The Coronapanic Debacle

Notes and references for The Coronapanic Debacle

The Unions and the U-turns

The average age of death from Covid 19:

an outbreak on the Diamond Princess:

continuing to shake hands with people:

Johnson wanted to be infected with Covid 19:

Perhaps you could take it on the chin:

the Italian PM told Channel 4 that herd immunity was Johnson’s policy:

Vallance was on TV and on the radio:

We are considering banning major public events:

an open letter to the government warning that herd immunity was risking lives:

National Education Union wrote an open letter on March 14:

advising vulnerable people not to venture out:

his ridiculous prediction that 500,000 people could die:

the Prime Minister made a statement asking people to work from home:

Johnson expressed a willingness to keep schools open:

met privately with education secretary Gavin Williamson:

another open letter to the government:

The Labour Party backed the lockdown:

as did the largest union in the country:

Dominic Cummings was pressurising him to lockdown:

other ministers had been plotting against Johnson:

Johnson announced that all schools would close:

a massive fear campaign:

a remark by Steve Hilton:

The Coronavirus Act that passed through Parliament:

Trades Unions Congress published a joint statement:

another statement, this time from nine unions:

called for schools to stay shut:

several days after that the BMA changed its mind:

On May 30, the NEU issued another press release:

in discussions with the government about reopening the economy:

Britain’s three rail unions – the RMT, ASLEF and the TSSA – wrote to the PM:

a ‘significant return to normality’:

called for mandatory face masks on trains:

calling for masks on all public transport:

ASLEF welcomed the announcement:

So did the TSSA:

the Telegraph reported that the government faced possible industrial action:

joined forces to compile a submission:

Johnson was regretful after the first lockdown:

Johnson apparently shouted ‘no more fucking lockdowns’:

A book by a former SAGE member Jeremy Farrar:

‘bounced’ into the lockdown by the press leak:

he would rather see ‘bodies piled high in their thousands’:

The NEU wanted what they called a ‘circuit breaker’:

pupils in all secondary schools were now required to wear masks:

Masks in schools had already been demanded:

teaching unions proceeded to insist that schools should close:

suddenly, on Dec 19:

Johnson had been mocking Kier Starmer:

a strongly worded press release:

Chaand Nagpaul, spoke to the radio:

and TV:

He told the Times:

the BMA supported a junior doctors’ strike:

Michael Gove said he was confident:,can%20go%20ahead%20as%20planned.&text=%22It%20is%20our%20intention%20to,as%20possible%2C%22%20he%20said.

‘There is no doubt in my mind that schools are safe’:

‘We must all move heaven and earth’:

The NEU held an online Zoom meeting:

In the words of the NEU itself:

National Association of Head Teachers called for all schools to move to home learning:

the NASUWT, likewise called for remote learning:

calling for schools to remain closed:

supported by the NEU – they lobbied the government:

They suddenly announced another national lockdown:

UCU, the academic union, threatened strike action:

they warned of an ‘avalanche’ of Covid 19 cases:

the RMT had demanded an upscaling of protections:

the NEU had demanded that children wear masks in classrooms:

the NEU reiterated the demand:

nine teaching unions issued a press release:

forced to wear masks in classrooms:

five teaching unions wrote an open letter:

led by the NEU, demanding the reintroduction of the masks:

The BMA had also demanded a delay:

Johnson first explained exactly what Freedom Day would entail:

if he delayed the reopening until September:

wearing a mask would become a matter of ‘social responsibility’:

after the RMT and the TSSA had protested vehemently: [RMT] [TSSA]

his public statement contained an absolute bombshell:

when he announced the forthcoming Freedom Day, he said:

when discussing the matter in Parliament he seemed less sure:

other ministers, such as Michael Gove:

Zahawi even called them discriminatory:

briefing the media about the infection rate:

the BMA wrote a report into Covid certification:

the JCVI has recently recommended against routine Covid jabs for children:

four teaching unions in a joint statement have called for a rollout:

Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT:

welcomed by the NEU:

The Road to Lockdown: How Unions Drove Covid Policy

‘The Unions and the U-turns’:

the first was called ‘The Unions and the Coronapanic’:

the second was called ‘The Scandalous Cause of the Third Lockdown’:

Patrick Vallance was on TV:

a letter signed by the secretaries of GMB, Unite and Unison: Circ Coronavirus 12Feb20.pdf

I’ve also unearthed a press release:

the notorious £119 million advertising contract:

On March 9, Unison started complaining:

closed after their pupils had returned from a trip to Italy:

In a press release, the union declared:

a threatening press release:

On March 14, the NEU wrote an open letter:

A short press release on the government’s official website:

there are reports that Japanese parents were unhappy:

On March 16, the TUC held a webinar:

The TUC later described furlough as a ‘big win’:

achieved after ‘intensive negotiations’:

the TUC had issued a newsletter:

At 8pm on March 16, the government held a press conference:

journalists were ushered into an off-camera briefing:

new research published by Neil Ferguson that day:

Ferguson himself has admitted it:

there is a buzzfeed article quoting a ‘source’:

He has a track record of this sort of thing:

Medley replied: ‘We generally model what we are asked to model’:

‘met the Cabinet Office’ on March 17:

NHS Confederation has been ‘working closely‘ with NHSX:

Jeremy Hunt, Johnson’s former leadership rival, was openly calling for schools closures:

Hunt went on to back the NEU in October 2020:

on January 2, 2021, Hunt said:

he directly called for schools closures:

the NEU went as far as thanking Hunt:

a joint statement with the other G7 leaders:

Johnson versus the NEU: The Second Lockdown Explained


an average age of death of 82:

my book ‘The Truth About the Wuhan Lockdown’:


Privately he was saying:

50 articles paid for by the Chinese Communist Party:

a half-hearted attempt to defend the policy:

the GMB Union threatening a staff mutiny:

promised to take ‘whatever action was required’:

the UCU, called for universities to close:

The NEU began agitating for schools closures:

the LSWU, called for the government to ‘shut down the courts’:

stoked a work-from-home mutiny:

PCS union – the civil service union – lobbied the cabinet:

he wanted to relieve a ‘burden’ on the public sector:

the PM held a press conference:


On March 17, the NEU wrote an open letter:

Owen Jones, tweeted:


the Guardian reported that 13 schools had unilaterally shut@

Johnson was compelled to say publicly:

on March 14, the NEU penned an open letter:

the 1970s, when union membership peaked:

Thatcher ended up proposing a watered-down version of the statute: From ‘Not For Turning’, by Robin Harris, location 808.

Thatcher was able to ‘covertly obstruct but not overtly initiate’: From ‘Not For Turning’, by Robin Harris, location 1113.

walkouts by monopoly groups were ‘not strikes against the government, but strikes against the people: From ‘Not For Turning’, by Robin Harris, location 1291.

‘in 1990, industrial action caused less disruption than in any year since 1935’: From ‘Not For Turning’, by Robin Harris, location 1291.

‘his response was ‘As far as I am concerned, the loss is without limit’: From ‘Not For Turning’, by Robin Harris, location 3483.

‘‘no union or group of unions could ever again make the country ungovernable’: From ‘Not For Turning’, by Robin Harris, location 3583.

the process would take five weeks:


10.3 million schoolchildren in the UK:,Scotland%2C%20341%2C402%20in%20Northern%20Ireland.

13 million working parents:’s,job%20or%20finding%20suitable%20work

The total working population of the UK is 32.8 million:,the%20same%20period%20of%202021.

Matt Hancock wrote an article:

‘mounting anger over [his] decision not to close schools’:

the TUC had advised its constituent union members to hand in Section 44 letters:

#Covid19Walkout and #CloseTheSchoolsNow trending:

he announced that all schools would shut their gates:

‘We need now to push down further on that curve of transmission’:

the government announced a legally enforced lockdown:

‘The impact of closing schools is huge’:

(70% versus 75%): [70] [75]

In Japan, women are less likely to have high-responsibility jobs:

the men notoriously work long hours:,of%208.36%20hours%20among%20women

Japanese husbands do less housework:

‘Close Schools/Colleges down for an appropriate amount of time’:

MP Robin Millar noted:

76% of the public were ‘strongly supportive’:

described the scheme as a ‘big win’:

he urged Britain to ‘move faster to social distancing’:

he called it ‘absolutely the right decision’:

Hunt was accompanied in parliament by 144 Remainer conservative MPs:

Labour and the Lib Dems, were overwhelmingly in favour of remain:

urging the government: 

proposed the idea of a ‘government of national unity’:


Bousted and Courtney wrote another open letter to the government:

Dominic Raab fronted up the capitulation:

They issued a joint statement citing various ‘tests’:

‘only when safe to do so’:

his most bizarre and rambling statement yet:

telling everyone that we were ‘past the peak’:

three rail unions had written to the PM:

the union Unite had issued a statement:

Together they wrote to the Observer:

The Guardian headline put it more succinctly:

the TUC barked that Unite was ‘laying down conditions’:

In a joint statement with the TUC:

In a newspaper article on May 17:

on May 24, Johnson confirmed the plan:

On May 28, Johnson gave another statement to the nation:

‘the government must accept it is simply not yet safe for the wider opening of schools’:

‘parents should not send their children back to school until it is absolutely safe’:

They complained that the test and trace scheme was not in fact ‘in place’:

They cited a report by Independent SAGE:

They cited a survey:

They enlisted the support of the TUC:

They observed that ‘Every day more English councils are joining Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland…’:

They warned that many schools ‘say they will not open more widely…’:

They held a zoom call:

They wrote to all primary heads:

the NEU issued advice on ‘using Section 44…’:

an open letter, published in the Mirror on 12 May:

the letter can be read here: letter to head teachers.docx

Unison issued its members with a similar letter:

A spokesperson for the PM clarified:

Around a quarter:

or a half:

Some local authorities emailed every school:

The NEU was triumphant, crowing:

Kevin Courtney noted that ‘many schools intend to delay wider opening’:

Mary Bousted agreed:

they abandoned their plans for all primary schoolchildren to return:

Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, tried to put a positive spin on the situation:

A spokesperson for the PM said:

Nearly all of the 112 primary schools in Leicester reopened:

the BBC was warning of a ‘Covid surge’:

Joseph Wyglendacz, is reported to have ‘asked the council whether schools could close’:

Leicester’s Director of Education responded forthrightly:

In an article published a few weeks later:

he claimed that there was an ‘unusually high incidence’ of Covid-19 in children:

 ‘As children have been particularly impacted by this outbreak’:

‘I should have been the Mayor of Jaws and kept the beaches open’:


the shop workers union, USDAW, demanded the masks in shops rule:

Numerous councils ‘voiced concerns’ at this time, the Guardian reported:

Bousted spoke similarly:

‘more power in shaping the rules that affect their communities’:

local health officials had been overruled:

the government announced that there would be local lockdowns in Greater Manchester:

In Blackburn alone, up to 5000 people were likely to participate:

a meme of a green-faced Boris Johnson:

on the radio to offer an explanation:

other local lockdowns that gave the impression of Muslims being singled out:

Luton and Blackburn went the same way on July 24:

[Full list of local lockdowns]:

the PM confirmed:

Matt Hancock talked of councils:

warned of the Islamic community being particularly ‘at risk’:

daubed with the words ‘was a racist’:

called for his supporters to defend statues:

clashes with BLM protestors:

the media reported that Robinson had ‘fled abroad’:

I found an intriguing tweet:

the words of Qari Asim:

‘an urgent effort to avoid a centrally imposed lockdown’:

most of the North East went under heavier restrictions:

Middlesborough and Hartlepool, which followed:

heavier restrictions were imposed on Liverpool:

Steve Rotheram called for even tougher restrictions:

A Labour councillor in the borough of Knowsley:

57% of Liverpool’s residents wanted tougher restrictions:

The unfolding story even reached the national media:

a ‘government source’:

Liverpool went into lockdown on October 12:

mayor Rotheram went on Channel 4 and dismissed the idea:—mayor%2F

six local authorities issued a joint statement:

the region’s ten local authorities issued a joint statement:

the local leaders issued another statement:

Andy Burnham went on TV to rage:

three tiers of restrictions:

a phrase that remained central to the government’s strategy:

This was the government’s ‘war game’:


The number of Covid inpatients in England’s hospitals:

the estimate was nudging around 1:

a joint statement to reassure parents and teachers:

Since June, a petition had been circulating:

The policy was announced on July 2:

shielding advice for adults and children was ‘paused’:

Nick Gibb told the BBC’s today programme:

Writing in the Daily Mail, he said:

the Telegraph reported some comments:

the NEU settled for a series of ‘safety’ measures:

advised by the government to ‘walk, cycle or scoot to school’:


the NEU reared up:

the NEU published another open letter:

I have watched the conference in full:

On May 1, the Telegraph reported:

the TUC stoked a work-from-home mutiny:

an estimated 5.6 million during the lockdowns:

around 4 million people:

an essay entitled ‘Covid-19: the battle in the workplace’:

The furlough scheme was backdated to March 1:

There was a campaign by ‘construction activists’:

Dave Ward made an announcement on April 1:

The UK has around 500,000 civil servants:,than%20in%20the%20previous%20quarter

around 1.4 million local government employees:

around 20% of the total:


a blog post which gives an insight:

sending round a survey on September 17:

PCS reiterated the invitation and also reported a stunning escalation:

According to an industry newsletter:

Johnson announced to the House of Commons:

the Morning Star crowed about the achievement:

the UCU was threatening to strike in early September:

a joint statement demanding ‘80% wage support…’:

Sunak told the Commons that the furlough scheme would continue:


the second day of the conference, Mary Bousted tweeted:

Bousted’s comment was in reference to a Guardian report:

On September 18, the Guardian reported:

the Financial Times ran a similar story:

The Times Educational Supplement also ran the story:

SAGE published a short document:

how scientific modellers such as himself work with the government:

On September 20, Bousted and Courtney wrote:

he wrung his hands:

Courtney disclosed that 1000 schools had been ‘partially closed’:

The union launched an online ‘Covid map’:

As reported in the Daily Mail:

On October 3, Bousted proclaimed:

the NEU issued a new press release:

and he highlighted some new data:

Bousted shared some NEU guidance:

Courtney noted an increase:

shared the union’s new Covid map:

Liverpool’s NEU again piped up:

the UCU were also kicking off there:

on October 15 a local newspaper reported:

one tweet on October 16:

the same call on the same day:

declared that the matter was ‘urgent’:

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster announced:

The Guardian reported as follows:

Sturgeon announced a two week circuit breaker:

Larry Flanagan wrote to the Scottish government: 061020 Lockdown.pdf

Starmer called for a circuit breaker:

Hunt was asked about a circuit breaker and he replied:

Hunt had called for weekly testing:

As reported by the Guardian on October 15:

Bell’s comments:

28 million people were living in the upper tiers:

Johnson spoke at a press briefing:

Michael Gove was interviewed by Sky TV:

such is the testimony of Dominic Cummings:

Jeremy Farrar has quoted Johnson:

Johnson told a commons committee:

He even warned:

Johnson berated Starmer in parliament:

Johnson made an official statement to the country:

the NEU launched a ‘game changing’ new app:

not every teacher or every Head was on board:

The ‘Union news’ website:

a similar ‘exclusive’ article:

the forthcoming vaccine was ‘likely to be imperfect’:

the government’s anti-circuit breaker line:

Raab even alluded to Johnson’s ‘Hotel California’ metaphor:

as the Independent put it:

cited the 4,000 figure:

said the Daily Mail:

The Times quoted a ‘senior government source’:

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth barked:

England was on course to breach the ‘reasonable worse-case scenario’:

Jeremy Farrar, a SAGE member, popped up:

the start time was repeatedly delayed:

Vallance’s presentation included the 4,000 daily deaths figure:

Next, Johnson spoke:

sailed through parliament on November 4:

the Mail even quoted one ‘cabinet ally’:

Cummings was sacked:

‘Number 10 sources’ allegedly told three newspapers:

plotting to oust the PM:

an article about Hunt’s support for the lockdown:

Johnson was reportedly ‘furious’:

the police may be brought in:

the Sunday Times even alleged that MI5 had been roped in:

Johnson ‘had not finally decided to go for a lockdown…’:

challenged by eminent scientists:

the Office for Statistics Regulation commented:

During a grilling:

the increase in the rate of infection had slowed:

72% of the public backed the second lockdown:

Sky News even suggested that the government was planning:

In an interview with Sky News:

the Department of Education issued new guidance:

Teaching unions had demanded masks for the kids:

an unequivocal response:

As for the NEU, they reacted zealously:

The NEU ran a story about a rep:

a reported 9,000 schoolchildren self-isolating:

There are around 20,000 state schools:

the decrease in pupil attendance:

an increase in home schooling:

an official NEU statement to that effect:

a ‘close the schools’ campaign:

some 70,000 teachers or support staff had signed up:

They wheeled out stats:

trumpeted a drop in infections:

declared a ‘health and safety month’:

called for people to write to their MPs:

issued a new statement:

promoted the Escalation App:

held a reps meeting:

launched a ‘major new advertising campaign’:

enlisted the support of Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram:

pushed the ‘Covid map’:

and berated Ofsted:

they were lamenting the reduced attendance figures:

the ‘direct result of government negligence’:

‘let the bodies pile high in their thousands’:


more areas were now in tier 3:

One of the goals of the second lockdown:

the leaders of the four UK nations announced an ‘agreement’:

the BMA issued a press release:

Chaand Nagpaul, spoke to the Times:

Johnson responded defiantly on December 16:

he mocked Starmer for supporting heavier Christmas restrictions:

‘the worst Christmas present’:

understaffed by 80,000 people:

In the evening, the PM caved in:

The attendance level picked up slightly:

the government was threatening court action:

One Head in Hertfordshire:

Greenwich and Islington advised all the schools in the area to close:

Greenwich Council sent a letter to all Head teachers:

‘escalating extremely quickly’:

a ‘temporary continuity direction’:

The Guardian summarised:

Courtney posted a video:

These calls were communicated to the PM:

the NEU wrote another open letter:

the start of the new school term would be delayed:

Scotland’s EIS was on the same page as the NEU:

The plan was to reopen only the primary schools:

Michael Gove told the BBC he was ‘confident’:

Gavin Williamson confirmed to the commons:

Williamson then issued a public battle cry:

Courtney said he was ‘very pleased’:

On January 1, Bousted spoke to the Guardian:

‘The pandemic is worsening hour by hour’:

a joint NEU-Unison petition:

He noted approvingly:

as the TES reported:

Courtney exclaimed ‘Good to hear’:

he shared a graph:

the NEU was boasting:

stay shut for two weeks at the start of term:

two local Labour MPs supporting the NEU’s proposal:

Essex’s Tory-run council advised primary schools to stay shut:

Reading’s Labour-run council declared:

In Birmingham, the council said the same:

In Kent, likewise:

in 22 out of 32 London Boroughs:

Williamson explained vaguely:

court action against the government:

Sadiq Khan weighed in too:

There was also lobbying from ‘London Councils’:

On January 1, the government caved in:

Kevin Courtney bragged:

the government suddenly published the minutes of a SAGE meeting:

a press release with the headline:

the Chief Inspector of Ofsted wrote an article:

The PM made his strongest case yet:

the executive finalised a ‘strategy paper’:

Later that day, the NEU issued a press release:

The model letter was supplied online:

It was a Section 44 letter:

supplied its members with two letters:

Letter 1 (Request for a Revised Risk Assessment):

Letter 2 (Working from Home letter if you feel unsafe):

but NASUWT followed GMB:

avoid the workplace and submit Section 44 letters:

there were public declarations of support:

The Guardian reported:   

Courtney was interviewed on BBC radio:

The purpose of the call:

again broke the world record: 100,000

their latest advice to staff:

By the evening, the NEU was already reporting:

As a blogger later relayed on the Independent Left website:

The TES put it even more starkly:

In the words of politics reporter, John Johnson:

Section 44 letters had been handed in in 6,000 schools:

As the TES summarised:

an indication of the overall numbers involved:

‘at least 25% of primary members signed section 44 letters’:

‘a quarter of all primary school teachers… signed “section 44” letters’:

Jeremy Hunt proclaimed on Twitter:

the NEU tweeted a ‘thank you’ to Hunt:

a joint statement that day from six teaching unions:

Kevin Courtney gave an interview to Sky News:

Kier Starmer gave a round of interviews:

his stance had been quite different:

Kate Green reiterated the party line:

here was Starmer, in the late afternoon:

Many teachers were angry:

Johnson addressed the nation:

Bousted accused Johnson of engaging in ‘brinksmanship’:

62% of people believed that Johnson had made the ‘wrong decision’:

The NEU, for their part, issued a press release:

the union also posted a tweet:

An email was sent round on January 5:

‘Thank you to all the people thanking the NEU…’:

Another one included a video:

‘The Prime Minister wouldn’t #MakeSchoolsSafe so we did’:

an ‘NEU spokesperson’ was quoted in the Mail:

Kevin Courtney posted a video on Facebook:

While discussing a recent decrease in Covid cases, he remarked:

a curious exchange between the government and the NEU:

the BMA announced their support for the lockdown:

demanding ‘updated guidelines’ from the government:

On the same day, Unite bellowed:

the RMT called for ‘an industry-wide approach…’:

On January 5, they held another zoom meeting:

a speech that the PM gave to Parliament:

eight other teaching unions, issued a statement:

he outlined what he was now calling the government’s ‘roadmap’:

Tania Kent, who attended the meeting, recounted the occasion in an article:

the meeting is available online:

this was recommended as a ‘temporary extra measure’:

as per the three remaining steps of Johnson’s roadmap:

confident enough to withdraw the masks in schools guidance:

The NEU and four unions wrote a letter of protest:

the NEU joined with three unions:

Johnson announced that there would be a month long-extension:

The BMA had called for the extension:

Johnson’s declared England free of government Covid mandates:

The programme had been demanded in the summer:

a Covid vaccine rollout for healthy schoolchildren was unnecessary:

As I predicted would happen:

the government issued mask mandates for shops and trains:

demands from USDAW:

and the RMT:

compulsory masks in most indoor venues:

‘pressure from PCS’:

the furlough scheme had ended: 

demanding the reintroduction of masks in classrooms:

the NEU gloated in a press release:

the government again scrapped the masks in schools guidance:

Bousted called the move ‘premature’:

a growing awareness:

Covid vaccine passes were mandated:

Sajid Javid had said that in fact the government would not go ahead:

pressure from NHS Confederation:

and the BMA:

The BMA then proceeded to call for further restrictions over Christmas:

a plan to introduce mandatory Covid vaccination:

pushback from medical unions:

123,000 NHS staff could be forced out:

Even the BMA said abandoning the plan was the ‘right decision’:

withdrawn in a week’s time: