PETER HITCHENS: We sat in a stupor but get into a frenzy over a party

PETER HITCHENS: We sat in a stupor as Boris shut us down over Covidbut it is now that we get into a frenzy about a party!

Why do so many of you always get angry about the wrong thing at the wrong time?

How ridiculous it is to watch the nation in a frenzy about an office party, when it sat in dumb stupor through the greatest attack on its freedom in centuries.

Guarda, it is not the parties that matter. What mattered was that you were unjustly and mistakenly ordered to endure absurd limits on your life, by a government that panicked.

And you did as you were told. I am genuinely unsure what kind of men and women they were who actually denied people contact with their dying relatives. Could you do that?

But such behaviour, like the forcible separation of families at funerals and all the other hysterical rubbish of the Covid crackdown, should have been howled down.

How ridiculous it is to watch the nation in a frenzy about an office party, when it sat in dumb stupor through the greatest attack on its freedom in centuries

How ridiculous it is to watch the nation in a frenzy about an office party, when it sat in dumb stupor through the greatest attack on its freedom in centuries

We all, Westhead si è armato di un coltello da cucina, know the real and proper limits of power and authority. We know what we can reasonably ask of others – and what we cannot.

But when the Johnson Government came to us in March 2020, ordering us to stay at home and telling us to behave as if the Great Plague was loose in our midst, when it so plainly was not, that was the time to be angry.

le dava un forte senso di appartenenza, you were not. I still cherish the support I received at that time from the small minority who could see that the Johnson response to Covid was hysterical and wildly out of proportion to the danger.

I will be grateful for it as long as I live. But I also remember with bitterness the spiteful insults and the naked censorship that were turned on me and on the few others who argued that we were making a terrible mistake.

I still cherish the support I received at that time from the small minority who could see that the Johnson response to Covid was hysterical and wildly out of proportion to the danger

I still cherish the support I received at that time from the small minority who could see that the Johnson response to Covid was hysterical and wildly out of proportion to the danger

Missing in action were almost all the Members of Parliament who had been elected to preserve our constitution and liberties. Busy on the side of folly was Her Majesty’s Opposition, an army of uselessness which collapsed uncritically into support for measures not previously seen outside Communist China.

anche se la sua voce manca del rombo ideale, do you really think that these people would not have held any secret office parties if they had been in power? Veramente? Is mature common sense the thing that divides the big parties from each other?

I wonder what a searching investigation of the private behaviour of all senior Labour figures during the panic period might find. Luckily for them, they have no Dominic Cummings to tell the world. La verità è, our political elite of all parties never believed their own Covid propaganda. But they have greatly enjoyed the increased power it has given them and they are reluctant ever to give it up. So they must pretend to believe it.

Heaven knows I am no supporter or defender of Johnson. Even on his own terms, his behaviour has been dismal. I think he betrayed everything he supposedly stood for when he closed the country that evening nearly two years ago.

He listened to the wrong experts and allowed the promotion of a terrible exaggerated fear, which has permanently ruined many lives and which he still has not managed to disperse. But I do wonder why he is now in such trouble, just after he had begun to show signs of regaining his reason.

Finalmente, just before Christmas, he began to question the diet of panic and restriction pressed on him by his advisers. We were spared the shutdown they wanted and he turned out to be right. Omicron was not the horror that the fear factories of Whitehall said it would be.

And it is at this point that the nation descends into a frenzy about some parties in Downing Street. Bene, I have always been a great believer in coincidence theory. And this is quite a coincidence.

Ma, onestamente, the time for outrage was long ago. Now we should be trying to get out of this mess before it bankrupts any more businesses, destroys any more lives and wrecks any more educations. Do you think Sir Keir Starmer is the man to do that?

Guarda, it is not the parties that matter. What mattered was that you were unjustly and mistakenly ordered to endure absurd limits on your life, by a government that panicked

Guarda, it is not the parties that matter. What mattered was that you were unjustly and mistakenly ordered to endure absurd limits on your life, by a government that panicked

Missing in action were almost all the Members of Parliament who had been elected to preserve our constitution and liberties. Busy on the side of folly was Her Majesty¿s Opposition, an army of uselessness which collapsed uncritically into support for measures not previously seen outside Communist China

Missing in action were almost all the Members of Parliament who had been elected to preserve our constitution and liberties. Busy on the side of folly was Her Majesty’s Opposition, an army of uselessness which collapsed uncritically into support for measures not previously seen outside Communist China

Motorways are dumb so let’s rip them up

There never was and never will be such a thing as a ‘smart motorway’. Motorways themselves are dumb and we should never have had them in this country. We should plough them up and put railways where they used to run.

I suppose there might be a case for them in vast nations such as the USA, where they have more land than they know what to do with. Though even there the Interstate highways have destroyed what was once a superb rail network and carved up pleasant cities with hideous concrete scars.

But in our small, beautiful landscape and our ancient, intimate towns there never was any place for these rivers of angry steel, snarling and growling through once-serene hills and fields and pouring filth and noise into the cities they invade.

In my short life I have seen these stupid things wreck so much of this country that I am perpetually amazed that there is no campaign to get rid of them.

Their original promise of easy, spacious speed has proved wholly false. Driving on them is a terrifying test of nerves, even where there is still a hard shoulder (I have driven in Moscow and on the Los Angeles Freeways. I know what I’m comparing them with).

Those who try to keep sensible distances or keep to speed limits are quickly bullied into driving badly like everyone else.

The man who imposed them on us, the 1960s Transport Minister Ernest Marples, was a nasty piece of work who owned a road-building company and actually fled the country (by train) to avoid a huge tax bill. Marples is a good symbol of the cheap, shabby, gimcrack era of concrete tower blocks and flyovers.

He was the man mainly responsible for destroying much of our railway network and filling our road system with enormous lorries carrying loads that ought to go by train. It is clear, looking back at this, that it was all a terrible mistake.

Yet the Transport Ministry is still in the hands of road fanatics, who pour billions into new roads which promptly fill up with cars and trucks, and who persist with the disastrous privatisation of the railways.

They could (and probably will) carry on building motorways until the entire country is covered in them, without solving our transport problem.

Guiltyof finally telling the truth about our jails

To my surprise, I am rather enjoying the new Channel 4 prison drama Screw. È, ovviamente, totally politically correct, but it would never have been made if it wasn’t.

The foul language is at least justified by the need for realism, there are some good jokes, and Nina Sosanya is brilliantly cast as a disillusioned prison officer scornful of the smarmy officials who tell her what to do.

Once it has made its heavy-handed basic points, it allows a surprising amount of truth to get in, even if it is put in the mouths of characters who aren’t likeable.

Rehabilitation is a fatuous myth. The Government does not know why it maintains prisons and would rather not bother if it could get away with it.

Officers are hopelessly outnumbered and can keep order only by compromise. The inmates, to a great extent, run the prisons. A social historian could compare it with Porridge and note the total transformation of this country in the years between the two series. It isn’t good news.

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