I can’t read anymore!  Subscribing to The Telegraph online, my phone is overloaded and I feel compelled to skim the lot while stopping to read the articles which echo my stance.  So it is that, ironically, those relating to Sweden are beginning to appear and it is as I suspected …

As the rest of the world went into lockdown – like clockwork – at the the end of March, ‘Sweden kept its nerve – and its liberty.’ (Fraser Nelson, ‘Comment’, The Telegraph (10/9/20).  Dramatic rhetoric but true.  Vilified for standing alone, Sweden chose to respect the collective common sense of its people, dismissing authoritarian confinement in favour of voluntary guidelines.  Schools, shops and restaurants have remained open while social gatherings of more than 50 have been curtailed.  The advice has been to work from home, where possible, avoid crowded public transport, maintain a safe distance when socialising and practice stringent hygiene measures.  That was never going to work, surely?!

In May, I wrote at length about Sweden’s strategy in my posts of the 7th and the 11th – worth a look back, now – and I remember, clearly, listening to Professor Knut Wittkowski on YouTube as he warned against the futility of lockdown in combatting the virus.  No denying his intelligence – and experience – he advocated the need to work towards herd immunity, making perfect sense and nothing if not logical.  His words stayed with me – and I voiced them at every opportunity – but few listened, and no surprise, really.  Indoctrinated by the sensationalism and negative approach of both Government and media, there was no escaping the scaremongering and even the most cognitive amongst us were not unaffected.  Months on, however, as winter hurtles ever nearer, this country is teetering on the brink and completely lost!  Sweden, meanwhile – who, it seemed, was all but silenced, in the press, for her ‘dissention’ – can no longer be ignored.  Halleluhah?  Premature with regard to the UK.

As Fraser Nelson writes in The Telegraph’s ‘Comment’ of 10th September, ‘Ferguson is back, with new apocalyptic scenarios for a second wave and calls for fresh restrictions.  Yet again, his thinking is setting the direction of Government policy.’  Scarily, these ‘restrictions’ include the curtailing of gatherings of more than six, to be policed by Covid Marshalls who are likely to make exemplary arrests, intended to shock and show that the police mean business.  We know they do!  One need only look at the recent phone footage – widely shared on social media – of the barbaric treatment inflicted on a passenger on a Liverpool train, last week.  The man in question was not wearing a mask and, when questioned, cited medical reasons.  The British Transport Police (BTP) officer refused to accept his reason, insisting he wear one or leave the train.  A violent struggle ensued as the BTP officer attempted to pepper spray the passenger!  Calling for back up, the footage shows three burly officers subduing the man, handcuffing him and leading him off the train.  He was later charged with threatening behaviour and assaulting a police officer …

Not confined to Britain, do not forget the pregnant Australian lady I wrote about in my last post who was arrested in her own home – still in her jammies – and charged with incitement for organising a protest against lockdown on Facebook.  Have we entered a parallel universe?!

I have written before of the would-be control freaks who, in this climate, given an inch will take a mile: those who positively wallowed in self-importance as they donned their yellow tabards and controlled entry to supermarkets; in fact, those given the task of restricting entrance anywhere!  One only need drive past the COVID-19 Testing Centre, across from the Student Union in St Andrews, to witness the power-thirsty in all their glory!  Blockades and big, burly men – several of them – in their black uniforms, fluorescent tabards and black masks, each threatening in their stance, arms folded.  Designed to intimidate.  Somehow, I find myself pressing further down on the accelerator while experiencing an involuntary shaking of the head!  Now, the prospect of Covid-secure Marshalls who will oversee social distancing in towns and city centres …  As Madeline Grant writes in the ‘Comment’ section of Wednesday’s Telegraph: ‘a move guaranteed to empower and professionalise the tin-pot control freaks already grasping every opportunity to nark on their neighbours.’  Obviously.

Meanwhile, in Sweden … ‘children didn’t miss a day a day of school, there was no exam scandal, its economic hit was less than half of ours.  While Britain prepares to limit social gatherings to six, Sweden is lifting its cap to 500.  Tegnell says there won’t be a second wave.  Its virus levels are now lower than Denmark or Norway and its government announced a surprise surplus for the month of August because its economy is unexpectedly strong.’ 

Fraser Nelson, ‘Ignoring the lesson of Sweden makes a tougher Covid crackdown inevitable.’
The Telegraph (10/9/20).

He goes on to write that ‘The Swedish model of restraint was, and remains, an option for Britain.  The difference isn’t geographical, but political.’  Politics!  The key player all along …

Once more, not in Sweden, according to Joanna Le Pluart whose article ‘Here in Sweden we’re playing the long game, and listening to science not fear.’, was published in The Telegraph on the 19th April, 2020:

Here in Sweden, we trust our authorities.  Corruption is rare, and our public agencies are politically independent.  Why should the Public Health Agency give advice that is not in the best interests of people and society?  They have no other agenda.’

There’s the rub!  While this country is sinking ever further into political quicksand, there is no one strategy, resulting in anger and confusion.  Westminster is at the mercy of Scotland and Wales, each with their own agenda – political point scoring, of course, above all else.  No sign of unity for the greater good!  There is no prospect of greater good.  On the contrary, fear abounds as the economy sinks, education is crippled, unemployment surges along with homelessness, mental health is critical and thousands have died – or are dying – courtesy of an NHS blinkered by COVID.  Add Brexit into the mix and … It will soon be Christmas!  No respite there.  Gatherings of six only, remember, so, Granny … maybe next year, if you’re spared!!  Seriously?!

Meanwhile …  ‘Speaking on Swedish television, Dr Tegnell said that he believed that grandparents in Sweden, who have been advised to stay isolated and avoid close contact with their grandchildren and children, should now be able to celebrate Christmas with their families.’

Richard Orange, ‘Is Sweden’s coronavirus strategy finally silencing the doubters?’
The Telegraph (4/9/20).

Nowhere in Sweden are masks expected or required and, apparently, only one person in 100 wears one – usually, foreigners.  Joanna Le Pluart, in her article in The Telegraph, today (11/9/20) – People who wear masks in Sweden get stared at, not the other way round – reports a general lack of fear in her country; ‘things just feel … normal.’  The strategy adopted is one of ‘risk versus reward’ and the choice made is up to the individual, free from any Government instruction!

I could go on – oh, that’s right, I have – singing the praises of Sweden; the courage and belief to stand alone and, moreover, the wisdom to credit its population with some intelligence and common sense.  Free from a political agenda, those whose wisdom and expertise on which they have relied – state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, for one – have never hidden their uncertainty as to the outcome of their lone path.  Now, it seems, their courage has been rewarded while we, in Britain, have been dropped from a great height with no parachute.  Shutting one’s eyes is just not going to cut it …

A final word from Joanna Le Pluart’s article of today – definitely worth reading.  I promise, I haven’t quoted it all, quite!

We can’t have a second wave because we didn’t try to stop the first one, and now, as other countries like Britain are re-imposing restrictions, we are enjoying normality.’

All aboard for Sweden, then …

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.’ 

André Gide

This is Trish, signing off.

(N.B.  I am not – as yet – being paid by The Telegraph!)