Nigel Lawson

Has there ever been an acronym less apt than Sage?

Has there ever been an acronym less apt than Sage?
Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer, Patrick Vallance
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Our lives remain dominated by the plague, aka Covid-19. The government’s handling of it — admittedly a difficult task — has not been brilliant, but no worse than the performance of its scientific and medical advisory group (no acronym has ever been less apt than Sage). 

There is one obvious lesson to be learned: the lesson from Sweden. The Swedes, alone in Europe, declined to have a lockdown. The outcome, in terms of deaths and health in general, seems to have been pretty average for Europe — worse than some, better than others (including, in particular, the UK). But comparisons are difficult, given all the factors involved. However, one fact is plain. The damage to Sweden’s economy has been far less than to every other European economy. 

While the BBC, with its characteristic indifference to the facts, insists on referring to this as damage done by Covid, it is of course overwhelmingly done by our response, especially by lockdown. The lesson is clear. If, as widely expected, there is a second wave later this year, there must on no account be a second national lockdown. Our economic prospects are already grim enough. In any case, the notion that public policy should be based on reducing the risk of death, regardless of all other factors, is palpably absurd, and certainly not what it has been based on hitherto. If it were, we would have a speed limit on the roads of 10 mph.

This article is an extract from Nigel Lawson's Spectator Diary, available in this week's magazine.