Boris Johnson - Coronavirus BS - 10 March 2020

Here's a clip of Boris Johnson explaining that he thinks the UK government should "strike a balance" between just leaving hundreds of thousands of elderly/immunocompromised people to die from coronavirus, and actually acting to prevent the spread, which he characterises as "draconian measures".

He said this in TV interview on Thursday March 5th, but it went almost entirely unchallenged until it was highlighted on social media several days later.

There are so many things wrong with this it's a challenge to limit myself to just five main points, but here we go.

⛔️ Factual wrongness ⛔️

It's factually wrong to imagine that the virus would simply "move through the population" to be taken on the chin "all in one go".

The fact is that immunologists don't yet know if recovered patients develop immunity to the virus.

What we do know is that the virus has mutated into various different strains already, so there's the possibility that immunity to one strain (even if such immunity exists) might not protect recovered patients from the next strain, and the more the disease is allowed to spread, the more new strains would develop.

Even if the virus doesn't mutate into different strains that could reinfect the recovered (like the flu does), the idea of a virus smoothly moving through the population in one go so that the entire population either dies or develops immunity in a short space of time is also illiterate from an virological perspective. That's simply not how it works.

⛔️ Moral wrongness ⛔️

It would be interesting to know which of Johnson's colleagues and advisers are pushing him towards the 'do nothing and just let vast numbers of elderly and vulnerable people die' approach to COVID 19, because what they're suggesting is the evil of unrestrained capitalism, where protecting the value of assets and property rights is given absolute priority over all other considerations, including saving human lives.

Just imagine any other political leader admitting that people have been pushing them to just let hundreds of thousands of people die, and that they didn't immediately tell them to sod off.

But somehow Johnson gets away with it.

⛔️ Irresponsibility ⛔️

We now live in an incredibly globalised and interconnected world, in which millions of people travel between continents every month. Under these circumstances it would only take one country to take this immoral 'just let people die' attitude towards the virus to undermine the work of all the other countries that have tried to contain it.

The only alternative is that the rest of the world attempts to isolate the reckless country that is intent on allowing the virus to spread uncontrolled, by banning cross-border travel.

All these far-right "close the borders" ranters would be absolutely enraged to find that the UK border has eventually been completely closed, not to keep immigrants out, but to keep infectious British people in!

And it should be quite obvious to anyone that Britain getting itself quarantined by the rest of the world would have a much more serious negative impact on the UK economy than simply taking measures to control the spread of the virus in the first place.

⛔️ False dichotomy ⛔️

When Johnson posits 'just let thousands die' as one side of the debate, whilst portraying the other 'work to save lives' side of the debate as "draconian measures" he's not just creating a false dichotomy between a position most people would find abhorrent, and one most people would support, he's also using pejorative language to make the 'save lives' position seem like the more radical and extreme option in his false dichotomy!

This technique of making the vile seem palatable, and the sensible seem extreme will be more than familiar to anyone who has paid a reasonable amount of attention to UK politics over the last five years.

According to the mainstream media narrative the 'sensible' party is the one that has imposed ruinous austerity extremism, unlawfully attacked workers' rights, enforced an entire decade of wage repression on UK workers, taken £millions in donations from Russian oligarchs and Putin cronies, handed 75% of secondary schools to unaccountable private profiteers (many of them being millionaire Tory party donors), used unlawfully racist "Hostile Environment" legislation to discriminate against black British citizens and even deport them to their deaths overseas, implemented disastrous privatisations of schools, prisons, NHS services, the probation service, the forensic science service, knowingly sold weapons to the Saudi head-choppers despite knowing they're using them to commit war crimes in Yemen, and ruthlessly purged their ranks of anyone who dares stand up to the crazed scheming of Johnson's puppet-master Dominic Cummings.

While the pejorative language (hard-left, extremist, communist, Stalinist ...) and ludicrous hyperbolic attacks ('would you nationalise sausages?' ...) was reserved for the party that wanted to invest in the NHS, give UK workers a well-deserved pay rise, stop the strangling of local government finances, take the railways and water supply out of the hands of private profiteers, invest in housing and infrastructure, and give ordinary people more say in politics.

Describing the extreme option as if it's normal, whilst portraying the sensible option as extreme is a tried and tested strategy in Tory politics, and it pretty much comes as second nature to them these days.

⛔️ Lack of accountability ⛔️

Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of this, is the absolute non-reaction of the mainstream media to this blatant attempt, by the Prime Minister, to normalise the idea of just letting hundreds of thousands of people die.

The two presenters just sat there and failed to call it out. It's up to you to decide whether they gave him a free pass due to pathetic forelock-tugging deference to their beloved Tory overlord, or because they were simply too stupid to understand the implications of what he was trying to normalise.

But then thousands of other journalists were watching the show too, and none of them thought to call it out either, with most of the mainstream media focus aimed at the debate over Johnson's admission that he hasn't changed the nappies of any of his children, which is clearly somewhat trivial in comparison to him normalising the idea of leaving hundreds of thousands of elderly and vulnerable people to die, and describing their deaths as something we could just "take on the chin".

It's infuriating but hardly surprising that the mainstream media gave Johnson a free pass on this horrifying statement, because we all saw them turn a complete blind eye to his proven antisemitism (memorialising a vile Hitler-admiring Tory antisemite right in the middle of the election campaign, and the extracts from his novel portraying Jews as a secretive cabal who control politics and world finance), despite having spent the previous three years repeatedly whipping up "Labour antisemitism" scandals over far less brazen, and often just fabricated, examples of Labour antisemitism.

My personal view is that it's not particularly helpful criticising Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby for failing to call him out, because the only reason he was on their show at all is because his minders know that it's the safe environment of a softball interview in which he simply wouldn't be challenged. If they'd had the wits to challenge him, he would never have been there it the first place.

The criticism has to be aimed at the rest of the mainstream media for simply allowing Johnson to express and normalise such a vile and irresponsible attitude towards the lives of elderly and vulnerable people, and leaving it up to Twitter randoms and independent bloggers to point out how reckless, immoral, fact-averse, and counter-productive it is to normalise this shocking 'leave people to die' mentality.

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