Archive for the Government Category

Heavy-handed Westminster diktats have eroded trust — now only localised Covid policy can restore it

Heavy-handed Westminster diktats have eroded trust — now only localised Covid policy can restore it

Last month, the official group of scientific advisers — SAGE — warned the government that only a quarter of those who need to self-isolate due to coronavirus symptoms were in fact doing so. This illustrates a concept which is of great practical importance: namely the conflict between

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Following the science? This government lacks a basic grasp of the scientific method

Following the science? This government lacks a basic grasp of the scientific method

Verification and validation. It is hard to imagine a more nerdy phrase. But it is, in essence, how science makes progress. It is what we have to do to check whether a scientific claim or theory is correct. And it has been seriously neglected during the Covid-19

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And this week’s winner for the Stupid Scientist award is…

And this week's winner for the Stupid Scientist award is...

Scepticism about the advice given by government scientists about Covid-19 is rising sharply. In areas like Bolton infections are high. Interviews with the locals reveal that so, too, is disbelief in the veracity of the statements made by members of SAGE, the government science advisory group. The

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Incentives are a better way to tackle Covid-19 than blanket lockdowns

Incentives are a better way to tackle Covid-19 than blanket lockdowns

A great deal of government policy during the Covid crisis has involved regulation. Given a choice, economists usually prefer to use incentives. Altering the relative costs and benefits of an action is a well-established way to alter behaviour. Perhaps the government has been listening. A big stick

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Coronavirus fatality rates are way down – why has the government not taken this on board?

Coronavirus fatality rates are way down – why has the government not taken this on board?

King Canute has had a bad press. The monarch sat on the beach on his throne with the deliberate intention of demonstrating to his courtiers that he could not stop the waves from coming in. But in popular thinking, he is the deranged king who believed he

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On coronavirus, governments have been the most irrational of us all

On coronavirus, governments have been the most irrational of us all

Decisions, whether by individuals, companies or governments, are often made with imperfect and incomplete information. This is so obvious as to hardly seem worth stating. But for well over a century economic theory assumed that decisions were made with complete information. Economists knew full well that this

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Busting the myth of the selfless bureaucrat

Busting the myth of the selfless bureaucrat

There seems to be a fundamental problem with quangos. Hardly a day seems to go by without some new story of incompetence and mismanagement emerging. Public Health England (PHE) is at least going to be put out of its misery by health secretary Matt Hancock, and replaced

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Why you should read the small print on alarmist Covid-19 death projections

Why you should read the small print on alarmist Covid-19 death projections

Another day, another lurid, headline-grabbing number of deaths to expect from Covid-19. This time, it was a study from the Academy of Medical Sciences. A second wave, we were warned, could kill 120,000 this winter in hospitals alone. To be fair, this study was a projection rather

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Priti Patel vs. Philip Rutnam: It’s in Britain’s interest that bureaucracy does not win

Priti Patel vs. Philip Rutnam: It’s in Britain’s interest that bureaucracy does not win

The reverberations around the resignation of Sir Philip Rutnam, the top civil servant at the Home Office, continue. Priti Patel, the home secretary, is receiving a barrage of abuse. Labour’s John McDonnell has pronounced that he cannot see how Patel could carry on. He raised the possibility

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