditions anyway.

    Moreover, a recent Chinese study has stated that up to 75% of supposedly confirmed cases could be false positives. This is not surprising as the Polymerase Chain Reaction test used is notoriously unreliable and is known to produce many false positives.

    It is also accepted that a lot of suspected cases are then defined as confirmed and yet only 10% of suspected cases turn out to be actual cases.

    The Italians have been on lockdown for more than two weeks and yet the numbers of cases are not decreasing, suggesting that these draconian measures do not work. It is obvious that many more people will suffer due to financial hardship and extreme stress that will ever succumb to the virus.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      On the other hand they might not be.

      The facts are that there is a dramatic, overwhelming increase in demand for intensive care owing to respiratory distress, which has grown exponentially.

      Now, why do you think that might be?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        PS there are eight hundred and fifty fewer new cases, as of today, than yesterday in Italy.

        • Fred H
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          so lockdown proving to have no effect?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink


          • Fred H
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

            oops – – no should be an…
            Glad to see Martin, you pay attention to me.

        • everyone knows
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

          You read that in the paper did you Martin? The paper that never lies to you? Holy Writ?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

            Corriere della Sera, yes.

            Do you have a more reliable source?

            Then name it.

    • JimW
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Computers are being used for evil purposes. The models developed are too complicated for almost anyone to comprehend, including the people using them. Almost everyone using them does not have the necessary statistical skills to interpret the outputs, or realise the significance of the inputs.
      It was very clear from human analysis of the data that covid-19 was little different to previous ‘bad cold’ or flu-type viruses ( I know its not really a flu strain , but it exhibits most of its behaviour).
      Current world deaths after 4 months of exposure are 3/8ths of the flu-related deaths in the UK in 2003/4. The Diamond Princess, albeit a small sample, was the petri-dish. 83% of people walked off that ship without the virus after weeks of confinement. This is no killer disease.
      And we have in Chloroquine a ready made, cheap, well tested cure and palliative.
      I contend our politicians in cahoots with the CBs wanted to use this virus as an excuse to bring in the sort of financial avalanche required to break the equity bubbles produced after 2008. And also take the opportunity to introduce legislation to control civil life they could only dream about 2 months ago.

      • hefner
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        « The models developed are too complicated for almost anyone to comprehend, including the people using them ».
        1. Models are developed by teams of scientists and as coded are obviously incomprehensible to the public at large who in their large majority do not have the knowledge of the coding language nor of the equations nor of the processes that the code is representing.
        2. Where did you get that ‘almost everyone using them does not have the necessary statistical skills to interpret the outputs or realise the importance of the inputs’. That is a brilliant sentence in the pure luddite tradition.
        Or do you have the knowledge and training to corroborate your claim?
        If you have, tell us the details, please.

        The effects of a combination of hydroxychloroquine+azithromycine have been modelled and after being tested on a tiny group of people infected in the Marseille area (with a 75% success, and 25% neutral), the combination is now about to be tested on a much larger group of volunteers in various countries.

        And finally have you found Central Bankers under your bed?

        • Al
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 1:24 am | Permalink

          “The models developed are too complicated for almost anyone to comprehend, including the people using them.” – JimW

          Then perhaps the models should be made open source and publicly available so that they can be peer-reviewed by independent eyes. This is, after all, the scientific process.

          There are currently many scientists stuck at home with time to check their validity.

          • hefner
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

            The only problem with such modelling validity checks is that one would want to have access not only to the code but also to the databases (of input data), to the methodology used to collect these data, to the model outputs. As important, to the assumptions underlying the whole exercise as modelling is generally not done ‘out of the blue’, for modelling sake, but to confirm/infirm some assumptions.

      • zorro
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink



  39. Polly
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Oh dear… it increasingly looks like Prime Minister Johnson has got it all wrong and that his ”cure” will be far worse than the disease. Thanks in part to over hyped media comment, media pressure and ”hot heads” dominating rational thought and analysis.

    At last some detailed examination of the statistics in Italy………..


    ”“On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,” he says.”

    …and sensible opinion from Conservative Woman……..


    ”The government is introducing emergency legislation that looks to be unnecessary and gives unprecedented powers to the police to arrest people and forcibly isolate them. It’s what you do in wartime. But whatever your views on the right course of action, we are not at war.”

    Is Chinese Flu similar to bubonic plague ?

    No it is not, so why is the reaction approximately the same ?


    • Alan Jutson
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink


      Boris is simply taking advice from the Countries Health a Scientific experts as well as the World health Authority.

      They are continually reworking all of the figures, treatments, actions and returns from all of the Countries in the World.

      I think we should perhaps believe what they say.

      Remember all they are trying to do is reduce the effect, because there is no real treatment that has proven to work as yet.

      So no, I do not agree that Boris has got it wrong !

    • L Jo
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Also facts4eu.org
      A good detailed study of the statistics.
      Pity our government didn’t give out such information early on to counter the self-serving and irresponsible behaviour of the press.

    • APL
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Polly: “Is Chinese Flu similar to bubonic plague ?”

      If you are watching developments around Chinese flu, you are not watching what is going on in the Financial sector.

      • zorro
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        yes, this is a convenient distraction to the bailout!


    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Bubonic plague is endemic to Natal in South Africa. Has the FO ever advised not visiting on those grounds? We are now all the descendants of those that survives the (medieval bubonic ed) Plague and we have immunity as they did. This virus is hardly killing anybody but I have had tenants on the phone in various states of nervous breakdown and trauma.
      For a Government to visit these histrionics on the nation is unforgivable.
      Johnson must go!

      • APL
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        Lynn Atkinson: “For a Government to visit these histrionics on the nation is unforgivable. ”

        The problem with the government is that they wouldn’t stand up to the BBC which has been stiring up panic since late January.

        That’s where you should direct your anger.

        Lynn Atkinson: “Johnson must go!” No, he had the right instincts, but he let himself be swayed by the Civil Service advisers. At this stage of his administration, with the majority he had, that is a bad indicator of weakness.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Well here, I from my self-isolation window, can see kids out enjoying no school, workmen calling in at houses, people skimming by on invalid buggy thingies, no cars in drives so therefor many at work …am I the only virus-fearful, obedient soul?
      I reckon everyone has given up on the govt, on TV news and on newspapers. Sick to death of it all and carrying on as normal.

    • RichardM
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Oh Dear Polly.
      You and all the other idiots who show a complete lack of comprehension of the situation is why we need emergency legislation and police and army far too belatedly clearing the streets.
      Less dangerous criminals should be released and those like you who refuse to isolate be confined in their place.

      • zorro
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink



        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

          Richard is simply logically correct.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      ”powers to police to arrest poeple”

      I haven’t seen a policeman since new year

      • Fred H
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        glen – – this year, last year, or before that?

  40. Tom Rogers
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    The government started with a broadly sensible approach (I have some criticisms, but it was broadly fine). To my dismay, and I’m sure this view is shared by many others, the government has now given in to the media hysteria.

    I am not a medic or a nurse or healthcare worker, or even a key worker, but there are some facts I do know:

    (i). One day I am going to die.
    (ii). One day you will die.
    (iii). We will all die one day.

    No doctor or nurse or other clinician, no matter how brave, skilled or qualified, can save you.

    I accept there is a risk from the virus, in that symptoms – if suffered – will be unpleasant and cause me great inconvenience. Some people will also die. That’s terrible, and nobody wants to be infected, but most of us will be and most will either quickly recover or not suffer symptoms at all. Therefore, why do we need a lockdown and all these other measures? We need reasonable precautions, yes, but what is happening now is not reasonable.

    I anticipate one response will be that we need to exaggerate in order to minimise the stress on the NHS, but this is based on statistical assumptions, and why can’t the government mobilise resources and target vulnerable groups instead of sacrificing the liberties of everybody? I also refer you back to (i), (ii) and (iii) above. You are going to die, one day, anyway.

    If I die amidst all this panic, so be it. I would rather die as a free, dignified individual than live to old age as a slave.

    In the meantime, if I do contract this virus, then I would think the best remedy is a brisk walk out in the spring sunshine, not to be cooped-up indoors. And that’s what I will do.

    • Fred H
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      There will be days when you might not want to get out of bed, fever, headache, aches and pains, gloom and despondancy.
      The last thing you should do is go out to public areas. Do you have a garden?
      No wonder arresting people is on the agenda – stop and think about what you are saying.

      • Tom Rogers
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        Have you locked yourself up indoors, like Mummy told you to?

        • Fred H
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          Tom – don’t be so childish. I write as one who knows a victim. She recounts being alone, feeling strange, then feverish, headaches, cough, struggling to get up to do anything, having a ‘blue’ day when life seemed pointless….an awful experience for one who runs, skis -plays tennis. Over 50 !
          You’ll change your tune when you get it.

    • SM
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink


    • Andy
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      The best way of dealing with people like you would be to send you to spend an hour or two in an Italian hospital right now.

      Genuinely. There are no words to describe the sheer and utter ignorance and selfishness of the fake news apologists.

      • Tom Rogers
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Italy is a different country with a different population profile and very different social, economic and political conditions. I won’t enumerate all the points here, because I suspect it will be wasted on you.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

          Ah, so they’re “foreign” are they?

          Oh, that explains everything eh?

          How truly lamentable.

    • jerry
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      @Tom Rogers; “I am not a medic or a nurse or healthcare worker, or even a key worker, but there are some facts I do know:

      (i). One day I am going to die.
      (ii). One day you will die.
      (iii). We will all die one day. “

      By that rational no parent or health care professional would bother immunising any infant, after all they are going to die anyway one day!

      “if I do contract this virus, then I would think the best remedy is a brisk walk out in the spring sunshine”

      Well unless the reports coming out of Italy are fake you might not be able to get out of bed never mind get out your front door, even less likely to have a brisk walk – no doubt coughing up and out the virus as you go…

      • Tom Rogers
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        No. By my rationale [note the spelling], we need to take reasonable measures to treat people. The present measures are unreasonable. That’s the point. It’s also possible that the lockdown measures could be counter-productive and make matters worst.

        You mention Italy. Why did deaths surge after lockdown? It could just be statistical lag, it may also be that forcing people to remain in their homes makes the condition of the ill worse, also makes people anxious and causes other health issues. I accept that somebody with the flu will want to stay at home, but my overall point is that this is an ordinary illness and we don’t need to shut everything down to deal with it.

        • jerry
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

          @Tom Rogers; What do you not understand, you can’t treat Covid-19, there’s only two options, suppression or accepting very large numbers of dead – 250,000 to 500,000 dead (at least), with way more needing hospital treatment. Also it is not just the old and vulnerable who are dying, both children and young adults have succumb.

          You ask about Italy, of course the rate of infection is going to rise after lock-down, Covid-19 does not cause instant incapacitation, hence the instruction to self isolate for 14 days if a member of a family group is suspected of having the virus.

  41. Anonymous
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    A recent Chinese study has stated that up to 75% of supposedly confirmed cases could be false positives. This is not surprising as the Polymerase Chain Reaction test used is notoriously unreliable and is known to produce many false positives.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      That does not change the very hard fact, that health staff are being overwhelmed by cases of people who cannot breathe, in exponentially-increasing numbers, all over the world.

      Your post is utterly pointless, nay, worse.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        Yet in a posts ust above you inform us about reductions today in Italy and no new cases in Chins.

      • HM
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        That does not change the very hard fact, that health staff are being overwhelmed by cases of people who cannot breathe, in exponentially-increasing numbers, all over the world.

        How do you know that? Hospitals are always full of people who have winter respitary illnesses this time of year. You read it in the papers? Saw a clip on TV?

        • Edward2
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

          Martin believes everything he is told by the MSM

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

            No, I don’t.

            Epistemology is important.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Not much better than tossing a coin then?

      I only look at death rates, as that is fairly clear cut.

  42. concerned
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    ”“On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus


    12% with a false positive rate at 75%?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      But now the legislation allows ‘Doctors who have never seen the patient’ to sign the death certificate! This really is a panic measure passed to ensure they can deliver the numbers to stop the population revolting against the panicked political class.

  43. Original Richard
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Thank goodness for the private car.

    If we all had to use public transport the situation would be far worse.

    I hope that with much reduced traffic our local authorities are allowing key workers to use and park their cars free of charges, fines, towings etc..

    Perfectly feasible in London using the congestion charge surveillance cameras.

    Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Len McCluskey praising a Tory PM. Speechless

    Anyone who understands the politics of this union leader and his cohorts including Corbyn, McDonnell, Milne, Lavery and others must surely understand that we are now entering a period of left wing ascension, State dependency (or social control as I would call it) and a more powerful leftist network of control

    Does our esteemed host approve of Tory Ministers talking to people like McCluskey?

    It stinks, it’s dangerous and we’ll pay the price in many ways

    • everyone knows
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      Len McCluskey praising a Tory PM. Speechless

      They were all communists in the end. Perhaps even Redwood?

  45. Anonymous
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Yeesterday I was in the A and E department of a large district hospital in southern England. Whole wards have been emptied . Routine operations for new hips for people who have been waiting 2 years have been postponed for who knows how long. The A and E department on Sunday was very quiet and the staff were idle on the ward as the great influx had yet to materialise.

    • Fred H
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      the influx of people fighting over a loaf?

      • Fred H
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        we got a text msg from someone we know – – people fighting and stealing in an Iceland store. Berkshire. Law and order breaking down?

  46. everyone knows
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Coronavirus seems to effect Catholic and Communist countries the most.

  47. Man of Kent
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    As a ‘vulnerable’ 80 + year old I am happy to self isolate for 12 weeks so long as the rest of the population can lead a normal life .

    So get the ventilators , the mass testing facilities , the treatments for CV and get back to work and school , further education asp.

    Government says they are doing this but the press conference does not convey this as an overriding priority.

    It seems we are destined for evermore restrictions without any positive outcome.

    Very disappointing !

    • Norman
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      Well said – entirely agree.

  48. Stephen Reay
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    We need to turn our attention to who’s going to pay for this? Not the taxpayer they’ve suffered enough as a result of the financial crash in 2008, the very financial crash that was caused by poor regulation of the banks and financial system.

    Let’s look at how we suffered.
    Austerity we all know the effects of that.
    Final salary pension finished, its rarer than rocky horse s**t if you can find one these days. With the exception of MP’s who still have theirs curtesy of the us the taxpayer.
    Pension age extended. Slavery and punishment for the young.
    Occupation pension calculation formula changed making us poorer until the grave, and punishment for the prudent .(Coalition government and Mp’s to blame).
    Poor salary increases whilst those directors got hugh bonuses only we could dream of.
    This what I predict what businesses will ask for, something to address the pension burden on them.
    Well no Sir John enough is enough, just stop it.
    This what we can do immediately.
    Stop overseas aid.
    Change MPs golden pensions and peg to average public sector.
    No payments for house of lords, just expenses.
    MP’s seconds homes, profits to go back to the treasury.
    Stop MPs seconds home allowance, build a secure hotel for them to use.
    This may be a silly suggestion, but can all governments agree just to wipe the slate clean and just have the status quo with before the coronavirus. I do apologise if people think I’m trivialising the coronavirus but I’m not, at some point we have to consider who’s paying for all this.
    I find it very easy for the government and MP’s to make decisions that doesn’t affect them financially. I remember one MP caught on camera saying that he considered his job as MP to be part time and spent his spare time walking and writing books. Well £80 grand a year isn’t part time wages, most people could only dream of this for full time work.
    The ones who suffer most will be the weak and poorest as we know all to well. I could go on and on may be others will pick up on this issue to.

  49. Lester Beedell
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    HS2 anyone?
    Net Zero anyone?
    Perhaps one of the effects of the crisis will be to re-establish common sense or is that too much to hope for?

    • Bob
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      The 0.70% for overseas aid should never have been passed into law.
      When this pandemic has passed we need to consider returning to a higher level of self sufficiency for this country for food and industrial capacity. The tax and red tape that has compelled industry to offshore needs root and branch reform. We need to get Britain back to work properly, not just hair salons, tattoo parlours and nail bars.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely, this episode might save us from the same madness applied on a much greater ‘climate change’ scale of false modelling – Imperial College etc who have put their names to this idiocy should lose all taxpayer funding!

  50. Ian @Barkham
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Todays calls to shut the country down completely, based on Londoners not giving ‘two hoots’ to Government recommendations.

    London is 2-3 weeks ahead of the rest of the country with this dreaded virus. That begs the question that once London has turned the corner, does the whole the country get opened up again. Given that others still have it to come.

    One size fits all central control is lacking in integrity.

  51. Michael Lane
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Why do perfectly good businesses and the economy have to be jeopardised in this way? The normal answer is to save lives. If Boris orders a total lock down and says only key workers can go to work then my business is finished. None of the existing Government measures will be sufficient to keep it going. Without cash flow of sales income, I will not be able to pay our bills as they become due which means that we will be insolvent and will have to call in the Receivers. Loans don’t help anyone and having spoken with my Bank I am hearing no appetite to help whether the loan is guaranteed by the Government or not. The only solution would be business interruption insurance.

    On a National level I am very disappointed that we as a Nation were not much more prepared. Much of the Government’s actions in closing down society and the economy are required because our health service does not have anywhere near the capacity that is required of this emergency and cannot bring in reserve or emergency measures because the Government have not planned for it and because a socialised and centrally planned health service would never be able to do this. If they had we would have sufficient supplies of PPE for health staff, respirators in reserve and laboratories and testing facilities and the ability to manufacture vaccines. Economies with a private health services seem to have 5 or 6 times more equipment available to them.

    In the 1920’s and 30’s the UK Government helped Cunard build the Queen Mary and other ships under the proviso that if war came then these ships would become troop ships. They were constructed with this in mind and were faster than most naval vessels so they could outrun trouble. Without this sort of planning the outcome of the second World War might have been very different. We need the modern day version of this. Pharmaceutical companies need to be paid to for labs and facilities in the UK which can be adapted and scaled up to suit emergencies like this. We need to get back the capability to manufacture drugs, testing kits and medical equipment in the UK. The Donald was the only western politician talking about this stuff and getting called for it. Who is laughing now? Also the private healthcare sector needs to be boosted in UK and paid to have additional capability on standby in case it is needed. The centrally planned NHS clearly cannot do this and the whole model now needs to be seriously questioned. However, for some reason politics demands we will have to keep the NHS but we should seriously consider tax breaks for private medical cover and boost the private sector considerably to work alongside it and provide competition for the inefficient and cumbersome NHS.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      wise words

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      Michael, I hear you.
      I was impressed to hear that ventilator numbers had risen from 5000 to 12000 with more on order and underway.
      The WHO told people using London Transport masks and gloves weren’t needed I said at the time this was a mistake and told my own children to wear them when travelling on the underground, they were frequently ridiculed.

      I understand the private hospitals have had all their beds bought up by the NHS FT March 21st. 8000 beds.

  52. HS
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    John, this is a coup by the celebrity class, the MSM (the real Establishment) who are using the Con Party but will discard you forever when this is all over. It is a communist coup, they have their own ideas how to run this country and they are taking over. Why play along with it?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      You mean, how dare the media report the simple fact that, say, the Chinese have extinguished their epidemic with only three thousand two hundred dead, and throw the spotlight back onto your government and what is not happening here?

      Yes, if only these things from around the world could be kept secret?

      • Fred H
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        The Chinese will be telling you they do not have any spies in the UK next!

      • DOMINIC
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        Martin – You believe the Chinese government do you? I don’t even trust my own government never mind a government that is despotic and deeply oppressive

      • graham1946
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        As usual in your hatred of the UK, you overlook where and why this started – China and their filthy habits and government. Why do you live here? Why not go to some paradise like Venezuela or even the great bastion of liberty China? You actually believe all that comes out of that place? Gullible doesn’t even begin to cover it.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        Yet just above you say, we are being overwhelmed by expoential cases all over the world.

  53. Graham Wheatley
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Homo Sapiens, collectively, as a species, have now officially lost the bl00dy plot.

  54. Dennis
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I have heard that China has lots of money so to help the rest of the world recover are they going to cough up?

      Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      I’d rather live in poverty than accept donations from an authoritarian government

    • hefner
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      I think you heard wrongly: China ‘s GDP PPP per person puts it in 69th position among 190+ countries. That’s not a rich country. PPP is for purchasing power parity.

  55. Everhopeful
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Plane to Bucharest just gone over!

  56. Ian Pennell
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John Redwood

    A very comprehensive article. Indeed there will be a need for some very big Fiscal Policies- with the Government effectively underwriting large swathes of the Private Sector for a few months. However, this has to be done in a way that does not provoke a) Major Credit Ratings downgrades from Credit Ratings Agencies leading to an explosion in costs for servicing Britain’s already high (and likely to balloon) National Debt, b) Rampant Inflation.

    If the UK Government borrows £500 billion on International Markets the Credit Ratings Agencies need to see that Britain can honour its liabilities and pay its debts. So for now, yes borrow the money but the Chancellor needs to reassure the Markets that this money will be repaid – perhaps with the following assurances:

    1) Higher taxes on wealth. Conservatives hate the idea of a Land Value Tax (LVT) but that might prove necessary.
    2) Halving Foreign Aid- much of this does not get to the folk who need it and whilst the amounts spent are not a patch on the huge amounts borrowed during this Coronavirus Crisis it is a statement of intent to peruade Fitch, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s not to downgrade Britain’s credi-worthiness.
    3) Cutting Quango sizes by 30%- could save a further £25 billion annually and further reassure international markets.

    Taken together, these policies would help stop the National Debt spiraling out of control but (of course) to do that other measures will need to be implemented in the meantime to stop the economy crashing by 10% or more (which would raise Debt to GDP ratios even more). Indeed, the Bank of England will make available £200 billion through Quantitative Easing- and the Government could perhaps borrow this to fund the promised major infrastructure investments to help the economy recover once all this is over. However, printing money on this scale for the Government to spend risks provoking Inflation so further (not too economically harmful) taxes on the rich- like a small Luxury Levy- means that the Government can buy up precious metal shares/ securities with existing money – to give to the Bank of England to back up all new printed money.

    We have our own currency in Britain but we cannot just print money for the Government to spend – it has to be backed up otherwise the Markets would put big downwards pressure on the currency and provoke Inflation. If we end up with Credit Ratings downgrades and high Inflation it will require electorally very unpopular policies to put right! I don’t know how much Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson are aware of these economic pitfalls.

    In conclusion I wish you, Sir and your family well at this difficult time.

    Ian Pennell

  57. ianterry
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink


    Today doing the rounds on the net:-

    Putin has stated
    Russian citizens have two options:
    Stay home for 15 days or Jail for 5 years
    Statement is over.

    It might be a joke but:
    Some of us could agree with that the way the irresponsible of this nation are behaving.

    • Fred H
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      he’ll need to release all the dissidents to make room.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        You realise that they are mainly the old commies?

        • Fred H
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

          thank you for your expertise. I didn’t realise that Putin’s sabre-rattling, 50% share of everything in Russia was merely locking up old-commies…..we are all now wiser.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink


      Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      1939-1945. Millions died to protect us from a world that you now advocate.

      Sit back, ponder over what you’ve written and then you’ll understand why you’ve just written is so sinister

    • Tom Rogers
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      I don’t want a police state. Thankfully, most ordinary people share my sentiment and are largely ignoring people like you and the hysterical media and carrying on with their lives as best they can.

  58. Ian @Barkham
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Sir John – just watching questions to the Health Minister Matt Hancock in the HoC.

    The do as I say not as I do approach seems to be in play by a great number of those MP’s in the House. Leaning over to talk to one and other, well within the 2mtr distancing. One pair on the opposition side have been in deep close contact conversation through out the whole speech.

    If those that act as our representatives don’t adhere to social distancing is it any surprise the rest of the population ignores Government advice.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink


  59. mancunius
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Sir John, Thank you so much for drawing the government’s attention to the needs and special difficulties of the self-employed and sole trader agents that I set out here a few days ago. I have many colleagues in the industry who will have cause to be tremendously grateful to you if the government can respond positively to your demarche.

  60. Ex-Tory
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I hope to be proved wrong, but I fear that the financial and economic consequences of this crisis are too big to be handled by one country alone. The big recent fall in the oil price, though hailed at the time as a disaster, may at least mean that we know we are dealing with a deflationary rather than an inflationary recession. Some worldwide co-ordination similar (but not identical) to that of 1945-47 is needed. Sir John, please urge your colleagues in the financial sphere to speak to their international counterparts.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      You think Uganda will bale us out?

  61. Ed M
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John,

    I don’t mean to flatter you but I genuinely believe you probably have the best brain in Parliament to come up with a plan that both meets the short-term demands of health care in particular for the old, sick and vulnerable right now, whilst coming up with a plan for the medium to long-term needs of the economy, in particular for the benefit of the young and middle-aged.

    A few suggestions, sir.

    1) Short-term (Health / The Old etc – also a GREAT OPPORTUNITY to figure out a proper plan for the medium to long-term regarding our economy).
    This period lasts about 1 to 3 months.
    Focus on how to quickly get more ventilators, intensive-care beds, PPE etc .. Really need some WW2 spirit here to get things done more quickly.
    If we do well here, this will also be great for morale in general.

    2) Long-term (Economy / The Young and Middle-Aged).
    This period lasts all the way until we get a vaccination in about 18 months time.
    The most important thing here is to adopt very precise techniques and cheap technologies (phone apps and more) to get people to self-isolate properly as they travel to work, how they work in the office, and just when they do ‘normal’ things such as going to the cinema, buying furniture and other non-essential goods that our economy depends on (the Chinese are demonstrating to be really good at this, even though someone quite rightly pointed out to me earlier that it was the Chinese who started it and then spread it by spitting etc). It really is possible to have the best of both worlds – not perfectly – but pretty good, enough to stop our economy sinking so that when we do get the vaccination, our economy will quickly bounce back into shape again.


  62. a-tracy
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    I can’t understand logistics problem excuses, I’ve worked in transport logistics for 38 years and don’t know why the nhs can’t cope getting deliveries, when you’ve had a month to move ppe around? Is it a stock problem? Are you waiting for imports? Parcelforce must be quieter now in normal freight as well as the usual next day operators, ask for priority deliveries, who has spare ppe pharmaceutical companies, chemical companies, paint shops, car manufacturers ask if you can take their ppe for ambulance staff, vets? There are only 1257 hospitals Amazon do 10s of thousands deliveries per day.

    What is infrequent shopping – once per week or twice per week only? Are the government going to check super-shoppers card or cash withdrawal use?

  63. a-tracy
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    So does Boris want transport workers to stay at home or work if they’re not self-isolating? People that have jumped the gun and are self-isolating right away for two weeks are they to go back to work after 14 days? The entire job is travelling around. I want to do the right thing by my staff and the Country. We all want to sit and home and draw 80% of our salary and the government to pay – I hope to goodness that all the key workers that have carried on working through this crisis are given an extra tax allowance to the amount the rest have claimed! If they’re working next month they shouldn’t be taxed next month. We also need a pool of people who are fit and willing to work when their industry is shut.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Martin Lewis is advising people to ask their boss to furlough them if they need to look after children or self-isolate for 12 weeks, when are businesses being advised about this detail Martin Lewis knows about but we don’t. Is Martin Lewis going to pay for all of this, is he going to cover the costs when the whole business shuts down that would otherwise be operational in a key worker service. Seriously I’m really pissed that an independent advisor is giving this advice when I’ve been told people are only furloughed if we have to keep the business open in order to furlough them and why should one or two get this if the other 30 don’t? It isn’t happening it will be all for one and one for all.

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

        As far as furloughing staff is concerned my understanding is the business has to be viable and have a reasonable opportunity of returning to profit when the restrictions to trade are lifted.

        If the period of closure is longer than the cash flow can support I.e. for 12 weeks then the businesses will close. 12 weeks is a long time to pay for costs from a business with no income! If business owners can’t see the possibility of recouping this investment then they’re not going to do it and throw good money after bad.

        If people see other staff getting away with being furloughed on 80% pay how can you expect the others to carry on working in order to pay them all. This may suit Jaguar and other large companies with expensive payrolls and without the ability to import the parts, they can mothball the plant, they’ll be sorry this won’t end well! smes don’t have bottomless pits of money, you’re asking them to risk their homes, pensions for people who just want to go off work and effectively close you down – why should we keep the business open there is a tipping point. There is a general unfairness here. I tell you what I’m at the end of my tether.

  64. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Sir John I am horrified to note in this Coronavirus Bill, that ‘To ease pressure on coroners, a doctor who has not seen the deceased will be able to certify the cause of death.’

    Sad to say I have no confidence that this is not to massage the Coronavirus death rate – simply to prove the elitists right.

    • APL
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 12:30 am | Permalink

      Lynn Atkinson: “a doctor who has not seen the deceased will be able to certify the cause of death.”

      And an invitation to murder too.

      Harold Shipman much?

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink


  65. Anonymous
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Well, I feel sick, (sick with worry). I do not want to live in this country anymore or under this sort of government. It is making me depressed.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink


  66. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I understand that all NHS Managers and clerical stall are getting special treatment as ‘essential workers’. Discounts, special access to food shops, children remaining in schools (although most are ‘working from home’). Of course their full salaries are guaranteed.
    Is it impossible to differentiate between medical staff and clerical?

  67. wrong country
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    We are in a film, scripted, nothing is as it seems.

    • OhDannyBoy
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      I’m starting to come round to this idea.

  68. Anonymous
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    This is not any government’s fault other than the Communist Chinese regime’s.

    Yet again a Communist regime has delivered industrial scale carnage .

    They lied about the beginning of the virus

    They refused to isolate themselves to prevent global contagion.

    Martin in Cardiff points the finger everywhere except at the Communists.

    How could any country be prepared for this ?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Never mind why your house is on fire for now.

      You need a proper fire service to extinguish the fire.

      We can look at blame when the immediate emergency is over.

  69. Disney fit ( Scots)
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Trumps Press conference today on the coronavirus. Quite a long do.He mentioned also
    “50,000 dead in this season alone in The United States” four times. Not one journalist after each mention worded a question on it. One just emphasised a question aimed at tripping him up, three times, on his statement that ” We cannot allow the solution of the coronavirus problem to be worse than the coronavirus itself”. She was trying to get him to suggest that he would get people back to work even though it cost say ten lives so that 100 lives would be saved. But he didn’t fall for it.
    Social media, no one, in any tweet I have seen has mentioned the 50,000 dead.
    We live in a weird mindset time. A small Plato cave.
    It seems only Trump and I have seen outside of the cave.
    We should call ourselves Fred Flintstone and Bernie Rubble.Better, Normal and Sane.
    Boris in his own Message to the Nation speech today did mention after saying “We will beat the coronavirus ” “And other diseases” in an undertone. So there is hope he has got the message. Perhaps we should call him Wilma or Betty.
    I like cartoons. My favourite is s Dick Dastardly and Muttley in Wacky Races.

    • Disney fit ( Scots)
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 1:20 am | Permalink

      Oh I forgot to mention 50,000 dead in this season alone in the United States with flu

  • 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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