The wonderful thing about the truth is that no matter how hard you try to smother it, it always wins out in the end.
For two weeks, the London newspaper The Telegraph has published WhatsApp messages exchanged at the height of the pandemic between Matt Hancock, the Minister of Health at the time, and members of the British government.
These revelations, called “Lockdown Files”, shed a harsh light on the management of the pandemic. Among other things, we learn that Mr. Hancock deliberately wanted to “frighten the population”, that he would have planned the “deployment of a new variant” in the United Kingdom, and that he would have ignored medical recommendations to systematically test the retirement homes. We also learn that confining travelers to hotel rooms as small as “shoeboxes” amused him. As for Boris Johnson, he would have imposed the mask at school only to please the Scottish government.
Overall, the messages convey a casual handling of the pandemic, the reliance on propaganda through fear and guilt to secure obedience, and a disregard for the human cost imposed on citizens. Above all, they demonstrate the instrumentalization of science for political ends.
It is certainly comforting to believe in the integrity of the political elite, but we must be realistic. As Lord Acton said, “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The “Lockdown Files” have shown that some decision-makers can be inhabited by a delusion of omnipotence and motivated by considerations foreign to the common good. One thing is certain, such revelations discredit the political class. In the end, we bet that the British will now be particularly suspicious and difficult to “scare”.
Canada and Quebec have adopted measures similar to those of Great Britain. But if the British government has based its restrictions on questionable motives, what conclusions should we draw on this side of the Atlantic? Are we all British?
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