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PETER HITCHENS: Can't we put the Johnson Junta in a nice rest home?

Months ago, I predicted that we would all come to hate the narrow, bossed-about new life the Government wants to force us to live. I was wrong. 

Most people have far too readily accepted limits to their lives which the world’s tyrannies would once have hesitated to impose on their citizens.

Well, have you had enough yet? Because the Johnson Junta has only one tool in its box. That tool is restriction. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pictured during a visit to the Jenner Institute in Oxford.  Most people have far too readily accepted limits to their lives which the world’s tyrannies would once have hesitated to impose on their citizens

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pictured during a visit to the Jenner Institute in Oxford.  Most people have far too readily accepted limits to their lives which the world’s tyrannies would once have hesitated to impose on their citizens

And it has only one aim, one that has never been achieved by any state in the history of the world – the total suppression of a coronavirus. Who would have thought that the rule of clowns would be so unfunny?

But it now looks as if this will go on for ever, unless we can somehow lead these people away to secluded rest homes where kindly nurses can indulge their wild power-fantasies with soothing repetitions of ‘Yes, dear’, cold compresses and cups of Ovaltine. It is certainly increasingly dangerous for them to be out and about.

Take the Health Secretary, Mr Matthew Hancock. I know I have laughed at him in the past as a sort of crazy prep-school headmaster raging at his tiny pupils. But for goodness sake, the man is a Cabinet Minister, and he has real power over us. 

He can smash up your business, make you stay at home, part you from your nearest and dearest at the ends of their lives, destroy your wedding plans, wreck your education, ruin your holiday, take away your job, set the police on you for refusing to wear a pro-Government badge across half your face. He can and he does.

Take the Health Secretary, Mr Matthew Hancock. I know I have laughed at him in the past as a sort of crazy prep-school headmaster raging at his tiny pupils. But for goodness sake, the man is a Cabinet Minister, and he has real power over us

Take the Health Secretary, Mr Matthew Hancock. I know I have laughed at him in the past as a sort of crazy prep-school headmaster raging at his tiny pupils. But for goodness sake, the man is a Cabinet Minister, and he has real power over us

And he has taken leave of the truth. On Friday morning, Mr Hancock said that the number of hospitalisations for Covid is doubling every seven to eight days.

Now, ‘hospitalisations for Covid’ is a slightly tricky figure. It may well be affected by the Government’s endless futile, frantic hunt for signs of a disease which has largely vanished from among us, and whose main symptom is that you feel just fine, thank you. 

Deaths, a figure very hard to massage, are low and remain low after a long fall from their peak on April 8. People must at all costs be distracted from this fact.

I have to wonder about the hospital admission figures, given the slipperiness of the Government throughout this episode. Could it be that people who have tested positive for Covid in one of Mr Hancock’s vast trawls, but who go into hospital mainly for other reasons, get added to this total? 

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. Could it be that our hospitals are being encouraged to admit mild cases for observation, which they would previously have sent home? Who knows? Just guessing.

But then we come to the hospitalisation figures. Yes, they have edged up a bit since mid-August. But bear in mind that in March they were regularly more than 2,500 a day.

On August 1, the total of Covid hospital admissions in England was 50. On August 8 it was 78. On August 15 it was 38. On August 22 it was 25. On August 29 it was 52. On September 5 it was 94. On September 12 it was 143. This is hardly an established pattern.

Now, I know, because the Health Department told me, that if you took a different and much shorter date range (August 24, 41; August 31, 52; September 7, 84; September 14, 172) you could – sort of – back up their claim. I’d have thought ‘every seven or eight days’ meant over a far longer period than that. ‘Every’ is a powerful word.

But, as I said to the Ministry spokesperson who manfully tried to persuade me that his boss’s claim of hospitalisations doubling every week had been honest, it seems to me to be unscrupulous panic-mongering, which would shame a banana republic.

Sensible Coventry, refusing to let itself be browbeaten or cajoled by the slick, nasty lobby for e-scooters. 

These things are dangerous, especially to pedestrians, and it is absurd to pretend that they are healthy (no exercise) or green (battery power comes from power stations). 

Always remember the case of Isabelle Albertin, pianist at the Paris Opera for 30 years, left unable to play after one of these jolly horrors smashed into her, breaking two bones in her arm. Ban the nasty things.  

The new ITV production of The Singapore Grip, starring Georgia Blizzard, above, is – like so many of these dramas – a moving museum

The new ITV production of The Singapore Grip, starring Georgia Blizzard, above, is – like so many of these dramas – a moving museum

Glamorous Georgia… and another costume drama to sneer at

If we can have Shakespeare in modern dress, then it is time we had the British imperial era in modern dress.

The new ITV production of The Singapore Grip, starring Georgia Blizzard, is – like so many of these dramas – a moving museum.

It is a procession of double-breasted suits, double-breasted cars and flying boats. Its production must have used up about a ton of bright red lipstick and enough cigarettes to give cancer to a small town. 

And of course there are swing bands, playing away as the Japanese approach. So we can all sneer at the bigoted attitudes of the distant, alien people who float through this remote world.

Actually they were pretty much like us, following the political fashions of the times as we follow the fashions of our own. And one day others will portray us with the same disdain.

Businessman Simon Dolan’s badly needed court case against the Government’s unlawful rule by decree has been postponed yet again, because one of the Government’s lawyers has gone on holiday. 

Yes, really. All I can say is, it wouldn’t have happened to Gina Miller’s case. 

Axe looms for a dusty little attic of Empire 

Like most sensible residents of Oxford, I have kept quiet about what was until recently the most wonderful museum in the world, the Pitt Rivers.Half its crazy charm came from the fact that hardly anyone could find it during its brief opening hours. On a silent winter afternoon it was a dimly-lit feast for the imagination and an unbeatable evocation of the era of exploration and wonder. Is it ‘racist’? Only to racists.

A man-trap from a 19th Century English estate hardly proclaims the benefits of Western civilisation. It is really just an attic of Empire.The wonderful James Fenton wrote a witty poem about it, saying it was where ‘myths go when they die’.

We feared that publicity –which has lately come to it in books and TV dramas – would doom it. And now this has happened. A new boss has got rid of the Shrunken Heads. Who knows how long the totem pole, the man-trap and the spring-gun will now survive?

2-metre farce gives us the measure of Boris

The quackery of the regulations imposed on us knows no bounds.

The British Weights and Measures Association, a fine body which defends our familiar, human yards and pounds against the chilly, bureaucratic imposition of metres and kilos, has uncovered a fascinating detail of how the ‘two-metre’ rule was arrived at. Official guidance was that one metre (just over 3ft 3in) would be enough.

Expert Professor Robert Dingwall has revealed in a little-publicised interview that a senior public health specialist explained to him: ‘We knew it was one metre but we doubled it to two because we did not think the British population would understand what one metre was and we could not trust them to observe it so we doubled it to be on the safe side.’

I should stress that Prof Dingwall is quoting someone else here and is not the author of these contemptuous words. I asked Prof Dingwall to identify the speaker, but he wouldn’t, though it is plain it is someone pretty well-known.

You also see here the Johnson Government’s crabby reluctance to use traditional British measures – which Mr Johnson claims to like.

Expert Professor Robert Dingwall has revealed in a little-publicised interview that a senior public health specialist explained to him: ‘We knew it was one metre but we doubled it to two because we did not think the British population would understand what one metre was and we could not trust them to observe it so we doubled it to be on the safe side'

Expert Professor Robert Dingwall has revealed in a little-publicised interview that a senior public health specialist explained to him: ‘We knew it was one metre but we doubled it to two because we did not think the British population would understand what one metre was and we could not trust them to observe it so we doubled it to be on the safe side’

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