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The pandemic

The lockdown may never truly end

The film adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty Four, released in 1984

Britain seems doomed to “permanent lockdown”, says Tim Stanley in The Daily Telegraph. The 21 June date is certain to be pushed back today. I suppose, if you consider controlling pandemic deaths to be more important than the economy, personal freedoms and non-Covid deaths – including mental health – you can make a case for lockdown ad infinitum. The vulnerable are vaccinated and eight in 10 of us have antibodies, but Sage scientists argue some restrictions should be with us “forever” because “this isn’t going to be the last pandemic”.

Remaining “eternally vigilant, tracking and tracing us, ready to shut up shop at a moment’s notice” is familiar logic to readers of George Orwell. His doctrine of perpetual war, in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, was justified thus: war is peace because it guarantees control. Totalitarianism is good because it keeps us safe. Similarly, opposition to lockdown is now inconceivable. “Do you want to let people die?” is the comeback to anyone brave enough to say we should risk opening up. This vast social experiment will change us: “war always does”, and this is like a war. After the Second World War, Britain lived with rationing until 1954 and conscription until 1960. But the Tory edge over Labour has hitherto been the liberty card. “One wonders when they will finally play it.” 

Read the full article here (paywall).