Caught With His Pants Down

Today was the best day for me so far as this absurdly heavy-handed lockdown is concerned.  I woke to read the immensely satisfying news about Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College – the man who headed the team that modelled the impact of this coronavirus and came up with the apocalyptic prediction that over two million Americans and half-million Brits, give or take a hundred thousand here or there, would die unless immediate and severe lockdown steps not implemented and enforced.  Leave aside that nothing remotely like what he and his team predicted has transpired in Sweden (where they ignored his advice to lockdown and just urged the old and vulnerable to isolate themselves while keeping restaurants, bars, the general economy open) or Taiwan (ditto) or Japan (mostly ditto).

No, what was absolutely delightful and cheered me up no end was that Professor Ferguson had resigned  from the main “scientific” committee advising the UK government. I’ve used scare quotes because a good number of the people on the committee are not hard scientists.

Why did Ferguson resign?  You will just love this:  it turns out the scientist/modeller whose advice has played a biggish part in the world’s response to this corona virus, and who has been insisting for months that all and sundry must observe the strictest of government lockdowns, had himself been ignoring them. During the lockdown he ardently advocated he was bonking his mistress, the married Ms. Antonia Staats, who would sneak away to meet him for a bit of face-to-face lockdowning and viral exchanges with the man who massively and repeatedly over-estimated things viral in the past, like BSE’s effects and foot-and-mouth too.  The unlockdowned married mistress Ms. Staats would travel across London to catch up with her virile virus predictor and have his greatness thrust upon her.

The point here isn’t that Professor Ferguson was married (though he was, but maybe separated).  Nor is it that his carnal compadre, a green left activist climate-change alarmist,  was herself married (though she was).  No, no, no!  The point is that these authoritarian types who are happy to impose heavy-handed rules on you and me aren’t prepared to live by those rules themselves.  One set of rules for you.  Another, much preferable set, for them. 

It’s a bit like how there’s one set of rules today for Australia’s politicians and public servants – no pay cuts, no job losses, financially secure positions from which to urge the lockdown never to go away, thus taking the precautionary principle to absurd lengths. Then there’s a another and entirely different set of rules for all those in the productive private sector: basically, economic carnage, lost businesses, lost homes. 

Here’s what we can call it: hypocrisy.  Professor Ferguson should be congratulated (and not just by his back door paramour in their post-coital afterglow) for exposing the rank hypocrisy of these busy-body authoritarians.  Look, if he really believed he’d die as a consequence of ruffling the sheets with Ms Staats, he wouldn’t have done it, would he?

The more I’ve been reading, the more I’ve been thinking there’s been a massive over-reaction to this corona virus. I’ve said so here and in the Spectator Australia.  Yes, it’s bad, worse it’s than the flu.  No, it’s nothing like the Black Death or even the Spanish Flu. Every country will eventually have to learn to live with it, barring the far from certain possibility of a 100 per cent effective vaccine.  Sweden, Taiwan and Japan have looked for some time like they’re on the better path.  (And if you think we can avoid what they have ducked, ask yourself how we’ll ever again have international travel or a functioning economy.)

I suppose for Ms Staats this has all been pretty hard to swallow, what with having herself exposed in a British tabloid.  But for the rest of us around the world the newspaper has done a public service.  Good riddance, Professor Ferguson, you a gigantic hypocrite.  This is the best day ever of my corona lockdown.

James Allan is Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland and the author of Democracy in Decline

7 thoughts on “Caught With His Pants Down

  • en passant says:

    Vietnam also did not lock down domestically, yet recorded only 271 cases and no deaths. That’s the 3rd world for you – they cannot be trusted to follow the civilised lemmings.
    I am in daily contact with people there so can verify that it is business as usual. There are rules for the vulnerable and isolation for those infected (in an Army Camp in Can Tho)
    As for the statistic let’s re-examine some:
    UK Oz Vietnam
    Population = 75M = 25M 90M

    Cases = 196K = 6,875 271

    Recovered = 926 = 5,905 220

    Deaths = 29,500 = 97 0

    Lifestyle, Winter and the fact that 100,000 people a day STILL arrive in the UK and are not quarantined could account for that. Why is our government not comparing us to Vietnam – a country with no lock down and an economy running at 85%? Yes, tourism and economic oil production have been crippled, but manufacturing is up as costs are down.
    Here is Vung Tau: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDEUq543B3U
    We have been conned and frightened by a chimera that has killed slightly more than the Victorian road toll for this year, but has confined 25M to the Oz Gulag.
    Who knew imposing totalitarianism would be so easy?

  • ianl says:


    >There are rules for the vulnerable …”

    How is “vulnerable” defined, exactly, and what are those rules ?

    On James Allan’s article, it has been clear for quite some time now that the various public services and their armed forces are demonstrating that their low to non-existent productivity is simply not the point. It is *power* that is the point – and these groups have it. Got it ?

    Front line medical staff are not part of these groups. They and their assistants accept responsibility. Denizens of the public services do not, and see no reason to. Nor can they be forced to except under extraordinary circumstances. Observe the on-going results of the current inquiry into the Ruby Princess debacle.

  • Biggles says:

    From reading the articles in Quadrant and the erudite comments thereon, (I take no notice of the ‘news’ media), I conclude that well-nourished, healthy, Australians, (no cancer, heart, liver or kidney disease, HIV Aids, etc.), aged from 0 to 60 have as much chance of dying from Covid19 as they do from the annual waves of flu. So, why aren’t they back at school and at work? The elderly are a different group entirely; it appears that they will just have to continue to self-isolate until the whole thing has blown over.

  • Simon says:

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    It doesn’t seem our governments have ever heard of this adage. Every model, be it on climate change or previous pandemics, has been barely worth the paper its been printed out yet on.

    Yet there’s no stopping them. There is no ‘proceed with caution’. Just raze the earth first and ask questions later.

  • pgang says:

    Of course what strikes one about the ‘lockdown’ is that it isn’t one. Most people are still going to work, and talking to neighbours, and exercising in public, and shopping. So if a lockdown isn’t really a lockdown, then what is it? What is supposed to have been achieved here? This has simply been inconvenience (and worse) for the sake of it. Not only that, but even without any genuine lockdown the virus has remained mute throughout communities.
    It is the most pointlessly destructive political escapade of modern history.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    At mid April 2020, 7000 New Yorkers had died with Wuflu.
    Only 150 died from Wuflu..The rest had multiple diseases.

  • pgang says:

    James I don’t know how you can say it’s worse than the flu. How many people under 70 have died from it? And if Roger Franklin’s link is correct, then the treatment is relatively straightforward and quite successful.

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