When the British Medical Journal demands the equivalent of a war crimes trial for British political leaders who have worsened the Covid-19 crisis, it’s time to sit up and pay attention.
In an editorial, the BMJ has accused Boris Johnson and his Conservative government of mass murder because he – and they – not only said they were
willing to allow tens of thousands of premature deaths for the sake of population immunity or in the hope of propping up the economy
but actually went through with it – allowing those deaths to take place.
The piece asks serious questions:
If policy failures lead to recurrent and mistimed lockdowns, who is responsible for the resulting non-covid excess deaths?
When politicians wilfully neglect scientific advice, international and historical experience, and their own alarming statistics and modelling because to act goes against their political strategy or ideology, is that lawful?
How big an omission is not acting immediately after the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020?
The BMJ goes on to suggest that Johnson’s failures and omissions amount to “social murder” – conditions created by the privileged classes leading to premature and “unnatural” death among the poorest.
Today, “social murder” may describe the lack of political attention to social determinants and inequities that exacerbate the pandemic.
Elected ministers – not just in the UK but around the world – have dodged responsibility for the huge numbers of deaths caused by their deliberate decisions to ignore scientific advice and to avoid, delay or mishandle policies that would have saved lives.
They say they have done all they can – Boris Johnson relies on this one very often.
And Johnson also likes to tell us that there was no precedent for Covid-19, meaning he had no way of knowing what to do and when to do it.
He’s lying when he says these things.
Obviously he hasn’t done everything he could, because he ignored scientific advice and delayed vital decisions, causing tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.
If you have a relative or friend who died because of Covid-19, it is probably because of Boris Johnson.
And he did have guidelines on what to do; they just hadn’t been updated since the Conservatives slithered back into Downing Street in 2010. In fact, they systematically dismantled the UK’s processes for dealing with a pandemic – deliberately ensuring that lives could not be saved.
Sadly, the media have not only allowed this gaslighting to go unchallenged but have often been complicit in it:
Truth has become dispensable as politicians and their allies are allowed to lie, mislead, and repaint history, with barely a hint of a challenge from journalists and broadcasters. Anybody who dares to speak truth to power is unpatriotic, disloyal, or a “hardliner.”
Ministers in the UK, for example, interact with the media through sanitised interviews, stage managed press conferences, off-the-record briefings to favoured correspondents, and, when the going gets tough, by simply refusing to appear.
It is this environment that has allowed covid denial to flourish, for unaccountability to prevail, and for the great lies of “world beating” pandemic responses to be spun.
How many excess deaths does it take for a chief scientific or medical adviser to resign? How long should test and trace fail the public before a minister of health or chief adviser steps down? How many lucrative contracts for unscientific diagnostic tests that are awarded to cronies or errors in education policy will lead to a ministerial sacking?
We know the answer now: it will never happen under the Johnson government. They consider themselves unaccountable and will never willingly accept responsibility for the more than 100,000 deaths we know they have caused.
One reason killers like the Tory government are getting away with it is the complicity of the mainstream media, which treats expert evidence as mere opinion, to be given only the same weight as the self-justifications of Johnson.
Simon Wren-Lewis, in his Mainly Macro blog, accurately states that the media have a heirarchy of opinion-holders, with politicians at the top – even though we know that politicians are either ignorant, or they are liars.
Scientific knowledge isn’t another opinion,
As long as the media treats scientific knowledge as opinion, it removes itself from reality and diminishes its audience.
And there’s no respite, even when the opinions put forward are transparently lies:
Obvious lies should be less of a problem because most journalists will recognise them as lies, and have the potential to call them such [but] so engrained is the notion of balance that often journalists do not even do that.
Time and again over the last decade, expert knowledge has been marginalised as just another opinion, with the opinions (or indeed lies) of politicians ranked higher.
Time and again, expert knowledge has been proved right and the politicians proved to be liars.
Professor Wren-Lewis points to austerity and Brexit as examples within the last decade, making the point that Covid-19 is taking us in the same direction:
Once again the media has decided that politics rather than expertise will drive its coverage. As a result, even after over 120,000 deaths, we have media coverage which sometimes balances the government’s policy against the opposition who want to follow SAGE, or worse the government’s policy against COVID nutters who happen to be Tory MPs. Worse still, the tiny minority of Barrington Declaration academics are given airtime even after they have been proved wrong time and time again.
As a result, the elimination (or zero-COVID) policy that is supported by many medics and is being followed by some countries, and is today being debated among medical experts has hardly been discussed at all in most media outlets.
Elimination is just not practical, it has been decided.
Whether this goes more widely as a BBC policy remains to be seen, but it is not the BBC’s job to decide that a policy recommended by many medics and economists familiar with pandemics, and implemented in many countries, is not practical.
if politicians get involved then knowledge goes out of the window.
No wonder certain politicians lie all the time when most of the media provides no deterrent.
Equally when a politician contradicts knowledge that is not known to journalists there is no deterrent provided by the media.
And people die in their tens of thousands.
And you sit there, spoonfed lies with a sugar-coating of “scientific knowledge is just opinion”, and let it go on.
But we are all part of the system and we can change it if we want. Right?
Or is our democracy just another sham?
Are you going to carry on sitting still while another 100,000 people die and Johnson lies to us that he isn’t responsible, or are you going to get up and have your say?
What will it take to make get up and take action?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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