THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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History's greatest tweet?

Lost for words

I hope you had a pleasant Christmas and that it's not too late to wish you a happy new year. I hardly feel able to call myself a blogger now, given how infrequently I post. I blogged because I thought it better to light a candle than curse the darkness, but public support for our state's response to COVID-19 now seems to suggest modern Britons love the dark. 

It's hard to know what to write of the present situation. In a democracy no wise elector expects perfectly-right choices. We try to select the least bad of those on offer but what are we to do, say or think when government is wrong and opposition only demands it should be more so?

I confidently believe that historians will one day bracket the story of COVID-19 with those of the South Sea Bubble, the Salem Witch trials, and Tulip Mania. That's not to say the virus is not real or serious. It is. There was a South Sea Company. There was a trade in tulips. There may even have been witches in Salem. It's not the fact of the virus that I dispute but the validity, efficacy and morality of our response to it.

We are now many months into the "two weeks to save the NHS" in Britain and still that powder puff of a hulking institution is not safe. Not, at least, according to the rent-seekers who live upon it or the political types for whom it is the most sacred of all cows. It's certainly not safe for its customers. Many of those who caught the virus did so in its hallowed halls or in the care homes to which its angels of death despatched them for said angels' convenience and/or protection. In a classic example of Bastiat's notion of the error of focussing on the seen versus the unseen, our entire funded-by-state-force medical system is concentrating (with a remarkable lack of success even by its own low standards) on one virus while paying the least possible attention to all other ills.

I must move in unusual circles. Only one couple in my group of contemporaries is in the "lock us up, we're scared" camp to which opinion polls suggest most Britons belong. My other friends and family my age and older agree with me. None of us think there's a conspiracy. None of us deny the virus is real and dangerous. None of us question the need for a public health policy response to COVID-19. But all of us agree that the British Establishment is drunk with power and gleefully revelling in its unconstrained exercise. All of us agree that terrible damage is being done, not to some abstraction called "the Economy", but to the life expectancy of cancer, heart disease and other patients, to the livelihoods and future employment prospects of business-people and their employees, to children's education, to the mental health of people (and especially young people) denied healthy social outlets, and to the liberties of us all. All of us agree that the legions of the state are using this epidemic to bolster their power, increase their funding (and their numbers) and in many cases to enjoy even more well-paid leisure than usual; to make sinecures of jobs that were scarcely onerous to begin with.

I have tried to follow my own advice to my elders frustrated by this situation. "You are not in charge here. These mistakes are not yours. Focus on the joys you still have and remember that you're well-off compared to people really suffering. Read a good book. Read some poetry. Phone a friend. This too will pass." It's good advice because if I think about the political situation, I tend to despair. I am saddened that the liberties I praised and defended were so chimerical. At the first plausible pretext, the men of power suspended them so comprehensively that it seems they never existed. They were mere indulgences permitted to us by our masters rather than (as I had always thought) our inalienable rights as humans.

The man whose name I hubristically usurped as my nom de blog spoke of "the times that try mens' souls" to rouse his contemporaries to action. So faint a shadow am I that I am close to admitting my own soul has been tried and found wanting. The best encouragement I can offer is this. When the truth emerges, as it must, and the consequences of policy responses to this pandemic become apparent to the meanest of intellects, there will be the best opportunity in modern history to expose both the evil effects of statism and the wicked, self-serving natures of many within the state apparatus.

Keep your powder dry, fellow-citizens, and repeat under your breath Tom's wish that “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” Let's strive to ensure that the gross misconduct of our authorities finally reveals to our young people (so sadly indoctrinated to the contrary by state-funded teachers and Marxist academics) Tom's truth that “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”


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I'm convinced that the entire exercise has been about damage limitation: the Government's fear of the media being able to publish footage of an overwhelmed NHS which has been in decline for decades. Johnson spoke the truth when he justified the first lockdown in terms of flattening the curve; what seems to have passed many people by is that the curve must rise when the lockdown is lifted and, therefore, lockdowns can't work, only allow the NHS to keep coping (with Covid) until a rushed vaccine is produced.

I'm hoping that Steve Baker's ultimatum works.


Mordre wol out, that se we day by day.
Mordre is so wlatsom and abhomynable
To God that is so just and resonable,
That he ne wol nat suffre it heled be,
Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or thre.
Mordre wol out, this my conclusioun.


I hope you're right. The fact that, even now, most people don't appear to realise that the response to the virus has been a massive over-reaction makes me feel that the damage will be permanent.


We could be, but I don’t think so. As the truth emerges, what trust remains in our corrupt Establishment will die. For example, people will discover that they’ve been bullied into being injected with a vaccine that the manufacturer would *only* release if given a legal guarantee against all claims for side effects. Even if it turned out to be a new thalidomide, there would be no claim. That’s not Nanny protecting her “children”. That’s her betraying them. Pfizer has not been given rights. Every British citizen has had his or her civil law rights removed. Usually manufacturers complain that regulators delay the release of medicines the companies believe are safe. Here their political masters have ordered the regulators to approve medicines the manufacturers are not willing to take responsibility for. If that realisation doesn’t wake us all up to the truth about our “masters”, nothing will. Nothing short of understanding that the state can’t make our problems go away and that we are responsible for our own lives can save Western civilisation. 


I am just in despair. A nasty but not exceptionally lethal virus appears, and the world goes insane. I feel like I don't understand my fellow humans.

People like Peter Hitchens and the guys at Lockdown Sceptics have been doing a sterling job, but it appears to be having no effect at all.

Could we be witnessing the death of our civilisation?


One person in my street started the clapping. He or she lasted about thirty seconds before realising no-one was joining in. I am not sure virtue is really what you're signalling when you applaud your own oppression.


Thank you, Matt, you are too kind. It will be something, I suppose, for historians to find this exchange and learn that not all Britons submitted meekly as their liberties were (let's hope) "suspended". We're not exactly John Hampdens though, are we, with our clicktivism? At some point, the tree of liberty *will* have to be watered. I don't advocate violence of course, but I could enjoy seeing our men of power get the 18th Century treatment from the London Mob – pulled from their carriages, de-bagged and "Liberty" written on the soles of their shoes.


Thank you for your kind remarks. I can only hope your prayer is answered, but it's rumoured that Jehovah will only help those prepared to do something themselves.

David Bishop

Thank you, 'Tom'. As ever, a thoughtful and erudite piece.
The thing I find most troubling is the sheer brazenness of the assault. The 'long march through the institutions' seems to have arrived cacophonously at the battlefield and is now rampaging like Mao's red guards and with the same ignorantly destructive effect. Witness, too, the US, which is an even worse state than us ~ and I'm referring to the Antifa/BLM riots during the summer, egged on by the so-called 'elites', who then screeched foul when they got a tiny taste of their own medicine at the US Capitol. Such monstrous hypocrites.
I hope you are right that history will not look favourably on those who effected these evils, though it might well depend on who gets to write that history. Having said that, the red guards eventually faded away, so let us pray that the values of the enlightenment come to shine again ~ if not for us, at least for our children and grandchildren.


The angels of death comment rang so true with me.

I still can't believe just how many soppy buggers there were out there banging pots and pans and clapping like performing sea lions last year, how many will there be this time one wonders now some virtue signaller has re-incarnated communist regime like official adoration.


’ Let's strive to ensure that the gross misconduct of our authorities finally reveals to our young people (so sadly indoctrinated to the contrary by state-funded teachers and Marxist academics) Tom's truth that “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”’



Beautifully put. Not chirpy but these are not chirpy times. This bit I think I'll remember: "I tend to despair. I am saddened that the liberties I praised and defended were so chimerical. At the first plausible pretext, the men of power suspended them so comprehensively that it seems they never existed."

I think one of the few things we can do is be counted as dissenting now. I don't want it ever thought that I was one of the x% who supported this

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