by John Ward
Something has been variously rumbling and grinding around my head this week. The US Election put the train of thought on my brain’s back burner – already an overcrowded fire hazard – and then last night, it returned to a european focus, and the old ever-recurring tedium of Brexit and Covid19.
The subject I want to get into is Lockdown. For Lockdown is billed as a way to slow down Covid19 and save lives….but nobody is able to show me any evidence from any country that it does anything but the opposite.
This morning’s Daily Telegraph, in fact, shows irrefutable evidence that, yet again, the Covid19 death projections are already going wrong. Surely now, the People will start to see what’s in play here?
However, Lockdown is very good indeed at containing the virus called public opinion.
One of the most ill-researched and underrated subjects in the lexicon of First World social anthropology is the influence of office gossip, lunch, pub-talk, meetings, supper parties, chats in local shops and so forth…the chance conversations of life as a pack species that lead to the spread of ideas, opinions and attitudes among peers that lie beyond either the media or formal education.
At one ad agency during my early professional career, my boss and I found we had this fascination in common, for it was part of a shared belief system about advertising having a ‘life’ beyond TV, press and posters – in those moments when a colleague or acquaintance says, “Have you seen the new Meerkats one for Compare the Market?” or whatever. He even coined the phrase ‘advertising epidemiology’, and together we penned an article about famous advertising….advertising that might not be running on TV at the time, but was still doing the rounds of every other pub-chat in Britain.
To support the article, I conducted some focus groups and persuaded the agency to stump up for a series of questions on ‘piggy-backed’ syndicated quantification studies. The study was fascinating in its confirmation of the power of ‘word of mouth’ – passaparole as the Italians say, or bocca-bocca – words that pass from mouth to mouth
Lockdown stifles this process almost entirely. Further, it enables media messages to be broadcast with little or no peer-to-peer passaparole to act as a brake or a contrary viewpoint.
While this goes on, Professor Horby continues to frame and undertake vaccine trials on humans, Neil Ferguson carries on his love affair with the BBC by predicting yet more ludicrous doom, and Boris Johnson predicts an eventual feast of success for Britain, where the jam is always due to arrive tomorrow.
The week now passing provided an insight into this process. The SAGE “experts” on Covid19 set out once more on their new attempt to dupe the British Political Executive. Johnson began to salt his barely masticated words with ‘Lockdown’.
This time – after three or more months of normal social intercourse – there were stirrings of unrest. Both the Daily Mail and Telegraph picked this up, and contrarian internet sites demanded more evidence plus Parliamentary scrutiny.
Whitty and Vallance turned up and gave a less than impressive performance, essentially revealing themselves to be half-baked broad brush-stroke chancers.
Having muffed the chance to wipe the floor with the ‘Dunno, mate” duo, Parliament as a whole then votes overwhelmingly for what the two Pharma salesmen demand. And the media do nothing to deconstruct what the two clowns said.
Only Lord Sumption correctly identifies Lockdown2 as marking “a move to a more authoritarian model of politics which will transform the relationship between the state and the citizen, and lead to distrust, resentment and mutual hostility.”
What I’m now positing is that Lockdown2 will slow down the growth-rate of a contrarian anti-Pharmafia body of opinion – above and beyond the convenient State demand that large bodies should not meet in order to express their unrest.
This leaves the internet with the unenviable job of explaining the difference between excrement and putty. Voices like James Delingpole, the Conservative Woman, OffGuardian, Spiked et al point out the illogicalities, the holes, the contradictions and the failures.
Cue MPs hollering for more regulation of internet content? Rely on it.
Rishi Sunak’s announcement in the House that he would extend the furlough assistance scheme until the end of March 2021 shows you where were are headed.
Along that road lies a probable Brexit sellout on at least one key dimension. An ever-ballooning National Debt. And people glued to BBC or Sky News pumping out their daily mixture of assumptive Establishment poppycock.
Out there on the global virtual surfboard, there are still too many sofa-bound optimists predicting revolution and the triumph of Truth. I do wish they’d shut up. Unlike Trump, Boris’s maverick style is just an act. Exactly as with Trump, the Johnson style doesn’t suit the Corporacrats.
“I warned you,” says Sir Mark Sedwill to his new EUNATO colleagues, “Loose cannon, what? Disorganised. Overpromising. Not sound. He’ll hang himself….and the country will not want another election. Persuade the chap to resign and urge national unity. Toss him a few million. Then get our chaps in”.
Much nodding around the table.