There’s a grave danger that Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down the country again is based on a flawed, one-eyed interpretation of the facts, and that the ‘cure’ will be worse than the disease, again. Have we learned nothing?
On Saturday night, British prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed the worst-kept secret of the moment: that England would be going back into lockdown from Thursday 5 November – Bonfire Night. But the only things going up in smoke will be some of our most basic freedoms – and it’s far from clear that such a clampdown is justified.
This was a moment that Johnson would have preferred to avoid, having made clear just a couple of weeks ago that he thought the idea of another lockdown was the “height of absurdity”. Yet it would appear that he has been persuaded that “there is no alternative”, echoing a phrase made famous by Margaret Thatcher. He said that “the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst case scenario of our scientific advisers, whose models… now suggest that unless we act we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day, a peak of mortality alas far bigger than the one we saw in April.”
But do the facts really justify this damaging new shut down of the country’s economy, or is Johnson basing his decisions on the same advice from the same advisers who, frankly, got it wrong last time? Let’s take a sober assessment of the evidence.