How many waves will it take for Britain's lockdown sceptics to finally call it a day? | Marina Hyde


Articles / Political 3 Views comments

You’d have thought the crisis would give them pause. But then, like the government, they have a hard time learning from their mistakes

I am agonised to learn that the Daily Telegraph has been censured for a column published last July, in which Toby Young declared that having had a common cold could give people immunity from Covid-19, and that London was “probably approaching” herd immunity. You really can’t say anything these days – and then they go and tell you that you can’t say the things you have said, albeit many months later. Toby’s the journalistic equivalent of an Only God Can Judge Me tattoo, the Galileo of doing opinions for coins, and history will take a very dim view of all the doctors and nurses now lying about their hospitals breaking under the weight of the “second” “wave”, and all the ordinary Britons now lying about having their surgeries “cancelled”. Shame on them. They don’t know the meaning of cancelled.

There are different variants of being cancelled doing the rounds, of course, but I think the one where you still get to dispense virological advice in a high-profile column and on TV is definitely the one to catch. It seems to give you complete immunity from meaningful consequences. I very much enjoyed Toby’s recent Newsnight appearance, where he was confronted by Emily Maitlis with his grimly debunked claims that there was never going to be a second spike – and proceeded to deal with this massive, cosmic bollock-drop only parenthetically. Let’s see it in action. “Well – hands up, I got that wrong, Emily – but let’s not forget that was during the summer …” What’s not to love about that split-second concession, the sort of “hands up” that counter-terrorism police will tell you is usually the prelude to some nutter reaching for his next concealed explosive.

Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist

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