Sump letters extra


At Sump, we like to give emails as much airspace as possible. That's not always practicable on our main news pages (which generate most of our correspondence). So we've devised overspill pages such as this. What you're seeing here is one or more emails that we've received regarding an issue and published in its entirety—with our response to the points raised).




Hi Sump


[Original story here...]


"I am a believer in individual liberty and the rights of the individual, I read and mostly agreed or sympathised with "On the road to totalitarianism" until you started to spout half truths and dangerous assumptions.

Burn out like 1918 Spanish Flu? Spanish Flu infected 1/3 of the then population by estimate making most severely ill and incapacitated (accurate records were not kept) so that was about 500M people and went on kill about 50M globally, I don't think that's something that we should allow to be repeated, do you?"

Sump says: No. We don’t think that millions of people should be "allowed" to die globally—unless that’s their choice. Spanish Flu was exacerbated by many other factors that simply don’t apply here (such as WW1 hospitals spreading the flu, troop barracks spreading the flu, shipboard activity spreading the flu, poor general social health, lack of efficacious treatment, poor basic hygiene, denser housing and denser industrial conditions). Meanwhile, modern social conditions and medical practices have improved enormously. We don’t think Covid-19 deaths need to reach anywhere near the Spanish Flu numbers, and we doubt that they will. Our point is simply that ultimately, some form of herd immunity is (at least part of) the answer—albeit by repeated short term immunity boosting thereby suppressing Covid-19 to "manageable levels."

Riding motorcycles and driving cars and drinking alcohol kills millions of people worldwide. Should we stop that from happening by depriving people of their lifestyle choice and liberty? We don’t think so. And driving cars and bikes and drinking alcohol impacts other people too. Sometimes literally. Fact is, Spanish Flu DID burn out. There was a cost, of course, and we can mitigate that cost with anti-Covid-19 measures. And we SHOULD protect the people who WANT to isolate. That could be done by different government programs (home food deliveries, home visiting, etc). But there are serious and even fatal health and social implications for continuing on the path we’re travelling. One way or the other, people are going to die. That’s life. Meaning death. But locking down otherwise young, healthy, fit, active people is looking increasingly questionable. We’re suggesting voluntary segregation, not forced lockdown for all.

"The message that this disease only kills older or "half dead" people is just plain untrue. There have been 15,000 UK Covid deaths in the 35 - 55 age group so far, and even if your statement was true, is that something you think is OK? The elderly who died generally had a few years left and those could have been years of valued life, joy and family value. We certainly don't have the right to say that it's OK for them to be deprived of what small jewels of life they may have left*. The strain placed on the NHS by all the infected and the seriously ill Covid cases of all age groups has caused that underfunded and already strained system to divert resources away from other areas, and has resulted in 1000s of deaths from other treatable afflictions amongst all ages. For example 20,000 extra cancer deaths alone this year, is that OK?"

You’ve misunderstood us again. We’re not saying that it’s okay to kill older people. REPEAT: We’re not saying that it’s okay to kill older people. We didn’t say that. REPEAT: We didn’t say that. We’re simply making the point that Covid-19 isn’t evenly spread throughout the population. And it IS true that Covid-19 disproportionately affects older people. No mistake. We just checked with WHO and the UK government. Yes, there have been many (Covid-19 associated) deaths in the 35 – 55 age group. But many or most of these people died from underlying health conditions, or through high viral loads. And it’s not clear how many of these people actually died because of Covid-19. Yes, many or most died WITH Covid-19. But it’s not the same thing. In other words, something else killed many of them despite them having a positive Covid-19 test. Covid-19 might not have had anything to do with their deaths, except as a statistical note.

We’re not saying that older people should be undefended. Far from it. We’re simply suggesting that young, fit, healthy people should perhaps (note the word "perhaps") be allowed to make their own lifestyle choices and take the Covid-19 risk. Re-read this line of ours taken from our original story: Consequently we're wondering if it's time to entirely abandon lockdown compulsion in favour of a different system. Note the word "wondering". We’re not convinced this is the right move. We’re simply considering it. Wondering. Questioning.

*You’ve shot your argument in the foot by talking about "what jewels of life they [older people] may have left". That’s entirely our point. Many older people haven’t seen their families in months even when they WANT to see their families. They're in forced isolation at best, or limited to association with other care home residents—and more are dying by being herded together in care homes. That can't be right.

"Test and trace is nonsense? What planet of conspiracy theory did you get that nugget from? Tell it to those who made it work, the Koreans and the Kiwis or the Manx who have used it to great effect and saved their populations from the worst of the effects. The whole of Europe failed to track and trace and the UK failed the most, despite burning £12billion on failed software and further £millions on teenage recruits on minimum wage and Tory friendly consultants on £7000 per day rates. If we had an effective system there may not have had to be a 2nd lockdown at all. We are told that less than 50% of contacts are reached and less that only 60% of affected people give contact data at all. Track can trace of course can only work hand in hand with effective fast testing, Oh, whoops, we failed again."

You’re not listening to us again. Read what we actually said. REPEAT: Read what we said. Here’s the line to watch: "Only a few Far Eastern countries have made that idea work, but mostly by a full-on, hardboiled, heavy duty no exceptions lockdown." We suggested simply that it hasn’t worked for us. Which is true. You’ve just acknowledged that fact. This is the UK not Korea or China. New Zealand, meanwhile, kept their numbers way down not by test & trace, but by a hard lockdown (and by being an island nation on the other side of the world with limited through traffic). None of the European nations have made test & trace work. Look where we are right now. Korea is further down the totalitarian road than us, and that’s what we’re challenging—which is the idea of compulsory national lockdowns. The notion of forced social imprisonment. We’ve had months of this already, and we could get many months more.

"Please don't become like a David Icke site for god's sake. Commentary is fine but spouting dangerous theories and advice less so. The BBW site is dangerously politicised but note that even they point out the vote for lockdown was democratic. Oh, and MP's are not Civil Servants they are elected representatives, there's quite a difference. The mainstream press are highlighting the shambles that this government is making and has made of the whole situation, of the billions they have squandered and the corruption they are blatantly demonstrating by awarding millions of pounds worth of contract to favoured companies without tender of oversight."

We don’t read the conspiracy stuff, and we certainly don’t subscribe to it. We’re pragmatists and realists, not alarmists. It’s actually questionable that the Lockdown 2 vote was democratic. It was in fact rapidly agreed (retrospectively) by a bunch of MPs, none of whom were voted into office on the basis of their attitude to Covid-19 or their ability to rationalise their way through the relative issues. And we’re not even arguing about the democratic nature of that vote per se. We’re simply lamenting the passing of that vote and the loss of liberty with so few dissenting voices. It’s a strange world when 516 MPs vote away the fundamental liberty of 60 million. That’s one month of home imprisonment coming at us. REPEAT: IMPRISONMENT. Regarding MPs being civil servants, we were referring loosely to their role in serving the public (small "c" and small "s"), and not as part of the established UK Civil Service.

"When this has passed we will have the time and the right to roll back the emergency, hurried legislation and to vote out the corrupt money grabbing clowns in Downing street. Then is the time that we will need input and data from those like BBW. I for one will support that cause."


Don't count on rolling back all the legislation. A law once made generally has a lot of trouble being repealed.

Stay safe

—Phil Cowley



Hi Sump


[Original story here...]



"I feel this is an over reaction. We are a long way from a dictatorship when you can vote out your MP every few years if you don't like the way he/she is behaving. It is plain that if our well being when under threat from a dangerous virus was left to 'voluntary compliance', 'common sense' or even simple self-preservation then we'd be (and are) in trouble.

Just think how quickly people flocked to the beaches in the summer like lemmings on a self-destruct setting, all the people that attended raves, protests and other similar gatherings and the supposedly 'brightest and best' students at university who have collectively behaved without any thought for the consequences on multiple occasions. I could go on.

If measurable sections the population facilitate the transmission of the virus to themselves and others, then the response of the government will be both obvious and predictable in an attempt to control the outbreak.

Arguing for the god given right to catch a potentially fatal disease seems like an odd strategy to me, and the population that are left when it's all over will still have the power to remove the government at the ballot box if they choose to. I don't think they are about to burn down the Riechstag and dissolve parliament just yet."


Sump says: It is an over-reaction. By the government. We're increasingly convinced of that. Voting out an MP (£81,000 a year salary) is fine—if you still have that option further down the line. All totalitarian regimes begin by curtailing the power/influence of social representatives, and then removing that influence entirely. It isn't a sudden switch from one paradigm to another. It's a slippery slope. And if we get locked down for the next two years or three years, will it then be okay to simply vote our MPs out of office because we were unhappy? What you're saying is that the MPs collectively have carte blanche to take away our fundamental freedom—as long as we can remove them at the next election. That's simply not good enough. Perhaps a UK constitution is urgently needed.


And of course you can't trust everyone to behave. We understand that. That's why we should segregate the vulnerable and protect them. We support that idea 100 percent, as long as it's voluntary. Not compulsory. But what we're actually doing in the UK is bouncing in and out of lockdowns and various tiers with no viable long term game plan—and people are losing patience. Meanwhile, we still have to run the economy somehow. Millions of people have now lost their liberty; people who could otherwise run "safe" businesses (businesses that many will now also lose).


And yes, some people are on self-destruct. A lot of people think the same about motorcyclists who are taking risks with their lives every day. Maybe we should have a permanent motorcycle lockdown. Over 300 bikers were killed in 2016, with over 5,000 serious injuries. It looks like a few lives could be save there—and yes, these bikers do threaten the safety of others, albeit in small numbers. And look at how their deaths affect their families. And the NHS. So let's lockdown all forms of risk. Maybe that's exactly where we're headed anyway. Total social lockdown. Fancy that anyone?


Finally, we DO (still) have the right to catch a potentially fatal disease. We have the right to catch ordinary flu (around 17,000 deaths in the UK each year) and pneumonia (around 30,000 UK deaths annually). And there are many other potentially fatal viruses on the loose in the UK. Covid-19 is partly—and we do say partly—just another manifestation of the safety hysteria currently gripping much of the western world. We collectively singled out Covid-19, and we bundled people together in care homes, hospitals, and universities and said; "Hey, look how dangerous this is."


Once again, segregation is the answer. Let's make it voluntary.



— The Village Squire




Hi Sump


[Original story here...]


"Unless this is another scam West Yorkshire Police are wrong to be placing these notices. I’ve just looked on the site at the latest wording today, applicable from 5th Nov 2020, and apart from travel to get shopping, take-aways, medication etc, the following is permitted: "to spend time or exercise outdoors—this should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)". So the way I read that you can visit a nice National Trust gardens for a walk and get a bike ride on the round trip.

Sump says: We've since heard that West Yorkshire Police are removing these notices, but that might be for other reasons.

— Brian
West Sussex




Hi Sump


[Original story here...]



"..such as encouraging the more vulnerable members of British society to voluntarily self-isolate, and fully support that isolation, and then allow the rest of the population to simply take a hit and behave "normally" as they see fit—albeit with all the usual advice and encouragement to stay safe."

What exactly do you mean by "encouraging the more vulnerable members of
British society to voluntarily self-isolate"—and what form would such
"encouragement" take? Easily said though & then you move on to your main
intention which is to lift restrictions on yourselves and the rest of
"us" so we can all go out to play again—but unless you had regular
contact and some responsibility for care for "the more vulnerable" then
I suggest that you haven't a clue of the damage and permanent harm that
a longer-term continuation of the current restrictions is having and
would worsen on the said "vulnerable". I can see it happening to one of
my elderly relatives, living alone and independent, but gradually losing
track and spirit and I can see it too in the many people that we support
(I work for community mental health services) who live 'in the
community' with severe enduring problems.


Sump says: "Encouraging" people means "not forcing". It means "not criminalising" those who want to enjoy their liberty as and when they reasonably see fit. We're talking about allowing people (vulnerable and not so vulnerable) to make CHOICES. If you're vulnerable, you're strongly advised to stay segregated. Or isolated, if you prefer. But semantics aside, what we're saying is that locking up the entire country because some members of society are more vulnerable than others doesn't make much sense. You still have to keep the country running; how else are the vulnerable going to be supported? And we understand perfectly the damage caused. We have vulnerable family members in our sights too. That's why we expressed our point of view. Plenty of vulnerable people have been TOTALLY isolated, and against their will.


As for "what form of encouragement ..." we're not suggesting gunpoint. Once again we're suggesting only that people are given the facts and left to decide. It's interesting that we still have the option of drinking ourselves to death, or eating ourselves to death, or hang-gliding ourselves to death, or even motorcycling ourselves to death. But we're not allowed to Covid-19 ourselves to death.


You're talking as if we're the perpetrators here. We're not. We're speaking in DEFENCE of people who are being marginalised by repeated FORCED lockdowns. Stay safe, we're saying. Or at least have the choice.


And we're not going out to "play". We haven't done that in the best part of a year. You're making unfounded assumptions about our personal behaviour without any facts to support your views. Regardless of the government advice, we would CHOOSE personal lockdown. Contrary to what you're implying, we've got very limited socialising aspirations. We're not going anywhere. Except the garage and shed. We don't accept the current level of risk. And we're losing patience with forced imprisonment.


As for supporting isolation, there's much more than could be done. Yes. But it's not being done. That's not our fault. We're simply observing the status quo and commenting on it. But there are another group of people in this country who also deserve greater consideration, and that's the young. They have lives too, and they need to live those lives. That can't be done in lockdown. Six months in the life of an 18 year old is a LONG time, and you can justifiably argue that these youngsters should not be imprisoned (and that's the correct word) simply because another section of the community carries a greater health liability.


Want to stay safe? Great. Stay as safe as you can. Close the doors. Hunker down. Avoid unnecessary social contact. Great advice. Bring it on. But we're not convinced that everyone should be imprisoned to support that ideal. It's an unfair world. Our personal risk changes as we age. We have to accept that—and in case you were wondering, one or two of us here at Sump carry significant risk factors that puts us in exactly the wrong category regarding Covid-19. Don't assume you understand our personal needs and requirements. You don't.

Regular informal social contact with others, neighbours, people in
shops, on the buses, in the pub even etc - is the absolute necessity for
most 'vulnerable' people - not just the twice weekly visit from a
nearest relative or a weekly call from a over-worked community support
worker. Locking people away indefinitely would be a death sentence for
their minds and sense of self.

Apart from anything else, the current levels of support are dangerously
and frighteningly low and threadbare and have progressively worsened
over the last 20 years of cuts and austerity. To suggest that there is
any kind of a reliable safety net is laughable, and to do so would need
some kind of revolutionary change in UK society, but you choose to plug
the survival of the fittest mantra - whilst paying lip-service to the
'vulnerable' of course.

Wake up. Survival of the fittest is ALWAYS how it's been, even in war. We didn't invent that. That's life. Blame God. We think the fittest have a right to a free life and, within reason (note "within reason") should not be locked down simply because another group of people (most of whom have had their three score year and ten) are loaded with a higher risk of death. Protect these at risk people, we say. Improve the support mechanisms. But let folk choose between segregation/isolation, and free movement. And remember this, most people, even in the higher risk categories, are probably not going to contract Covid-19 let alone die from it if they take fairly basic precautions. People are taking on exaggerated doses of this nasty disease through high viral loads in poorly managed hospitals, poorly organised care homes, student dormitories, illegal raves, parties and overcrowded beaches.

... and anyway society is not that simple that you can section off the
vulnerable into some safe cocoon. Take my stepdaughter - a teacher in a
sixth form one of the most dangerous areas for infections in contact
with one of the most infectious groups (16-19 yr olds), plus two
children in primary education; plenty of opportunity for the virus to
circulate and 'take a hit' - but she also has a a 93 yr old grandmother
living alone, does she ignore her indefinitely?


Actually, we think schools should be closed where possible. Universities too. We think the lockdowns have not been hard enough. And the vulnerable can largely be sectioned off and cocooned. What's the point of the lockdown, otherwise?


Like many people, you've TOTALLY misunderstood our standpoint. So we'll summarise:


We're increasingly pro-choice regarding isolation.

We think the vulnerable should be encouraged to self-isolate.

We think the vulnerable should be protected, but not by national imprisonment.

We think there should be greater support mechanisms for voluntary isolators.

We think schools and colleges should be closed where possible.

We're wondering if the healthy should be allowed to continue a "normal" lifestyle subject to reasonable precautions (hand washing, facemasks, etc).

We think the government response is inconsistent.

We think freedom to choose is a fundamental human right.

We definitely don't want to go and "play".

We're staying put for the time being.


Does that clarify things?


—Nigel W




Hi Sump


[Original story here...]



Scaremongering again, if you can do better get yourself elected and do it!


Sump says: Scaremongering is what you do when there's no evidence to support your claim. But with the entire country in yet another lockdown, it's hard to see where scaremongering fits in. We made a comment about the thin edge of the totalitarian wedge. In the past year we've seen people locked down in their homes, businesses forced to close, the introduction of compulsory facemasks, the forced isolation of college students, the police handing out fines and forcing people off the street, limits on how far you can travel and where you can exercise, who you can have in your own homes, and even what you can buy in the shops, etc, and you think that's scaremongering?


Incredible. And worrying. This isn't Russia or China speaking. It's the UK.


It's interesting to note that in 1939 thousands of Brits refused to accept the Nazi threat. They just didn't see it. They couldn't see it. They were blinkered. Even after Poland they believed it would all blow over. The people who highlighted a growing and worrying political and military trend from Germany were called scaremongers—when the real scaremongers were the Nazis with reference to the Jews, etc.


Things have changed markedly in the UK in 2020, and people have blithely let it happen with barely a protest. We don't say that Big Brother will be with us tomorrow, or the next day. If at all. But we do say that you have to constantly watch for his approach. Just in case.


Also, remember that scaremongering works both ways. It's still not clear how many are actually dying "with Covid-19", and how many are dying because of it. We're hearing today that the UK death is 50,000 (11th November 2020), and that might be true. But there are other death tolls that have increased directly because of the way we've handled Covid-19. Stats always tell a story, but a lot of those stories are fiction at worst, or only half truths at best. Make sure you understand exactly what a "Covid-19 death" is, and then explore very carefully and critically why it happened.


As for the "getting elected" comment/jibe, that's pure childishness. We don't want to be elected. We're simply electing to choose our basic freedoms. And if we did somehow contrive to get elected, who would vote for us? Most people steadfastly refuse to see disaster until it's too late.


Let's try and stay a little more alert, huh?

—Graham Hibbs



















Copyright Sump Publishing 2018