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The pandemic

We’re mad to trust “Stalin’s nanny”

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As we remain in “pandemic limbo”, with the promised return to normality postponed once again, it’s time to call out the “behavioural science charlatans who make a living from stoking our anxieties”, says Camilla Tominey in The Daily Telegraph. More people are now dying on the roads than from Covid, yet last week the chair of Independent Sage, Sir David King, was hysterically warning that the situation could “explode” into a third wave. King, who worked for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, claims his group offers unbiased advice – but members of “supposedly Independent” Sage include two Labour donors, two communists (one former, one practising), a handful of Corbynistas and a Momentum activist.

The card-carrying communist is Susan Michie, nicknamed “Stalin’s nanny” by her Oxford friends. A member of Sage as well as Independent Sage, she urged comrades to support Corbyn in 2018, opening with the words: “We, the working class.” Curiously, she didn’t mention that she is the descendant of an earl who, with her brother, once sold a Picasso to the Qatari royals for £50m. On workers returning to their offices, she told a podcast in March: “We don’t want to go back – it wasn’t good.” She then turned “full-blooded Bolshevik” on the need for wealth to be redistributed and taxes raised. Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t blame a lab leak in China for the crisis, linking it instead to climate change. That a Tory government should think it appropriate to have Michie anywhere near decision-making during this crisis “frankly beggars belief”.

Why it matters Britain may lead the pack on vaccinations, but it now lags “far behind America, Germany and France on liberation”, says Matt Ridley in the Telegraph. A “big reason” for this is the government’s dependence on Sage and its scientific modellers – who have performed “uniquely badly” during this pandemic, consistently overstating the threat and underestimating the effectiveness of vaccines.

Read the full article here (paywall).