Nothing to fear


In 1933 the US president, Franklyn D Roosevelt, said in his inaugural address the famous lines “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” These words were said at the height of the Great Depression, with no end to it in sight and were the precursor of his New Deal designed to get the country back on its feet and to energise and encourage the American people.

Even though in Great Britain today things are very different (the US at the time had 25% unemployment, for example, whereas the UK today has more jobs than people willing to fill them), but nevertheless FDR’s words still have a certain resonance for we, too, have been subject to a campaign of fear, sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle, over the last few years.

At first it was Brexit. The country voted – just – to leave the EU, but there were those who seemed unwilling to accept a democratic vote and campaigned vigorously for the referendum result to be either ignored or for the vote to be re-run as many times as necessary until they achieved the result they wanted.

In the meantime there were cries of guaranteed disaster to come when we left – there would be mass unemployment, a recession like we had never seen, our industries would die, the City and all its financial trade would emigrate to Frankfurt, and so on. Fear was planted amongst us to make those who voted for Brexit change their minds.

“Business is doing well”

In fact the opposite has happened. Employment is rising, business is doing well and the City’s financial institutions remain where they should be, in the City of London. It is certainly true that we have inflation and a reduction of GDP, but this is more a result of coming out of Covid and lockdown than anything else.

And that brings me to Covid itself. Right at the very beginning one of the many foolish university professors anxious to claim their 15 minutes of TV fame by preaching doom and gloom, predicted half a million deaths within months. This was followed by daily figures and digital flip charts from more professors showing the growth of the pandemic and number of deaths caused by it, generating a fear which encouraged most of us to obey the government’s “stay at home” command and wear masks.

In fact, of course, these figures were finally shown to be nonsense when the Office of National Statistics (ONS) produced the actual figure which showed that while a great many people had sadly died over the worst period of the pandemic, of the approximately 160,000 at the time of their survey, just 17,000 had died due to Covid. The remainder had Covid mentioned on the death certificate but the principal cause of death was another factor (many, of course, had caught Covid after admission to hospital with an entirely different medical condition).

Even today, such was the fear generated, that one can still see every day, someone walking down Rye High Street with their mask tightly strapped over nose and mouth when the need for this, if it was ever there (and even the TV professors agreed that masks were not necessary in the open air) is now non-existent.

Opening Granny’s window

One also remembers the Christmas advice that to save Granny from Covid, she should be seated close to an open window, thus guaranteeing that she would die of pneumonia long before Covid could get her. Better still, have Christmas dinner outside. So even our own homes, we were told, were not safe!

With Covid largely out of the way, we now have a lack of power as the next fear. We have been told that thanks to the post-Covid resurgence in demand, and also Mr Putin currently being engaged in indiscriminate murder in Ukraine, there may not be sufficient gas (and certainly not renewables) to generate enough power to heat our homes this winter.

For this we can blame (a) successive governments for thinking that the UK does not need to be self-sufficient in power and (b) the eco-warriors who want to go back to the days of wearing animal fur (although they are all vegan, of course, so probably not animal fur, then, but maybe synthetic, but, hang on, isn’t that partly a by-product of oil).

There is sufficient gas in the North Sea and more available through fracking (which has had a bad press, but today is actually quite safe, and no one’s home will be destroyed by an earthquake). This could be a perfectly good stop-gap (especially with the latest carbon capture techniques) until renewables, and nuclear, can take its place.

Electricity – but from where?

This also begs the question of where the electricity is going to come from to recharge all our shiny new electric cars which, in eight years time, will be the only type of new car we can buy. But in fact it won’t matter because by then all the roads will be blocked by superglued eco protesters.

We could always use trains, except that we can’t because global warming will have buckled all the rails.

And that leads to the current stage of Project Fear that is being instilled into us. We have been given warnings for some time that the temperature was going to increase to a level that would make even Beelzebub himself break into a sweat.

There is no doubt that it did indeed get a little warm earlier this week. However did we really need the headline in one paper, “Thousands likely to die from the heat”, or another one, that due to the warming of our coastal sees, great white sharks were likely to travel north to our islands. Hmm… well it might solve the Camber traffic problems.

In fact there were only a few places where the temperature reached, or exceeded 40c and one of these was Heathrow. Unsurprisingly, no one thought to mention that as it is an airport consisting of several hundred acres of flat heat-absorbent concrete, it was the very place where the temperature would be highest. Another high temperature was was found close to Gatwick which, surprise, surprise, is another place consisting of several hundred acres of concrete.

Where’s common sense?

Generally, temperatures were nearer 38/39c with just a few places approaching the magic 40. 38C is not that uncommon and has been reached a number of times in the last hundred years or so (in 1911 this temperature was recorded, all the trains ran on time and none had to be cancelled!).

So we are only looking at a maximum of a couple of degrees above previous levels and did we really need to be told to wear hats, put on sunscreen inches thick, drink water, draw the curtains, open windows, keep in the shade, and so on. What happened to common sense? Every square inch of newsprint and programs broadcast from the mainstream media seemed to be full of it. Be afraid – we were all going to die!!

Except we didn’t, we were never going to, and isn’t it time that the media, certain politicians, pressure groups, and sometimes the big corporations stopped pedalling a lot of this nonsense? Yes, of course we have challenges from time to time, but nothing that human knowledge and ingenuity cannot cope with – matched with a little common sense.

We really do have nothing to fear but the fear engendered by others, often for their own motives.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .

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  1. I do not know what planet you are living on John but it is not the same one as me. You give the impression that the economy is going well, then why are millions of people dependant on food banks and why do we permit the abusees of the gig economy and a minimum wage that is an insult to the poor souls who have to try to survive on it? You make light of the threat of covid when it is bringing our underfunded health service to its knees. You underplay climate change when wildfires are out of control all over Europe. Of course we should be afraid, we should be very afraid.

    The one thing I do not understand is why Conservatives, most of who are decent, educated people, continue to support this 3rd rate incompetent, corrupt and dishonest goverment that has got us into this mess over the last 12 years. If I was a Conservative I would be outraged and demanding change.

  2. So we should fear “Project Fear”? Which itself is a politically-motivated label designed to further the interests of the industries that spend millions of pounds on lobbying and placing articles like this (although I’m sure you wrote it for free) in the media so they can keep on fracking and producing plastics.

    I’m not going to get started on why the environment is important, since people who write articles like this clearly put their own interests above those of their own children and grandchildren, a level of selfishness that’s pretty hard to change. But “certain politicians”–not the ones you’re talking about, I suspect–would just love us to believe there’s no problem here, nothing to see, let’s just keep robbing our kids’ futures for a little luxury today. All will be well, and besides we’ll be dead by then so what does it matter?

    As for the media hysteria, the media exist to sell advertising and they’ll write anything that makes people stop and look. Freaking out about this fact of life is as daft as slavishly believing everything the tabloids write about, say, “Project Fear”. Sensible people will tailor their precautions to their own circumstances.

    And–the heat was fake news? Oh come on. On Tuesday Facebook was full of photos of my friends’ car thermometers, garden thermometers, and other recording devices showing temperatures in excess of 40 degrees, and the temperatures in our home offices were 39 despite keeping the blinds shut and all the rest of it. I got the symptoms of heat exhaustion (I’m prone to it) despite all my precautions, just sitting at home doing paperwork, and my husband had to shut down some of his computer equipment as his monitoring systems were showing harmful levels of heat buildup. If I’d followed your advice to disregard the heat I’d have collapsed and added unnecessarily to the NHS’s burden (I don’t suppose you’ve thought of asking A&E staff what heatstroke does to the human body–unfortunately they’re probably too busy to write about it).

  3. When I think about some of the comments I’ve had rejected for being unhelpful etc and then read that from one of your reporters I wonder why I bother.
    While you were sat safely at home did you bother to watch the news, there’s a lot of people in this country this week who have been left with nothing, London fire brigade would probably put up a good argument about your nothing to fear comment, Covid deaths passed 200,000 last week and hospitals are starting to ramp up again but there’s nothing to fear.
    Time to get your head out of the sunset at camber sands and smell the coffee.

  4. RyeNews, why do you publish this drivel? It is nothing short of absolute nonsense; lots of unsubstantiated statements that borders on conspiracy theory.

    I’m very disappointed that you allow crackpot opinions to be published. What possible purpose does it serve but to tout disinformation?

    Please exercise better editorial judgment in the future.

  5. Thank you Rye News and John Minter for the measured, pragmatic opinion piece. The “angry” comments should have been expected but they are only “opinions”. Attacks on John were unnecessary. I would be extremely surprised if he doesn’t share the desire to see society develop positively for future generations; our children and grandchildren etc.
    I am comforted by the knowledge that “quietly behind the scenes” there are people employed to monitor and plan for all sorts of potential threat. It’s like insurance against whatever might happen in respect of public health, military threat, environmental threat or aggressive attack by megalomaniacs. This is going on constantly but, because the exact nature of the threat isn’t known, it can still take time to take action when necessary. Recent examples are COVID and bird flu. People were monitoring and preparing. COVID was new and unknown so action took time. Bird flu was more predictable and warnings were therefore quicker
    The “angry brigade” can either consider the expense planning for things that don’t happen wasted money or say that sufficient money wasn’t invested to avert a serious threat. Whatever happens, they can find reason to complain.
    I didn’t read a political bias into John’s opinion piece. He was trying to counter the fear factor and quoted Roosevelt, who was a president from the US Democratic party (for that read Labour party in the UK).
    The comforting thing about knowing that people are monitoring and planning behind the scenes is that there is no need to panic. People need not live in fear, just be aware that life can be tough. Most people are sensible and know that.
    I recall the 1970’s and early 1980’s when pressure groups tried to instill fear of nuclear attack. Behind the scenes, government, military and civil defence, were monitoring and planning. The “angry brigade” caused so much fuss and created so much “fear” that government published its pre-prepared pamphlet “Protect and survive”. We were told to hide under the stairs or take a door off its hinges and lean it against a wall. That just drew more angry comments! Not enough; too much; too little, too late. Have we heard all this before?
    No political party represented here!
    Most of us are sensible and want to help future generations flourish; without fear!
    No need for angry comments or personal attacks.

  6. The author has made sweeping claims about Covid that are not correct. He says, correctly, that 17,000 died with just Covid on their death certificates. He then makes a giant leap that the remaining 143,000 didn’t die of Covid but from their other underlying conditions.

    James Tucker, head of health and life events analysis at the ONS, says that to suggest that figure (17,000) represents the real extent of deaths from the virus is both factually incorrect and highly misleading.

    The ONS says: “Since the start of the pandemic around nine in 10 deaths involving COVID-19 have been due to COVID-19. Therefore, COVID-19 initiated the train of events directly leading to death for more than 140,000 people.”

    This is the official ONS statistic.

    The ONS points out that the biggest listed underlying health condition of those who died with Covid was diabetes and that in any couple of years very few of these would have died of diabetes.

    140,000 deaths is somewhat different from 17,000.

  7. Good contribution Andy Stuart. It helps moderate the point. I guess that lots of people take statistics with a pinch of salt and therefore don’t read the figures closely? We lost a 92 year old relative during COVID but she doesn’t appear on the statistics as she didn’t die from COVID or with COVID mentioned on her death certificate. She gave up the will to live, locked down in a nursing home, took to her bed and stopped eating. Without COVID and the resulting lockdown, we think she might still be with us. Was that the result of “fear”?

  8. I have to say, I disagree with those who urge Rye News to stop publishing articles like this, bcs if the article itself isn’t very edifying, the responses certainly are.
    So I must express my deep gratitude to John for stimulating yet another very informative debate!

    I look forward to John’s next contribution, and since he wrapped climate denial, Covid-scepticism and Brexit into this article, I wonder if I could suggest an opinion piece on some of the following just to keep things interesting? May I suggest a series including, penal reform, transgender rights, immigration, asylum, race, human rights, abortion, Israel-Palestine, veganism and the Black Lives Matter movement? And to kick off, what about a contemplative piece on the poetry of Enoch Powell? Over to you, John!

    • Just don’t get me started on some of these!! On a more serious note, the Opinion pieces on wider aspects of life, such as this one, reflect not necessarily just my views but those of others who have looked behind the mainstream media headlines. Readers may not agree with them, but I hope that sometimes it will make people stop and ask themselves just why the don’t agree with them and then look at the subject more closely. In this particular case, it has generated an interesting discussion with views expressed on both sides of the argument and which I have enjoyed reading – even when I don’t agree! Incidentally, I do not normally respond to comments as I feel I will have made my case and it is now the reader’s turn to approve or demolish it. Either way, comments are good so I hope everyone will keep them coming.


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