Operation Moonshot and the Pandemic Politics of a Rogue State

A lot of this makes you feel uneasy, like we’re trapped. The coronavirus and the constitutional crisis seem like twin events, predicaments teetering between the dystopian and the liberatory, between salvation and catastrophe. Panning across the world as seen though social media is like being infected by a different form of virus, unsure whether this is ‘reality’ or something worse. Here a Palestinian child is brutalised by Israeli forces, here a woman is attacked by the cops in New York, here witnesses report that police shot anti-fascist Michael Forest Reinoehl without warning or trying to arrest him first. The doom-scrolling is addictive and mesmerising.

From Cold Springs in the north-west to Beachie Creek in Oregon to Dolan south of San Francisco, wild fires rage. The image above was taken at midday in Oregon without a filter.

San Francisco Airport puts out a message … “Orange skies at #SFO. Are you in the Bay Area? Share your photos. #OrangeSky“. This is an extraordinary new form of Apocalyptic Voyeurism. Climate crisis as an Instagram moment.

Greg Jaffe, a national political reporter for The Washington Post, who had previously covered the White House, and now does ‘social policy’ wrote a devastating long-form essay (‘A pandemic, a motel without power and a potentially terrifying glimpse of Orlando’s future’) where he outlined the plight of the residents of the Star Motel whose owner abandoned it in December: “Now the motels outside Disney World were fast becoming places where it was possible to glimpse what a complete social and economic collapse might look like in America.”

If you think all of this seems alien and the brutality of Trump’s America is something that we won’t witness here, think again. If the pandemic tells us anything it’s that “everything is connected” and the social fabric of Britain is as vulnerable and precarious as it ever has been, with the end of furlough meeting winter and No Deal within a matter of weeks and months. Like our response to climate breakdown our response to covid is the same, roll out the most basic ameliorative efforts, ignore the reality of what we are experiencing and urge ourselves to tread on and “go back to normal” as quickly as possible, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that to do so is suicidal.
In this moment, in this unparalleled global crisis the forms of leadership (both sides of the Atlantic) seem pitiful and grotesque.
Writing in the New Statesman (‘The return of American fascism’) Sarah Churchwell compares the symbolism and imagery of Mussolini in the 1930s and Trump in the 2020s, she writes:
“Trump may lack the discipline and ­grandeur to which the original fascist spectacles aspired, but he doesn’t lack the grandiosity. What makes Trump so clownish is the delusional gap between the claims he makes and the figure he presents. Without discipline, the attempts at impressive bombast collapse into bathetic farce. The first fascists emphasised individual heroism and physical perfection: Trump emphasises it, too, but only in regards to himself. He is his own fascist sublime.”
She explores the iconography used by Trump his family, such as the photo of Trump’s face superimposed on to the sculpted body of Rocky Balboa, or when on 4 July, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, shared a meme of his father’s head Photoshopped on to George Washington’s body. She writes:
“The absurdity of this bizarrely entertaining spectacle does not make it less dangerous, but more so. The clownish aspect of both Hitler and Mussolini were often noted at the time – not for nothing did Charlie Chaplin lampoon Hitler in The Great Dictator (1940). The Ku Klux Klan was clownish, too, with its pointy hats, its puerile rituals, its risible attempts at occultism. As a historian observed in 1931, the Klan’s “preposterous vocabulary” and “infantile love of hocus-pocus” offered a “chance to dress up the village bigot and let him be a Knight of the Invisible Empire”. That didn’t make the Klan any less murderous.”
Our leaders are no less clownish.
This week it was announced that Boris Johnson was “pinning hopes on £100bn ‘moonshot’ to avoid second lockdown” – whilst simultaneously it was becoming clear that our “track and trace” was barely functioning as opposed to “world leading”. The PM is said to be pinning his hopes on a project that would deliver up to 10m tests a day, even though the current testing regime struggles to deliver a fraction of that number. The documents presented said that the “Mass Population Testing Plan” could cost £100bn – the equivalent to the UK’s entire education budget.
Everything is vainglorious, exceptional, grandiose and magnificent, rather than competent, assured and planned and detailed in execution.
As the Conservatives swagger about how they are going to break international law, Matt Hancock faced howls of laughter when he announced Operation Moonshot in parliament and entertained with a defence of the appointment of Tony Abbott’s appointment  to Sky’s Kay Burley. She said: “I said he’s a homophobe and a misogynist” – you said “But he’s also an expert on trade”.  The wonderfully inept Hancock then blurted that “Tony Abbott’s sister, who is herself homosexual, said those accusations are wrong.”
Not to be undone in the competition for Car Crash Interview of the Week Alister Jack spoke to the BBC’s Glen Campbell and tried to excuse and explain the commitment to illegality: “We’re standing up for Great Britain over Brussels and I make no apology for that” he stammered shifting uneasily and looking about as uncomfortable and unconfident as it is physically possible to be. In Westminster a remote question was put to the putative Secretary of State for Scotland by Mhairi Black MP.
She asked him: “Today the UK government have published their Internal Market Bill, and I want to ask specifically about Clause 46 which states that any UK minister of the crown may promote and directly provide economic development effectively allowing the UK powers to legislate in the following devolved areas: health, education, water, electricity, courts and pensions facilities, housing, the list goes on … so Minister am I correct in my understanding that in my understanding that when his government says they are “strengthening the union” what they really mean is “dismantling devolution”?
The clownish and the inept are everywhere but the Trump-Johnson spectacle isn’t really a mirror. If Trump is everywhere, Johnson appears nowhere at all. If Trump seems to dominate everything in a mesmerising blizzard of social media and an ever-present tirade of gibberish, Johnson seems ever-absent, a fleeting glimpse of incoherent bravado scattered with classical references then gone like an Etonian Houdini. The Prime Minister is an absence and the void is filled by his spectacularly inept goons and the sort of low-grade Ministers that would have been unthinkable in an other menagerie.
This week has seen the grim realisation that we’re not coming out of lockdown, that we’re not “going back to normal” (whatever that means) and this isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact it’s getting worse. So too are relations between the British government and their Europan counterparts and the British government and their Scottish counterparts.
John Harris, one of a handful of commentators who “gets” what’s happening in Britain noted:
“Covid-19 is a great accelerator. In most of the countries it has struck, whatever inequalities, divisions and tensions were festering before its arrival have now sped into the political foreground. And so it has proved here. Race, class, gender, poverty, wealth, the north-south divide – even though it often feels it as if time has stood still, all of these things are now vividly in front of us, demanding attention. And one key issue has come roaring back: the fate of the United Kingdom itself. Brexit and the pandemic are pushing its countries and regions in strikingly different directions.”
Harris concludes: “Clearly, nothing highlights our increasingly unsettled, estranged national condition better than the politics of Scotland. One should always hesitate before claiming that mere polls represent historic shifts, but in the last few months, a number of surveys have found support for Scottish independence running at more than 50%. Leaving aside undecideds, a Panelbase poll last week put the for-and-against numbers at 55 and 45 respectively: an elegant inversion of the 2014 referendum result, and another excuse for stories about political shockwaves supposedly now spreading from Edinburgh to London. The superficial explanation is obvious. As one Tory put it to me last week, Nicola Sturgeon has succeeded in creating a contrast between her government’s “cautious and communitarian” approach to Covid-19 and the idea that Boris Johnson’s administration has been “chaotic and market-driven”.
Chaotic and market driven it certainly is but the fallout is not just being seen in soaring polling for the SNP, for the Greens and for independence (the latest Survation polls show the SNP could sweep constituencies as in 2011 and give the Greens more seats than ever on the list). There is an obvious constitutional price for Johnson’s regime as they sleepwalk into the end days of the Union. But their spectacular mismanagement of the virus may have a domestic cost too. The virus is spreading again. Precisely why a functioning test, trace and track system is not in place by now is surely a criminal not just a political question. At what point the electorate in England wakes up to this tragedy isn’t yet clear, but when they do, there surely must be a judgement day for this shambolic and disgraceful administration?

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  1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

    I can’t believe that the evil BBC skewered Alister Jack like that. The Tories will be accusing it of anti-unionist bias next. How absurd!

  2. Roger GOUGH says:

    On Friday 11.09.2020 the total number of DEATHS recorded since lockdown from Covid of those without an underlying health factor are as follows :
    Under 20 = 4
    Under 40 = 35
    Under 60 = 268
    Numbers taken from NHS England website.

    1. Iain MacPhail says:

      The % of people worldwide with “an underlying health condition” (who are most likely to be severely affected or die as a result of contracting covid) is approaching 25% of the global population.


      Given the prevalence of diabetes / obesity etc in the developed West is proportionately higher than elsewhere, is the NHS England stat just another way of justifying Herd Immunity & The Survival Of The Fittest?

      Or as the Bella piece put it, of promoting a chaotic & market driven response to covid, over a compassionate & communitarian one?

      1. Michael says:

        Shouldn’t we protect the vulnerable and let the rest get on with their lives. Rather than kick the most economically vulnerable out of their jobs and send old people from hospitals into care homes! I really can not see the justification for lock-downs!

      2. Grafter says:

        Now that’s what I call propaganda. Are you working for the government ? Still watching BBC TV ? Sad.

    2. Michael says:

      Road casualties in Great Britain for 2019 show that there were: 1,748 reported road deaths, similar to the level seen since 2012. 153,315 casualties of all severities in reported road traffic accidents, a decrease of 5% compared to 2018: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-provisional-results-2019

      Shouldn’t we ban all driving?

      1. John S Warren says:

        The low number of deaths from COVID-19 now is a function of the effort put in by millions of people over the summer, albeit a process accompanied by many flaws in execution; some, but not all understandable, when science knows so little about a new virus. The figure to keep in mind is the 60,000 ‘excess deaths’ in the early months of this year (almost all attributable in some way, directly or indirectly to the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects). We are now facing the prospect of the return of that disaster through the potential loss of control of the pandemic because we are opening up the economy, and we have a population weary of the pandemic, and an NHS that has had little relief from the high demands placed on it.

        This is far more serious than to rely on gib references to motoring stats. It is not the current statistics of deaths that reveal what is happening now with COVID-19 (at the most basic level there is a lag of weeks between public infection, spread through the community and hospitalisation); but what is going to follow if the current efforts prove insufficient to regain control may well be deaths returning to the old levels we saw before. This is going to be a hard winter. Indeed, if there is a ‘second wave’ it could be much worse, as the history of ‘second waves’ in pandemics have shown in the past.

        I find the kind of argument that sees fit to appeal to motoring statistics, which have so little common ground with a world virus pandemic, at best specious. I would not wish to live in a country that is prepared to live with a level of deaths from a virus that in reality could well reduce the motoring stats to insignificance. My stomach turns at the thought.

        1. Michael says:

          You have well expressed the nice and acceptable middle class view that the MSM have been pushing and that is being used to push through all sorts of insane policy and reshape society in ways that are extremely worrying. If your home, like ours, has had to work through this period on the front line, on near enough minimum wage, it looks quite different. And anyway, your narrative has been shot to hell as far as I’m concerned, even on it’s own terms.

          Even if you think lock-downs – and throwing the most economically vulnerable out of work – is justified, the evidence is stacking up that lock-downs have very much been shutting the gate after the horse has well and truly bolted: “A team of doctors from Los Angeles scouring the hospital records from last winter has discovered a series of smoking gun clues which almost guarantee that Covid-19 was present in America well before Christmas.” … and … “Peter Attwood died at the age of 84 on January 30, having been sick for over a month. But in recent weeks, an autopsy has confirmed that he died of Covid, which he probably was infected with in 2019. Underlining this, Attwood’s daughter was sick with similar symptoms two weeks earlier still. All of this happened in Kent, England. But according to the government there, the first Covid death in the UK did not happen until March.” [2]

          It very much looks like Covid has already sweep through the population and for most people it has just not been an issue. Other scientific studies relating to anti-body tests ect have also confirmed this.

          And then, of the small-ish number of deaths that have been attributed to Covid, the Centre for Disease Control recently released a report suggesting: ‘of the approximately 165,000 “Covid deaths” in the US, less than ten thousand died from Covid only. The rest – a vast majority – had on average 2.6 serious additional diseases, with the addition in most cases of extreme advanced age.’ So something like 1 out of every 16 Covid deaths has actually been caused by Covid, i.e., if you are coming to the end of your life already then you are at risk. If not, you are at very little risk at all. That is not a justification for lock-downs, a police state and mass fear. This is reason to protect the vulnerable and let the rest of us get on with our lives.

          And what about Sweden? Or Japan? … the Japanese government do not have the constitutional power to impose lock-downs… and yet the country has suffered virtually no deaths!

          I’ll just note to that it would very much in the spirit of the scientific method of inquiry to ask, if the evidence suggests that Covid is not nearly as lethal as first thought, are there other possible explanations for an increased excess death rate?

          Isn’t it strange that last winter there was a marginal increase in the very old and sick dying with flu like symptoms, which has tailed off almost completely over the summer and is now expected to rise again… just the same as every other year!

          [1] https://www.rt.com/op-ed/500502-worldwide-covid19-spreading-december/
          [2] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly

          1. John S Warren says:

            Unfortunately you attempt to classify my thinking without understanding it. I have made clear often enough that “the science” is not authoritative, because it is grappling at the frontier of knowledge. The scientists know this. Science is confronting a new problem to which it does not have all the answers. Science, however is what we have, and is our best hope; it is all we have. That hope is represented best here by the science the Scottish government uses. I can follow the arguments, and I can see the purpose. It changes as understanding improves, as better solutions arise. Mistakes are made, and some are inevitable in the predicament of a world pandemic. My biggest problem has been with the Westminster government, because it has failed to be clear and consistent. There is now an ‘alternative SAGE’, headed by a past Chief Scientific Officer who is highly critical of Westminster. The greatest criticism, however is the long term destruction over ten years of austerity, of Britain’s capacity to fight a pandemic through the existing, well established and professional local health structures. These have been replaced by vast public contracts to new neo-liberal private operations that have catastrophically failed to deliver. This is where attention should be focused.

            The rambling anxieties of ‘Michael’ and a series of unfocused, alarmist conclusions do not give me sufficient inclination to follow your judgements, just so you can open up the country for a grasping, chaotic free-for-all. If I am wrong in following the best we currently have, I am confident that many fewer people will be harmed than if we follow you (who on earth are you, you do not even provide your full name?); and to follow your opinion only to find that you are wrong. I suggest you take a good look at your plausibility.

          2. J Galt says:

            Michael you will never win against the intelligent fools.

          3. John S Warren says:

            Mr Galt,

            You are perfectly entitled to your opinion, but I do struggle to see what evidence you provide for whatever it is we are all supposed to do (or even more vaguely, whom or what we are supposed to follow), beyond offering the easy, gratuitous ‘ad hominem’ insult; and there is the problem (not the insult, I really do not care – think ducks and water). We are all, however supposed to be persuaded by the clinching arguments of Messrs Galt and ‘Michael’. Forgive me if this target of your ire is not sufficently persuaded by your anecdotal scaremongering, or evidence-free solutions, and even more decisive; the feeling that if you prove to be wrong, neither you nor ‘Michael’ will likely be offering to carry the can. For my part I am following the best evidence and execution of policy that are both credible, and actually functioning; and they are much more likely to be carrying the can. So, really, why should I care what you think? Do you really even believe that this lazy, small-minded guff actually advances your public case?

        2. Michael says:

          Hi John (S Warren): when someone starts attacking the man – in irrelevant ways – rather than address the argument, you know you are dealing with emotion dressed up at reason. I’m happy to give you my last name. But please can you explain what my last name has to do with this discussion? Is it so you can make a donation to my fledgling, but highly influential, think tank? I am not expecting you to “follow” me or even be persuaded by me. We are of course, all individuals! But I do think that it is worth looking at the evidence rather than blindly accepting the politically motivated narrative that we are being feed. Am I a heathen for trying to apply intellect to this situation?

          PS. I love the fact that some people have stated addressing others as Mr This or Mr That. I feel like I’ve been sucked in to a Reeves and Mortimer sketch. It’s quite peculiar and hilarious 🙂

          1. John S Warren says:

            The worst part of social media is that it is too easy for people to use pseudonyms or diminutives to throw opinions around, without feeling the need openly to own them. This has had serious adverse consequences for public debate in social media, that are never challenged or even discussed. If you cannot see that this has reduced personal responsibility in public discourse, and reduced social media from a great open-source medium to what has become in many cases an open sewer, then I can say no more. I do not wish to live in that world; you are welcome to it. You even appear to approve of it. QED.

            As for my tendency to formal courtesy, I accept it is not conventional in social media. Do I care that you find it hilarious? No, not in the least, why should I? Be my guest.

            In terms of the actual “argument” you presented, I have provided all that I wish to say about your “case”; I consider your methodology slapdash and your tone of delivery lurid, ludicrously over-egged and almost hysterical in its dramatisation of poorly framed sources and tendency to anecdotalism. That is my final opinion, for what it is worth: take it or leave it, I have reached the limit of my interest.

          2. J Galt says:

            Mr Warren,

            The use of the phrase “intelligent fools” was primarily directed at “Michael”, to express my view that rational argument about this event is increasingly futile.

            How can you debate rationally with an otherwise intelligent person who believes that putting on a piece of loose fitting cloth over one’s face to go to the toilet in the pub is in any way the act of a sensible adult?

            I hope I am not dishonest and I own that based on your post I think you are, in my opinion, an intelligent person who apparently believes foolish things. Let’s not pussyfoot around, I’m sure you think I’m foolish for believing what I believe – I can take it also.

            My name is not a pseudonym based on the writings of Ayn Rand and I’ve gone beyond ire – what I increasingly feel is derision.

          3. John S Warren says:

            Mr Galt,

            We beg to differ. I confess I am becoming confused about who-wrote-what. I am trying to do several things simultaneously and probably losing the thread.

            On the point of difference, this is really difficult, not least for the authorities, who have to keep the message as simple as possible. It will inevitably lead to anomalies. Our difference is that here I believe we must cut them some slack, because deterioration of strict standards defeats their endeavours. In addition – and this is what I wish to challenge here – are those who play to a public weary of the pandemic, who want a return to ‘normality’, but who are casually indifferent to the consequences. There are serious costs in human health and life in being wrong about this matter. I do not care for the British Gvernment approach, and I think they have made the confused signalling worse; but it is what it is. In spite of that I choose great caution, and I do not confuse this with an assault on my liberty. This is not ‘slavery’, or ‘people smuggling’, or political abduction, or ‘extraordinary rendition’; it is wearing a mask to visit the toilet. Big deal. The Internal Market Bill is a far greater danger.

            I have been sucked in to this debate (my own fault), but it is going nowhere, becoming confused, and I have things to do.

          4. J Galt says:

            Mr Warren

            Yes we beg to differ.

            I have always believed that the most intelligent words a human being can utter are “I might be wrong”.

            At the risk of sounding sycophantic I like your mode of expression – some might find it “old fashioned”, however speaking as one who rarely reads any literature written after about 1950 and preferably before 1900 it works for me.

        3. Michael says:

          Please can you at least mark my argument out of 20? And highlight the areas that I could improve things? 🙂

          1. John S Warren says:

            You aren’t very subtle, even when dangling bait; but here are some thoughts in my final effort to engage. Motoring statistics are a poor comparison for a pandemic. It was your first choice. You had to be challenged to turn up anything more. The next argument about the date of first infections can only realistically be cleared up long after the pandemic is over. It is an unconvincing basis to prove your case now that this is really no more severe than seasonal flu. That is a big claim to make and you need some really big facts, some serious, thorough evidence and some really big scientific authorities to make it stick. I have yet to see them. You also need to explain why the mainstream public health and scientific opinion is so wrong, and you are right.

            The seasonal flu in the UK does not fit your case when looked at from the perspective of excess deaths; the comparison over five years in the UK includes flu cases and 2020 is over by 60,000+, most almost certainly through COVID-19, directly or indirectly (I have already stated this). The current low level of deaths rather proves the case for Government action over the Spring and Summer, rather than disproves it. The expectation is that a second wave could be far more serious than the first (this was certainly the case with the second wave Spanish flu in 1919, as an example of pandemic cycles).

            Your reference to the low direct effect of COVID-19 deaths in the US is not decisive: one study (and you did not provide a link to the source). The problem here is that measurement is a real difficulty in international comparisons. We know there are differences in measurement, and this becomes complex when measuring direct and indirect effects. This problem is well established, and has led to less reliance on international comparison graphs. You did not qualify or even broach the problem. You seemed to me to be on a fishing expedition. It is not a view that I am aware of has produced wide international scientific support.

            I have no doubt there are problems in the science, for reasons I have already rehearsed. Nevertheless I prefer the sources I have been using for the last six months in public health, not least from the universities, that have provided support for measures of which you do not approve. Some may prove to be wrong, in some cases, in the long term. We are not in a position to decide that now, but whatever doubts there may yet be, that does not make your case persuasive. You have not provided sufficient, clear authoritative scientific opinion in total support of your complete dismissal of the dangers of the pandemic, or sufficiently well-evidenced sources of decisive facts. You have assembled a variety of sources, but not rigorous, not academically authoritative but, together a rather slapdash collection of opinions, to which you append an over-political and I believe over-emotional argument; an argument that is extreme in its effects, and if you are wrong could have catastrophic effects for the public. You treat all this as if you are the only authority, and all we need to follow your opinion is your first name. And you wonder why all that may not ‘cut it’.

            Make of that what you will; I have other serious calls on my time.

          2. John Mooney says:

            “Mark out of 20” Zero,I will forgo the niceties and call you out for what you are,a sad trolling prick,so foxtrot oscar,you are the weakest link.Goodbye!

      2. Grafter says:

        Michael . Correct. People need to stop watching TV and start using their brain cells.

    3. John Learmonth says:

      Meanwhile millions of people in Africa are now going to die not from covid but from the resulting unemployment and lack of medical care due to the massive over reaction to the virus in the west. All of us will die but so far 0.05% have died due to the ‘pandemic’ less than die from seasonal flu.
      The cure is worse than the disease.

      1. John S Warren says:

        According to the PHE statistics I have found on influenza mortality for England in recent years have averaged 17,000 pa, with a single year high of 28,000, and some years much, much lower. I do not know on what basis you make your judgement at influenza mortality. On Africa, recording the failure of the West is an easy target, but I am not sure on what basis you draw the conclusion that if it was not for the West’s obsession with COVID-19 Africa would somehow be better off. Africa is submerged in wars, failed states, famines and crises from north to south, east to west.

        1. Grafter says:

          John are you a fan of this scam ?

          “The expectation is that a second wave could be far more serious”

          Your parroting the same pseudo science without any statistical evidence relating to the virus called Covid-19. Without wasting too much time on your specious argument I can only surmise that you should get out more and stop watching TV .

      2. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

        Doesn’t the fact that ‘so far 0.05% have died due to the ‘pandemic’ less [sic] than die from seasonal flu’ suggest that the ‘cure’ is working?

        Mind you, the real test will come in the winter, when mortality rates from contagious respiratory illness like influenza and COVID-19 tend to rise. Thankfully, we have a handle on influenza, which makes it unlikely that it will enjoy the runaway success it had a century ago. But COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus on which we don’t yet have a handle; so, perhaps its better to be safe than sorry, despite the counterfactual argument that we’re overreacting.

        1. Grafter says:

          “Mind you, the real test will come in the winter”

          We all know the statistics are fraudulent and the methods of recording same are in the realms of make believe . Where have the flu and pneumonia statistics gone to ?? Their agenda is to designate all deaths as Covid 19 and winter months are a godsend to them. Its a well planned operation by the parasitical elite. Do not be fooled and stop watching TV .

          1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            “We all know…”

            Well, I don’t know that. (But, then again, I’m a sceptic; I doubt every knowledge-claim, even yours.)

            “Where have the flu and pneumonia statistics gone to ??”

            Public Health England publishes these weekly on its website, including the stats for Scotland. Health Protection Scotland used to gather and publish the latter separately in a perverse duplication of surveillance, but since May (I think – it was around about then anyway) its monthly schedule of reporting has been cancelled due to workforce reprioritisation in order to support the Scottish government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. But, of course, as you know (but I don’t), these statistics are fraudulent.

            “Their agenda is to designate all deaths as Covid 19…”

            What puzzles me (and I’m easily puzzled, not being a trusting sort of a guy) is why, if this is their agenda, they’re not so designating all deaths. A quick deek at statistics the latest figures published by National Records of Scotland (NRS) reveals that, in fact, between 3rd–9th August, only five deaths were registered that mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. But, again, as you will know (but I doubt), in our post-truth world, this ‘fact’ will be a fabrication to blind us to the conspiracy.

            “Do not be fooled and stop watching TV .”

            I don’t have a TV. Haven’t had one since 1979. I hear it rots your brain.

          2. james sinclair says:

            Anndrais, you seem to endorse our government’s actions in this manufactured pandemic. The increasing use of “cases” is now their chosen weapon of fear. Cases based on tests which inflate numbers dramatically. As the test is not a diagnostic tool and the virus has never been isolated and the gene sequencing is extremely similar to other coronavirus it’s simply impossible for anyone to know how many if even anyone has died of Covid19. The gold standard diagnosis must be an X-ray and blood test. This is not being done but we are being confronted by this daily onslaught of “cases” and with regards to Covid19, evidence based medicine is ignored. Also under WHO guidelines no clinical diagnosis of the Covid19 pneumonia is required and no autopsies are to be carried out. So we now have the conditions for a perfectly planned storm. Glad to hear you don’t have a TV .

          3. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            No, James; I’m just pointing out to Grafter that we don’t all know that ‘the statistics are fraudulent and the methods of recording same are in the realms of make-believe’, and helping him/her find where the flu and pneumonia statistics are to be found.

            I can neither endorse nor renounce the actions of either of our governments, nor those of other countries all around the world, in their response to the current health crisis. The pandemic may indeed be a hoax; equally, at the other end of the spectrum, pandemic-denial may indeed be a coping strategy some folk are employing to protect their sense of security and safety. In today’s post-truth world, you pays your money, you takes your choice.

            I’m fairly confident that politicians, being politicians, will be power-milking the situation for all their worth. C’est la vie!

            Nevertheless, I’ll continue in the meantime to practice the improved hygiene regimes that, not before time, have become the new norm.

          4. grafter says:

            The pattern is the same routine as 9/11. Substitute “virus” for “terrorist”. Fear and erosion of freedom inevitably follow.

          5. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            @Grafter. I think it’s incontrovertible that politicians will make the most of events in their pursuit of power. Conspiracy theorising – e.g. attributing emergencies like the pandemic, climate change, the globalisation of non-state violence, cybercrime, or whatever to the hidden machinations of sinister and powerful groups like Jews and Bolsheviks and plutocrats and Westmonsters (formerly known as ‘the Bastardin English’) and patriarchies and mafias or whatever – is a strategy the opportunistic buggers commonly use to strengthen their grip on power’s proverbial ‘levers’.

            Conspiracy theory is also, I hear, a favourite trope in film and television, which might explain why so many people buy into it.

          6. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            PS I’ve just seen that, below, James has called his particular bogeyman the ‘parasitical elite’. Sounds scary!

        2. Grafter says:

          Anndrais, 9/11….Do you believe that two skyscrapers collapsed and turned to dust because of aircraft impact and jet fuel melting 4″ thick solid steel construction ? Do you believe that a Boeing 757 flew into the Pentagon ? Do you believe that WTC7 miraculously collapsed in free fall due to office fires ? If you do I can’t wait to hear your evidence on these questions.

          1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            No. I’m a sceptic; I don’t believe anything. I keep every claim I make under erasure; I take every claim that others make on my belief with a pinch of salt.

            My problem with conspiracy theories, in particular, is that they resist falsification and are reinforced by circular reasoning. both evidence against the conspiracy and an absence of evidence for it are re-interpreted as evidence of its truth, whereby the conspiracy becomes a matter of trust rather than something that can be proved or disproved.

            My suspicious nature also suggests that conspiracist ideation (belief in conspiracy theories) is pathological, paranoiac, and machiavellian. Finding a conspiracy where there is none can be attributed to a phenomenon called illusory pattern perception.

            In other words: yer aff yer heid, pal.

          2. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            In fact, let’s do a wee Socratic experiment to test my suspicion.

            One theory that has been provisionally advanced to explain the collapse of the Twin Towers is that the heat from the burning jet fuel melted the aluminium of the aircraft hulls, that this molten aluminium then found its way downwards within the buildings through staircases and gaps in the floor, and that the flowing aluminium underwent a chemical reaction with water from the sprinklers in the floors below, releasing enormous explosions. In support of this theory, those who proposed it point to scientific experiments and 250 reported disasters suffered by the aluminium industry, which show that the combination of molten aluminium and water releases such enormous explosions.

            Now, if you will, let’s compare this theory with your own and see which is the more plausible. But to do this, we’ll need your cooperation. What is your explanation for the collapse of the Twin Towers, and to what evidence would you appeal in support of your theory?

          3. John S Warren says:

            Mr mac Chaluim,

            I had to respond to this so long dead thread that the tumbleweed is blowing across it: but your last response is so well and wittily crafted, I had to stop off to doff my cap. You provide a valuable, off-the-peg response for sceptics, cynics and pyrrhonists everywhere, when presented with this kind of ‘off-piste’ approach.

          4. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            Thank you, John. As a sceptic myself, disputation (rather than exposition) is one of my amusements.

            Disputation is a regular form of teaching, apprenticeship, and research, which is characterised by a dialectical method that consists in bringing forward and examining arguments that oppose one another on a given theoretical or practical problem furnished its participants. It’s one of the disciplines through the degrees of which I progressed my education back in the 1970s and ‘80s, since when I’ve continued to dabble in it for fun, as a kind of language game.

      3. Michael says:

        “The social and economic consequences of policies purportedly adopted to stop the spread of coronavirus could actually be far more deadly than the actual disease, the head of the UN’s hunger-fighting body has cautioned. Thirty million people are at risk of perishing if the World Food Program (WFP) doesn’t receive more funding, the agency’s chief, David Beasley, told the UN Security Council. So far this year the WFP has provided aid to 85 million people, but the coronavirus pandemic has strained resources and created a greater need for assistance, he said. $4.9 billion will be needed to ensure that the tens of millions of people completely dependent on UN aid to survive do not die. He called on the world’s billionaires, many of whom have seen enormous profits during the pandemic, to help prevent mass starvation.”: https://www.rt.com/news/501011-un-food-chief-starvation-famine-covid/

  3. Ewen A. Morrison says:

    Among the many interesting articles in ‘BC’, many can be well summed up in the closing paragraph(s), such as this Mr Small’s here:
    “At what point the electorate in England wakes up to this tragedy isn’t yet clear, but when they do, there surely must be a judgement day for this shambolic and disgraceful administration?”

    With thanks,


  4. Robbie says:

    Thought Chris Grayling was bad ,shipping contracts worth millions to company,s with No ships,now we have all these Covid Contracts worth billions Boris and his mates are simply lining there own pockets at the expense of the tax payers,who will be paying forever that’s if the planet still exists,of course THEY might all live in Mars by then , they simply don’t give a monkeys f**k. A few months ago I likened Boris to Benito on Bella and fits well with the idiot Trump also. Let’s just get Indepenence asap

    1. bill says:

      Even more worrying it has been suggested that Trump should take over as dictator in America, should he lose the election. The actions of Boris and the boys are reminiscent of the Nazis in the Thirties. Vilify sections of society, pass laws that break conventions and deny democracy, break international treaties and develop a rogue state. There is no way that in England anyone is going to wake up to this immoral, corrupt and corrupting crew. They have even broken the 1707 agreement and thus we do not need a referendum, we can just go. Let us get away from this shambles, come on SNP, resolve the currency and the land tax and let us get on our bikes before it is too late


  5. Wul says:

    ” Precisely why a functioning test, trace and track system is not in place by now is surely a criminal not just a political question. ”

    Why is it not in place? Because we destroyed our manufacturing base in favour of a finance and service “industry”. Because we’ve hollowed out all the civic institutions that were built to keep us healthy. Because we outsourced the tools of public health.

    Remember: “There’s no such thing as society…”

    We don’t have a functioning country and haven’t had for a long time. We’re in a car with no steering wheel or brakes, it’s just dumb luck that the road has been straight up until now.

    1. Grafter says:

      Wul get a grip and stop watching TV . Go on the internet and do your homework .

      1. Wul says:

        Grafter, I don’t own a TV and haven’t done for years.

        My opinions are based on real life experience, reading books written by people with real world experience and reading research by qualified practitioners.

        I worked for decades in local government and public health and saw it being systematically dismantled and de-funded. The most knowledgeable and experienced staff were pensioned off to make “savings”, services were put out to Compulsory Competitive Tendering so that companies or charities could hare people on poorer pay, terms and conditions to do the job cheaply. This was called “Best Value”. Middle management expanded, paper exercises and strategic plans blossomed and the public got a poorer, more remote, cheaper, shoddier service. This process happened across every public agency in the UK.

        By the way “Grafter”, if you are going to attack an opinion, at least offer an alternative view or rationale. Otherwise you are just slinging insults about.

        What is your explanation of Great Britain’s inability to manage a public health crisis? Lets hear it genius.

        1. james sinclair says:

          Hello Wul, glad to hear you don’t watch TV . “Britain’s inability to control a public health crisis”. I would suggest that like many other countries the “control” you mention are measures which have spread fear and alarm throughout their populations with no discernable beneficial results. Plenty of the farcical and vague instructions , keep 2 metres apart, wear a mask, no more than six in a group, don’t shout or sing in public etc., and all of this accompanied by the dreaded “lockdown ” decrees. The numbers whose lives have been terminated by the latter due to prioritising this flu virus above all other illnesses has, in my opinion, been a catastrophic error of judgement and for the tens of thousands with serious medical conditions awaiting life saving treatment these government measures are like trying to dowse a fire with petrol. As other commenters on this thread have ably shown that when emotion and governmental propaganda are stripped away and sound statistical analysis is applied the overall picture reveals that this carefully planned new biological “terror” threat (see Event 201, WEF, Davos) is delivering us into the hands of a parasitical elite whose “New Normal” intends to triumph over individual freedoms and liberty. Mandatory vaccination is the next move in their criminal agenda .

          1. Grafter says:

            I notice that the editor does not understand what exactly happened 9/11 and its consequences. I despair.

          2. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            I understand what happened on 9/11: conspiracy theories proliferated. My personal favourite is that it was all an insurance scam.

          3. Michael says:

            My personal favourite is that a known CIA asset, Bin Laden, and a bunch or Arabs (who were mostly found to be alive an well after the suicide attack) conspired in secret to crippled US air defenses and destroy three steel framed skyscrapers, with two planes – that the WTC building architect has said on the record, the buildings were designed to easily withstand! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fQlC2AIWrY

            Choose your conspiracy theory. But please show me even a single piece of material evidence to the support the official conspiracy theory? And who came out on top from this paradigm changing event – the Middle East or the western military machine and intelligence services?

          4. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            Only if you show me yours first, Michael (see above).

            Incidentally, to raise the stakes: Jean Baudrillard’s meditation on 9/11, L’Esprit du Terrorisme, in which he muses on the postmodern media spectacle, the hyperreal event, puts the final nail in the coffin of conspiracy theorising and its associated ‘who’s got the biggest willie’ competitions.

            9/11 was, indeed, a paradigm-changing spectacle.

          5. Grafter says:

            Anndrais…a little something to help cure your cognitive dissonance..


          6. Michael says:

            If conspiracy theorising is dead does that mean that we must deny that conspiracies happen ever? Or that conspiracies happen but we must not thorise about them and trust that they will be exposed somehow that is officially acceptable? What are the implications for law enforcement regarding organised crime? Are you staying that there is no high level political conspiracy and therefore we should not engage our intellects and inquire into patterns of corruption? What about all the historical evidence that proves that high level conspiracies do happen with devastating consequences for must of us? What you are suggesting seems more like an attack on the use of our inquiring intellect, much as Orwell suggested would be enforced? Is that your position?

          7. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            No, the death of conspiracy theorising doesn’t oblige us to deny that conspiracies occur; nor does it oblige us to conclude that conspiracy claims needn’t be investigated.

            But we’re not talking about ‘conspiracies’ here; we’re talking rather about ‘conspiracy theorising’. The latter’s a pathology, the defining characteristic of which is a need to interpret an event as the result of a secret plot by exceptionally powerful and cunning conspirators to achieve a malevolent end.

            The appeal of such theorising is threefold:

            First, conspiracy theorising claims to explain what institutional analysis can’t; in other words, it appears to make sense out of a world that’s otherwise perplexing.

            Second, it appears to do so in an appealingly simple way, by dividing the world sharply between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. It traces all evil back to a single source; namely, the conspirators and their agents.

            Third, conspiracy theorising often presents itself as special, secret knowledge, which is unknown or unappreciated by others. For conspiracy theorists, the masses of unbelievers are a brainwashed herd, while the conspiracy theorists themselves, who’re ‘in the know’, can congratulate themselves on their superiority in penetrating the plotters’ deceptions.

            Now, as a sceptic, I can make no claim as to whether there’s ‘a high-level political conspiracy’ or not. But if you’d have me believe that there is, then show me your evidence and we’ll evaluate your claim. For instance, you claim that you have historical evidence ‘that proves that high-level conspiracies do happen with devastating consequences for most of us’. What is this evidence?

            I know this may appear to you like an attack on the use of our inquiring intellect, but that’s just the kind of doublespeak that’s typical of conspiracy theorising.

          8. Michael says:

            Ah, I see. So you are using the term ‘conspiracy theorising’ as a label for pathologising people, without distinction between someone who is mentally ill and, say, a law enforcement or intelligence analyst (or anyone with an inquiring mind!) analyzing, say, unusual finical or communications data and theorising that the patterns observed indicates a network of people conspiring in committing criminal activity. Ironically, you are rationalising your own pathology 😉 Which is why this exchange will inevitably be useless.

            Out of interest though, are you saying that you are not aware of any historical high level political conspiracy that has been uncovered by accident or investigation?

            I don’t think you area a septic. I think you are necessarily willfully naive in order to rationalize your pathology. Fun, but very harmful in that it creates a false (and usually self satisfied) intellectual rational that stifles inquiry into high level dangerous criminal activity.

  6. Interpolar says:

    The problem with independence is that it is incomplete protection from this madhouse downstairs. But it is better that having those ejits in your living room.

  7. Duncan Sutherland says:

    The worrisome spectacle currently presented by the UK Government results from the fact that a group of like-minded mediocre politicians finds itself confronted with the stubborn fact of a grim and immutable reality and is flailing about desperately struggling to do something about it, although everything it tries inevitability makes matters worse.

    The reality in question is essentially the impossibility of delivering Brexit in the form in which it was promised because the Republic of Ireland is remaining in the EU, thus creating the need for a border with the EU where the UK does not wish there to be one but where the logic of the Good Friday Agreement and the terms of the EU withdrawal treaty require one now to be, i.e. between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    As if this was not enough, the context for this unholy mess is a raging pandemic, posing a challenge which this phenomenally pathetic administration has failed to meet, with dire consequences for the health of the population of the UK, not to mention its economy, now in deep recession as a result of the mismanaged health emergency, while UK Government debt climbs astronomically as money is printed to be thrown at the spralling concatenation of lamentably exacerbated mega-problems, while it dawns on Scotland that the party is over, even though the band plays on and the choir sings Rule Britannia.

    The ship of state has hit the iceberg which has been waiting for it. Into the lifeboats.

  8. Blair says:

    The PM has said the European Union is threatening to impose a customs border in the Irish Sea, separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Boris by way of explaining the Internal Market Bill is to prevent the European Union from breaking up the United Kingdom.

    Is this a sign Boris is worried that the European will indeed isolate England, if not through Northern Ireland but by the will of Scotland’s people seeking to reestablish European connections via Scottish independence?

    The will of the people must surely be reassessed in the light of what we now know. The decision cannot be made for us by our elected politicians because we simply cannot trust their judgment anymore.

    Our European neighbours aims are to minimise the risks BREXIT poses. The risks being measured in terms of money and security. While we may think that independence is now the only way to go, we must also recognise that the emergence of China is causing concern to the old superpowers.

    There is no doubt that together we are stronger together. Scotland people have already indicated by Indyref1 and by voting to remain in Europe. With an increase in the numbers supporting independence it is clear many voters are dissatisfied by BREXIT and our Westminster politicians forcing through changes through fear and distrust!

  9. Michael says:

    Interesting article here by Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology, University of Aberdeen (he has chaired inquiries into E.coli O157 outbreaks for the Secretary of State for Scotland and for the Welsh Government: https://sceptical.scot/2020/06/second-wave-scepticism/

    “The Scottish COVID-19 epidemic was set off by imported virus. Retrospective fingerprinting of virus genomes detected by testing between 1 March and 1 April showed that the virus entered the Scottish population through at least 113 separate travel-related introductions, mostly at the end of February and early March, and mostly from Italy, Spain and Austria. These introductions set off trains of community transmission; the first case contracted in the community occurred on 2 March and community transmission was well established by 11 March. The rest is history.

    “For the virus to take off again and get out of control in the way and scale that it used to be, we would have to repeat these events and have more than a hundred uncontrolled and undetected virus hot spots across Scotland, to start with. What an indictment of the failure of Test and Protect that would be! “

  10. Grafter says:

    John W….a little something to help cure your cognitive dissonance..


    1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

      Don’t you listen to him, John! It’s normal, natural, and rational that we should proceed differently in cognitive, evaluative, and practical matters. Cognitive diversity, dissensus, and dissonance are to be encouraged and defended, not ‘cured’ like in some latter-day Oceania.

      The penchant for cognitive consensus is the last stand, in an ethos of democracy, of a predemocratic dirigisme, a pathological insistence on conformity that’s unwilling to let people go their own variant ways among the nuances of contradictory ideas and experiences.

      This penchant isn’t peculiar to conspiracy theorising, but it is part of the stink of its dead corpse. You can smell it a mile off.

    2. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

      I’ve followed the link and, as far as I can see from a first reading, all the evidence adumbrated on the site seems to have been cherry-picked with a view to casting doubt on the ‘official’ theories; which is fine, as these observations may involve anomalies that the ‘official’ theories need to address; but none of it appears to support the claims of any conspiracy theory.

      Why the reluctance to tell me what your theory is and show me evidence to support it? Feart?

      1. Grafter says:

        You are way past the point of no return. You are even denying basic scientific evidence and clear structural analysis from engineers, architects and pilots with a lifetime of experience in these disciplines. Now run along and have an early night. Don’t forget to wear your mask in case the “deadly virus” catches you unawares whilst you are. sleeping.

        1. ‘Grafter’ you should get along to your local hospital for a bit of volunteering. No mask mind. Make sure its on the covid ward.

          People I know have died and been very sick so I’m sorry but I can’t be bothered with this shit.

          1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            Wheesht, Bella Editor; I’ve roped the dope, as Muhammad used to say. Let me deliver my coup de grâce.

        2. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

          What am I denying? I’m not denying that the ‘official’ theories might be weaker than your conspiracy theory, since, because I don’t know what your conspiracy theory is (Is it some kind of secret?) or the strength of the evidence that can be adduced in its support, I can’t make any kind of comparison. Help me out here!

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