Month: May 2020

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I cannot be alone in noticing the huge gulf between the sympathetic coverage given to the Black Lives Matter protests in the mainstream media and the almost universally hostile coverage of the anti-lockdown protests. Celebrities who were encouraging everyone to remain in their homes until last week are now rushing out to join the protests, including Emily Ratajkowski, Jaz Sinclair, Paris Jackson and Billie Eilish. Not only is this virtue-signalling hypocritical – why is Covid likely to be spread at anti-lockdown protests, but not at Black Lives Matter protests? – it's also irresponsible, given how many of those protests have spiralled out of control into fully-fledged riots in at least 25 cities across America, including Minneapolis, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Louisville, Columbia, Denver, Portland, Milwaukee and Columbus. Those protests have now crossed the Atlantic, with a march through the streets of Peckham yesterday in which demonstrators held up placards reading "Abolish the Police" and "Riot is the language of the unheard". That demo did not become violent or lead to rioting, but more protests are planned in London and other British cities over the coming days. Today, Metro ran an article entitled: "Black Lives Matter: Are protests taking place in the UK and how can you donate?" It included a handy guide to people who want to join those protests, something ...

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Abandon Ridiculous Two-Metre Rule Bob's cartoon in the Telegraph on May 30th 2020 I've written a piece in today's Telegraph entitled: "For the sake of our economy, we need to scrap the absurd two-metre rule." I point out that this and other over-cautious social-distancing rules will mean our economy is permanently stuck in second gear. For most shops, the only way to keep customers six feet apart will be to introduce cumbersome one-way systems and force them to queue up outside. All very well when the only retail outlets we’re talking about are supermarkets and newsagents, but how will people observe that rule on the pavement when there are queues outside every shop?For pubs and restaurants, due to reopen on July 4th, the two-metre rule will mean that many of them can’t resume trading and those that can will be forced to operate at less than 50% capacity. I also point out that there's no scientific basis for the rule. What’s so absurd about this measure, which will decimate the hospitality trade, is that there’s no obvious scientific basis for it and many countries are much more relaxed. In South Korea, for instance, the acceptable distance in 1.4 metres, and in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and France, people are only expected to stay one metre apart.Indeed, the World Health Organisation ...

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Lockdown Sceptics contributor Guy de la Bédoyère takes one of his vintage motorcycles out for a spin Did Boris's announcement yesterday that up to six people from different households will be able to gather outside from Monday sound the death knell for the lockdown? It certainly feels that way for those of us who've been out and about on this glorious Summer day. Guy de la Bédoyère, who's contributed many fine things to this site, has sent me a note about a motorcycle ride he took this afternoon. Sounds like things are returning to normal in Middle England... It's another afternoon of piercing sunshine in England on the last Friday of May 2020. The trees are in full leaf, the hedges thick and verdant. It's a day out of one's childhood, a summer day filled with memories of past times. I pull out one of my vintage motorcycles and set off for a short run through the countryside and villages as a break from a day of proof-reading my next book. Immediately I notice a change from other days in recent weeks. I have to wait to turn onto the main road. An endless stream of cars and vans keep me waiting. What's this? For weeks I have been able to turn out almost without bothering to look. As I ...

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Financial Times Elides Excess Deaths In UK with Deaths From Coronavirus, Triggers Call For Coup From Ex-SAGE Member Professor Anthony Costello, the former WHO Director and now a member of the "alternative" SAGE, got very over-excited on Twitter earlier today in response to an FT article showing the UK had the highest rate of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic among a group of 19 countries that produce comparable data. According to the article, the UK has registered 59,537 more deaths than usual this year since the week ending March 20th. In Costello's brain, this became: "The FT report the UK has the highest rate of excess COVID19 deaths in the world. 59,537 more deaths than usual with a rate of 891 deaths per million." Costello's tweet set off a chain of responses, each more hysterical than the last, with Robert West, a Professor of Health Psychology at UCL and a former member of the SP1-B subgroup of SAGE, seemingly calling for a coup on the back of it. "We cannot wait until this is 'all over' to find out what is going wrong," he said, referring to Costello's tweet. "But to learn from its mistakes the Government has to admit it is making them. This is something they appear completely unwilling to do. Time for NHS and public health to ...

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YouTube Censors Me Verboten! A few weeks ago I took part in a discussion about the coronavirus crisis organised by the Institute of Arts and Ideas. The other participants were David Alexander, Professor of Risk and Disaster Reduction at University College London; Anne Johnson, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at University College London; and Michael Levitt, Professor of Structural Biology at Stanford and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Among other things, we discussed the pros and cons of lockdowns and I set out the case against, which is what I'd been invited to do. Afterwards, I extracted a four-minute clip featuring me and Michael Levitt – although he was nodding along enthusiastically to what I was saying rather than speaking – and put it on my YouTube channel, calling it "The Case Against Lockdowns". I also created a two-minute clip and posted that on Twitter which you can see here. This morning at 12.20am I received an email from YouTube which said the following: Hi Toby Young,As you may know, our Community Guidelines describe which content we allow – and don’t allow – on YouTube. Your video The Case Against Lockdowns was flagged to us for review. Upon review, we’ve determined that it violates our guidelines and we’ve removed it from YouTube. As regular readers will know, ...

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Did Dominic Cummings's press conference in the Downing Street rose garden yesterday succeed in taking the heat out of whether or not he should resign following his trip to his parents' farm in Durham? For a while it seemed to, but this is a dumpster fire that refuses to go out. Today, Douglas Ross, a junior minister in the Scottish Office, has resigned over the matter. "While the intentions may have been well meaning, the reaction to this news shows that Mr Cummings's interpretation of the Government advice was not shared by the vast majority of people who have done as the Government asked," Mr Ross said. This comes after more than 30 Conservative MPs have called for Cummings to go. In another attempt to quell the flames, Matt Hancock announced at today's press briefing that the Government would be reviewing those fines issued to people for breaching lockdown rules to seek childcare. But the Prime Minister is unlikely to do a U-turn, even though his approval ratings have dropped 20 points in the wake of the controversy, according to the Telegraph. Dead Cat Announcement In what was widely seen as a "dead cat" move – a political term referring to a politician's attempt to deflect attention from an embarrassing story by throwing a dead cat on the table – ...

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One story dominates the news and it isn't "English Tourism Week", which started today. The Prime Minister's efforts to draw a line under the Dominic Cummings' affair yesterday by declaring he had done nothing wrong and he was standing by him were not successful. If anything, they just emboldened his chief advisor's critics. If they could now force Boris to do a U-turn they would succeed in weakening him as well as burying Dom. The airwaves this morning were dominated by the same coalition of politicians and commentators that supported the Remain side in the EU Referendum, sniffing an opportunity to take revenge on their two greatest foes. This afternoon at 4.30pm Cummings took the unusual step of holding a press conference in the Downing Street rose garden, beginning with him reading a lengthy statement explaining why his behaviour was "reasonable" in the circumstances. Turns out, he didn't make a second visit to his parents' farm in Durham; rather, he remained there for two weeks while he, his wife and his four year-old son battled with illness. He wasn't staying in the same household as his parents, or his sister, but a separate cottage on the family farm, and he didn't come within two metres of any members of the public. His reason for driving to Barnard Castle was to ...

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The Observer drops the second shoe in the Cummings scandal on its front page – the news that he visited his parents in Durham again in the middle of April after staying with them at the end of March. How do they know this? Thanks to an eagle-eyed member of the public: Robin Lees, 70, a retired chemistry teacher from , says he saw Cummings and his family walking by the Tees before getting into a car around lunchtime on 12 April.Lees said: “I was a bit gobsmacked to see him, because I know what he looks like. And the rest of the family seemed to match – a wife and child. I was pretty convinced it was him and it didn’t seem right because I assumed he would be in London.”He added: “I went home and told my wife, we thought he must be in London. I searched up the number plate later that day and my computer search history shows that.” I find it incredible that this man is so unashamed about being a tell-tale he actually flaunts the fact that he plugged Cummings's number plate into Google on his computer. If Mr Lees had been born in East Germany rather than England, I have little doubt about which state agency he would have worked for. Keir Starmer ...

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The Guardian has splashed with a humdinger of a story today, revealing that Dominic Cummings drove 264 miles from his home in London to stay with his parents in Durham. The police were tipped-off on March 31st after Cummings was spotted in his parents' front garden with his three year-old child by a member of the public and officers "explained to the family the guidelines around self-isolation and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel". The police took no further action, but the Guardian leaves its readers in no doubt what it thinks should happen: The witness, who did not wish to be named, told the Guardian: “I was really annoyed. I thought it’s OK for you to drive all the way up to Durham and escape from London. I sympathise with him wanting to do that, but other people are not allowed to do that. It’s one rule for Dominic Cummings and one rule for the rest of us.”Tulip Siddiq MP, the Vice Chair of the Labour party, said of the reports: “If accurate, the Prime Minister’s chief adviser appears to have breached the lockdown rules. The Government’s guidance was very clear: stay at home and no non-essential travel. The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings. Number ...

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Credit: Fiona Thomas Today's Telgraph says a majority of the Cabinet want Boris to accelerate the timetable for ending the lockdown. Boris Johnson is under pressure to ease the lockdown restrictions causing "massive damage" to the economy, with the majority of the Cabinet understood to support a major "back to work" drive next month.Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, is among ministers who have expressed concerns about the long-term "scarring" to the economy being caused by the coronavirus pandemic.Provided there is no unexpected increase in the rate of virus infections over the next 10 days, they want the Prime Minister to allow as many businesses as possible to reopen in order to get the country moving again. According to Gordon Raynor, the Telegraph's political editor, the three most hawkish members of the Cabinet – remember, in the current vernacular hawkish means cautious, not bold – are Matt Hancock, Michael Gove and the Prime Minister. But the doves seem to be gaining ground. Conservative peers Baroness Noakes and Lord Dobbs have both chastised the Government for being over cautious, with Dobbs saying "lockdown means poverty". The former Tory work and pensions minister Baroness Buscombe urged the Government to be "proportionate" in a House of Lords debate yesterday and reduce the social distancing rule to one metre, calling for schools to reopen "to free up ...

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