I note that Matt Hancock has a First Class degree in PPE from Oxford and admit that I cannot match his Geoff. I only achieved a Desmond from the same place in the same subject and, at the time, I remember thinking that I was jolly lucky not to have racked up a Douglas. I am pretty sure that my late uncle Christopher Booker had the same feeling after coming away with a second from Cambridge where he read history.
In short, some of those, including Hancock, who get Geoff’s are tedious little swots but not actually that brilliant whereas some very clever folks, I talk of my Uncle not of myself, are just not cut out for academic success for a variety of reasons. Chris was too busy seducing women and writing satire to bother with dry academia.
When talking to any family member this Christmas, one common refrain is how we wish that the founder of Private Eye, a magazine that used to mock the establishment but not be part of it and which was once funny, was around to deal with folks like Hancock.
Chris and I have both read Defoe’s account of the Great Plague of 1665 and I continue to recommend it to all. Defoe published the account in 1720; the actual author was someone who survived 1665 in London when a disease did the rounds which killed the majority of those who caught it, not well under 1%. Indeed, I note that in 1603 another plague hit a town just down the road from me and where Matt Hancock went to school, Chester, and killed 23-28% of the population. Matt, that is what I call a real disease!
However, such has been the virulence of this Government’s project fear that the average Brit reckons that 7% of us have died from Covid. The actual number is closer to 0.1%. And as such, it is remarkable, as I have noted many times, how folks in 2020 have behaved just as Londoners did in 1665. It is not the disease but fear of the disease that drives behaviour. Even if that fear is unwarranted.
So when Hancock and the clowns from SAGE, now led – we gather – by disgraced Professor Pantsdown of Imperial, talked of a virulent new strain in London and the South east, that was bound to stoke a massive spike in fear. I am sure that this new strain, one of c30 detected so far this year, spreads more easily. That is the way that viruses tend to evolve. But with ease of spread tends to come a weakening of the effects. It is a Darwinian case study where the survival of the fittest member of the family Covid will be the one that keeps its hosts from dying and indeed having weaker symptoms so that it can spread to more hosts.
But we oiks were fed a line by an unthinking media focus on the idea of a shocking new strain – ignoring the fact that it is neither new, having first been spotted in September – or more dangerous that Covid v1. En passant, a question for Professor Neil Ferguson, if he is not too busy ignoring the latest lockdown to shag someone else’s wife: if new Covid was both a faster spreader and more dangerous would not the original hotspot in Kent by now be seeing a mass spike in fatalities which a pliant media would be reporting to help justify the next lockdown?
Okay let us, like Hancock, ignore the logic. The point is that Hancock’s words instilled fear into Londoners, as he desired, in order to justify the latest lockdown.
Had he read Defoe he would have not been surprised when the richest dwellers in the capital immediately upped sticks, as they could afford to do, and dispersed to other parts of the country. That is what happened in 1665, so helping to spread the plague all over the place. It is also what happened in Chester in 1603 with some richer citizens heading off to the safety of Nantwich and promptly seeding that town. That Hancock expresses surprise that Londoners flee a terror that he and his colleagues have expressly created shows he is a man of limited intellect or at least one who has not studied history. But perhaps he disagrees with the idea that those who do not study the past will continue to make the same dreadful mistakes in the future.
The stupidity of Hancock was also demonstrated by scenes at shopping centres in Sussex and Northants which were in tier 2 but within a few miles of tier 4. While stores in tier 4 are closed to stop large groups of folks gathering and to ensure that as many outlets as possible went bust, folks’ demand to buy Christmas goods was not abated. Thus they simply got in their cars and ensured that shopping centres and town centres in tier two were twice as crammed. If new Covid is as virulent as little Hancock insists, what does he expect to happen? My cat could have predicted this, but it is beyond the wit of Hancock and his advisers like Pantsdown.
Is Matt Hancock really this stupid or is his role, like that of the imbecilic Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething, simply to make his ultimate boss look, in comparison, like a truly efficient, intelligent and competent leader?