(27 August 2022)
Lockdown – closing schools and much of the economy while sending the police after people who sat on park benches – was the most draconian policy introduced in peacetime. No. 10 wanted to present it as ‘following the science’ rather than a political decision, and this had implications for the wiring of government decision-making. It meant elevating Sage, a sprawling group of scientific advisers, into a committee that had the power to decide whether the country would lock down or not. There was no socioeconomic equivalent to Sage; no forum where other questions would be asked.
So whoever wrote the minutes for the Sage meetings – condensing its discussions into guidance for government – would set the policy of the nation. No one, not even cabinet members, would know how these decisions were reached.