Britain’s Lockdown Files Reveal the Danger of Big Government

Former British Health Secretary Matt Hancock
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Britain’s Lockdown Files Reveal the Danger of Big Government

The West’s response to covid-19 was disastrous—inflicting massive economic damage, wounding the rule of law, and trampling over individual liberties, with little effect on the spread of the virus. Now we’re getting a good inside look at how and why it happened.

Britain’s Telegraph newspaper has received copies of then Health Minister Matt Hancock’s WhatsApp messages. Here are some of the biggest revelations so far.

‘Frighten the pants off everyone’: Britain’s leaders deliberately spread fear. In the run-up to Christmas 2020, the government was concerned that people wouldn’t take covid seriously. But Hancock texted one of his advisers, saying, “We frighten the pants off everyone with the new strain.”

Hancock was also worried that Brexit was diverting attention from his fear campaign. He needed to generate more fear to grab it back. “When do we deploy the new variant?” he asked.

Another idea for fear: masks. “Mask-wearing” was “effectively free and has a very visible impact,” suggested Simon Case, permanent secretary at No. 10—effectively the nation’s most powerful bureaucrat. “Ramping up messaging—the fear/guilt factor [is] vital,” he wrote.

Lying about covid beds: A key part of Project Fear was to emphasize that the nation’s health system was running out of intensive care beds and about to be overwhelmed. As Britain prepared for a second lockdown in the autumn of 2020, then Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “It is now clear that current projections mean they [the National Health Service] will run out of hospital capacity in a matter of weeks unless we act.” Without a lockdown “doctors and nurses would be forced to choose which patients to treat, who would get oxygen and who wouldn’t,” adding: “The overrunning of the nhs would be a medical and moral disaster beyond the raw loss of life.”

At the same time, internal discussions were going on about offering “spare” hospital capacity to France and Italy.

Vote for lockdown—or the disabled kids get it: Hancock was so keen to get his draconian lockdown laws through Parliament he tried to blackmail members of Parliament into supporting them. He told one M.P. that he’d block funding for a new center for disabled children in his constituency unless he changed his mind and voted for Hancock’s bill. This is coming from the same person who went on I’m a Celebrity claiming that it wasn’t about the fame or the money, but about raising awareness for dyslexic kids.

Refusing to admit mistakes: Throughout the pandemic, Hancock claimed to be “following the science.” In November 2020, England’s Chief Medical Officer Prof. Sir Chris Whitty came to Hancock with some good news. The government had been requiring people to quarantine a fortnight. Whitty told him that the science showed that five days was sufficient. In fact, researchers wanted to cut the self-isolation period to just three days, but Whitty felt that was too far.

Did Hancock follow the science? No. Instead he said that cutting the isolation period would “imply we’d been getting it wrong”—and that couldn’t be allowed to happen. Instead, the quarantine period remained at two weeks, before being cut to 10 days in December—costing the economy billions of extra pounds and making life and travel dramatically more difficult for millions. All because Matt Hancock could not be seen to have made a mistake.

Anti-democratic: Civil servants and a select few knew exactly what had to happen. And elected leaders, like Boris Johnson, could not be allowed to get in their way. The prime minister comes across seriously uninformed in the messages—for good reason. Any evidence that would cast doubt on the need for a lockdown was kept from him; he had to find out from newspapers.

Simon Case’s role in pushing an extreme lockdown agenda, despite in theory being a non-political bureaucrat, seems likely to cost him his job. Parliament was working from home. The prime minister was kept in the dark. Men like Case—whom nobody voted for—were running the country.

Journalists don’t care: Far from being the scoop of the century, much of the press is ignoring the story because it exposes their failures as well as the government’s. They weren’t asking tough questions or scrutinizing decisions. So the horrific abuses of power continued unchecked.

covid gave politicians and bureaucrats unprecedented power as terrified populations turned to them for salvation. And they abused it.

The contempt these men had for the public they supposedly served is clear in every message. They knew lockdown had to happen—anyone who disagreed was an idiot. They joked about locking people in “shoebox” hotel rooms. Ordinary people trying to keep their businesses alive, or care for a sick relative, were treated like errant schoolboys. No lie, threat or cover-up was immoral if it furthered their lockdown agenda because they were certain that they were right; any means was acceptable for them to get their way.

There’s a reason why big government always fails. Give men this much power and they abuse it.

It’s a truth many thinkers have expounded on—but the Bible gets to its heart.

The Bible says: When Jesus Christ was on Earth, one of His missions was to work with men who would go on to become top leaders in His Church. These were men handpicked by God the Father. Even in their early days, you’d have to think they were a cut above the politicians of today. Yet time and again, Christ had to remind them that leaders are there to serve (Matthew 20:27; 23:11; Mark 9:34-36; 10:44; Luke 9:46-48; 22:24-26; John 13:14). Time and again Christ had to drum into these men that a leader needs to have humility and love—because human nature immediately abuses power.

One of Christ’s last messages was a long exposé on the corruption of the Pharisees. He addressed this message to the general public—but also to His own disciples (Matthew 23:1). They had the same human nature as those Pharisees, which would pull them in the same direction. They had to learn to avoid their self-righteous style of leadership.

The best solution man has come up with is to give individuals limited power. Reserve rights for individuals, keep governments small, and the capacity for evil is reduced.

But still, men work to undermine that system and gain power for themselves. As a people, we’ve forgotten why these restrictions remain in place and think that if we tear them down we’ll get a government that can better help us. Instead, we have a government that grabbed power for itself while crashing the economy.

Isaiah 2:22 gives the only long-term solution: “Cease you from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?”

Trusting sick human minds is why we live in such a sick, sick, sick world!” writes Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry. “The frightening evidence is all around us. Avoiding human annihilation is our number one problem! (Matthew 24:21-22). That one problem should reveal how sick the human mind is.”

We must stop looking to men for solutions. America’s Founding Fathers did this to a certain extent. They created a government that did not try to solve every problem. It maintained a functioning country while leaving people free to look wherever they liked for solutions.

But mankind needs to go much further. There are practical solutions for this world’s problems. But we must cease looking at flawed human beings. Once we’re willing to listen to God and are no longer so certain that we have all the answers, He can teach us.

That applies to the world as a whole and to individuals. He has solutions to all of our problems. If you’d like to know more, our Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course is a great place to start.