Former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption denounces No10’s authoritarian rule

Lord Sumption – Daily Mail Sept 26, 2020

Lord Sumption.

We are witnessing the slow demise of one of the great conceits of the modern world: the notion that the big-hearted State can protect us against every misfortune and that human beings are mere tools of State policy to be pushed about like pawns on a chessboard according to the changing impulses of its ministers.

The attempt to control the spread of Covid-19 by coercion has failed. It has failed in Britain. It has failed throughout Europe and North America.

It has failed in Israel. It has failed in Australia. The measures which these countries have taken have varied in their severity, but not in their outcome.

A lockdown is the most extreme form of social distancing in the State’s armoury. Yet wherever it has been imposed, the virus has simply bounced back to hit us when it was lifted.

Some of the most repressive measures, like those imposed in Spain and Israel, have seen the worst outcomes.

If lockdowns do not work, what hope is there for lesser measures like the rule of six and pub curfews, which are like fighting off a tiger with a feather duster?

Aggressive measures of social distancing have failed for two straightforward reasons.

Principally, they conflict with the most basic instincts of humanity. We are social animals.

Our instincts and our culture are based on interconnections with other humans.

The whole organisation of our lives, in cities, workplaces, schools and families depends on physical proximity.

It is possible to isolate limited numbers of people who are diagnosed as infectious.

Human societies have done this from time immemorial. But the whole population cannot be turned into hermits at the Government’s command.

Also, aggressive measures of social distancing can only have a significant impact on the spread of an endemic disease if they are kept in place indefinitely.

This would not only crush the social dimension of our humanity. It would destroy our economy and the education and job prospects of our children.

It would also require brutal methods of enforcement which would violate basic standards of decency.

There must be a price which is too high to pay, even for saving lives. In the long run, the Government’s measures will not even do that.

Theoretically, Covid-19 might spontaneously mutate in ways which will make it less dangerous. But short of that, no serious epidemiologist thinks that it will simply go away.

Even a vaccine will not necessarily provide long-term or universal protection. There is a growing consensus that we will have to live with Covid-19 long term. The State can prepare its health services.

It can fund scientific research. But in the long run, it cannot save us from infection by new pathogens.

This is an unwelcome mesSage for the many people who instinctively believe in the universal efficacy of State action. But we have to face facts.

Unfortunately, public debate is descending into a polarised slanging match reminiscent of the worst of the arguments about Brexit.

People who object to social distancing resort to abuse of those who are nervous of the disease, dismissing them as craven wets and cowards.

On the other hand, those who support aggressive measures of social control just get cross when presented with unpalatable truths.

They appeal to social solidarity, bandying epithets like ‘selfish’. The problem about solidarity is that it is really a call to abandon rational thought and logical analysis in favour of emotion. Solidarity in an ill-thought out cause helps no one.

I am getting used to being labelled a ‘libertarian’ as if this was a self-evidently bad thing to be. I would not like to live in a country where people rejected liberty. Nor, I suspect, would those who use ‘libertarian’ as a term of abuse.

In fact, I have never believed that liberty is an absolute value, overriding all other considerations. But I regard it as an important value, which is the fundamental condition of human happiness and creativity.

It follows that those who press for measures to curtail it can reasonably be expected to produce convincing evidence that those measures are likely to work and will not be worse than the effects of the disease.

What kind of evidence has our Government ever produced?

At an early stage, it claimed to be ‘guided by the science’. This would have been a specious claim even if it were true because the issue is not just scientific. It is also moral, social, constitutional and economic.

We could not just leave it to scientists, even if the scientists were agreed. But they are not agreed. To name only the more prominent dissenters, Professors Carl Heneghan and Sanetra Gupta of Oxford University, Professor Mark Woolhouse of Edinburgh University, the Nobel Prize winner Professor Michael Levitt of Stanford University, the Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell and the behavioural scientist Professor Robert Dingwall have all questioned some of the basic assumptions underlying the Government’s measures.

Their arguments have been rational and evidence-based, but have received no coherent answer to date.

One reason for that is that the Government has not, in fact, been guided by the science. The published minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) suggest that there were three main themes of the advice that was given in March, when the lockdown was imposed.

All three have been borne out by subsequent events, but all three were ignored by ministers.

The first was the importance of trusting to the public’s good sense and instinct for self-preservation. On March 13, ten days before the lockdown, Sage advised that ‘citizens should be treated as rational, capable of taking decisions for themselves and managing personal risk’.

The Government has never accepted that. It has throughout resorted instinctively to coercion.

The second theme of Sage’s advice was that we are not all in this together. The main risks are faced by the old and clinically vulnerable, but the burden of universal measures of control is borne mainly by the young and healthy, for whom the symptoms were likely to be mild and the risk of death tiny. Government measures should recognise the distinction.

On March 10, Sage advised that ‘social distancing (‘cocooning’) is for those 70 and over, as well as those of any age in vulnerable groups’.

Three days later, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told Radio Four’s Today programme that the aim was to build up some herd immunity among the young and healthy who could safely be exposed to the disease while protecting the most vulnerable who could not.

This would have been a rational policy based on a real distinction. The latest bulletin of the Office for National Statistics records that more than 89 per cent of deaths associated with Covid-19 have been of people aged over 65.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, they also had serious underlying conditions. But the Government’s measures have been applied indiscriminately to everyone. This is not rational policy-making.

The third theme was that aggressive social distancing measures would have little effect in the long term unless they remained in place until a vaccine was available, something which would need careful thought about the social and economic cost.

‘Measures which are too effective,’ the Imperial College team advised on February 25, ‘merely push all transmission to the period after they are lifted, giving a delay but no substantial reduction in either peak incidence or overall attack rate.’ That advice was repeated on several subsequent occasions and repeatedly ignored.

The Government was blown off course by two things.

Initially, there was rage in the media about the notion of herd immunity, although it is no more than a factual description of the way epidemics have come to an end throughout history.

And then there was Government scientist Professor Neil Ferguson’s statistical model suggesting a ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ of 510,000 deaths. That prediction assumed that vulnerable people would take no distancing precautions if left to themselves, which was never a realistic assumption.

It also assumed that infections would increase exponentially, a view supported by no reliable data at the time and contradicted by the experience of China, where infections had levelled off quite early.

They are making the same mistake now. The fancy charts produced by [Chief Medical Officer] Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick on Monday assumed an exponential growth of infections, with cases doubling every week. Yet the recent experience of France and Spain, which they claimed to be studying, contradicts this.

There, taking the onset of symptoms as the relevant time, infections have been doubling every three weeks for a limited period before levelling off.

This kind of briefing undermines public trust in the information that we are being given, some of which seems designed more to terrify us into submission than to present the real risks.

The Government says that if it does not control every one, the disease will spread from the young and healthy to the old and vulnerable.

This is a big risk in care homes, where people cannot shield themselves against infection by staff and where, shamefully, more than 40 per cent of Covid-related deaths have occurred.

But care homes are the one environment where public authorities ought to be in control, with proper supplies of PPE and frequent tests of staff. Outside care homes, the risk to the old and vulnerable depends on the choices which they make.

With a few exceptions (such as those living in multi-generational households), they can shelter themselves if they wish. Many of them will prefer to take the risk. Those who have less time remaining to them may rationally prefer quality of life to quantity.

They may prefer to hug their grandchildren than to treat them as angels of death. Why should they not be allowed to make that choice for themselves, instead of having some distant minister make it for them?

We all know our own situation and that of the people around us, and can manage the epidemic better than Messrs Johnson and Hancock if we are allowed to.

Yet we are told that they will lock us down if we not do the Government’s bidding and possibly even if we do. We are menaced with £10,000 fines at the discretion of any policeman in the land.

We are advised to inform on our neighbours. In Scotland, students are ordered in strident tones not to go to pubs or socialise, and in England we are told that they might not be allowed home for Christmas.

What kind of country have we become where arrogant bullying of this kind is regarded as a proper function of ministers?

We now learn that the Government expects current restrictions to last six months. Until what?

Until the virus obligingly departs? Until there is an effective vaccine, whenever that may be?

Until the next ill-considered idea for reordering our lives? What is the plan, now that the risk of overwhelming the NHS has subsided? Where is the exit route?

These are all important questions. But all we get for answers are sub-Churchillian blather from the Prime Minister and snarling threats from Mr Hancock.

This is all about covering politicians’ backs. Ministers cannot retreat from the policy of coercion without implicitly admitting that it never was a good idea.

They think that they will be criticised for inaction even if action is useless and propels millions into misery and financial disaster.

They hope that they will still be able to say ‘At least we did what we could’.

I suggest that this is a miscalculation. When the final accounts are taken, the only country where people are likely to feel gratitude for their rulers is Sweden.

In Britain, those who believe that wise governments can triumph over epidemic disease will say that this Government failed because it was not wise enough.

Those who believe that governments cannot, Canute-like, bid the incoming tides to retreat, will blame them for their blighted job-prospects, increased taxes, empty pockets and lost months.

Either way, the Government will be damned.

So it might as well try acting in the public interest for a change


8 responses to “Former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption denounces No10’s authoritarian rule”

  1. Sumption, a decent man, is missing the letters P-R-E from the front of his name.

    He presumes that the government is acting in good faith.

    It isn’t.

  2. The biggest unanswered question is still who is pulling Boris Johnson’s strings? The second biggest question is where is the political opposition to the destruction of Great Britain PLC?.

  3. Yes, it is necessary to get more people to realize that the repression measures of our governments like social distancing, masks and lockdown measures do not stop the spread of the virus, and also to realize that the virus is not really anymore a threat than in any former flu seasons in recent years. Also, we can now prove that social mingling is the best way to quickly develop herd immunity and protect more people from any such flu virus.

    However, no matter how unbalanced and unnecessary the restrictions, as long as people continue to believe there is a marginal threat, they are easily led to believe that the government actions are, nevertheless, “justified out of an abundance of caution”. That views is most likely the very dodge the spin doctors, flake politicians, and too many of our courts, will take in trying to justify the government restrictions when confronted with the facts.

    In the court of public opinion and public action, things are not the same. As soon as greater than 25% of the population realizes the government restrictions are in fact for ulterior aims, more people will wake up and get out of the confines of their Covid health-protection mental coffins. We now know exactly what those ulterior motives actually are, as revealed by all of the high-level establishment speakers during the World Economic Forum on June 6, 2020. We now see clearly that the very government “NEW NORMAL” control measures, together with the deemed “NON-ESSENTIAL” middle class business and consuming habits, are coincidentally the very planned control measures NECESSARY for ushering in the “GREAT RESET”, which has been defined as the 17 UN “SUSTAINABILITY GOALS”, all of which are in themselves pretexts for the ushering in of techno-totalitarian governments simultaneously with a massive financial reset for global financial hegemony by the international banking cartel. That is clear to many of us. However, apart from any fine tuning to these plans of the ruling elites, it is clear that the lockstep pandemic restrictions have been instituted for complete control over us – “we the people”, ushering in changes to our way of life, we likely would vehemently oppose and reject, not only as unjust, and repressive, but also as being totally exaggerated unnecessary, just like with the planned Covid pandemic.

    The terms ‘New World Order’ and ‘New Normal’ are not “conspiracy theory” terms. They came directly from the ruling elites and the Western establishment which rule all of our governments. They have described in open conferences their long-term-planned Great Reset as the first major installment of their long-term-planned New World Order. In total lockstep with this NWO agenda, the underlying message to us through the mockingbird mainstream media over the past 6 months with the hypnotic repetition of the words “killer virus”, “new normal”, “social distancing”, “essential activities”, “remote working”, has been that regardless of any virus, we are not returning to the “old normal”. This speaks volumes not only of the brain washing, mass deception, fear mongering, and government oppression, not just for a Covid “plandemic”, but mainly for the underlying methodology of the NWO New Normal tyranny they have planned for us. In fact, what they have clearly demonstrated by carrying out their planned lockstep pandemic measures, is that their NWO will and must rely on mass brainwashing, constant deception, threats and widespread insecurity and fear, together with extremely sophisticated and systematic government surveillance together with unrelenting central and local government oppression.

    The repressive control means being imposed are obviously central to their overall planning for everything, without which their ends and aims would not be democratically or freely accepted by a sane citizenry of any Western nation, or any people wanting their governments to be ruled by truth, liberty, and justice and not by sociopaths, self-serving oligarchs, and a melomaniac banking cartel. They now no doubt are contemplating to release of a more lethal virus to bring the mounting resistance to an end. However, the truth is now out, mainly because of the exposure of unexpected and providentially halting and poor performance of the fist virus, and the release of any second virus with millions actually dying, will now only incite a move virulent resistance and unchain a resolve and revolution in many nations to rid the world once and for all of the real poison and contagion which has infected all of our governments for centuries.

  4. “We are witnessing the slow demise of one of the great conceits of the modern world: the notion that the big-hearted State can protect us against every misfortune …”

    Most people assumed this “conceit” was nonsense long ago.

    Now they know it for certain. Nothing “slow” about the demise at all.

    “Everything the government touches turns to sh–.” Ringo Starr, way back when.

  5. “The biggest unanswered question is still who is pulling Boris Johnson’s strings?”

    That’s easy, the same one who announced the great reset. The one who may be, or may not be, 666.

  6. The ONS UK doesn’t give any stats for 2020 on Flu and Influenza deaths.

  7. Fred B, I agree with your assessment of the situation and have realised that there is a darker and much dirtier hand behind the politicians who we mistakenly elected in good faith to run the affairs of our country. It is the dirty hands of greed that are driven by possession and domination from the Zio’s and their financial cartels.

  8. Activisor asks “The second biggest question is where is the political opposition to the destruction of Great Britain PLC?.”
    I think Starmer should marry a woman called Smith and go back to rugby commentary where he was doing slighlty better.