Day: 10 November 2021

News Round-Up

The Creator of the 1.5C Climate Target has Admitted That the “Simple Number” Was Invented for the Benefit of Politicians

We’re publishing a guest post today by journalist Chris Morrison about the 1.5°C target, the climate change models and the way in which ambitious politicians, self-described ‘scientists’ and rent-seeking industrialists have leapt on the bandwagon to end all bandwagons.

Politics, not science, lies behind the drive to keep global temperatures to 1.5°C. Not the thoughts of your correspondent, but the clear implication of words spoken in 2010 by the so-called father of 2°C, an earlier IPCC target, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. Interviewed by the Der Speigel, Mr Schellnhuber, the IPCC lead author and at the time Angela Merkel’s Climate Adviser, was asked why he had imposed the “magical limit” to which all countries must slavishly adhere. He said: “Politicians like to have clear targets and a simple number is easier to handle.”

Of course, the push to net zero and the ‘settled’ science that is claimed to support the move is political. It is in fact the great political debate of the age, which makes it surprising to see the head of the BBC Tim Davie attempt last week to promote the impartiality of the Corporation by suggesting that climate change is no longer a political issue. To which it might be tempting to reply that Mr Davie no longer fears the approaching climate fireball, because he has already relocated to another planet. Perhaps he hasn’t seen the BBC’s climate editor Justin Rowlett become increasingly agitated with Boris Johnson because the Prime Minister refused to commit to shut down all coal mining. Or read the one-sided output of Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s Energy and Environment Analyst, whom Charles Moore suggests would be happier in a pulpit.

Almost two weeks ago, Jon Snow fronted an hour long Channel 4 News shaking with emotion as he introduced stories featuring fire, flood and climate collapse of almost biblical proportion. Last week he attributed a large plant blocking the rail tracks on his way to Glasgow to climate change. His behaviour might call to mind George Orwell’s famous quote that some ideas are so stupid “that only intellectuals believe them”, but Mr Snow is actually at the cutting edge of new academic research trying to shift the political narrative from global warming to “extreme” weather.

In 2020 the IPCC lead author Professor Reto Knutti published a paper entitled “Climate change now detectable from any single day of weather on a global scale”. This of course is the Holy Grail of climate activism. The last two decades have seen little actual global warming despite higher levels of mostly naturally produced CO2 entering the atmosphere. According to satellite readings published last month, the global temperatures haven’t moved for seven years. In fact, the current high points in the record correspond to the peak of the brief warming in the 1980s and 1990s, suggesting temperatures haven’t really risen for almost 25 years. Perhaps because of this, the move to demonise bad weather, or “extreme” weather, continues apace.

Postcard From Genoa

We’re publishing a new Postcard today by Roger Watson, a Professor of Nursing at the University of Hull. He’s just back from a teaching stint at the University of Genoa and did not have a happy time. Here is an extract:

If anyone who is unvaccinated is considering visiting Italy soon, I would strongly advise against it. Britain seems very civilised in comparison, despite having a run in with a BA official who questioned me about my lack of a mask on leaving the first class lounge in Heathrow, seemingly unaware that we were still on British soil. But, as reported in a Postcard from Istanbul, once the curtain was drawn behind us in BA Club Class, the masks were off and not donned again until arrival in Milan. From Milan I took the train to Genoa to work at the University of Genoa, where I teach regularly, for a week. It is worth noting that I completed the European Passenger Location Form using details from my British passport but, to avoid the queue at the border, I used my Irish passport to enter Italy. I expected to be questioned about the lack of congruence between this passport and the one used to complete the online form which, I assumed, would have to match at immigration. I was through like the proverbial dose of pesto thus indicating, beyond reasonable doubt, that the completion and submission of passenger location forms is a complete waste of time.

You may enter Italy unvaccinated after the requisite Covid tests and then a period of quarantine. But, thereafter, freedom does not beckon as, wherever you step out of quarantine, you will remain… indefinitely. No form of public transport such as trains, buses and internal flights is permitted without displaying a euphemistically named ‘Green Pass’ (Italy’s vaccine passport). If anyone from the U.K. wants to see what the introduction of vaccine passports will be like, then Italy is already there. Mask wearing is strongly enforced on public transport with repeated ‘mascherina’ messages over the PA system.

Social distancing is requested too but the one exception was taxis where, ironically, you can be squeezed into very close proximity with your fellow passengers without the benefit of any social distancing. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that passengers are not allowed to travel in the front of the taxi beside the driver, so it was common for three people to be arse cheek by jowl in the back. On one journey I was asked to mask up in a taxi that had no functioning seat belt.

Worth reading in full.

I Will Not be Tricked into Having Yet Another Jab so I Can Travel

We’re publishing a guest post by travel writer Annabel Fenwick Elliott about the absurdity of insisting people have the booster as a condition of being able to travel, something Sajid Javid has said is on the cards. She reluctantly got vaccinated in order to carry on doing her job, but wasn’t prepared to get a booster every six months!

Just when I thought we were finally done with all the audacity, a fresh plate of it is served. Less than a year after the vaccine drive launched, being double-jabbed isn’t good enough anymore. Syringes at the ready, Health Secretary Sajid Javid is already making thinly-veiled threats about not “enjoying Christmas” again, unless “we all come together and play our part” in the booster regime.

On top of that, mere months after the half-hearted revival of travel, the validity of our Covid passes are under threat. Austria and Switzerland have joined Israel in limiting entry for those who aren’t willing to get another dose, and the UK’s official guidance was updated earlier this month to say the Government “is reviewing the implications and requirements of boosters for international travel certification” and “looking at whether and how booster vaccinations could be included in the NHS Covid Pass for travel”.

That sounds an awful lot to me like an all-but mandatory third helping of a substance that doesn’t prevent me from catching a virus, which isn’t even a danger to me, and won’t prevent me from spreading it to others. Ah well, you might say; in for a penny, in for a pound. What’s one more concession?

But equally, where does one draw the line, between doing silly things in order to be a more agreeable human, and all-out refusing to comply on principle? I’ve been asking myself this question since April 2020, back when lockdown was still something of a novelty, before the pile-up of non-virus-related casualties – lost jobs, ruined livelihoods, compromised educations; missed cancer diagnoses, suicides, worsening poverty in the developing world – had far eclipsed the number of Covid deaths.

Sajid Javid Refuses to Rule Out Use of France-Style Vaccine Passports For Those Who Refuse the Booster Shot

The Health Secretary has refused to rule out the possibility of adopting a France-style vaccine passport system, which entails receiving the booster shot in order to be labelled as ‘fully vaccinated’. In a recent interview with Sky News, Javid couldn’t say for certain whether the scheme wouldn’t be introduced “potentially in the future”. If such a policy were to become law, it would mean that those who are offered the booster shot (such as those over the age of 65 years-old) but refuse, would be denied entry to certain venues. The Independent has the story.

Asked if making a third jab part of a Covid pass is “something that you might look at”, Javid replied: “We’re not looking at that yet.

“I think, in due course, we will have to look at what constitutes vaccination, but at this point the most important thing is that anyone that’s eligible gets out there and gets their booster.”

Pressed on whether the curb could be introduced “potentially in the future”, the Health Secretary told Sky News: “I can’t rule that out.

“We know now that the vaccines do wane and it’s important that, where it’s necessary, that those people get a top up. I think it’s something that we have to keep under review.”

Covid passes have been introduced in Wales, and are now being extended to cinemas and theatres, while Scotland requires proof of double vaccination for crowded venues.

A similar plan was shelved in England, but is part of the Government’s ‘Plan B’ should Covid hospitalisations and deaths rise sharply over the winter.

If introduced, it would require proof of vaccination for “indoor crowded settings with 500 or more attendees such as music venues or large receptions”, including all nightclubs.

The events would be those where people “are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households”, the winter plan set out.

“Outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees” and “any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia”, including top football matches, would also be covered.

Worth reading in full.

A Night of Politically Incorrect Comedy

There are still a few tickets left to tonight’s Free Speech Union‘s comedy extravaganza organised in partnership with Comedy Unleashed, the home of free-thinking comedy. Daily Sceptic readers are welcome to join me at the Backyard Comedy Club in Bethnal Green from 7pm this evening, when the line-up will include Nick Dixon, Tania Edwards, Tony Law, Phileo Huff and Darius Davies. You can purchase tickets from eventbrite here. Standard tickets cost £15, but those of you who wish to support the FSU’s work can purchase tickets for £25 which includes a £10 donation to the FSU. I’m a regular at Comedy Unleashed – punter, not performer – and these are some of the best nights out I’ve ever had. There are numerous breaks so you can refill your glasses at the bar and you won’t have to certify your Covid status to get in or wear a mask. Buy a ticket now and I’ll see you at the bar.

Stop Press: I performed 10 minutes of stand-up at the Backyard Comedy Club myself last year. But don’t worry – I won’t be on the bill tonight.

How did we go from clapping our carers to sacking our carers?

I’ve written a comment piece for Mail+ about Sajid Javid’s decision to insist that all care home workers get vaccinated this week and all NHS staff by April of next year. It takes the form of a response to Matt Hancock’s op ed in the Telegraph. Here is an extract:

This week, former health secretary Matt Hancock wrote a newspaper article in which he said the logic for insisting NHS staff get vaccinated or face the sack was “crystal clear”.

He added: “There is no respectable argument left to keep this tool in the locker.”

But, oddly, he didn’t even consider the arguments against this draconian measure, let alone rebut them.

For instance, he doesn’t deal with the most obvious objection, namely that people who’ve been double jabbed can still catch COVID-19 and infect others. Indeed, according to raw data published by the Health Security Agency – the successor to Public Health England – rates of infection among the vaccinated are higher than they are for the unvaccinated.

Hancock could have challenged this data, as many have, by arguing that the vaccinated are more likely to be tested than the unvaccinated, making it difficult to compare the two. Instead, his entire argument rested on the premise that doctors and nurses who’ve been vaccinated cannot infect their patients. He could have argued that having the vaccine makes it less likely an infected person will pass the virus on, for which there’s some evidence, but he didn’t.

Then there’s the fact that those NHS workers who are currently unvaccinated may have had the virus and recovered. According to the BMJ, there is mounting evidence that natural immunity provides you with at least as much protection as being double jabbed.

If your priority is to protect patients, as Hancock claims, the logic of sacking the unvaccinated who’ve recovered from Covid, but continuing to employ the vaccinated who’ve never had it, is far from “crystal clear”.

Then there’s the moral argument. Hancock was effusive in his praise of ‘our NHS’ throughout his time as health secretary, encouraging us to clap for these courageous carers at the height of the pandemic. How can it now be right to threaten these same ‘heroes’ with the sack?

Finally, there’s the staffing argument. As a former health secretary, Hancock should know the NHS is chronically understaffed and the situation is getting worse. According to data published by NHS Digital, there were 93,806 full-time equivalent vacancies across the health service in England at the end of June.

Given this, how can it possibly make sense to start sacking NHS staff who refuse to get jabbed?

Worth reading in full.

NHS Compulsory Vaccination as an Example of Doublethink

There follows a guest post by Dr. Peter Hayes, a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sunderland, who spies a touch of Orwellian propaganda in the Government’s mixed messages on NHS staff and vaccination.

On November 9th, Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that all frontline NHS staff must be double vaccinated by April 2022 or lose their jobs. In relaying this news, the BBC first explained the April deadline as being one that would allow staff “enough time” to get the jabs. This, of course, is nonsense: any adult who wants to get twice vaccinated has already had ample time to do so. Insofar as “enough time” means anything, it is a version of the parental ploy: “I am going to count to three, and if you don’t do what you are told by then, I will…”, the only difference being that the threat is not “send you to bed without any supper” but “sack you”. 

The BBC soon replaced this lame explanation of the April deadline with a new one of breathtaking audacity. NHS staff had to be vaccinated against Covid, yes, but the deadline was delayed until April so that unvaccinated staff could be on hand to help cope with the winter pressure on the NHS; pressure that is anticipated as a result of the combined effects of Covid and flu. 

This second explanation provides a textbook example of doublethink, one that is as good, if not better, than the original illustration given by George Orwell. In 1984 doublethink allows the regime to shift at will between (1) a false account of reality that is held for ideological reasons, and (2) a true account of reality that is kept handy for practical purposes. Thus, it is explained that (1) The world is the centre of the universe with the sun and nearby stars going round it. However, for the purpose of navigating the oceans, (2) the earth orbits the sun and the stars are vastly distant. So it is with the compulsory vaccination, by April, of NHS staff.  First we have the false account. 

(1) Vaccination protects the recipient against acquiring and transmitting Covid. Therefore, in order not to spread Covid, NHS staff must be vaccinated. 

But for the practical purpose of dealing with the winter surge in hospitalisations – Covid included – there is a shift to the true account.  

(2) Vaccination does not, in fact, protect the recipient against acquiring and transmitting Covid. Therefore, unvaccinated NHS staff can perfectly well help deal with the anticipated winter surge without making things worse. 

When it comes to the spring, let us hope that, like the parent counting to three, the Government will find a way to back down on its threat (“One, Two, …Two-and-a-Half…”). But perhaps we do not need to worry about this too much. For if the Government does dismiss those who stubbornly remain unvaccinated, and then come the next winter the NHS finds itself short staffed, in accordance with the principles of doublethink, the Government can simply rehire them. 

Mandatory Vaccination Will Only Persuade 20,000 Out of 70,000 Unvaccinated NHS Staff to Get Jabbed, According to Government Predictions

From April 1st, all NHS staff will need to be fully vaccinated or risk being sacked when the Government’s ‘no jab, no job’ policy for the health sector becomes enforced. However, official predictions reveal that only 20,000 out of 70,000 unvaccinated workers will come forward for the jab, sparking fears of chronic staffing shortages, but the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, supports mandatory vaccination for NHS employees, declaring that it is their “duty” to receive the Covid vaccine. The MailOnline has more.

Unions have warned the controversial policy threatens to do more harm than good by exacerbating crippling staff shortages across England’s health service, which already has in the region of 100,000 vacancies. 

But the Health Secretary stuck by the move, saying it was the “duty” of NHS workers to get the jab in order to protect patients, and insisted that he does “not want to see anyone have to walk away from their job”.

“This is all about patient safety, we know vaccines work, we know that they reduce the risk of you being infected, so it reduces the spread of an infection”, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

“People whether they are in care homes or a hospital bed, they are particularly vulnerable to this virus, it could be fatal. It is our duty to do everything we can to protect them”.

Javid said the public would have questioned why they did not introduce the policy, when other countries around the world have. “I think you’d have me on the show saying ‘why didn’t you do anything about it’?”, he said.

Meanwhile, No10 was today urged to delay the same controversial ‘no jab, no job’ policy for carers until the spring to match the same timeline set for NHS workers, over fears the plans could backfire and kill elderly residents.

From tomorrow, all care home employees must have had two Covid vaccines to keep their jobs. Estimates suggest up to 60,000 workers will be made redundant. Unions have already claimed hundreds of homes may be forced to close their doors for good from tomorrow because of staffing shortages. The sector was already short of 100,000 workers before the pandemic struck. 

Defending the vaccine mandate, Javid told Sky News: “I don’t want to see anyone lose their job, I don’t want to see anyone have to walk away from their job.

“I just do think it is important to be doing everything we can, because also what I don’t want to see, most of all what I don’t want to see, is someone… that’s vulnerable being exposed to Covid when it could have been prevented, and perhaps they might even die from that, and I think that would be totally unacceptable.”

He added: “I’m not pretending, nobody is saying that you could have a 100% method of protecting them.

“But what you can do is reduce the chances of them becoming infected, and I think it is perfectly reasonable to say to everyone that works in health and care, please take this vaccine.

“Some 93% have had at least one shot and that’s fantastic to see. There’s still around 100,000 we estimate in the NHS that have not.”

Speaking to LBC, he added: “The vast majority of NHS workers are already vaccinated and I want to, of course, thank them for that.

“They’ve done that not only to protect themselves or their colleagues, most of all I think they’ve done it to protect their patients.

“We know that people in hospital, they’re already very vulnerable, and the last thing they want is to be exposed to Covid when it could have been prevented, and that can be fatal for them in that condition.

“I think, ultimately, this is the right call, that it is the duty of the NHS and the Government to do everything that we can to protect vulnerable people.”

Worth reading in full.