Here’s a transcript of today’s debate. It’s far from perfect, but will do fine in case you cannot watch the video, or all the YouTube ads are driving you insane.
Mike Graham hosts “The Great Lockdown Debate between Peter Hitchens and Dan Hodges”.
Welcome to the first ever edition of head to head on talk radio television. We want to start a debate in this country. It’s been going on for a very long time. And we want to now talk to two of the very foremost debaters on the subject of Coronavirus of lockdown, and of how we get out of the situation we are in. The first is Peter Hitchens. The second is Dan haunches they’ve both been involved in quite, shall we say, adverse arguments on Twitter, on social media with each other, sometimes good natured, sometimes not so good natured. They both happen to be columnist as well, for the Mail on Sunday newspaper, they both have very diverging views. We’re going to hear from both of them now, in the first ever head to head first of all, Peter, let me say welcome to talk radio, television.
Thank you, first of all, what it’s about, it’s about proportion. It’s about whether what we’re doing as a country and as a government is actually in proportion to the problem we face in this country. I think it almost crucially, it’s about freedom, are we by handing over to the government, complete control of our safety and security, actually ending our freedom? And thirdly, why have I got anything to say about this? And fundamentally, the answer to that is, I’ve done a lot of work on freedom. I didn’t just become economist out of the blue, I became economist after many years, pulling from countries which were not free, and which were not governed by law. And I came to value those things very highly in my own country, and I see them threatened at the moment. That’s the purpose of my being here. And the the whole subject, which I have to discuss with you now. Pizza. Thank you for that. Dan Hodges is also with us. Dan, welcome to the show. I’m going to ask you for your proper actual statement, first of all, in a moment, but just tell us if you can answer Peters points there. Why is this an important debate?
Well, it’s an important debate, because it’s the biggest, I think, the biggest single issue domestic policy that any of us have faced, probably in our lifetimes, and certainly the countries faced since since the war. So that’s why, you know, I personally welcomed the debate, and I, you know, welcome the opportunity to fight, you know, have a proper discussion about all these vital issues. Excellent. Well, Peter, let me ask you formally, to give us your opening statement, you have two minutes. an opening statement is this from the very beginning, I thought that what we were doing was out Ocean to the problem. And I thought that the government was setting aside important protections of law and freedom, in a rush to enter to enter into a completely new era of government in which all kinds of freedoms which were previously normal, shut down, all kinds of powers were taken by the government and police, which they hadn’t previously had. It was important point here. That right up until a very short period, before this happened, we had a plan in this country and I this is the plan, which was developed in this country for dealing with a pandemic. It contains absolutely none of the lockdowns as arrests, or in general extreme measures which the government took. And we now know from an interview with Professor Ferguson in the times in last December, that right up until the last minute, the government of thought and its advisors have thought that they could not and should not copy, a totalitarian country, China, in its in its methods in coping with this disease. Suddenly, this happened, it became it seems to be at that point, the duty of anybody who was concerned about freedom of the rule of law, to at least dissent from this, and to point out that something else could have been done, and might have been done. And in fact, one of the reasons why I found people such as me was because the parliamentary opposition failed, Parliament failed, courts fail, much of the media failed to offer any criticism at all. Our freedom depends on being being prepared to accept that there is legitimate dissent in society. And one of the things which I felt at the very beginning of this, that dissent was in danger. And I’ve felt, actually, in the past few weeks, that danger of growing very, very strongly Indeed, this began as an attempt to combat a disease. It’s become a revolution in our society.
Thank you, Peter. That’s your two minute opening statement. Dan, let’s hear from you. Dan Hodges, with your opening statement. You have two minutes. Well, if we’ve been having this discussion over the summer, I would have agreed a lot of what Peter just said. But two fundamental things have changed. The first is the vaccine and anybody who’s serious about looking at these issues in an objective way, acknowledges that the vaccine is a game changer. But I think the more crucial thing is that in the in the run up to Christmas,
the lockdown sceptics and the government and the government’s experts set out diametrically opposed, but very clear positions, excuse me, and the government said we are seeing a second wave. That second wave will lead to a surge in infections, a surge in hospitalizations, and a surge in death.
And at each point the lockdown sceptics disagreed fundamentally with those predictions. They said there would be no second wave. They said hospitalizations was simply a product of mass testing. They said the hospitalizations was was simply a product of people entering entering hospital with mild COVID infections, who had things such as broken legs, and they said we would see no increase in excess mortality. On on each of those points. The lockdown sceptics were shown to be wrong, and the government and their experts was shown to be right. Despite that, the so called lockdown sceptics continue to simply deployed same arguments. We can, as Peter says, have a debate about the civil liberties implications. We can have a debate about the economic cost, we can have a debate a debate about the broader social costs. But when you attempt to simply deny the impact of COVID on the country, the impact on the health service, and the vital role locked down on unwelcome terrible though it is has in ensuring we have time to protect the most vulnerable and unlock in a safe and sustained way. Then, as I’ve said over the past few weeks, you cease to become merely a sceptic, and become a lockdown dinner. Well, that’s your two minutes. My first question, and I’m going to come to you, Dan to answer this one first, because my question was couched in terms before you both made those statements. So what I’m going to say to you now is that you’re surely describing yourself down when you describe lockdown sceptics up until about September of last year. And while I know that lots of people say that the lockdown sceptics as they’ve become known, got it wrong. They didn’t actually get it wrong, because they didn’t get it wrong until December, when things changed, as you’ve just quite rightly said, but how can you explain Peter how you have been almost the sole embodiment of a lockdown. scepticism, shall we say since the beginning, and I’m going to come to you, Dan, first. I mean, you’ve said that you were convinced by changes in the way that things happened?
And how can you justify saying to people that they are COVID deniers when they quite frankly are not that they are simply sceptical of whether the lockdown is working for the reasons that I just pointed out. I mean, as I said, for me, the key thing was the vaccine. Up until that point, it was quite clear lockdown in whatever form be at full lockdown the various tear systems 10pm rule scotch eggs, egg rules, they were simply not a sustainable way of combating the virus. I don’t think there was any dispute about that. But once we had the vaccine, we had and have, finally a way out. And what we need to do quite clearly is utilise the vaccine and simply buy time for the vaccine to be fit for the population to be vaccinated, so we can lock out and come out and ensure this is the last lockdown. Now I don’t think anybody analysing the vaccine, you can look at just look at the reaction, for example, the route we’ve had with Europe as we’ve strict ahead of Europe, in terms of vaccinations, everybody, I think, except as I said, the vaccine is is a game changer. Now you said well, the lockdown sceptics didn’t get it wrong till December, fine. But they didn’t get it wrong. They got it wrong and all the points are listed. And here’s the crucial thing, despite getting it wrong. And despite being proven manifestly to get it wrong on there being no second wave, no infections, hospitalizations, excess deaths, they continue to perpetuate the same arguments. They cite the same discredited sources, they cite the same discredited reports, they can continue to use the same arguments. Now if you’re a sceptic, that’s healthy. But you have to be prepared to exert your scepticism, we’ll look at the facts and crucially, change your opinions based on those facts. But lockdown sceptics as we’re continually refused to do that, which is why as I say, they are not sceptics anymore, they deny it. Peter, how would you respond to that? Because I think you have been, if I may say so very consistent in your opinions.
I think there are several things here. First of all, a lot of sceptics are not a political party or a centralised organisation. And it’s it would be wrong to suggest that we’ve all held the same opinion or said the same thing. I, for instance, have never got on with Toby young before this. I don’t expect to get on with him afterwards, I would have disagreed with with things
that he said during it. But Dan didn’t actually quote anybody directly from any of the things that he suggested. What, for instance, I did on the question of the The second way was I quoted Professor Hugh Addington
A leading expert on the subject by himself saying that he didn’t think it’s going to be one.
Then, and I said at one point, I think that the the infection was declining when it was and when Peters would show that it was done himself as written, I think you’d read on September 26. He quoted a minister saying there wouldn’t be another lockdown. Or we can only go on what, what our sources and what we read tell us, I can’t really tie down and say you said there wouldn’t be another look. I think at one point he also said he thought a vaccine was very unlikely.
And again, that would have come from sources It was a perfectly reasonable thing to say it doesn’t make everything he says wrong. So I think that but he caricatures lockdown sceptics having been much more hardline about this. And he does. He also dismisses a huge part of the argument about the the actual examination and an interpretation of statistics, which seems to me to remain open. And I think that the the term denier even if it were technically correct, which it isn’t, is a very dangerous term to use in debate. The thing which immediately comes into people’s minds when they hear denier is Holocaust denier. And I think it’s a dog whistle, to try and try and demonise those people against whom it is applied. And I think that this debate really has to be held because if you recognise the existence of dissent on the basis of civility between both sides and also on the recognition by each side, that the other one is benevolent that the other side wants good outcomes has good intentions. Once you start using expressions like deny you make that impossible, and it since people started doing that sort of thing. I’ve had many, many more on social media, personal attacks on I suppose wickedness and desire to kill people or my responsibility for having killed people associate completely baseless rubbish. And I think that it’s lowered the tenor of the debate and lowered possibility of us actually having a serious discussion. I think Mr. Hodges should desist from it. Well, let me interrupt you there pizza, because we’re going to give Dan a minute to come back on that particular subject. And you put your hand up a little bit earlier than there was something else you wanted to correct? Yeah, yeah. Two points on the on the on the point of denial. I mean, the greatest respect to Peter and Peter that people can check this. You know, Peter has been very, how shall I say robust in terms of his engagement, he’s dismissed some of his critics as Maoists, Stalinists. And with respect, it’s a slightly rich, when the word denial is used for Peter, somebody who consistently demands we have free and open debate to suddenly attempt to police language in this way and claim that the word denial is inextricably linked to the Holocaust. But going back to the form of the first point, as I said, I’ve got no objection to Peter, citing experts, who were then proven to be wrong. They’ve all done that. He’s absolutely right. I was sceptical about the concept of a vaccine, I i’ve, you know, was was was sceptical and published statements by ministers in which they themselves said, lockdown no longer been necessary. But here’s the crucial difference. Do you when the facts change? Do you have basically the courage and the intellectual rigour to take those new facts? and adjust your opinion accordingly? Or do you do what Peter and his fellow lockdown deniers continue to do? Which is to cite, as I say, exactly the same experts in exactly the same way? Exactly the same research exactly the same report when they have been proven demonstrably to be wrong? Well, let me come up with the next question here, because it’s question number two. And funnily enough, it was to Peter first about being accused of having blood on your hands. And similarly, being sort of likened to some kind of cruel sadist who doesn’t wish to look at the evidence, and instead wishes to allow people to die without having any thought for them. I know, Peter, that that’s not true, but equally does. Dan has said, you know, people have been mistaken over the course of the last year in many different ways. And if experts get things wrong, then of course, occasionally journalists will get things wrong. But Peter, what evidence do you have, for example, that lockdowns don’t work?
Well, I think the, the I don’t, I can’t, I can’t say that lockdowns don’t work. I think there’ll be an extremely difficult thing to establish. And I suppose you could, you could, you could perhaps argue, and they might have inevitably some effect because you can’t shut down entire society without any effect. But I challenge those who say they do work. So what exactly is your evidence? Because it doesn’t seem to me to be very much whereas there are copious numbers of scientific papers. I know we’re supposed to list them all by name, but I would there would be too many. I have a stack of 17 on my left hand here, which suggests that they don’t work and there is no if you look globally at every single country, which is which has been involved in this, in this. In this in this global outbreak. You will not find a correlation.
Between the severity of shutdowns and the level of deaths on the country, you’ll find some countries which have shut down very hard have have continued to have very high levels of deaths and others which haven’t. The reverse and you can do the same with with states in the United States. That the the deaths per million in states doesn’t seem to be governed by the severity of lockdowns. So I would challenge people to say where they work, but I want to go back to where we began, because it still seems to me to be the thing which gets forgotten, though, is this a proportionate response? Why didn’t we stick to the carefully planned response based on hundreds of years actually a precedent which has already been prepared by the government for just such an occasion, the whole whole idea of closing down in Thai society in a kind of, of quarantining, the healthy of confining people’s their homes is entirely new and untested. So why is it being so little discussed? The whole the amount of power which is accrued to the government as a result of this is also completely unprecedented, not merely in peacetime in wartime? There’s nothing being seen as before undiscussed that’s the real discussion whether or not I don’t want to get involved in an argument about figures, statistics, the nature of
what is responsible for levels of mortality, because I think we get bogged down in it, I think it is still much more of an open question. I also would like to reply to Mr. Hodges on one other point, which is that I have been attacked, particularly and in detail, the magazine private I have boycotted the establishment, went through everything I’d written and said, just see if they could find anything embarrassing with them, they produce an article in that paper, but to which I replied in detail, and I felt that that what they had done was was actually struggled rather than find any way where I’d been. I’d been seriously factually wrong, and I would challenge anybody else to do the same. I may have made as many people don’t miss judgments at the time what the future might be, but I don’t tend to be a prophet. And I, no known as Mr. Hodges. But my assessments of what’s going on, I continue to stand by it. So I wrote a lengthy reports to what private I said, which anybody can read on my blog, in which I make that clear. I also wrote them a letter saying the same thing I don’t accept his characterization of my position as having been disclosed by events. Dan, let me come to you because of course those who would argue about whether lockdowns work but always say, and I’ve said this myself in the past that you know if they work so well, why do we keep having to have them? So can you give us evidence of why lockdowns work? Yeah, I mean, I think the most and obviously, you know, we can all we can all swap our experts. But for me, I think the definitive study on UK lockdown is currently sitting is the study study that was produced by the Lancet. And it’s significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, it specifically looks at the UK. But secondly, there’s been a lot of debate and modelling the advantage that what distinguishes the Lancet December study is that it was able to utilise not just the initial lockdown, but also look at the tier system,
the Northern Ireland lockdown and the Welsh circuit breaker. So it could compare the various lockdown interventions. They ran that data through their model, and then model accurately, it wasn’t sort of some sort of sort of hypothetical modelling. They’re able to run the hard data through their mobile, and they accurately predicted the outcomes. Based on that model. They were quite unequivocal the number of hospitalizations. This is with a lockdown. The number of hospitalizations fell by half the number of deaths fell by similar amount. Here’s the thing I want to say to Peter, though, you know, Peter does seem to be you know, slightly backing off the lockdown doesn’t work thing. But obviously a lot of lockdown sceptics have made that made that case. What I want to ask is this, it? Obviously 100 and I think 150 countries globally have had some form of lockdown. That is obviously on the advice of their medical experts whose sole job is the protection of public health. Now Peter and fellow lockdown sceptics claim they have this evidence base, which shows lockdowns don’t work or ineffective, right?
To believe that you have to believe one or two things. First is across the globe, the global health community, the health experts, none of them are privy to the information and data that Peter and his small band of sort of amateur lockdown solutions have uncovered that they’re not they’re continuing to lockdown continue to keep with this, even though the evidence that patron is is married band have uncovered there for some reason. Even that’s their job. They’re not they’re not privy to that now, that’s frankly ridiculous. The other argument is they are privy to it. And there is some sort of global conspiracy across the globe here. Europe, I think 45 of the 50 states in the United States,
Vietnam, Australia. There was
This global conspiracy to keep locking us down, even if a lockdown even though attempts don’t work. Now, frankly, that is, as I say, that is not scepticism that is venturing into the realm of global conspiracy theories. And again, I’m very sorry. Peter said he stands by what he said. He started off. I don’t read the question before by acknowledging that the things he said and the experts he cited, were proven to be wrong. So you cannot stand by what he said before the right to reply to that because I think we’ll come to another question on on the way that you’ve both approached lockdowns But Peter, would you like to address that? I sighs an expert who turns out to be wrong. It’s not to be wrong. It’s it that is if I if I had said there will be no lockdown because Professor Pennington says so then you could say that I was I assumed you said here is Professor Pennington and I, I’m constantly derided I’ve been so you’re an expert or anything what why should we listen to you as well, I completely agree with you. I’m not an expert in anything, nor I should point out is any minister in the government expert, and I think but that doesn’t seem to bother you so much. I don’t claim expertise. And I’m careful not to. I think here we move from the denial smear, which I’ve already expressed my objections to, and I really do wish Mr. Hodges would have been added to this conspiracy theory smear, I haven’t backed off my position is always mean, if you if you really think these these shutdowns work, then establish it not by saying
a happened after B. But by saying I haven’t because of b and a causal relationship between to me to be very difficult to show. There’s a strong argument in which I have
offered the proposition that on the basis of, of research done the by people into the, into the length of time of incubation of, of COVID and the length of time between onset and death, it is extremely unlikely that the shutdown were announced on March the 23rd, could conceivably have led to a peaking of deaths on April the eighth. And I think that’s still about a powerful argument. And I think the original order, they want to have to look all over the countries of Europe, particularly countries such as Belgium, and Slovenia, which you’ve locked down to deed to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which is locked down hard and have faced repeats of innovation in the sage minutes before.
before March 23, you’ll find suggestions that are hard lockdown would only lead to a second wave. It doesn’t necessarily work. And the other thing is, even if it did work, we have to deal with the other question which I hope will come to have the enormous damage done to other areas of society by these measures. And I don’t just refer to lockdown that but we’ve had far more things in lockdown. We’ve had a general economic shutdown outside London, which has led to huge medical and economic consequences and indeed to the to a great deal of misery and loneliness, which which have greatly damaged the national health as well. And I don’t think you can say something has worked unless you take that into consideration. I do think that Mr. Hodges should abandon these suggestions of conspiracy. I’ve not said anything which could enable him legitimately to say that and I wish he would conduct this debate in a fair and reasonable manner rather than it with this sort of name calling, which I think lowers the tone and makes it much harder to have a sensible discussion. Peter, that was a bit of a long answer there. So sorry. All right. You may have to be curtailed slightly the second one, but I will speak up for journalists, since you too, don’t seem to want to. Whenever people say to me, you’re not an expert in anything. I said, Well, I’ll tell you what an expert and I’m an expert in everything. Because what I do, is born out of a career spent listening to politicians, watching people doing what they do for a living and talking to members of the public in a way that hardly anybody else who does one particular job does. So I think both of you should be proud of that. Because both of you have a different view here. But this next question is to you first, and you’d be quite dismissive of the people you refer to as the as the COVID deniers. The lockdown sceptics, all of those people who warn of the mental anxiety and depression suffered by our children, and our young people, in particular, to say nothing of the rising number of suicide calls at the London Ambulance Services having to field at the moment, can you not be called equally cruel and uncaring about those people’s lives?
No, because Can I just say, Can I just stop you because this is this is very important. This is very, very important. All of that all of them and there is obviously a significant mental health impact from a lockdown.
All of the senior mental health charities are very clear though. We must not draw a link between the lockdown and increased suicides. That’s a very important point to stress.
Okay, there is no evidence of suicide but but the suicide calls to the London Ambulance Service have increased demonstrably in the last year. I might listen to what I’m saying, right?
All the senior mental health charities have very clear. They say it’s very important. You just mentioned journalists. They’re very explicit, very important journalists, all of us do not draw that direct link, we can have the discussion without bringing suicide, bringing suicides into it. There is obviously a serious mental mental health impact. There is obviously a serious economic impact. There is obviously a serious social impact. No one is denying that. I am perfectly and, you know, you cited my articles over the summer before that, all of my articles articulate that that, however, does not avoid the fundamental reality that the National Health Service we have currently now exceeded 100,000, COVID deaths, we were told there would be 20,000, COVID deaths. It’s not even it’s not even, it’s not even finished yet. As Peter and the fellow lock that his fellow lockdown deniers completely and accurately point out, lockdown is also having a severe direct impact on our ability to treat other conditions, cancer, cancer operations, other operations because of the enormous, enormous pressure, we cannot ignore that vast impact. And crucially, I’ve got to repeat this. Crucially, now, we finally have a way out, we finally have a way out of the nightmare for everyone via the vaccine, but we have to buy time for the country to be vaccinated not just so we can protect the vulnerable people, not just so we can reduce the pressure on the NHS, but we can ensure when we exit the lockdown this time, and I confidently predict we will we will be begin to to exit lockdown relatively shortly. We made sure this is the last lockdown
Well, again, Mr. Hodges went to system using these terms such as deniers.
I think that if you are
taking measures Stern’s the ones which the guns taking, I think we haven’t even discussed tonight. So the long term, we’re coming to that no, we’re borrowing huge sums of money and destroying it seems to be very large numbers.
And then there is also this this the the work which I was going to cite here this improved measure of deaths due to COVID-19. In England and Wales done by Williams, crooks, glass and glass for lover and Sheffield universities, which I’ve sat here is the first beginnings of work done on the very severe effects, way beyond suffers and COVID of the policies adopted by the government. Since March, I think there will be much more, and I’m glad to see them soldiers, at least acknowledging that some damage is being done. The question is whether it is proportionate to the problem which is being solved. He keeps using figures of the numbers of deaths, which he attributes together. But I would go back right back to April and May when the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Johnny Harris said twice government press conferences that we should be careful to distinguish between deaths within deaths from curb it. And I think failure to make that distinction in many of those who’ve wanted to, to to suggest that this crisis was perhaps more severe than it actually is. And I’m not saying it’s not severe. I’m just saying the level of its severity as being is perhaps being exaggerated, that people have forgotten that distinction. And we have just accepted without question everything they’ve been told. But leave that aside for I just want to give one small example of somebody indirectly known to me, a man in his 80s, who’d maintained itself largely by swimming every day.
And during the the first lockdown, he was unable to do so. And there was a brief period when he was allowed to so again, he found that he’d been inactive for so long, he could no longer swim. So that’s his life hugely damaged by this extreme behaviour of the government. It’s I think, typical of many, many more particularly in the formerly healthy old who’s but their social lives. The exercise, the general well being has been gravely damaged by there’s a to justify those effects. You really have to do better than to say, well, maybe, maybe lockdown works, maybe this this, this post hoc, ergo propter hoc paper shows that it does work. Just because winter follows harvest. It doesn’t mean winter is caused by harvest, and we should be careful about attributing these alleged successes to that. And even if they have it, was it ever worth it? And was it worth the trip?
Endless loss of freedom, the translation of the police into a bullying militia, and all the other things which we’ve experienced the shutdown of education, both schools and university, grave damage to the to the lives and prospects of huge numbers of young people. Was it could it conceivably have been worth it? Well, let me let me ask you both to see whether you can just nod on this one, because well, then move on to the next question. But I think you both are, are bringing together the two ends of the argument to the point where we could probably agree, basically, that the lockdown has had an immensely damaging effect on all other parts of society. And while it may have worked in some ways, it has not been without cost. I mean, I think you could both agree that couldn’t,
we could, but can I just, can I just want to come back on something and you can take that out of my time for later because I think, you know, Peters, just given a classic example of what I’m talking about there. Firstly, he’s attempted to cast doubt on the mortality figures. Now there are two ways that the mortality figures are effectively calculated. One is obviously the RNs do ns data shows over 100,000 deaths. The second thing is the comparison with is the excess mortality difference, the difference between death normally this time of year, and how many we’ve seen as as as a result of COVID. And that the analysis is clear. It’s been done independently, it’s been done accurately, by accurate acts in excess deaths. And now, depending on your analysis, running at levels we haven’t seen since either the 1940s or 1914. Right. That’s that’s been independently established. But what what Peter then said, and went on to say, they’re being exaggerated. These figures are being exaggerated. exaggerated By whom? And for what, for what purpose? Because he took issue with me before when I raised the spectacle of a of some great conspiracy. But here he is saying the figures are being exaggerated. But obviously, in this country, by implication, by all the other by all the other countries, which also have huge death figures, and are implementing lockdown as a result? Actually, no, because I remember back in the summer of last year, many of the people who suggested our numbers were higher than they ought to have been. We’re saying, actually, the measurements in most countries are done differently. And so it’s not entirely correct to say that, you know, might be done differently or done differently. But there’s also
nobody apart from Peter and the lockdown deniers claims that the levels of mortality and are so enormous that we have to implement a lot that’s well, that’s not true as well, because I’ve been telling, I’ve been talking to doctors who have said to me that it would be much more honest for the government to release the excess death figures, rather than the total death figures, because everybody knows that for a long time. If you had COVID test positive in 28 days, and you then died, whether it was ob COVID, you’d be put down as a COVID death. But let me let Peter answer that. I would like to object to the form in which Mr. Hodges said what you just said that I cast doubt on the mortality figures.
I haven’t cast doubt on the mortality figures and mortality figures and beyond that people have died. That’s not the question. The question is the categorization classifications that is figured, which seems to me to remain open to some question as to exactly how many of those people have actually died of rather than with COVID. And I, I recently took a look at the the changes, for instance, which were introduced by Mr. Hancock in March, in the recording of the of deaths, and particularly the classification of, of COVID as a notifiable disease, which is normally reserved for such things as, as malaria or play, and also the World Health Organization’s instructions on the completion of death certificates. It’s it’s perfectly possible to make a respectable case, as Dr. Jenny Harris, as I say, Deputy Chief Medical Officer twice made for saying that we need to separate deaths with deaths of and dr. john lien distinguished pathologist has constantly said that he believes that the recording of these deaths is open to serious question. I don’t I’m not offering any explanation of it. I’m what I have always said from the start, is that governments in this country particularly panicked in March, and ever since then, double down on their panic. And that’s the only explanation I required. Well, let us move on from that particular winner that you’re going to get any agreement there from from either one of you. Let’s talk about the financial state of affairs. The Bank of England, this one to up to first last week suggested that the economy would bounce back very strongly in 2021. How do you see the recovery actually happening? If the lockdown measures are either lifted, or actually kept in place? Well, I hope that is right. But I have to say we’re in completely uncharted territory economically, no government is
Ever borrowed to the extent that governments are borrowing from the future, the only example I can think of that begins to resemble it. So the the governments of the major powers in the First World War, which pretty much borrowed on the on the idea that we’re going to win the war, and be able to get all the money back from the the defeated, defeated Party, which is one of the reasons I think why Germany ended up with hyperinflation in the 1920s, because they didn’t win. But they borrowed the money anyway, I think borrowing on this scale is fantastically dangerous. And I don’t think we know how it will end. And I think that already the the government has hesitated several times, in actually coming up with a budget because it doesn’t, it knows that can’t balance the books, and that once it tries to, then very important things will happen. First of all, much heavier taxation will be necessary, who it will follow and where is unclear. And secondly, very likely, the the, the, the pumping of all of this money, not just into the banks and the financial institutions, as has been done up till now, but actually into the pockets of the public is almost certain to lead to inflation of a type I’ve seen, at least not seen in this country since the 1970s, which I remember very well, which totally destroyed the the savings. And in many cases, the fixed incomes of many older people who were left in a very serious situation, inflation can be very bad for a lot of people and taxation will will be heavy there is there are going to be consequences this if we can bounce back under those circumstances. Well, I’m good. We’re not fundamentally a strong economy, we run a tremendous deficit, we have huge private debt as well as public debt. We don’t have much manufacturing industry from which to rebuild. And I’m very worried about the future. And I’m amazed at how complacent or indeed ignorant people are about the risks that we’re running. Okay. Dan, let me come to you. I mean, I’ve often argued with Peter about this one, very much at the start of our conversations, that it’s such a big deficit, and it’s such a big amount to borrow, they can’t possibly let it crash, because it will be a bit like letting a big company go. When you owe the bank a load of money, the bank keeps you going in order to make sure they get the money back. How is this economy going to recover? Dan?
Well, we’d have to wait and see. I mean, this is one area where I think there is there would be a degree of of agreement between myself and Peter, I do think we are facing certain, you know, severe economic issues as a result of the COVID. And the broader economic, economic downturn. I mean, there are some positive signs, I think we’ve seen some positive signs in the United States, for example, that the economic bounce back there may be may be stronger than was was expected. And also, as you just cited, there is analysis from the Bank of England and other economists that we could be looking at some form of V shaped recovery. But nonetheless, there is absolutely no avoiding the fact that you know, as Peter points out, and others have pointed out, that we are going to face significant economic hardship moving forward.
Again, you know, I think this, you know, I think the key in this whole debate is honesty and acceptance of facts. And the facts are, we have been bought borrowing huge amounts of money, money to sustain the economy through this crisis. And those huge amounts of money are gonna are going to be have to be paid back. And there’s no doubt there’s no document. There is no ducking it. But the question, I suppose, is, how did they get that money back? And, Peter, you’ve mentioned, there’s going to probably be high levels of tax, we’ve already seen the government suggesting that they might try and put a tax on Amazon, it hasn’t seemed to work terribly well, up until now, because Amazon hardly pays any taxes It is so they don’t they would avoid any new taxes that they got put. Well, it seems a pretty far fetched scheme to me. I don’t have a clue. There’s suddenly decided at one point, in the early summer, I think the chancellor, Mr. sumac was very worried about the cost of furlough, and the immense depths of debt into which it was getting us. But he was ultimately overruled by political forces, and compelled to extend it and extended and extended. And everything has been like this. The people say, well, who cares about for instance, landlords not being paid rent. So the problem with that is a lot of those landlords who are receiving rent are actually running companies, which provide the income for pension funds. So you may not like landlords, but the awful lot of people you may not like, but if you rely on a pension fund, or you have any savings or investment, these things are damaging, but we have basically stopped to the economy, we’ve turned off the taps to let the money in. But with running the taps Full Tilt, night and day to let the money out. And it cannot lead to serious problems. I can’t predict the exact shape of them. We don’t even know whether the government will survive them. I think there will, has to be I hate to say it, but there has to be quite a severe amount of job loss when furlough comes to an end and the small
bonuses which, which went down for the third time with this locker, I think many of them, a lot of them will just simply not come up again. And and that’s jobs too. And it’s not just the jobs that people who work in them, but they they will they will spend money in other places well that stops happening. I cut the consequences of it and gigantic, nothing like it is same with shutting down society. Nothing like it has ever been attempted before. parliament has never properly debated it. There’s never been a cost benefit analysis. There’s never been any serious study of whether whether this is a justified reaction to what we face, which remains by simple single point again and again. Again, we didn’t know what we were doing. We’ve done it. But shouldn’t we at least consider whether we did the right thing? Let me just let you come back on that down for a quick minute. If I may, before we get to our final question, because the events of this week alone must worry you slightly when you see the Secretary of State for health waking up getting up in the House of Commons and deciding that there’s going to be a 10 year penalty in jail for somebody who fills out a form incorrectly or deliberately mislead somebody on it. Doesn’t that make you slightly concerned?