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Boris Johnson’s arrogant, incompetent response to Covid-19 was ‘social murder’– Prof. John Ashton (E1065)

On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to public-health expert Professor John Ashton. He discusses the House of Commons’ Health and Science Committees’ report on the UK’s coronavirus response and how it exposes the government as having been seriously unprepared. Its disastrous policies, he says, led to deaths in care homes early in the pandemic and, later, to the UK’s death rate being one of the highest among developed countries. He goes on to discuss how the UK has fallen behind with its vaccination program compared to Europe. He pulls no punches, calling it “social murder” committed through “arrogance and incompetence.” And democracy, he says, is under threat as a result of the government’s recklessness. He goes on to criticize the consultants who have become extremely wealthy through the development of the discredited, privatised NHS Test and Trace service, and the possibility that further lockdowns will be imposed.

In the second half, we speak to Karen Greenberg, author of ‘Subtle Tools: The Dismantling of American Democracy from the War on Terror to Donald Trump’. She discusses what she calls the US’ “subtle tools” of international coercion, such as torture and drone strikes, which have furthered US foreign policy since 9/11, but led only to further strife. She goes on to explore the degradation of language to make policy boundaries deliberately vague, citing the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 1991, which precipitated the First Gulf War, its wording enabling broader US military interventions. Barack Obama continued the use of those “subtle tools,” meaning they were left on the table for Donald Trump, whom she says had no respect for either procedure or the law. Lastly, she goes onto explain how they have since been used domestically, both in immigration policy and at the southern border.

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