Happy Boxing Day!
For the three days over Christmas – starting yesterday – we’re publishing a pared down version of Lockdown Sceptics so we can have a bit of time off over Christmas. Cartoonist Bob Moran has very kindly given us three original cartoons which we’re running on consecutive days and, below them, we’re including a round-up, as well as an And Finally…, but little else.
Happy Christmas to all our readers. Thanks for all your links, stories and suggestions, as well as your comments below the line and in the forums. Lockdown Sceptics is really a collaboration between our small team, the writers who contribute original material, and the readers who post comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To date, we’ve had over 21,000 emails and we do our best to read them all.
Back in April, when I set up this blog, I imagined I’d be signing off about now. Turns out, that was a bit naive. God knows when this madness will end, but at least there are some comforts in this digital camaraderie. Readers often get in touch to say Lockdown Sceptics has kept them sane. The feeling’s mutual.
Trouble Down Lab
The Milton Keynes Lighthouse Lab has been hit by an outbreak of coronavirus, according to Sky News.
Positive cases have been reported in three of the four scientific teams at the Milton Keynes Lighthouse Laboratory, as well as among administrative and warehouse staff at the site.
It is not known how many people have been affected by the outbreak, but around 20 people in one 70-person lab team are currently isolating, according to a worker at the laboratory who asked to remain anonymous.
The outbreak has placed considerable strain on the lab, which has been asked to process 70,000 tests a day in order to keep up with rising demand.
The source said that 47,000 were processed on Tuesday, adding: “No chance we’ll ever hit 70,000 a day the way we’re going.”
The lab worker also raised concerns about the safety of the lab, saying that rules put in place to keep staff safe were being broken in order to meet targets – a claim the Department of Health and Social Care denied.
Sky News understands the Lighthouse Lab is supposed to have a bubble system in place in order to keep staff separate, following a recommendation from the Health and Safety Executive, which visited the site recently.
Yet according to the source, the bubble system is not being respected with workers at the short-staffed lab being moved between groups, risking further cross-contamination.
The lab worker said there had also been mixing in the building’s lobbies and at the canteen.
Staff at the laboratory have been offered an unlimited number of tests and new staff are tested when they arrive.
The lab worker said that new recruits had been sitting in the canteen while they waited for their test results.
According to the lab worker, one new warehouse staff member received a positive test result after they had sat in the canteen during a period when a whole lab team had been in there for a break.
“The whole thing’s a joke,” they said.
Worth reading in full.
This outbreak won’t come as news to readers of Lockdown Sceptics. Last month we ran a piece by Lighthouse Lab whistleblower Dr Julian Harris flagging up health and safety breaches at the Milton Keynes facility.
Read that piece again here.
The Queen Lifts Our Spirits
No, she didn’t say that. In fact, this year’s Christmas message from the Queen was another triumph. Robert Hardman in today’s Daily Mail has more.
Even for the most experienced monarch in history, this was a tall order: how do you sum up the worst year in living memory without leaving the nation in floods of tears or reaching for the Off switch?
The only solution, therefore, was to accentuate the positives. And that is what the Queen did yesterday in an exceptionally upbeat Christmas message – one which also turned out to be the most multicultural of all time.
From beginning to end, here was a montage of warm-hearted or inspirational scenes, many of them illustrated by images from the Duchess of Cambridge’s Hold Still photography campaign. The only mournful moment consisted of the Queen herself paying homage at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
What began with the magnificent sight of the Band of the Household Cavalry playing the National Anthem on horseback outside St George’s Chapel concluded with the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir belting out one of the jauntiest numbers in their Christmas repertoire: “Joy To The World”.
Running through it all was the theme of selflessness, of what the Queen called ‘the kindness of strangers’.
Worth reading in full.
And in case you missed it, you can watch it again here.
A Hospital Worker Writes…
A hospital employee has sent us an email that contains an interesting detail about the PPE he and his colleagues are expected to wear.
I work at one of the main hospitals in Oxford, and the vast majority of the people that I work with just blindly believe everything they hear from the media. It’s so frustrating and annoying.
I along with everyone else who works at the hospital continued to work right through the peak of the pandemic (no social distancing, no face masks) with not so much as a sniffle.
I do know a couple of people who died during that time, whose deaths were almost certainly because of Covid. However, as you and others have pointed out, the vast majority of people either don’t know that they’ve had it, or, if they did have it, they lived to tell the tale. A few of my close work colleagues did have the virus, and the were knocked for six because of it, but they’re now back at work.
Anyway, aside from writing to you to say: thank you for all your hard work, I wanted to let you know if you didn’t already, that all of the masks, gloves and gowns that we are using and have been using for most of the pandemic come from… China 🇨🇳
Just thought how crazy it is that the very country where the virus came from is where so many millions of pounds of tax payers money is going to pay for the PPE.
As one of my Northern colleagues (who is also a fellow no masker) said, “They’re really rubbing our faces in it. Literally.”
- “A very Covid Christmas: Six million MORE people move into tough Tier 4 restrictions TODAY – bringing the total to 24million” – MailOnline reminds us of today’s bad news
- “Happy Christmas, the Brexit war is over!” – Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail on the good Brexit news
- “The music that makes Christmas” – Douglas Murray in UnHerd on why cancelled services, or services without carol signing, won’t take away the beauty of Christmas music
- “Why my church doors are staying open” – Giles Fraser says he won’t be closing his church this Christmas
- “CDC to Require Negative COVID-19 Test for Air Travellers from the United Kingdom to the U.S.” – The CDC has said travellers from the U.K. will need a certificate showing they’ve tested negative within 72 hours of departure. Without the documentary proof you won’t be allowed to board the plane
- “Covid kicked us all off the featherbed of civilisation” – William Boyd in the Times says we’ve gone through Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief in 2020, but in reverse
- “Reasons to be cheerful at the end of this bleakest year” – Gerard Baker is remarkably upbeat after the terrible year we’ve had
- “You’ve been spotted at Gran’s, go directly to jail” – Giles Coren and his family are so bored this Christmas they’ve created a Covid version of Monopoly
- “Professor Neil Ferguson: People don’t agree with lockdown and try to undermine the scientists” – Professor Lockdown continues his comeback tour with an interview in today’s Times
- “The economics of unused gift cards” – Interesting article in the Hustle about who benefits when Christmas gift cards go unredeemed
- “Spiked’s heroes of 2020” – Spiked‘s heroes include J.K. Rowling, Nick Cave and Lord Sumption
- “A beacon of light in the gloom” – Michael Fahey in the Conservative Woman looks at the few bright points in a dark year
- “17 Remedies for 2021” – Psychologist Dr Hugh Willbourn has 17 tips for how to convert lockdown believers to scepticism
- “The drug that gives ‘instant immunity’ to coronavirus?” – MailOnline reports on a new superdrug being trialled by the NHS
Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers
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.
Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.
Alternatively, you could just promote the site in the way this enterprising reader has done: a decal in his front window.
Social Media Accounts
You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.
We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, it’s the turn of June Sarpong, the BBC’s Director of Creative Diversity, who is interviewed in the Telegraph.
From humble beginnings, and via a career as a TV presenter, Sarpong, 43, has earned a place on the BBC executive board and the power to ring-fence £100 million of licence fee money for “diverse and inclusive content”.
When she was appointed in October 2019, diversity was a buzzword. A year later, it’s at the centre of the culture wars. Ms Sarpong has just released her third book, The Power of Privilege: How White People Can Challenge Racism.
White privilege is a hot button issue recently, and the women and equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch, claimed it was a “dangerous trend” in race relations and said any school that teaches it as fact is breaking the law.
But Ms Sarpong is in no doubt that white privilege is a fact of life. “There is unfairness baked into our system,” she says, and while the “elite white male” is at the top of the tree, even the white working class has an advantage over people from black and Asian backgrounds.
To be fair to Sarpong, she says she supported the BBC’s reverse ferret on not singing “Rule Britannia” at this year’s Proms and claims not to know what the word “woke” means, which is quite endearing.
But there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a bit galling to be lectured on “privilege” by an ex-children’s television presenter who now earns £75,000 a year for working three days a week.
“Mask Exempt” Lanyards
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 masks in shops here.
A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p, and he’s even said he’ll donate half the money to Lockdown Sceptics, so everyone wins.
If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.
And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here.
The Great Barrington Declaration
The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched in October and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)
You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over three quarters of a million signatures.
Update: The authors of the GBD have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.
Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.
Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here.
Judicial Reviews Against the Government
There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.
First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here. Alas, he’s now reached the end of the road, with the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear his appeal. Dolan has no regrets. “We forced SAGE to produce its minutes, got the Government to concede it had not lawfully shut schools, and lit the fire on scrutinizing data and information,” he says. “We also believe our findings and evidence, while not considered properly by the judges, will be of use in the inevitable public inquires which will follow and will help history judge the PM, Matt Hancock and their advisers in the light that they deserve.”
Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.
Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.
There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.
The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.
And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review in December and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision because Ofcom has conceded most of the points it was making. Check here for details.
If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email email@example.com 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.
We know they are lying. They know they are lying, They know that we know they are lying. We know that they know that we know they are lying. And still they continue to lie.Alexander Solzhenitsyn
It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.Mark Twain
Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.Charles Mackay
They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.Benjamin Franklin
To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…
Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.Alexander Solzhenitsyn
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.Sir Winston Churchill
If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.Richard Feynman
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.C.S. Lewis
The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.Albert Camus
We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.Carl Sagan
Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.George Orwell
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.Marcus Aurelius
Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.William Pitt the Younger
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.Joseph Goebbels (attributed)
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.H.L. Mencken
I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.Thomas Paine
Shameless Begging Bit
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You may have seen this already, but if not you’re in for a treat. Translator Peter Prowse created a very funny skit about more and more consonants being banned as the tiers ratcheted up, and in this version two American listeners have recorded their reactions. Top satire from Prowse.