Well done Dominic Cummings

I am pleased senior advisers go to hear the scientific advice at SAGE meetings and ask questions about it. Good policy advisers listen to specialist advice in order to use the wise bits of it in policy.

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154 Comments

  1. Ian Wragg
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Let’s hope it results in the lifting of this overkill lockdown.
    He knows that the voters have long memories

    • Hope
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      The advice to date has been a shambles. We had a complete 180 U-turn of herd immunity to nation house arrest!

      It allowed the Chinese virus to enter by hundreds of thousands and continue to enter through open borders than the govts ability to test. How do these experts think the virus got here? How can it prevent a second wave with open borders from Chinese virus hotspots when it is not known if it mutates? You do not have to be an expert to see contradictory advice, pompous attitudes, we know best and a dogs breakfast. PHE should not take any further part, they have shown what an expensive burden they are to the taxpayer in failing, utterly failing, to learn from previous diseases and experience of planning in places like South Korea.

      Still no code from Prof Ferguson so his peers and relevant bodies cab verify his modellingwork? His modelling predictions were way off the mark if not bordering on the fantantiscal previously. We read it was central to the policy change of nation house arrest.

      • graham1946
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        How can you be an ‘expert’ when you freely admit you know nothing about how this virus spreads, mutates or doesn’t, how to treat patients with it and all the rest or where it is ll going to go. Seems like Cummings is as much an expert as any of the others wheeled out ad nauseum in Downing Street each day to answer inane questions from dud ‘journalists’.

      • forthurst
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        You’re actually shooting at the wrong target. It was the no-nothing Arts graduates who form the government and civil service of this country which is responsible for the disgraceful mess we find ourselves in. Apart from ‘herd immunity’ Vallance, which other scientist actually proposed this whilst in a state of sobriety? Why did the government listen to ‘herd immunity’ Vallance? Oh, that’s because he is the Chief Scientific Advisor appointed by the government so is the exclusive go-to expert on anything a wee-bit techie ie something that requires a higher entry level at Oxford than that required for Arts subjects. When the herd immunity policy (malign neglect) was abandoned, under what possible circumstances should people including invaders have been allowed to enter the country without compulsory quarantining for three weeks? What possible excuse is there for the failure of the government to organise test, trace, isolate and monitor, to identify clusters, to identify the proportion of people whose chain of infection is identifiable or not identifiable, to actually get a grip as has been achieved in countries where people do not go off to university for three years and learn nothing useful and then claim that they as ‘generalists’ and can listen to experts and understand them and then take wise decisions about the governance of this country.

        We are being fed garbage information preventing individual informed decision making. PHE is publishing tripe daily. Dr Whitty is claiming that R0 is somewhere between 0.5 and 1.0 when the published figures suggest 1.0. I am informed how many new people have been hospital tested positive by subtraction but have no idea from where they are from in a local authority area although their addresses must be known. In South Korea, I would get a warning on my smartphone if they were local to me. Meanwhile round the cabinet table some are blathering about the economy, others blathering about ‘a second wave’, none of them having a clue what they are doing or how they are going to get out of a situation which is well above their level to comprehend.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        There is no such thing as “herd immunity” without a vaccine.

        This was a wrongly named Survivors’ Immunity policy.

        I wonder why it was dropped, just when other countries revealed that you didn’t have to just sit there, and watch the disease run wild through the population?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      They seemed to forget Johnson’s saying that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than not leave the European Union on 31-10-19, and much else that he said about “the surrender treaty” fairly smartish, didn’t they?

      No, those voters remember nothing, of which their spoon-feeders in the Tory media do not constantly remind them.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Tory media?
        Most TV news channels and newspapers are not Conservative supporting.

        • APL
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

          Edward2 “Most TV news channels and newspapers are not Conservative supporting.”

          Which was illustrated by the BBC using the imagined shortage of ventilators as a political bludgeon to hit the government.

          We didn’t need 20 thousand extra ventilators then, and we don’t need them now.

          Policy set by media lightweights.

          We paid Ministers of the Crown to make difficult decisions

          The BBC by spreading fear and dread has acted as a domestic terrorist organisation.

      • NickC
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        Martin, Boris was prevented by the Parliament of the time from honouring his own promise and the Leave decision of the people.

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

          So why didn’t he “die in that ditch” then?

          That is, resign?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

            He couldn’t beat the votes in that Parliament.
            Now you complain about a big majority.
            Make your mind up.

          • Anonymous
            Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

            Somebody has a lot of time to comment.

            I’m a *key worker* (of a vulnerable age) so don’t.

            I am as concerned about Derek Draper as I was Boris. Different politics, exactly the same age.

            The fact is that we must toughen up about this.

            Communist China is taking advantage of our weaknesses.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

            I don’t complain about anything. It’s just a fact that means that the Government can do as it likes.

            So only it can be blamed for its action or inaction.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

            You are on here 20 times a day complaining Martin.

    • jerry
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      @Ian Wragg; Surely the meeting in question was to give independent expert formal advice to govt, not to be influenced due to non-expert quasi-political questions or opinion. The MoM and the formal written SAGE advice can be read afterwards and questions can be asked of that advice and then such political decisions made. Otherwise SAGE becomes an extension of political Cabinet, not a expert-group of independent scientists giving independent non-political advice to the Govt.

      Oh and yes, the electorate will have very long memorises if there is a second spike of infection, or an upsurge continuance of the first, relaxing the lockdown will be the “overkill”, as you oh so tactfully put it, not keeping it..

      Reply These clever experts should be willing to answer some good questions from a senior policy adviser in person! Are you suggesting they are not up to it?

      • rose
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        You write of a second spike. Some parts of the country, Northern Ireland and the South West have barely had a first spike. What do you forecast for them?

      • Zorro
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply – yes, searching questions which might challenge the accepted orthodoxy and which have been raised already by experienced and distinguished scientists and epidemiologists But not answered by the powers that be…..

      • Norman
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply We have never had a lockdown in the UK. Why did they advise one? It cannot be from their personal and professional national experience.
        They knew that China was not giving true data. We did. Honk Kong and Singapore are now into second wave. So if they took those countries present and former experience which had not had the benefit of scientific-time-delay-see -what-happens and crushed it without careful folding into package-UK then they were the biggest set of irresponsible numpties these islands have seen since King Ethelred’ the Unready.

        • Norman
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

          Sir John – this is a different Norman – is he genuine, or is it an electronic mix-up? Or have I been tactically displaced?

      • jerry
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        @JR reply; Surely that is what Committees etc are for, no?

        • mancunius
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          Are you suggesting committees of ‘independent’ scientists should not have to answer astute questions or arguments put to them about their suggestions and decisions?
          Any committee needs to avoid group-think and confirmation bias. Intelligent specialists welcome questions – the process can help them to clarify their own reasoning and come to (and properly articulate) a genuinely objective decision free from cadre-based group-think and unconscious bias.

          • jerry
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

            @mancunius; Rather than repost much that I have already said can I refer you to a comment I made earlier in another thread;

            http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2020/04/25/making-the-decision-to-relax-some-controls/#comment-1109975

            As for “group think”, surely that is what you and others are proposing if you want to mash the various expert groups (science, economic and political) effectively into just one multi-layered think-tank by way of allowing interventions into each independent group by those assigned to the Downing Street policy making unit -perhaps even the same person?

    • Depth charge
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      “lifting of this overkill lockdown.” Beautiful, it rose from the deep.
      “…voters have long memories…”
      than they know or can remember having.

  2. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Indeed so. Let’s hope someone in government tells this in mo uncertain terms to the hysterical MSM and the Labour party.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Also looking forward to his ‘root and branch’ overhaul of Whitehall civil servants.

      Second, GOOD NEWS, Barnier complaining about Mr Frost and our FTA proposal, so clearly Mr. Frost is doing it right. Hint for Mssr. Barnier, you might have noticed that Mrs May and Ollie Robbins are no longer on your side of the table….

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Especially Piers Morgan. It sometimes feels like he has be dictating policy.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      What have the Labour Party to do with government policy?

      The Tories have a majority of eighty.

      Parliament is now a government Rubber-Stamping Agency agency of the highest order.

      Unlike that of the European Union, on the other hand, which constantly amends and rejects proposals e.g. TTIP, ironically.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        That’s how elections work.
        When Blair and Brown had a 15 year long majority I bet you never wrote a word of complaint.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        hilarious ……the 26 queue up to tell Merkel and Macron where to get off.

      • NickC
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        Martin, Our Parliament is not a “rubber stamp”, whereas the EU parliament is (save for its vestigial power of removing the Commission in extremis). The eighty seat majority was willed by the vote of the people in a free and fair general election only 4 months ago. MPs can think for themselves and vote independently if they judge it right to do so. What is the matter with you?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

          Ever heard of a three line whip, Nick?

          And what are all these eager to please new “Tories” likely to do under one?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

            Would you like them all to stand for election promising one set of policies and manifesto committments to their electorate and then turn round after winning the election and do the opposite?
            I reckon you would complain about that too.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

            three line whip? Wasn’t that proposed Inquiry abandoned due to lack of evidence. (tongue firmly in cheek).

          • czerwonadupa
            Posted May 1, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

            Have a word with Dominic Grieve ex-MP

    • Iain Moore
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      I think they did on this issue this morning, though not widely reported. To paraphrase the response was ‘this is a load of rubbish, and no wonder there has been a collapse in trust in the media’. It seems Mr Cummings is back.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        He’s been very ill. We have really missed him! Forensic, and instinctively Conservative!

  3. agricola
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    If these SAGE meetings are what we get on TV every day and not a culinary herd then it makes sense that those controlling policy go, listen, and act on the advice given. I do find that political journo’s point scoring questioning, to say the least, tedious. Where were said journo’s decades ago when the weaknesses in NHS administration were created.

    • Peter
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      The current issue of Private Eye no 1520(page 17)draws attention to the record of Neil Ferguson an academic on the seat of SAGE.

      It notes his computer model grossly exaggerated the effects of the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001. This model led to the slaughter of nearly 8 million beasts. As they note “Ferguson and his fellow modellers have very little risk of reputations damage.”…. “Similarly they cannot lose here-the 500,000 they predicted to die of Covid will never die – but they will take the credit for implementing the controls and preventing their deaths.”

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        not just the animals – marriage break-ups, farms in administration , huge debts, pedigrees built up over generations wiped out, suicides…. and then ‘ buy our food from abroad !!’ You couldn’t make it up.

      • NickC
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        Peter, Indeed. Government policy has been dictated by a combination of an hysterical MSM, and a very small set of single-minded scientists from one university wedded to nothing more than a computer model.

        We’ve learnt yet again that for computers “rubbish in = rubbish out”. All the computer is doing is number crunching a set of assumptions. It is the assumptions that count, not the fact the model is run on a computer.

  4. Walt
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Well said. The media appear to be looking for and confecting any opportunity to snipe.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      This morning on the news it was one scaremongering story after another, there is nothing constructive about our media. If we had the media in 1939 that we have today they would have given up by October .

      One thing the Government had better watch out about is that the Media are desperately trying to make CVa race issue, and with Doreen Lawrence heading up the Labour enquiry , the result of which can only be to make it a race issue as they can’t say ‘nothing to see here’, then there is that to look forward to

      • rose
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        Well, it isn’t a race issue. It is an age, sex, and co-morbidities issue. Possibly life style as well.

        • NickC
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Rose, That sums it up.

  5. rose
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I am pleased too. It shows he is not a fake – which the fake news media most definitely are.

  6. Richard1
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    it is excellent news for all of us in addition to his own family that Mr Cummings has recovered from the Wuhan virus. We need him back. In particular his boot is needed for application to the rear end of those public sector entities such as PHE which have been so hopeless in procurement of testing and other material, operating in a bureaucratic, statist way and failing to take proper advantage of the resources of the private sector. Root and branch reform is needed after this crisis has passed.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Gone are the days of rows of YES men – I hope.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        And here are the days of a YES Parliament.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

          As voted for by the electors in the last election.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

            If you like, but it doesn’t change the fact.

            So you can’t blame any other party for the royal mess that your government make, can you?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

            And that is why there will be another general election in a few years.
            Currently the government is riding high in recent polls.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • NickC
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Richard1, Yes, the 1950s, top down, central planning, socialist style NHS management has been caught out. Except that they have been, more often than not, noticeable by their absence, and failure to take responsibility as well as failure to do their jobs properly.

  7. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I see the members of SAGE claim their advice should be pure science free of politics. It’s free of common sense as well. The whole of Britain is now on life support!

    • NickC
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Lynn A, Indeed, what does “the science” say about trashing the economy? It cannot say anything.

  8. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    One thing that has come out of this crisis is that millions of people will now see how untrustworthy the media, particularly broadcasters, are. Millions more will have had that awareness and knowledge reinforced.

  9. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I am astonished that the PM not attending COBRA meetings is deemed to be bad and then the PM’s adviser attending informative SAGE meetings is then also bad.

    Truly bread and circuses. I have stopped watching the news and only skim read the papers now. It is not a question of trust, but relevance.

  10. oldtimer
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Let us hope he can sort the wheat from the chaff – I imagine he can. Let us hope he gets input from other sources too on the impact this shutdown is having on national life – I imagine he does. From reading a couple of his blogs and watching a couple of his public talks my impression is that he is receptive to ideas, has developed strong opinions and believes that UK public administration needs reform. Perhaps this latest episode will persuade him that the NHS and the public health system needs reform too. Its performance to date (procurement, testing, treatment of the care community) leaves much to be desired to put it at its mildest.

  11. Dave
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Not when those advisors have been wrong with every one of their dire predictions. They are so bad they should work for the Treasury.

  12. glen cullen
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Agree but lets hope his attendance achieves something

  13. BCL
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    This is only an issue because so many, particularly in the press, dislike Mr Cummings. If he were an adviser these people liked or approved of the matter wouldn’t get any air time at all.

  14. Peter Parsons
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    The question is whether he is there simply to listen, or whether he attempts to influence the direction of the discussion and the conclusions.

    Members of SAGE such as Chris Whitty are happy for the membership of SAGE to be published, so why are the politicians insistent on keeping that secret?

    • rose
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Two odd questions you have asked.

      Why should he attempt to steer when he is there to learn, both by listening and by asking questions; also there to answer questions from the experts which may come up?

      And why do you think the politicians are the ones who want to keep the proceedings secret? Usually it is advisers who want to do that, so they can give uninhibited and therefore fuller advice. Wouldn’t you? Do you want all the legal advice to be public too? If so, what sort of advice do you think you would get?

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        Firstly, you are assuming he is only there to learn. The reports in the press today suggest he has been doing somewhat more actively involved than that.

        Secondly, where have I asked for the proceeding to be published? I talked solely about making public who is on SAGE, not the advice they put forward.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

          You believe the reports in the press?
          Were any of them actually there?

          Some SAGE advisors want to remain out of the public eye.
          Is that so terrible?

          • Peter Parsons
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

            The press were reporting what they were told by SAGE advisers who were there.

            I happen to be in agreement with David Davis on both Cummings presence (he has no business being there – if he wants to know what was discussed, he can always watch a recording) and on making the membership of SAGE public.

            I am, however, less convinced by Davis’ suggestion that all advice, including dissenting advice, be published.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            Well I see no reason he cannot be there.

            You assume all these scientists agree with each other.
            They don’t
            So it is useful to hear them debate.
            And hear all sides.

          • Peter Parsons
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

            He has no business being, as has been reported, an “active participant”. He is not an elected politician and appears, with a degree in Ancient and Modern History, to have no specialist scientific knowledge to contribute either.

            I have also made no assumption about whether the scientists agree with each other or not. That is an incorrect conclusion you have simply invented out of nothing.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            There are reports of the experts advising the government having many different opinions.
            As one might expect.
            I didn’t make it up as you claim.
            Listening in to discussions prior to the group deciding on a common approach and conclusion would be very useful I believe.

            But this more about trying to undermine the position of the Prime Minister’s own advisors by left wing groups for party political advantage.

          • Peter Parsons
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

            I haven’t claimed you have assumed anything. You are the one making up non-existent conclusions. You seem to like making things up about what I have said. I am not sure why.

        • rose
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          We all know who the chairman is and he is no shrinking violet, as we have seen, week after week. What is it that you think Cummings might be able to do while attending the subcommittee that is so sinister, and why can’t this strong chairman control the proceedings as chairmen usually do?

          • rose
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

            You may not have asked for the proceedings to be published but plenty of people are.

  15. Robert McDonald
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Absolutely agree. Sadly typical to read the pseudo conspiracy theories of the media assisted by the likes of Ashford. How else can a political figure get a real understanding of the intricacies of specialist matters than to listen in to the scientists discuss and analyse the issues, to then be able to make informed recommendations.

  16. Lifelogic
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Exactly. Cummings seems to be quite bright (despite having just a First in Ancient and Modern History Oxon). Though he probably lacks the maths, physics, engineering and medical science (he probably dropped Maths, Physics and Science at GCSE level) as so many public school boys seem to (before going on to read PPE, Languages, English, Classics, Greats, Jurisprudence, History, Archeology, History of Art, Geography, Politics and the likes).

    They surely should have to pay for these degrees themselves without the benefit of soft government loans. Dom Cummings will just have to mug up a bit!

    Excellent article in the Economist by Bill Gates today on the scientific advances that will be driven by this virus in vaccines, virology, anti-virals, testing and the rest. I suspect far more lives will be saved through these than will be lost from this virus. Next time we do pandemic, defence planning and procurement or similar can we please get someone sensible like Bill Gates to do it please. So the blindingly obvious (at least) is done.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Dennis Healey achieved a double first (Greats at Balliol) and yet was so stupid (in other ways) that he thought a 98% income tax rates was a great plan as he bankrupted the country.

      Mind you George Osborne and Philip Hammond have given us tax rates of over 100% and these have still not be corrected by Sunak so far.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Healey was also a code-breaker at Station X. Horses for courses.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Philip Hammond says the UK cannot afford to wait for a vaccine before resuming more normal economic activity. He is of course right (for once) on this.

      Of course had Hammond not been a tax to death chancellor, a pro EU, over regulate everything, build on workers “rights”, climate alarmist, landlord & tenant mugging, expensive energy pushing and then piss all the money down the drain Chancellor (on things like HS2 and other lunacies) we might have been in rather a better position.

      Also had the pandemic planners done this pandemic planning competently and if he have funded it sensibly rather than the report being buried (while under Hammond and May)!

      Or had they restructured the dire NHS so it might actually work efficiently.

    • mancunius
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      We are a democracy. We elect the government. I would be horrified if a tough-thinking government representative were not present and not asking any questions at SAGE meetings. Examples of senior professional bodies that have no such attendance in committee from outside the profession are: the BMA, ACPO and Universities UK. Their ‘independence’ benefits nobody but themselves.

  17. Fred H
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I hope he listens and then remarks ‘get real you lot, the people won’t obey mumbo jumbo’.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      I have noticed people starting to ignore the lock-down.

      I’m with them on it, I’m afraid to say. NO risk assessment has been done between death by C19 vs and death/misery by Lock-Down Economic Depression. None whatsoever. Richard Madely puts this more eloquently than I can in the papers today.

      Government/police/military authority is an illusion by consent.

      That consent will wear very thin very soon. Bumblers and blusterers will not hold onto it.

      What’s the Army going to do ? A Bloody Sunday on the people ? Rules of engagement state that they cannot shoot unless fired upon and we are an unarmed population.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        so warn them, then fine them , then call in front of the beak and double the unpaid fine…at what stage do we spend a few nights in jail? Catch the virus and get taken to hospital. Two weeks later we die – – so what Government thinks it will survive a few hundred doing that?
        Civil disorder!

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      His “remarks” seem to require about ten thousand words, mainly assembled into rather opaque sentences.

      It impresses some people though.

  18. John E
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    The editor of the Lancet, Richard Horton, describes it in the FT today as “The biggest science policy failure in a generation” so it will be interesting to understand the part Mr. Cummings played in that.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      The Telegraph today outlines the appalling government policy of pushing infected (tested and untested) victims out of hospital and into care homes. With the obvious results we have seen.

      • Robert McDonald
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic today details how false facts are used to blame the government for everything, regardless.

      • The Prangwizard
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Is it not the NHS which does this?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

          Indeed but instructed to do so.

    • Handbags
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      The Lancet is left wing – has been for decades.

      The FT is remain through and through.

      Why are you reading this stuff?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      The absurd climate alarmist, expensive renewable energy and war against CO2 plant food is a rather bigger scientific (or rather religious) failing than the government mistakes so far. Let us hope they at least ditch the net zero carbon agenda very soon and HS2 we cannot afford them. Plus neither have any positive value.

      • NickC
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic, Unfortunately the grotesque NHS clappers mostly want the opposite.

  19. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I hope he can not only listen, but ask some sensible and probing questions as well.

  20. Jack Falstaff
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Just imagine the brouhaha which the media would have contrived had there NOT been any government advisers seeking the opinion of medical experts!
    Media standards simply do not exist these days and I make a point of delibrately NOT reading any article under a headline that involves hackneyed “click-bait” phrases such as “Revealed:…”, “Car-crash interview” or “[…] on the brink”.

    • NickC
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Jack, I have studiously avoided the BBC, only being caught by a couple of minutes of R4 Today by mistake in 5 weeks.

  21. a-tracy
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    What roles were Alastair Campbell, Jonathan Powell, and Lord Adonis? Weren’t they similar roles to Cummings, perhaps Boris should make him a Lord to get the latest bandwagon off his back.

    • Richard1
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      He should just ignore it. It’s only the Guardian and the BBC trying to work up a flap.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        👍🏻 I’m truly getting sick of our media circus.

  22. FrankH
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    How do they know which bits are the wise bits?
    Do the experts tell them?
    Why do the experts include other bits that aren’t wise?

    Colour me puzzled.

    Reply Government advisers and Ministers have to make decisions about which advice to hire and which to accept

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Government advisers and Ministers have to make decisions about which advice to hire and which to accept.

      Indeed, but unfortunately it seems clear that they have (since Thatcher was deposed) been listening to totally the wrong “experts”. Particularly on Climate Change, Energy Policy, Taxation levels and complexity, HS2 and transport policies, the EU, employment laws, Pandemic Planning, how to run a health service, the out of control litigation and legal system, fare competition in schools, banking, broadcasting, housing, universities, transport ……..

      Freedom and choice plus fair competition please.

    • Zorro
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – Unfortunately, on this occasion, they have not done their due diligence – sloppiness costs lives and the economy.

      Zorro

    • Fred H
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      and carry a large bag of salt around with you and brush your left shoulder every few hours.

  23. Original Chris
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    It seems obvious that he should be there.
    An aside, Alistair Campbell was at the forefront of the FMD 2001 policy with Imperial College modellers, I seem to remember.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      The man is endlessly on TV but he has zero credibility wrong on almost every serious issue.

  24. Richard1
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I’ve just got round to reading your excellent piece from 2 days ago on central banking, thank you for that. Another huge technocratic error was the brown bank bailout, which could and should have been a restructuring of the banks at the expense of their shareholders and larger creditors, with liquidity provided by the BoE, as urged at the time – pretty much alone in Parliament as I recall – by Sir John.

    The technocratic monetary construction which puts all others in the shade is of course the euro. It’s interesting that none of the supporters of EU-federalism who often post here have been able to make any points to counter that. Indeed, it’s difficult to think of any economist outside the Eurozone, whether left or right, who thinks it’s a good idea. Even the FTs Martin Wolf, as knowledgeable and as pro-EU writer as there is, can only come up with endless and unlimited debt monetisation (contrary to the EU treaties) by the ECB as a ‘solution’ to the current crisis.

    It would be good if there would be just a bit of humility and contrition from its advocates and apologists.

    • NickC
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Richard1, Remains never apologise.

      • Richard1
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        It’s a small sect of remain who argued for eurofederalism, euro and all. The majority of remain voters simply thought Brexit might be bad for business due to project fear and / or thought the compromise arrangement we had Pre-2016 was more or less ok so why change it.

      • bill brown
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        NickC

        You only read , what you wish to read all sides should apologize when required. But don’t for get it either

  25. Will in Hampshire
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Presumably Dom decides who gets to be on the SAGE Committee so it’s hardly a surprise he can attend if he wants to. Being there in person must be handy to keep an eye on them and to make sure they’re sticking to his approved lines.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      He doesn’t choose who is on the various SAGE advisory committees.

    • NickC
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Will, You have confirmed my aphorism that reversing what a Remain claims is more usually correct than the original.

      • bill brown
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        NickC

        This is usually what I say about the few facts you present to support you r arguments

        • Edward2
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

          You love facts bill.
          But you never accept facts when presented with facts.

          • bill brown
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

            Edward 2

            No I just correct yours

    • mancunius
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      You presume wrongly.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      doesn’t sage mean ‘acquired wisdom?’ Ooops. Think of another name quick.

  26. BOF
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Not unnoticed, was the BBC’s obvious agenda this morning to discredit Dominic Cummings. They will know that they succeeded with their target audience, the left and the gullible

    I do not expect that they will be reigned in or reformed, just as OUR NHS will not be reformed.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, absurd attacks both on Cummings and indeed on Trump implying that he was suggesting drinking bleach or injecting disinfectants when he did no such thing (if you listen to the recording).

      He was through rather clumsy and foolish in the wording of his question though.

      • Original Chris
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        Bear in mind that UV can be a “disinfecting” force, and then read this from AYTU Bioscience team in conjunction with Cedars- Sinai hospitals:
        Aytu_BioScience‏ @BioscienceAytu
        “Many are now talking about UV light being used as a treatment for COVID-19. We are proud to have teamed up with @MarkPimentelMD and his team at @CedarsSinai. They developed Healight. Peer-reviewed data will be published in days, etc ed

        Also see this article:
        “Internally Applied Ultraviolet Light as A Novel Approach for Effective and Safe Anti-Microbial Treatment” on United European Gastroenterology website.

        President Trump is no fool and it always seems that he is proved right (after the usual media ridicule). He knew exactly what he was talking about but the media fell into a trap.

  27. Everhopeful
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Yes..but who listens to whom? Who influences whom?
    Is there a broad spectrum of scientific opinion/knowledge?
    Were the politicians aware that epidemiology is more like economics than litmus paper? Variables and assumptions …no absolutes! Much bickering!
    Which particular “science” to follow?
    And is it really sensible to mix politics with science?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      The other problem is the scientists or “experts” often know what the politicians wish to hear and how to best retain their jobs or get promoted.

      This is why we get such moronic group think on Climate Alarmism, the ERM EURO, the EU, the renewable “energy” policy, the electric car agenda, the structuring of the dire NHS……

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        The almost all shall go to university even if they cannot pass their A levels agenda too.

        • Sea Warrior
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          I gather that 51% of university students got in with three Ds or worse. (Source: ‘The Great University on’ by Craig.)

          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:51 am | Permalink

            Indeed what on earth is the point of sending people to university with less that say 3Bs? If they cannot even understand their A levels they should resit them or pay for their own joke degrees.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

        +1

  28. Anonymous
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    It’s the GOTCHA press trying to run the country again.

    And STILL no scrutiny of Xi Jinping our new world leader.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 1:24 am | Permalink

      It’s rumoured that Kim Jong-un has passed away.

      It wasn’t COVID-19 so that’s OK. Phew.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        like Elvis perhaps he had a liking for fried peanut butter sandwiches.

  29. Diane
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Well it’s just another red rag to a bull I suppose. More fodder for those that wish to denigrate and attempt to bring down this government. No doubt Mr Starmer will raise his ‘significant questions’ in due course. I do not see any problem. I can’t imagine Mr Cummings forced himself in under threat of violence or death or anything like that! The status quo, in many things, is no longer what is called for.

  30. DOMINIC
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Why won’t this Tory PM dismantle the BBC and reform the NHS? Both despise the Tory party and the Tory party

    Why is acceptable that the ex-head of the CPS can move seamlessly and without criticism from the Tory party to becoming a Labour MP and then subsequently the Labour party leader?

    Why do you tolerate Labour’s embedded institutional control that we have to finance through our tax payments?

    Dominic Cummings is full of hot air. I thought he was a radical reformer. he’s nothing of the sort. Just another liability on the already abused taxpayer’s back

    What is the point of voting Tory when since 2010 you have prayed at the altar of a progressive, liberal left and expanding regime controlled by Labour placemen?

    I read this blog and then I read Conservative Woman and I begin to realise just how far the Tory party have been driven leftwards. It’s depressingly sad as it exposes this nation to a future that will be terrifying oppressive. That’s not my opinion, the evidence is today all around us

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Stop funding the BBC (unilaterally) and opt-out of the NHS – the British Housewives’ League has long been asking for this – well, from 1948. Also no identity cards or other tracking mechanism. We are free people.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Because it has no mandate to do that.

      • NickC
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Martin, You have no mandate to prevent Leave being implemented.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

          Nor would I.

          The UK has left.

      • mancunius
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        The government has a majority. It therefore has a mandate.
        No government would take legislative decisions likely to see it lose office.

      • Andy
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        That has never stopped them before: see Brexit.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

          And afterwards they got an 80 seat majority.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        Martin, Tony Blair has no mandate to introduce tuition fees on the English only – but he did.
        Gordon Brown has no mandate to sign the Lisbon Treaty but he did.

        And on …. endlessly.

  31. John Parker
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I share your belief that there is a place for political advisers on this vital group The grip that socialist ideas have on Academia and the NHS at the moment means that the idea that wealth is a product of printing presses and that everything is affordable dominates the group think. Don’t expect the BBC to allow an opposing point of view under current management because they share the same belief.

    • Brit
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 1:41 am | Permalink

      The BBC do not understand English. It is little wonder they have odd political perspectives prevalent in less fortunate nations.

  32. ukretired123
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Dominic Cummins I rate very highly as he is the only one who has put his neck on the line raising awareness of where the status quo mundane log-jam experienced for decades in the Civil service has achieved :
    The reverse of service to the proletariat general public and a Teflon coated existence.

    If anyone in the MSM can solve the conundrum Step Forward……… ???
    D.C. has a better grasp of the real world and latest thinking out of the box than most of the career folks in the Westminster and MSM who view and paint him as a threat to their Comfort Zone echo chambers.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      +1

  33. Elli Ron
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    The government must refuse to reveal the names of the SAGE members, there are too many hungry wolves and nutters out there.
    It is simply too dangerous to the members AND their families.

    What is going on regarding the “push” for transition period extension? Surely they are not even contemplating that.

  34. ed2
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    The data is now in (we do not need to trust blind theoretical models) and the data shows Covid-19 is far less harmless than the flu and upto 35% of us have it. In short, it is no more dangerous than any other seasonal Coronavirus. These figures are readily available. So what is going on?

    • ed2
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      The stats are now in (as of yesterday)

      New York country death rate 0.001%
      California death rate 0.003%
      Norway death rate 0.003%
      Spain death rate 0.005%
      Finland death rate negligable.

      These are not based on blind theoretical models, (these are the facts as of yesterday). Covid-19 is less harmful than the flu. So why are people dying?

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        Ventilators?

    • Richard
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      Do you mean this?: The Californian physician Dr. Dan Erickson “calculates that the lethality rate of Covid19 is currently 0.03% in California, 0.05% in Spain, 0.09% in Sweden and 0.1% in New York State, while the lethality rate of the flu in the USA is around 0.13%.” Hospitals and intensive care units in California and other states have remained largely empty so far… https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-covid-19/

      • Ed M
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        The fatality rate is even far lower for babies and children, and to a degree in adults in their 20’s and 30’s as well. We really need to keep in mind the younger generation as well – as get this wrong, and the coronavirus could disrupt their lives to a degree for years to come through diminished economy. It doesn’t have to at all.

        Controlling the panic is key so and i think we can only do that by pouring everything into 1) TESTING, 2) the most efficient SOCIAL DISTANCE possible, using cheap tech and apps, and 3) PPE – to get children back to school, adults back to work, people buying things again.

        But a lot of money and energy and focus has to go into these things now. Time is running out for our economy. With these measures saving us many, many billions if we get it right now.

        (And the coronavirus doesn’t have to be all bad – terrible as it has been for some sadly – it has brought neighbours and communities together etc).

      • hefner
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        It should not be too complicated to do the calculations. On worldometers.info there is a table ‘countries in the world by population’.
        There are also the Covid-19 statistics by country.
        As of 26/04 06:00
        Germany 83,783,942 inhab. 5877 deaths
        UK 67,799,978 and 20,319
        France 65,273,511 and 22,614
        Italy 60,461,826 and 26,384

        Deaths/million
        G: 70.1, UK: 299.7, F: 346.4, I: 436.4
        i.e. 0.007%, 0.03%, 0.035%, 0.044% lethality per million inhabitants.

        • hefner
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          Spain 46,754,778 and 22,902: 0.049%
          Sweden 10,099,265 and 2,192: 0.022%
          Norway 5,421,241 and 201: 0.0037%

  35. everyone knows
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Hitchens is going to end this nightmare, tomorrow.

  36. Abendrot
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just been watching the daily briefing. It’s rather tedious in truth, but I’m interested in the questions because they confirm my very low opinion of the MSM. I don’t know what they’re like in Europe, but here and in America it seems to be about going for a ‘Gotcha’ moment. The BBC representative, today, was shroud waving and quite obviously trying to suggest that coming out of the lockdown was impossible. I expect the BBC would like nothing more than the disintegration of what private industry remains.
    Latterly, I’ve also been losing patience with many of the experts; are they really that expert I begin to wonder? I wonder if anyone can answer the question of why 80% of the deaths from Covid 19 have occurred in America and Europe? Why so few in the rest of the world?

    • Battery Hen
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 1:35 am | Permalink

      “80% of the deaths from Covid 19 have occurred in America and Europe? ”
      Deliberate overcrowding

  37. Zorro
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    The Home Secretary duckspeaking more vacuous nonsense about the restrictions having minimised the death toll when it is clear that deaths peaked in early April and therefore infection will have peaked before the ‘lockdown’ occurred, supported by the fact that the government downgraded Covid 19 from a HCID on 19/03 four days before the ‘lockdown’….

    The 5pm seminars are non factual zones with repeated cliches being uttered by the speakers who studiously ignore answering the questions (Dominic Cummings’s contributions).

    I also see that they are keeping their plans secret along with the advice on which they undertook their decisions.

    Blasé response from Powys about other deaths from non treatments – we will only know in several years. No commitment to actually undertake these operations.

    More talk of the ‘new normal’ (a phrase I truly detest) involving prolonged house arrest and forbidding free association before the ‘five tests’ are implemented…..

    JR, do you remember someone else who had 5 tests before he would commit to doing something……? Yes, our formerly beloved PM James Gordon Brown had 5 bogus tests before he would commit to joining the Euro. He had no intention of ever joining the Euro. I wonder if our government is being just as disingenuous…?

    zorro

  38. Fred H
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    OFF TOPIC.

    Here’s something for me old China to ponder on-

    BBC website – –
    A Hong Kong bookseller who defied mainland China has reopened his bookshop in Taiwan. Lam Wing-kee was one of five booksellers detained in 2015 after selling material critical of the political elite on China’s mainland. He fled to Taiwan last year for fear he would be sent back to China under Hong Kong’s proposed extradition bill. The authorities there say the reopening of the bookshop is a symbol of democracy and freedom in Taiwan.
    “The reopening is very meaningful,” Mr Lam told reporters in the new store in the capital, Taipei. “Causeway Bay Books was destroyed by China through violent means. The reopening proves Taiwan is a place with freedom and democracy, and we still have the right to read books,” he added.

    How big are Amazon in China? – – just asking.

  39. William Long
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Any decision of this magnitude must de facto be a political one so it seems eminently sensible that political advisers should hear the arguments as they develope. The BBC and oposition parties are just jealous that they are on the outside.

  • 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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