The Political Asymmetry of Covid

The following article from the Spectator Australia

A couple of days ago, Greg Sheridan had a piece in The Australian in which he argued:

‘Covid has been diabolical for centre-right governments around the world. They handled Covid generally no better or worse than centre-left governments. But Covid hurt conservatives in two crippling ways.’

Sheridan then at length goes into how all the massive spending crippled the reputation of conservative governments (or supposedly conservative ones) because it gutted one of their main selling points: that they were more fiscally careful, more thrifty, and more likely to deliver a balanced budget than the left-of-centre crowd. And that is true, sort of, subject to a caveat I’ll make below. What is not true, in my view, is Sheridan’s implicit suggestion that this is the main way in which the pandemic hurt right-of-centre parties around the anglosphere and more widely across the democratic world.

At this point readers might be wondering what that second crippling way in which ‘Covid hurt conservatives’ might have been. After over half an article on the loss of fiscal credentials, Sheridan gives this second circumstance or feature to the readers in one sentence, in under twenty words. Sheridan writes that on top of the emasculation of their economic credentials, ‘Covid left centre-right constituencies confused over civil liberties, with a segment of their base disgruntled.’ Have you ever read a more Jesuitical, weasel-wordy, sophistical, dissembling account (I’m trying to be kind) of what irks us conservatives about the last two-plus years of life in an anglosphere democracy?

Look, we have just lived through the worst inroads on our civil liberties in three centuries (those are retired UK Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption’s words, not mine, though he’s right). Greg, it’s a bit more than being ‘confused over civil liberties’.

Right-of-centre politicians in Britain and here in Australian were a disgrace. They either enacted thuggish policies (here in Australia think inter alia about stopping citizens from leaving the country, no other democracy was doing that, or deferring with nary a criticism to despotic premiers) or deferred holus bolus to a public health clerisy that genuflected before models, not hard data (when world’s best epidemiologists were laying down what the data and facts pointed towards in the Great Barrington Declaration) or they disempowered their own real Cabinet in favour of a cadre of mostly lefty Premiers in the name of a made-up ‘National Cabinet’ that is nowhere in the Constitution.

Boris Johnson has an actual communist in his SAGE advisory group but not Oxford’s Professor Sunetra Gupta, holder of the world’s most prestigious chair in the field. ScoMo couldn’t summon up the will to say a single negative thing about Chairman Dan and his world’s toughest lockdowns. And as near on everyone here in the pages of The Spectator Australia pointed out from the beginning, right back in March of 2020, this set of policies was going to devastate the young in favour of the very old and very obese (without even asking the old whether they wanted to ruin their grandchildren’s lives). It was going to crush the small business sector (many of whom will never forgive the Liberals, and I say that after a night on stage with Jay Bhattacharya in Melbourne filled with over 500 people, mostly from the small business sector, who relentlessly booed any politician linked to the Libs, as well Dan the Dictator). These policies produced the best two years ever for the uber-wealthy, for the big corporations (who could stay open when small businesses were shut down), for the public service types with nice homes who quite liked working from home, for the already rich, the list goes on. And you’ll note that this list of beneficiaries is comprised of people who generally vote Left.

These were also policies that devastated school results – go and check out the differences in the US between lockdown states and non-lockdown states on math and English scores of high school students. Before the pandemic, Australia was behind Kazakhstan and now is probably battling it out with Sierre Leone to avoid basement status. Poor kids will never make this up. They have had their lives massively affected. For the virtue-signalling laptop class, the core beneficiaries of lockdowns, you might also like to know that these policies will take away some 75 million life years from those in the third-world (that’s Professor Bhattacharya’s claim, and he is an epidemiologist for all the ‘you’re not a doctor’ buffoons out there).

It gets worse. These brutal, thuggish, despotic laws and regulations (recall that Greg described them as ‘confusions over civil liberties’) had absolutely no science behind them. In October 2019, a century of data that lay behind the WHO pandemic plan and the British plan (that Sweden alone followed) said ‘don’t lock down; trust your citizens; give them information; focus your efforts and protections on the vulnerable’. In the course of six or seven weeks, we threw that all out based on bogus claims from China and a few videos from Italy. Worse again, from the start we knew that the young and healthy were not at any real risk at all. Our conservative governments flat-out lied to us and pretended we were all at risk. They lied; we’re not confused.

Or look at the institutions supposedly there to protect our civil liberties. The Australian Human Rights Commission was composed of Commissioners that were all Coalition appointees. Each and every one of them. Not one uttered a peep throughout the pandemic about the brutality of police behaviour or the idiocy and irrationality of most of the rules or the heartlessness of the border regulations. Not a single peep from these self-styled human rights defenders. Nada. Nothing. Zippo. Give them three uni students who wander into an empty computer room reserved for Aboriginal students and the AHRC will bring the weight of the state down on them, pour encourager les autres. But brutalise the population and transmogrify the police into thugs and they turn into Sargeant Shulz of ‘I see nothing’ fame.


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