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Laurence Fox Launches Political Party to Fight the Culture War

The Sunday Telegraph has quite the scoop this morning: Laurence Fox is launching a new political party.

The actor Laurence Fox is launching a political party to fight the culture wars after raising over £1 million, including substantial sums from former Tory donors, the Telegraph can disclose.

Fox hopes to stand dozens of candidates for his new party at the next General Election to provide a political movement for people who are “tired of being told that we represent the very thing we have, in history, stood together against”.

His aims include reforming publicly-funded institutions, likely to include the BBC, and celebrating Britain’s history and global contribution.

The new party (provisionally called “Reclaim”) could launch as soon as next month. The party’s name is subject to approval by the Electoral Commission. Papers are due to be submitted to the electoral regulator in the middle of this week.

In a statement to the Telegraph, Fox said: “Over many years it has become clear that our politicians have lost touch with the people they represent and govern.

“Moreover, our public institutions now work to an agenda beyond their main purpose. Our modern United Kingdom was borne out of the respectful inclusion of so many individual voices.

“It is steeped in the innate values of families and communities, diverse in the truest sense but united in the want and need to call this island home.

“The people of the United Kingdom are tired of being told that we represent the very thing we have, in history, stood together against.

“We are all privileged to be the custodians of our shared heritage. We can reclaim a respectful nation where all are included and none are ashamed to have somewhere to call home.

“I have been so encouraged by the support I have received by those wishing to add their voices to this reclamation of our values.

“Our country is now in desperate need of a new political movement which promises to make our future a shared endeavour, not a divisive one. This is now my endeavour.”

I’m a big fan of Laurence’s and take my hat off to him. This is an exciting development. But I note he hasn’t said anything critical about the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. So not an anti-lockdown party, but an anti-woke, pro-British party.

Two out of three ain’t bad.

Conservative Government Suddenly Grows a Pair

Charles Moore and Paul Dacre

Coincidence? On the day the Sunday Telegraph breaks the story of Fox’s new party – described by one Westminster source as the UKIP of the culture wars – Downing Street has announced two significant appointments: ex-Telegraph editor Charles Moore is in the frame to become the Chairman of the BBC and ex-Mail editor Paul Dacre is being lined up to become the next Chairman of Ofcom. The Sunday Times has the story.

Boris Johnson is ushering in a revolution at the top of British broadcasting by offering two of the top jobs in television to outspoken critics of the BBC.

Paul Dacre, the former editor of the Daily Mail, is the prime minister’s choice to become chairman of Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, replacing Lord Burns, who is due to leave before the end of the year.

Lord Moore, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph and biographer of Margaret Thatcher, who has condemned the criminalisation of those who refuse to pay the licence fee, has been asked by the prime minister to take up the post of BBC chairman.

The potential appointments of two right-wing Brexiteers will send shockwaves through the broadcasting establishment.

Charles Moore will make a great Chairman of the BBC, but the more significant of the two appointments, to my mind, is Paul Dacre’s. Under its current Chairman Lord Burns, Ofcom has had little regard for freedom of expression – a case in point being its “coronavirus guidance” which means lockdown sceptics are rarely featured on the BBC and which the Free Speech Union is hoping to challenge in the High Court. (Please donate to our Ofcom case fundraiser here). But Dacre has long been a staunch champion of press freedom, as he made clear in this speech to the Society of Editors in 2018. If Ofcom’s regulatory remit is to be extended to include the Internet, as seems likely, it’s essential that the new Chairman understands the importance of free speech.

Stop Press: Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, has warned museums and galleries to stop removing statues and other artefacts or risk losing government subsidies, and the Department for Education has issued guidance to teachers saying they should teach children that woke “cancel culture” and “no-platforming” is an attack on free speech and has no place in British society. Is the Conservative Party finally going into battle in the culture war?

The Rising Tide of Lockdown Scepticism

A reader’s photograph of the demo in Trafalgar Square yesterday before the police figured out it wasn’t a BLM or XR protest and got out the truncheons

Hugo Gye has written a good piece in the i about the rising tide of lockdown scepticism.

When the Government starting locking down the UK in March, ministers were surprised by just how easy it all was. Polls showed 90 to 95 per cent of the public supported the strict curbs on everyday life, with little outcry from MPs or the courts, and – unlike in America – no street protests against the measures.

That appears to be changing. There is still broad support for tough action to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it is much less universal than it was: a survey for i by Redfield & Wilton Strategies this week found 57% believe the Government was right to introduce new measures such as a pubs curfew while 17% were against.

A growing number of Conservative MPs, led by Sir Graham Brady, are speaking out at the way Parliament has been sidelined throughout the crisis. And legal figures have criticised ministers for sneaking out changes to the law in the dead of night, sometimes just minutes before they come into force, meaning that neither Parliament, nor the police, nor citizens can scrutinise the incoming regulations or correct potential errors and loopholes.

Gye distinguishes between four different groups of sceptics.

Legal Eagles

One group expressing concern about how the Government imposes ever-changing rules comes from the legal community. Retired Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption has been a persistent critic and this week he was joined by former colleague Baroness Hale, who wrote: “My plea is that we get back to a properly functioning constitution as soon as we possibly can.”

One complaint many lawyers have is that, while changes to the rules are often announced publicly several days in advance through speeches and press conferences, the legislation putting them into effect via statutory instruments is not made available until hours or in some case minutes before it becomes law.

Judges would be able to impose life sentences with no prospect of release on 18-year-olds in exceptionally serious cases under Government plans. Ministers will publish proposals to change the law that prevented the accomplice in the Manchester Arena bombing from getting a whole life order.
There are worries about the legal status of lockdown rules. Human rights barrister of Adam Wagner, of Doughty Street Chambers, told i he supports the principle of the lockdown rules but added: “Now for six months the Government has imposed new laws using an emergency procedure. There is not really any longer a good reason why those regulations can’t be put before Parliament and debated. It is just not justifiable and it is not a good way to make laws.”

He said it was understandable for ministers to use emergency measures in the early stage of the crisis, when they were forced to act at extreme pace, but argued that the failure to implement a more regular procedure had created “a permanent sense of essay crisis” at the top of the Government.

Backbench Battlers

After staying supportive of the Government during the height of the lockdown, increasing numbers of Conservative MPs are demanding a change in direction. Many believe the strategy has been tilted too far towards Covid-19 suppression at the expense of economic concerns and long-term health issues – ex-Cabinet minister Mel Stride, chair of the Treasury select committee, told Boris Johnson: “We should listen very carefully to the epidemiologists, but we must also listen very carefully to the Treasury, to businesses and to economists.”

More than 40 Tory backbenchers have subscribed to a cross-party amendment which could come to a vote on Wednesday, demanding that all changes to the rules are approved in advance by Parliament unless there is a genuine emergency. It is unclear whether Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle will accept the amendment, but the rebels hope the Government will nonetheless cave in advance and agree to their demands.

Outright Opponents

One of the first public figures to speak out against the idea of using lockdown to control Covid-19 was journalist Toby Young, who set up a Lockdown Sceptics website in mid-April. “At the very beginning, there were not very many people who were opposed to the lockdown,” he told i. “I think most people gave the Government the benefit of the doubt.”

Now, he claims, he has much more support – although not the “critical mass” needed to push the Government into a U-turn. He said: “Gradually people are waking up to the fact that the NHS has been failing to provide critical care, because of a diktat from on high… People can see with their own eyes the impact of the lockdown on the high street.”

Businessman Simon Dolan is masterminding a legal challenge to the coronavirus rules which will be heard in the Court of Appeal next month, after losing in the High Court. He insists he understood why the Government initially locked the country down but added: “What I think was catastrophic was to carry on with it when it was evident that the peak had gone, that the NHS wasn’t overwhelmed.”

Both men, although Brexiteers who consider themselves on the right of politics, are adamant that opposing the lockdown is not a right-wing position. Mr Dolan said: “I’ve found myself agreeing with people that I usually disagree with vehemently on almost everything else.” Mr Young added: “The people who are suffering the most as a result of the restrictions the Government has imposed are the most disadvantaged.”

A Government spokesperson said: “During this unprecedented global pandemic we’ve kept all measures under constant review. It’s essential we’re able to take urgent action when necessary to stop the virus spreading, protect the NHS and care sector from a second wave and save lives.

“Both houses have had opportunities to debate and scrutinise all lockdown regulations, and members will continue to have opportunities to scrutinise future regulations.”

Hardcore Conspiracists

The most visible opponents of lockdowns are possibly the least representative: the conspiracy theorists who believe Covid-19 is a total hoax, or caused by 5G networks, or no worse than the common cold.

Leaders of this group include Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers and David Icke, the showman who accuses the royal family of being lizards. The two men are the headline speakers at a two-day rally in central London this weekend which aims to attract at least 35,000 protesters.

More mainstream sceptics tend to be sceptical of these outliers. Simon Dolan said: “I don’t believe particularly in the demonstrations, I think they’re far too easy to hijack and I don’t actually think they make any difference.”

But Toby Young suggested that they helped the cause by highlighting just how strict some of the regulations are: Mr Corbyn was fined £10,000 over a previous protest which broke the official guidelines.

The period of the lockdown seems to have encouraged some conspiracy theories to thrive, such as the 5G claims and the “QAnon” movement which sees the world being under the control of a paedophile cult. Experts have suggested that the dislocation caused by the pandemic may have encouraged some people to seek solace in unlikely places.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The police decided to break up a peaceful anti-lockdown demonstration in Trafalgar Square yesterday, injuring several people in the process, including a middle-aged woman. As Douglas Murray says in this week’s Spectator, all protests are not equal in the eyes of the police.

A reader who attended the protest describes what happened.

Despite the good general mood, at the end things got a little ugly. People were peacefully dispersing and suddenly a group of police with helmets moved in and started blocking stairways out of the square. We ended up scrambling over a wall to get out after a copper pushed me on the stairs and yelled “move!” It was ridiculous, completely unwarranted behaviour – everyone was already leaving anyway. On the way home we saw some MSM reports about the police having to pen people in to disperse the crowd (not sure how that quite works) and there being injuries. I can honestly say that if they hadn’t turned up, people would have just left. There is stuff on the BBC about the demo having to be broken up, but that is nonsense. It just ended at 3pm. Very sad that a group broadly supportive of the job the police do, and one that showed respect for them by observing a minute’s silence for the police officer killed on Friday, was treated so badly (while police take the knee to BLM who want them defunded). You just couldn’t make it up.

Growing Tory Rebellion

Has Boris’s luck finally run out?

Tim Shipman has a piece in the Sunday Times in which he describes the growing discontent in the Parliamentary Conservative Party with Boris Johnson’s leadership. He describes five groups and ranks each one according to how dangerous it is.

Common sense group

MPs: Around 50
Leading lights: Right-wingers such as Iain Duncan Smith and “red wall” MPs such as Lee Anderson
Grievances: Disgruntled with the new tighter measures to control COVID-19, they also want tougher action to curb cross-channel migration and hate plans for tax rises
Trouble rating: Four stars – The new backbench awkward squad

The Brady bunch

MPs: 12
Leading lights: Sir Graham Brady and the other members of the 1922 committee executive
Grievances: The shop steward of Tory backbenchers usually helps to enforce discipline. Instead he is leading the rebellion over Covid
Trouble rating: Five star – If you’ve lost the 22, it’s often the end

Remainder remainers

MPs: Around 20
Leading light: Bob Neill
Grievances: Enraged that the Government was prepared to break international law over Brexit, they have already forced a U-turn so MPs would have to vote on that first
Trouble rating: Three stars

European Research Group

MPs: 80
Leading lights: Steve Baker, John Redwood and Bill Cash
Grievances: Will cry foul if Johnson does not pursue a hard enough Brexit
Trouble rating: Two stars – Dormant, but potentially deadly

The dispossessed

MPs: Dozens and rising
Leading light: Sajid Javid
Grievances: Everyone who has lost/not been given a ministerial job
Trouble rating: Two stars

Stop Press: A new opinion poll puts Labour ahead of the Conservatives for the first time since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

Students Plot the Great Escape

“I only came here to take a degree in Business Studies, not become an expert in tunnel engineering. Still, if it works out at least we can spend Xmas in Switzerland. Bugger, the Covid Marshalls have turned the searchlights on…”

Channel 4 News carried a report yesterday evening, relating how students across the United Kingdom have effectively been placed in lockdown, with some of them unable to leave their halls of residence.

Numerous readers have sent in reports, describing how miserable life is for their children. Here’s one from a parent of two kids at Edinburgh:

My children are out of their halls of residence and staying in an Airbnb to avoid an expected clampdown in Pollock Halls, the resident blocks for 1,900 first year undergraduates. We hope to terminate their contracts with the Halls and move them into a house in the city. Students have been fleeing Pollock in droves, my daughter says. Police squads together with wardens are patrolling the Pollock campus. Young people, many of them away from home for the first time in their lives, have been told they may be banned from returning to their families for Christmas. Snarling wardens called students trying to socialise “disgusting” and all seating in outside spaces has been removed. All students have been banned from pubs. In the canteen, students are shown to seats so cannot choose where to sit. They each sit at single desks facing in the same direction. They receive directives by email from the university, hectoring them about “the rules in Scotland” in a tone that is patronising towards foreigners south of the border. A few nights ago a warden ordered my daughter, who was outside her hall at 10pm, to “go to bed now”. My daughter is 20 next month. It appears the only way to respond is to leave Pollock Halls and find accommodation in the city. Then again, if you cannot meet other students and since all teaching has gone online, why stay in Edinburgh at all?

Another reader reports that his neighbour’s 18 year-old is dreading leaving home and going to university:

Our neighbour’s son is about to head to York tomorrow. His mother reports he is so terrified now, he had a panic attack. What a contrast with how it should be – the most exciting time of a young adult’s life turned into the prospect of doing a stretch in a high security prison, and in solitary confinement too.

Stop Press: Robert Halfon, the Chair of the Education Select Committee, has said locked-down students should receive refunds on their tuition fees.

Staggering Cost of Glasgow’s Nightingale Hospital

Nic Sturge-on discovers a cache of money left behind by the British Government in 1999 and immediately sets fire to it

A reader has done some digging about the cost of the Nightingale Hospital in Glasgow that is shutting its doors. Eye watering!

Further to your story today on the decommissioning contract for the NHS Louisa Jordan facility at the SEC in Glasgow, I had a quick look into the costs involved with this empty COVID-19 hospital.

The contracts page you provided a link that shows it’s costing £429,877.48 for a contract merely to appoint a “Lead Advisor consultant to support the decommissioning of the NHS Louisa Jordan temporary field hospital at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow”.

The minutes of the NHS Louisa Jordan Governance Board on May 21st state that total decommissioning costs were estimated at over £4 million, so there’s considerably more to come.

A Scottish Government FOI release published on July 22nd shows that no patients were treated at the facility.

This recent spreadsheet from September 10th shows that the final build cost was £30.9 million and monthly running costs have been £2.4 million.

The Herald featured these figures in a story on September 11th.

The Daily Record ran a story on the costs on September 20th, stating that the hospital with no Covid patients will cost taxpayers £67 million.

But, all is not lost – it has been used to provide healthcare training.

And it may have hosted some orthopaedic outpatient consults.

Multiply these staggering sums of cash across all of the standby Covid facilities, and there’s a colossal bill to be paid by taxpayers.

And for what in return?

NHS Track-and-Trace App Plumbs New Depths

The NHS track-and-trace app is the gift that keeps on giving – to lockdown sceptics. I honestly didn’t think this fiasco could become even more embarrassing for the Government, but it has. The latest cock-up is that anyone who’s got a test result back from NHS hospitals or Public Health England can’t actually share their results via the app.

The Telegraph has the details:

Officials were forced to urgently remove a major blindspot in the Government’s COVID-19 app yesterday which meant that more than a third of daily tests were being excluded from the system.

On Saturday morning, it emerged that those who tested positive for the virus in NHS hospitals and Public Health England (PHE) labs were unable to share their result using the official contact-tracing app for the first 48 hours after its introduction on Thursday.

The Department of Health said it had worked “urgently” fix the problem.

Tests carried out by the NHS and PHE make up one in three of those carried out each day, and their exclusion would have meant that casual contacts of a large proportion of medics who tested positive for the virus would not have received automatic notifications asking them to isolate.

As does the Mail:

More than 60,000 Britons are unable to tell the long-awaited NHS Test and Trace app whether they have tested positive for coronavirus, the Government has admitted in the latest fiasco to engulf the UK’s ‘world-leading’ testing system.

Results from swabs examined by NHS hospitals and Public Health England – more than 70,000 a day – cannot be entered into the app as they are not supplied with a test code, the Department of Health has confirmed.

The oversight means sufferers are unable to send out alerts to people they have been near to advise them to self-isolate to curb the spread of coronavirus.

As does the Sunday Times – although the Times points out that it isn’t just results obtained from NHS hospitals and PHE that can’t be entered in the new app. It’s also results received via the ONS infection survey.

On Friday, the day after the app launched, at least 61,000 people tested in England were unable to enter their results. As a result, thousands of other people who had been in close proximity to those with positive results will never be notified.

The NHS Test and Trace website said: “If your test took place in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, or as part of national surveillance testing conducted by the Office for National Statistics, test results cannot currently be linked with the app whether they’re positive or negative. We are working to make this available as soon as possible.”

😂 😂 😂

As usual, I turned to Lockdown Sceptics’ dedicated track-and-trace app correspondent to explain what’s going on.

It only took three days for the NHS COVID-19 app to acquire a litany of problems.

Users cannot report negative test results because the app asks for a result code and negative tests don’t have a code. If you reported symptoms to the app when booking that test then your self isolation counter continues to count, even though you have a negative test.

How about positive tests? According to the @NHSCOVID19app twitter account responding to complaints: “If your test took place in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, or as part of national surveillance testing conducted by the Office for National Statistics, test results cannot currently be linked with the app whether they’re positive or negative.” This shouldn’t be a surprise to the team building the app as they told us about it in their own documentation. But as this tweet from an incredulous user points out: “So if I get symptoms, and as an NHS nurse, get a test through work (because that’s the only way you can get a test these days), then if I am positive the app will not automatically alert my contacts? Same for a patient with a positive test?” That’s right, if you have your test done in an NHS hospital you cannot tell the NHS app about it.

The ludicrous levels of optimism around this app are evident in the twitter stream: “For every 1 to 2 people who download the app, an infection could be prevented.” Really? Could we see “the science” behind that please?

Meanwhile the venue check-in function doesn’t have a way of telling it when you leave a venue. That’s by design apparently: “You do not need to check out of a venue. Your phone will register when you check into somewhere new, and it will automatically check you out of your last venue at midnight.” So if I visit a venue for a few minutes at 9pm, then go home, and someone who later tests positive visits that venue at 10pm, I will be alerted and asked to isolate. No prizes for seeing the problem with that.

Presumably this level of incompetence is all part of the new normal?

Et Tu, Sainsbury’s?

A reader is disappointed to find his local Sainsbury’s becoming more zealous in its enforcement of the rules.

Sainsbury’s has now moved into enforcement mode. See yesterday’s message from their Chief Executive below.

“Greeters will be on hand outside all supermarkets and busy convenience stores to remind customers to wear face coverings when they enter stores. If you do not have a face covering when you arrive at a store, our colleagues will help you find one.”

Tannoy announcements to be ramped up.

How sad. Our local store at Chertsey was an oasis of common sense before this.

The message has the line: “If you think there is anything else we should be doing that would make your shopping experience easier or better then please do get in touch with me.” It is, of course, a ‘no reply’ email and there is no obvious way on Sainsbury’s website to communicate about anything more than being overcharged for Activia yoghurts.

Stuart Wheeler’s Farewell Party During Lockdown

Stuart Wheeler flanked by daughter Charlotte and David Cameron at the Conservative Summer Party in 2006

JP Floru, author of The Sun Tyrant: A Nightmare Called North Korea, is working on a book about the lockdown policy and has written an original essay for Lockdown Sceptics on the folly of governments removing people’s right to choose when it comes to what risks to take in their lives – what he calls the “nationalisation of risk”. You can read the full essay here, but the final section, in which he describes the last request of Stuart Wheeler, is below.

By all means, let us hear from the experts and the scientists! We should not return to a pre-scientific society based on superstition and prejudice.

But Instead of supplanting people’s individual risk/benefit calculation by central diktat, the Government could have made sure that its citizens had better information to take their own decisions. They could have put more emphasis on how contagious COVID-19 was; and what to do to avoid it. They could have suggested who might want to shield, instead of ordering it. They should have advised, but not dictated.

Some more people might have died. But perhaps they would not have been alone in their final months and weeks and days. Perhaps fewer people would have felt so hopeless that they killed themselves. Perhaps fewer people would have become poor, because they would still have had their jobs. Perhaps fewer people would be angry or in despair. Perhaps fewer people would have seen their quality of life tank so dramatically.

I want to end this with a real story. One of the most interesting characters I have met was Stuart Wheeler. He made his money with spread betting and went on to be tremendously influential in British politics by financing the Conservative Party, UKIP, and assorted Eurosceptic causes. He was a jovial man who hosted everybody of note and potential note at his Elizabethan Castle in Kent, which is often featured in period dramas and other Agatha Christie films.

One day during the lockdown, his friends found this e-mail in their inbox:

“As many of you know, I have cancer and my doctors do not expect me to live more than about six months. So what would I prefer – to never see again my and my daughters’ friends? Or to see them, taking the very slight risk of catching the virus from them, which might shorten my life by a few months? The answer is crystal clear to me…”

“No one who, for my sake, declines an invitation to visit us at the castle, is doing me a favour,” he wrote. “On the contrary, by depriving me of their company, they are doing me a great disfavour.”

Worth reading in full.

Postcard From Rome

For those prepared to “risk” a trip to Rome, the reward is a complete absence of tourists

Long time contributor to Lockdown Sceptics Guy de la Bédoyère has just returned from a trip to Rome which he found surprisingly life-enhancing. He has written a postcard for us, describing the whole blissful experience. Here is an extract:

In the famous H.G. Wells story The Time Machine the remote future is a dystopian world. After a horrific war humanity divided into two: those who took shelter underground and those who took their chances in the sun. By the time Wells’s Time Traveller arrives they have evolved into two species. Those who stayed on the surface have become the passive and indolent cattle known as the Eloi. They are farmed by the hideous troglodyte Morlocks who lurk in their caverns with machines they use for processing the Eloi whom they harvest and eat.

This all came back to me as we wandered in a blissfully quiet Rome, but in a reverse form. In our dystopian future the Morlocks are those who cower at home, by choice or under the government heel, while the rest of us enjoy the sunlit uplands. In short, in a really strange sort of way all the Covid precautions have made life better for those prepared to take their chances and live a little. Perhaps we should keep them on after all.

We have been visiting Rome since 1975 and never before have we walked straight into St Peter’s with no more than a cursory bag check. The great basilica was no busier than a large parish church in a country town on a desolate weekday afternoon. We had Michelangelo’s Pieta to ourselves. It was busy around the Colosseum but not by normal standards. We spent a day in the ruined Roman port at Ostia Antica, wandering around the remains of streets, apartment blocks, houses and temples. I suppose we must have seen a couple of dozen other people but that was all. The Spanish Steps had almost no-one on them. We were only in Rome for three days so didn’t bother with museums as that would have meant more time wearing masks. But I don’t doubt that they are equally empty.

Worth reading in full.


Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and “Sitting in the Corner Blues” by Rab Noakes.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Woke Gobbledegook

Today I bring you the Free Speech Union‘s latest attempt to protect our members from woke gobbledegook.

Many of our members have asked us what to do if they find themselves at odds with their employers about how best to tackle prejudice and discrimination in the workplace. As some of you will be aware, employers, as well as schools and universities, have introduced a raft of new “anti-racism” initiatives in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, from circulating suggested reading lists (Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race) to introducing mandatory unconscious bias training. Is there a way of expressing your reservations about these initiatives that means your employer cannot legally punish you for doing so? What are the limits on what an employer can do to force you to assent to the “woke” orthodoxy on this issue?

Because we were getting so many questions along those lines, and dealing with so many cases of people who are being punished for dissenting from the BLM narrative, we thought it would be helpful to publish some Frequently Asked Questions on this topic. You can read them here. We did a good deal of research in the course of compiling this first set of FAQs, and one of the people who helped with that research, a journalist called Carrie Clark, has written up her findings in the form of a briefing paper. Carrie looked specifically at the Implicit Association Test, a diagnostic tool that sits at the heart of most forms of diversity training. It’s worth reading in full, but the short version is that this test has been almost completely discredited in the scientific literature since it was first devised in 1998. You can read a summary of Carrie’s paper here.

Of course, if you’re concerned about being punished by your employer or your university for being insufficiently woke, the best thing you can do is join the Free Speech Union.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

Tony Husband’s cartoon in the latest Private Eye

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: A reader says his local cafe owner is now insisting customers follow absurd, arbitrary mask-wearing rules, following last week’s tightening of restrictions.

A clearly nervous cafe owner tells us that she will risk being closed down if her customers don’t follow the new rules. So we have to put on a mask to walk the three paces from the street door to a table. Then we can sit for as long as we want without a mask to eat or drink, but had to put one back on if we stood up to walk the two steps to look at the cakes or when we wanted to leave. What madness! Why is it OK to sit in a small cafe for an hour without a mask, but the two seconds needed to enter or exit is so deadly a mask is needed? Perhaps the virus is more deadly at a height of 6 foot than it is at at a height of 3 foot?

Mask Extra: The Telegraph has discovered that anti-mask activists are urging people to buy “mask exempt” lanyards to avoid wearing face nappies. Ooh mother! Whatever next?


If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

Matt Lucas wheels out his Boris impression to promote the next series of Bake Off. Quite funny, particularly the first bit.

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