For years, the Covid corporation has been controlling the media and government with their manufactured stories. Now that it’s finally time for them to go, people are asking what will happen next?
On December 8, 2021, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a press conference in London.
The bad news for politicians is that if Boris Johnson takes the lead, many more are likely to follow. Don’t be shocked if the political controversy plays a role in our transition away from harsh pandemic measures, rather than being an afterthought.
This week, Britain’s ever-flamboyant Prime Minister faces a new political threat. Since late last year, rumors have circulated regarding a series of parties purportedly thrown by Mr. Johnson’s employees. At least some of these may have been in violation of the lockdown policies in place at the time.
Until this time, “partygate” had been about reports of personnel celebrating Christmas in December 2020. Mr. Johnson might claim ignorance of what was going on in the rest of his office and housing complex. The fact that these gatherings took place at a perplexing period in Britain’s pandemic response, when adherence to limits was slipping among the general public, aided him politically.
This week’s surprise is somewhat different. It is about a massive Downing Street party that Mr. Johnson acknowledges he attended in May 2020. (he said Wednesday that he thought, improbably, it was a work meeting). The nation was still under its first and most severe lockdown at the time. In hospitals, family members were not permitted to see dying relatives. Schools were closed to children. To deter illicit sitting, a local government placed police tape on park seats. In England alone, police handed around 15,000 penalties for lockdown infractions.
The anguish that Britons felt as Mr. Johnson’s team rejoiced explains why this has blown up. That suffering also shows that such crises may become a crucial instrument for freeing communities from the medically outmoded but politically durable zero-Covid policies of spring 2020, which include lockdowns, mask and vaccination requirements, travel limitations, and other restrictions.
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Partygate has ushered in a new age of national group therapy in the United Kingdom. People are now being permitted to talk about how horrible the lockdowns were in newspapers and on television. It was formerly impossible for business owners to explain customers who had left and staff who had been laid off without being accused of prioritizing the pound sterling above human lives. Families of those who died from Covid were pushed into agreeing that they would be denied access to their loved ones at the end “for the greater good,” but they may now openly express their grief and fury since it is aimed at a politician rather than the lockdown itself.
The political elite is no different. Members of the opposition Labour Party went to the House of Commons this week to share heartbreaking accounts of the lockdown’s toll, some of their own and others of their constituents’. The fact that this can be done in the context of a scandal over Mr. Johnson’s adherence to the rules rather than a debate about the rules themselves ultimately offers Labour the exit it needs from the harsh Covid regulations it supported over the last two years.
Learning to live with Covid has always been difficult because many ordinary people do not want to believe that the sacrifices they made—and supported at the time—were in vain. It may be accurate to argue that lockdowns, school closures, or masks were less successful than claimed, but acting on that knowledge would require politicians and many people to acknowledge they were incorrect.
Scapegoating is more probable, and it’s one of the dangers you accept when you enter politics. Mr. Johnson may survive partygate, but his capacity to enforce future Covid limitations will be irreparably weakened as a result of this affair. Expect him, or whomever succeeds him, to embrace with fresh zeal recommendations from experts proposing that we now treat Covid in the same way we treat the common cold.
This phenomena will not be limited to the United Kingdom. The employment of President Biden is secure, but that of medical advisor Anthony Fauci is not. Rolling discoveries concerning the degree to which he may have been engaged in sponsoring gain-of-function research in China smear America’s top lockdown advocate’s moral authority without having to get into the politicized swamps of lockdown policy. Former lockdown supporters would be able to express their personal concerns with Dr. Fauci’s chosen harsh measures as a result of such a controversy.
Speaking of China, Zero-Covid is failing so miserably there right now that it can’t be hidden by the kind of unlikely government statistics that previously claimed the virus wasn’t spreading there. Is it possible for an authoritarian administration to shift from zero-Covid to zero-Covid without the democratic mechanisms of resolving public dissatisfaction with previous policies?
In the epidemic, Beijing’s advantage was supposed to be its power to inflict whatever misery it wanted on its people. The perilous moment, however, may come when it is time to explain to the public why such sufferings are no longer useful—if they ever were.
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