And so the virus becomes just one more front in the culture war

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

Merely being angry and yelling does not mean one side is correct:

In the coronavirus edition of the culture wars, critics of the government’s slow, muddled response to the pandemic – who may overlap with the remainers of old – are cast as gleeful about Britain’s horrifying death toll, since it presents an opportunity to bash both the Conservatives and the conceits of exceptionalism. Complaints that coverage of Boris Johnson’s own illness overshadowed a nightmarish week of deaths and national suffering are scorned for failing to understand the public’s love for the prime minister. And damning revelations about the government’s lack of preparedness for when the pandemic struck are breezily dismissed. People will forgive Johnson anything, his cheerleaders insist, while critics – “remainer losers” – are foolishly obsessed with his misdemeanours.

But the key issue in the right’s current culture war is the lockdown, which is being presented as a freedom-sucking con – much like the EU. Mirroring the dynamics of climate denialism, those challenging the overwhelming consensus of global expertise cast themselves as lockdown “sceptics”. And cleaving to a rightwing populist script, these sceptics say their legitimate concerns are being silenced.

Writing in the Spectator, Lionel Shriver notes that no TV platform is offered to those outside the 89% who support the lockdown. The sceptics claim to be speaking truth to the overly frightened masses, explaining that a costly lockdown is more deadly in the long term and urging that we reassess priorities. As Toby Young put it: “Spending £350bn to prolong the lives of a few hundred thousand mostly elderly people is an irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money.” Failing the most basic moral test of any society worthy of the description, lockdown sceptics say that a recession may be more deadly than the pandemic, an idea already dismissed as nonsense.