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Open thread 3/8/23

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  • Joe Krill March 8, 2023, 8:10 AM

    Leaked messages from December 13, 2020, show former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock planning to “deploy the new variant” in Covid messaging to “frighten the pants out of everyone” in order to “get proper behaviour change” in the British public’s compliance with lockdown measures.

    The new leak is the most damning revelation to come so far from the Daily Telegraph’s recently-announced ‘Lockdown Files,’ which are based on an archive of over 100,000 messages sent between Hancock and other officials. Journalist Isabel Oakeshott ostensibly obtained the WhatsApp messages to assist with a book about Hancock, comprising the biggest leak of UK Government data in over a decade and shedding new light on the UK’s lockdowns, mandates, and fear messaging.

    As the Telegraph summarized:

    The Lockdown Files – more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages sent between ministers, officials and others – show how the Government used scare tactics to force compliance and push through lockdowns.

    In another message Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, said that “the fear/guilt factor” was “vital” in “ramping up the messaging” during the third national lockdown in Jan 2021.

    The previous month, Hancock, the then health secretary, appeared to suggest in one message that a new strain of Covid that had recently emerged would be helpful in preparing the ground for the looming lockdown, by scaring people into compliance.

    In a WhatsApp conversation on Dec 13, obtained by the Telegraph, Damon Poole – one of Mr Hancock’s media advisers – informed his boss that Tory MPs were “furious already about the prospect” of stricter Covid measures and suggested “we can roll pitch with the new strain.”

    The comment suggested that they believed the strain could be helpful in preparing the ground for a future lockdown and tougher restrictions in the run-up to Christmas 2020.

    Mr Hancock then replied: “We frighten the pants off everyone with the new strain.”

    Mr Poole agreed, saying: “Yep that’s what will get proper bahviour [sic] change.”

    Psychologists have already warned that some Government messaging during Covid, including using alleged “fear tactics” in poster and health campaigns, were “grossly unethical” and that inflated fear levels contributed to excess non-Covid deaths and increased anxiety disorders…

    Four months later, in Oct 2020, Mr Poole suggested in a group chat that a decision to stop publishing a so-called watchlist of the areas with the highest prevalence of the virus would be helpful to the Government, because it would make every area of the country concerned about the spread of Covid in a second wave.

    “It helps the narrative that things are really bad if we don’t publish,” messaged Mr Poole.

    In a second article on the new revelation, the Telegraph went on:

    Throughout the course of the pandemic, officials and ministers wrestled with how to ensure the public complied with ever-changing lockdown restrictions. One weapon in their arsenal was fear.

    “We frighten the pants off everyone,” Matt Hancock suggested during one WhatsApp message with his media adviser.

    The then health secretary was not alone in his desire to scare the public into compliance. The WhatsApp messages seen by the Telegraph show how several members of Mr Hancock’s team engaged in a kind of “Project Fear,” in which they spoke of how to utilise “fear and guilt” to make people obey lockdown.

    An Imperial College London survey of Covid infections in the community – called the React programme and led by the eminent professor Lord Darzi – provided “positive” news for Mr Hancock and his team… But when the media focused on a separate report by Public Health England and Cambridge University showing a high transmission rate in some parts of the country – prompting speculation that local lockdowns could follow – Mr Hancock said: “That’s no bad thing.” Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, agreed.

    With recorded Covid cases now down to just 689, the Government was days away from reopening pubs, restaurants and hairdressing salons.

    But on June 30 2020, Leicester had just gone into a local lockdown. In a WhatsApp group called “Local Action Committee,” Emma Dean, Mr Hancock’s special adviser on policy, reported back to the group a rumour that Milton Keynes may be the next town plunged into a local lockdown.

    Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Mr Hancock’s media adviser, replied that it would not be “unhelpful” for the public to think they could be next.

    They agreed that minor adjustments, such as banning angling, would be “parodied galore” – so decided that “fear” and/or “guilt” were vital tools in ensuring compliance.

    They discussed making mask-wearing mandatory in “all settings” because it had a “very visible impact.”

    Along with Hancock’s terror campaign are several other eye-opening revelations. In one conversation, then-PM Boris Johnson declined to lift lockdown restrictions after being told that reopening was “too far ahead of public opinion.”

    Johnson later expressed regret about his decision to implement a second lockdown after being informed that the decision had been based on “very wrong” mortality data.

    In another incident, a mask mandate was imposed on British schoolchildren for the first time after Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty reasoned that the issue was “not worth an argument” with First Minister of Scotland and strict lockdown advocate Nicola Sturgeon.

    By any measure, the Telegraph’s Lockdown Files provide invaluable and astonishing new insight into the depths to which the British Government and its counterparts all over the world sunk as they weighed the perceptions of these unprecedented, unscientific, futile measures against the opinion of the increasingly-terrified and ravenous segment of the public that kept demanding more of them, while devising ever-more-manipulative means of terrifying the more skeptical segment of the public into complying.

    Still, critics of the Telegraph have valid reasons for skepticism. While the Telegraph has revealed astonishing evidence of what happened during Britain’s Covid response, after the initial lockdowns of spring 2020, it has yet to reveal any information as to why those initial lockdowns happened.

    This is a conspicuous oversight, as the Telegraph itself, and most of its journalists, supported the initial lockdowns of spring 2020. Additionally, as a study by Cardiff University demonstrated, the primary factor by which most citizens judged the threat of Covid was their own government’s decision to impose strict lockdowns. The measures thus created a feedback loop in which the lockdowns themselves sowed the fear that made citizens believe their risk of dying from Covid was hundreds of times greater than it really was, in turn causing them to support more lockdowns, mandates, and restrictions.

    For that reason, thoughtful commenters tend to believe that determining how the initial lockdown decision was made in spring 2020 remains the most important question of the entire Covid story. Everything else was downstream from the unprecedented terror sown by that initial decision. And, because widespread terror could be used as an excuse for all the decisions that came after, the activities that instigated the initial lockdown decision in spring 2020 may be the only ones in which criminal conduct is likely to be found.

    Thus, insofar as the Telegraph fails to shed any light on the activities that led to the initial lockdowns in spring 2020, the value of the Lockdown Files in obtaining justice for the response to Covid will be severely limited.

    That said, some of the Telegraph’s revelations of what happened—such as Hancock’s desire to “deploy the new variant” to “frighten the pants off the public”—are so damning that hopefully the public will begin taking seriously the question of why this all happened as well.

    Republished from the author’s Substack


    Michael Senger

  • Casey Klahn March 8, 2023, 9:08 AM

    You can be free of Covid lockdowns any day you like, if you’ll just implement Marx and all his politics. Sorry to put it so bluntly, at the end of this well-written comment. But compliance to the state – that’s the central rub.

  • Rev.Bro. Generik Broderick March 8, 2023, 9:33 AM

    To further the effort towards positive change, we must change our language. For two+ examples, “mask” ought to be called,”Muzzle” and “vaccine shot” any number of alternatives, of which I prefer,”Jab”. Republic instead of ‘democracy’, etc. We must speak out.

  • Ralph March 8, 2023, 11:29 AM

    Rev. You’d never make it as a politician. Tooooo honest. I have to agree —to paraphrase you “let the light and truth shine in”.

  • John A. Fleming March 9, 2023, 11:18 AM

    I don’t know what was with mid-century car styling. To my eyes it looks bulbous and not pretty at all, like a bunch of deformed mushrooms mashed together. Why did our countrymen in those days even like and buy those cars? What were those stylists thinking? All that massive chrome. C’mon guys, less is more, KISS, hanging a hundred pounds of chromed steel off a car does not make it pretty and desirable.

    When I was a kid, my older brother bought a mid-50s Chevy beater car, my brothers and I used it as a learning platform for how to work on and fix cars. To my eyes, it was a grandpa car, something only the old folks would have driven. It looked old, stodgy, it was embarrassing to drive it. And it ran like crap. At the time that car was only about 15 years old. Heck, all my cars now are older than that and they still look good and drive good.

    Detroit only had about one decade of good styling, 1964 – 1971. Before that they were either rolling potatoes or wretched excess. After 1971 with the smog limits coming in, and other things, Detroit lost their way and the cars were dogs, once again underpowered, over-heavy, and uninspired.

  • ghostsniper March 9, 2023, 2:24 PM

    Do you register your 1st Amendment Rights?
    Then why register your 2nd Amendment Rights?

    • Casey Klahn March 10, 2023, 6:37 AM

      Just wait. I read this week about blogs on election news that were being registered.

      2A? Sucks to be a gun owner. I don’t happen to own any, so IDGAS. I make 3D art with any brass thingies I may buy from time to time.

  • Anne March 9, 2023, 9:23 PM

    Sometime in 1957 my mother and stepfather got into a 1950(1?) Kaiser car–the big beauty and drove from So. California to Mexico City. Mom had heard about “this calendar I want to see”. I may be wrong, but I believe in those days that meant driving through the Palo Duro–not sure. Do remember it was dirt road between the border and Mexico City. One night they were staying in their little motel and mom needed to get something out of the car. She came down in time to find some locals pulling the tires off. She stood her ground started screaming for my stepfather and got in their way so they would leave without her tires. When I look at the “liberated” women of today I laugh. They need a committee, an armed group of fem/nazis to just go to the local school board meeting leave alone drive into a 3rd world country in 1957! They put her in the hospital because she was so sick when they got home. When she came home you know what she told me–this woman with a sixth grade education? “You need to study Spanish–someday everyone in the US will be speaking Spanish and it will be important for you to know how to speak Spanish”

  • Nori March 9, 2023, 9:55 PM

    Informative,interesting,and damning post Mr Krill. Further proof that Western Civ is led by vapid psychopaths. Who profit handsomely for their perfidy.

    Regarding the mid-century automobile:recently learned that as a college freshman,Mother drove a 1950 Studebaker Champion,Black Cherry. This floored me. Don’t know if it was an inline 6 or v-8 or any other pertinent details,(like what happened/where is it) but the fact that she owned one is amazing to me,her 1st kid.

  • Casey Klahn March 10, 2023, 6:46 AM

    Anne, Nori, and John: awaiting me in my automobile dreams is a Hudson Hornet. It’s green and shiny.

    To my eye, the design beauty went out of automobiles somewhere in the 70s. Finding a good-looking ride after that era is like finding a beauty at a boarding school. Good luck on that.

  • jwm March 10, 2023, 7:17 AM

    “hanging a hundred pounds of chromed steel off a car does not make it pretty and desirable.”
    Yes it does.
    What can top the ostentatious glory of a ’59 Coupe De Ville? Or a ’61 space ship T-bird. Or a ’59 Chrysler Imperial? (those tail lights!)


    • John A. Fleming March 10, 2023, 5:17 PM

      Which just shows to go you, I never seem to learn about pontificating about mere opinions.

      I reckon that the 1964-1969 Mustangs and 1967-1971 Camaros will never go out of style, they will always look fresh as a daisy.

      • ghostsniper March 10, 2023, 5:38 PM

        I owned a 66 Mustang convertible and a 70 Camaro SS and I agree.
        My dad was a car dood and had been all of his life. Early on he was constantly teaching me vehicle brand and model years. By the time I was 10 I was already familiar with wrench turning. It was a lifelong vocation for both of us.

        Tomorrow is supposed to be cold, in the high 30’s low 40’s, but I have the parts on hand and I’m gonna replace the brake rotors and pads on the rear of my 2001 Blazer 2dr 4×4. It’s been metal on metal for the past 2 weeks. I’ll check the wheel bearings while I’m at it.

        The first time I did this it was shoes and drums on a 1961 Triumph I bought for $35 when I was 14 years old. Prior to that it was just lawn mowers, mini-bikes and such.

        I likes the old rides cause they all had personality. Unique. From the early 80’s til now they all look about the same, jelly bean shaped, way too expensive, and no real reason for model names.

      • jwm March 11, 2023, 6:36 AM

        You’ll get no argument from me on Mustangs and Camaros. But I’ve always had a soft spot for those Sinclair Dinosaur cars of the ’50s.