By Bruce Wallace
Despite three national lockdowns in England and similar restrictions in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for nearly a whole year, we are allegedly still in the midst of a public health emergency. One academic who has been visible throughout on numerous TV programmes is Professor Susan Michie.
Susan does the rounds and will appear on Good Morning Britain at the start of the day, radio interviews mid-morning and then do a back-shift on BBC Newsnight. Her accountant must be working overtime.
A Genuine Toff
Professor Michie is the daughter of the biologist Dame Anne McLaren and the computer scientist Donald McLaren. Her father was a researcher into artificial intelligence and part of the British code breaking team at Bletchley Park during WWII. He must have known Alan Turing. Her mother’s side came from an aristocratic lineage with their own estate in Wales. Hardly a deprived background, and her mother left £52 million in her will.
Michie got a BA in psychology at Oxford in 1976, and a DPhil in developmental psychology in 1982. Following a career in research and academia she became a member of the Behavioural Science Advisory Group and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours, a sub-group of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), in early 2020. She also sits on the unofficial Independent SAGE committee which I covered briefly in my last superstars post.
Michie used to be married to Andrew Murray who was an official for the UNITE union before becoming one of Jeremy Corbyn’s special political advisors, along with Seumas Milne, prior to the 2017 general election. Murray was a member of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) before joining Labour. Coincidentally Murray himself comes from a line of Scottish aristocrats and bankers. Susan is also a member of the CPB and was described as one of its leading members, although she supported Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 and 2019 general elections.
Much is made of Michie’s political activism by right-wing or libertarian lockdown sceptics. They never tire of highlighting her Communist affiliations because some of them, mistakenly in our view, see lockdown as some form of plot whereby a ‘socialist’ regime will be ushered in by the back door.
The CPB grew out of the old Stalinist party the CPGB, which abandoned revolution long ago when it embraced the British Road to Socialism in 1951 . A combination of Left British nationalism and class collaboration in the form of a popular democratic alliance with reformist policies. Its minuscule ageing membership publishes the lacklustre Morning Star newspaper. Their sole connection with communism is their name and they have a threat level to the capitalist system of zero, now combined with an evangelical commitment to Zero Covid . What a coincidence!
Politics aside, Michie has built up a reputation for advocating harsher lockdowns on a regular basis. One may ask how a psychologist has any expertise whatsoever to pontificate about infectious diseases at all? The short answer is that she doesn’t.
Her role on official SAGE is advising the government on how to alter behaviour through psychological messaging, not about how to manage an infectious disease. Undaunted, Michie regularly gives her ‘expert’ advice.
On LBC radio on 20th November last year , when asked by Tom Swarbrick how much time could be spent in a shop in a Tier 3 area to keep customers and staff safe, Prof Michie replied: “No time”.
If you can’t spend any time in a shop without getting infected, you probably shouldn’t be going shopping at all! She continues:
“The problem is if it’s indoors and there’s not really good ventilation then you only need one infected person to have sneezed and coughed a bit and then you’ve got these aerosols, these tiny tiny droplets, that stay in the air for many many hours.”
She then combined her standard grade biology with a knowledge of probability theory to expound the idea that:
“It’s a bit like Russian roulette, we’re all taking a gamble any time we’re putting ourselves into a place where other people are who might be infected.”
It’s a bit like you are a total feckin numpty comrade Michie! Suggesting that going to the shops while covid is about is the same as risking blowing your brains out with a revolver is just so scientific! A good example of her homespun folk biology. This hyperbolic nonsense is repeated ad nauseum by this coterie.
The Nanny Problem
On 9th January 2021, Michie appeared on BBC Newsnight  following a doom-laden presentation on the out-of-control new mutant variant of the virus. Michie was asked by Kirstie Wark whether lockdown restrictions needed to be tightened.
Michie thought that most people were sticking to the restrictions but it was a bit of a Mickey Mouse lockdown this time round, as opposed to the stricter lockdown number 1 back in March last year.
The government was still allowing mass gatherings. These being open nurseries and, shock horror, religious gatherings (although not in Scotland). We were being far too lax as the government gave out mixed messages. On the one hand saying we should lockdown and stay at home, while on the other vastly expanding who we consider to be critical workers and telling all these people to go out to work.
“We have household contact with cleaners, trades people, nannies going in and out of people’s houses”.
She missed out other servants and au pairs, but clearly this must be a major problem down on the local council estate, right? As a ‘communist’, Michie must have read Engels’ The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845) , where there is considerable discussion about the nanny problem among the Manchester proles?
Michie could consider leading by example as, given her hectic professional and media schedule, it must be nay impossible to keep her council flat (I think not) clean and tidy. Perhaps she should let her cleaner go for the sake of public health? No worries as Michie’s solution is to pay “these people” to stay at home.
The danger, she says, is the new mutant variant of the virus which is, (think up a number, any number and double it), 50-70% more infectious and so “we should be having a stricter lockdown, not a laxer lockdown”.
Yes, no doubt the devastating new Teenage Mutant Ninja Virus must be made to sound really scary, except there is very little evidence established that any of the alleged new strains constitute a more grievous threat. It’s all part of the presentation and the hype. Heaven forfend that the virus should die away. The main casualty would be the end of numerous budding media careers.
May we jog your memory?
Michie is one of the most vociferous advocates for the catastrophic lockdown policy. It is specifically catastrophic for the working class and children in particular. How can a communist support a policy that crushes the working class, poor and most vulnerable? Well, the fact is that she isn’t really a communist at all ,but a tankie .
The Morning Star is renowned for its bone-headed Stalinism, so may we jog your memory comrade Michie? When the Hungarian masses rose in revolution  against their homegrown Stalinist oppressors and torturers in 1956, the forerunner of the Morning Star newspaper, the Daily Worker, suppressed reports from their Hungarian correspondent Peter Fryer  that were fully supportive of the revolution.
The paper denounced the revolution as a counter-revolutionary white terror. They hailed the crushing of the revolution in blood by Russian tanks. The fact that the Communist Party of (Great) Britain happened to be in receipt of £100,000 in used notes every year from the tyrannical Stalinist regime in Moscow may have had a bearing on their ‘journalism’?
In 1968 they also uncritically supported the crushing of the Prague Spring by more Russian tanks. Hence the pejorative, but apposite, description of Tankie.
One may speculate as to Michie’s motivation for lockdown, although it does seem to combine a penchant for savouring authoritarian methods of social control with a haughty contempt for working class people. From a professional perspective, it would also satisfy Michie’s behaviourist psychology dogma whereby she can see lockdown as a magnificent mass social experiment in operant conditioning. The manipulation of the masses practiced by SAGE’s notorious ‘nudge’ sub-group . I mean, who needs tanks when the population has been thoroughly scarred shitless by Michie and her entourage?
Whatever. The misery and pain inflicted on the masses by the pseudo-scientific members of this for-hire Covid cult  will not be easily forgotten or forgiven. We may take heart from the fact that the workers of Budapest in 1956, before being defeated, meted out revolutionary street justice on their “communist” oppressors.