"For understandable reasons, however, the degree of deception that I've just described seems impossible for most people to get their heads around"
Which may account for the remarkable observation of how few such others there seem to be.
Plenty are quite prepared to go to the halfway house - the house of incompetence ('they mean well but they're useless rather than criminal') - but few venture the last few steps to declare the whole Covid exercise a gigantic fraud, and our "illustrious leaders" members of a global mafia for whom scamming the public is second-nature (no - belay that - it's first nature). It's been going on for decades, probably centuries, maybe even millenia.
Such a mafia is never mentioned except to dismiss it, but the globally synchronised nature of the Covid imbroglio defies the "incompetence" narrative big-time, so what else is left?
They even passed an Act of Parliament claiming to put themselves above the law. What more must they do before those who assert "incompetence" can see the truth?
OK, the mafia proposition is not yet proven in a court of law, but give it time.
Once we grasp this elementary deduction, we can see how the process works.
The political parties act as the gatekeepers, to stop independent-minded candidates from entering Parliament in any numbers. They want plausible people who want to get elected, and are prepared to vote as instructed by their whips. Those who control the parties (funding, threats and/or blackmail if necessary) thus control parliament as they please whichever party gets elected. Their scams (NHS, EU, Climate change, Covid, Ukraine war, devolution, immigration ... ) thus always garner cross-party support, in actual effect, if not always in electoral promises (there is even a common-currency joke about it: "How do you know if a politician is lying?").
If necessary the civil service can be relied upon to run rings around any honest cabinet minister until he/she gets hopelessly bogged down in red tape, discredited, and either removed or subdued into compliance.
Whilst the party system remains, the control continues until we the people cease to comply with their diktats in sufficient numbers to render them impotent - and/or we elect a parliament with a preponderance of independent MPs (no whips office to control them) prepared to execute root and branch reform to break the control system and return control to the people who elect them.