Finally, the UK government has published the names of the people on the committee running — or should that be ruining? — Britain.
The SAGE committee — it stands for Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies — is responsible for the scientific advice underpinning the interminable lockdown.
It is therefore arguably more powerful than the Cabinet or even the prime minister himself because on its advice everything from the future of the UK economy to the freedoms of the British people currently depend.
How extraordinary, then, that for two months the British should have been kept in the dark about the identities of the people running their lives!
One of the reasons given for the secrecy up till now is that the scientists need to remain anonymous to preserve their safety — perhaps from angry mobs turning up on their doorstep with pitchforks to protest about the lost livelihoods and businesses which are one of the likely consequences of the measures that have been taken by the government on the SAGE committee’s advice.
But surely against that small risk must be set the public’s right to know just which people are responsible for the draconian rules now governing their lives.
We know the names of the Cabinet – and they are accountable for their decisions.
The same ought surely to apply to the SAGE committee’s membership. Otherwise we might feel inclined to believe that the government is treating us like children or – worse – selling us a false prospectus.
One obvious concern is the presence on the committee of Neil Ferguson, author of the dubious Imperial College study that prompted the lockdown.
As has since emerged, Ferguson is the author of several discredited modelling studies going back to 2001 when he was partly responsible for Britain’s bad mishandling of Foot and Mouth which resulted in the needless slaughter of millions of healthy animals.
People with a track record like this hardly deserve the protection of anonymity.
The full list comprises 50 names, plus two participants who have ‘not given permission to be named’. You can fairly safely assume that few if any of those names are sympathetic to notions like small government, liberty, free markets — or conservatism generally. This is partly a function of the left-wing bias which has long since infected most of academe; partly a reflection of the way the administrative state now works.
[In an early version of this piece, I mistakenly conflated an ‘Alternative SAGE committee’ created by the former Chief Scientist David King – and chock full of loony leftists – with the real one. But though King’s alternative committee is undoubtedly more hard-left than the official one, I think we can still safely say that almost no one on the SAGE committee would have voted either for Boris Johnson or for Brexit. It is the Deep State in excelsis]
For example, eight of the names work either for the National Health Service or for Public Health England, both manifestations of the Deep State blob which was co-opted long ago by the left. Certainly, their political sympathies would be a lot more in tune with Jeremy Corbyn than Boris Johnson.
This rather invites the question: what was the point of voting Conservative in the last general election if the end result was for the country to be run by a committee largely comprising Corbynistas, Remainers, and other left-leaning ideologues?
And why isn’t the mainstream media kicking up more of a fuss about this grotesque betrayal of democracy?
I can answer the second question. It’s because the mainstream media — itself riddled with left-wing bias and taking its cue from the BBC — has decided that the real scandal is that Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s senior advisor, has been sitting on the SAGE committee and bringing his influence to bear on it.
This seems to me — as indeed it is — a complete non-story. It entirely makes sense for any government to have its advisors sitting on scientific committees: they’re supposed to be scientists, after all, not members of the government — so there needs to be an interface between the two.
A more pertinent question, where Cummings is concerned though is: what the hell are you playing at, Dom?
Cummings, it will be remembered, was the reforming radical who was going to keep Boris Johnson’s administration honest by rolling back the Deep State and finally bringing the sclerotic, incompetent, left-leaning Civil Service into the 21st century.
Instead, it would appear, Cummings has allowed the Deep State to make all the running — to the point where it is now in charge of the country.
This cannot end well for the government, the economy, or the British people. Nor will it.
Editor’s Note: The text of this article has been updated to correct the error noted by the author.