Day: 10 May 2022

Government Petition Sites That Never Lead to Change are Part of the Managed Illusion of Democracy

There follows a guest post by Dr. David Seedhouse, Honorary Professor of Deliberative Practice at Aston University, who says the public are being fobbed off with a Government petition website that never brings about any change.

For the last year I have run a website promoting participatory democracy: Our Decision Too. We have a small group of loyal supporters on the site who debate topical issues, providing examples of how citizens might be involved in direct decision-making, were we to have the opportunity. One of our members, concerned about the one-eyed mainstream media framing of the Ukraine-Russian conflict, asked if we might create a petition on the Government petitions site. Her original suggestion was:

We request that the House of Commons holds a full, emergency debate on the Government’s policy on the war in Ukraine. The war in Ukraine is a complex issue, not a simple matter of Russia = bad, Ukraine and the West = good.

While any U.K. citizen can start a petition, only 80 characters are allowed in the title so we agreed this version: “Debate the history of Ukraine-Russian relations to inform U.K. policy.”

The petition was rejected on the ground that it was “not clear what the petition is asking the U.K. Government or Parliament to do”. Apparently, one of the rules is that petitions need to call for a specific action and it seems a debate doesn’t qualify. So we had another go: “Hold a referendum on sending deadly weapons to Ukraine.”

‘Scotch Egg: The Musical’ Crowns Triumphant Run With Interview on Sky News

News from a substantial musical! I wanted to bring Daily Sceptic readers up to date on the recent production of our lockdown-sceptical show, Scotch Egg, and to thank you for your support.

There were five performances of Scotch Egg at the Playground Theatre in London last week, with strong box office numbers throughout. The show caught the attention of the press and we were interviewed by Sky News on Saturday morning, which contributed to a packed house for both the Saturday matinee and evening performances. A link to the clip is here.

Most pleasing was the audience reaction; the show veers between satirical comedy and pathos as it examines the absurdity and human cost of lockdown. For instance, the up-beat number “Drama”, (which features a rap battle between Boris and Chris Whitty at one of the 5pm press briefings) is followed later by a song sung by Death called “You Can’t Cancel Me”. The poignant “Fading Away”, (sung by an old man trapped in a nursing home, unable to see his wife of 50 years) is followed by the comedic skewering of Big Pharma in “Vaccine Cowboys”.

Not all our audience members shared our view of the pandemic but, across the board, they were able to join together to laugh at the idiocy and cry at the damage done. It was particularly good to chat to a group of NHS workers who had travelled down from the Midlands especially to see the Saturday show. I was moved by their heartfelt thanks in the bar afterwards. One senior nurse urged us to tour the show because “it’s funny but it’s also important. More people need to see it”. Another thanked us for telling the story “that we couldn’t tell”. In addition, it was also obvious to all that our young professional cast fully engaged with the show’s message, as they fizzed with enthusiasm throughout. All in all, it was a crazy but successful week. We are now hoping to attract a producer to take the show to its next stage – there is an audience, happy to pay good money to hear the message. So any contacts out there, please get in touch!

Here’s a tweet from one satisfied customer.

Why Did Non-Covid Deaths Spike at the End of April?

Excess deaths in England and Wales at the end of April shot up to 21% above average, after hovering around zero or below since the start of the Omicron wave, ONS data show.

There were 2,163 excess deaths in the week ending April 29th, the most recent week for which data are available. However, there were 1,125 Covid deaths, a similar number to the previous week’s figure of 1,042, leaving a sudden spike of 1,038 non-Covid excess deaths. Covid deaths were a similar proportion of total deaths in each of the two weeks: 9.0% in the most recent week and 9.8% the previous week.

The ONS report says the spike may be related to the bank holidays delaying registration: “The number of deaths registered in week ending April 29th is affected by the bank holidays in the previous weeks; similar patterns have been seen in past years in the weeks following the Easter bank holidays.”

So is it just a blip caused by recording delays, or does the fact that Covid deaths don’t seem to be similarly affected, as one might expect for registration issues, suggest something real? One to watch.

BBC Finds its Own Climate Editor Spread Misinformation in Global Warming Documentary

A BBC Panorama documentary about global warming made a number of false claims, an internal investigation by the broadcaster has found. MailOnline has more.

The programme Wild Weather, presented by climate editor Justin Rowlatt, said deaths worldwide were rising due to extreme weather caused by climate change – whereas the opposite is true.

It also claimed Madagascar was on the verge of the first famine caused by climate change – despite other factors being involved.

The programme, broadcast last November to coincide with the COP26 climate conference, sparked two complaints investigated by the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU).

Last year Rowlatt’s sister Cordelia was among a number of Insulate Britain activists arrested for staging a protest at junction 3 of the M25.

Miss Rowlatt, who once appeared on TV advising her brother on how to be more environmentally friendly, pleaded guilty by post at Crawley Magistrates’ Court. She was fined £300 with £85 court costs and a £34 surcharge for committing a public nuisance on a highway.

The introduction of Wild Weather said “the death toll is rising around the world and the forecast is that worse is to come”. The ECU said this risked giving the impression the rate of deaths from extreme weather-related events was increasing.

In fact, as noted by a recent report from the World Meteorological Organisation, while the number of weather-related disasters – such as floods, storms and drought – has risen in the past 50 years, the number of deaths caused by them has fallen because of improved early warnings and disaster management.

Read Daily Sceptic Environment Editor Chris Morrison’s detailed write-up of this case last week.

New Zealanders “Desperate to Leave” as Thousands Flee “Controlling and Fearful” Jacinda Ardern

Borders were opened to New Zealanders and Australians in February and March, and now visitors from around 60 countries, including Britain, can enter the country if they are vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 before and after arriving. But while some tourists willing to brave the testing gauntlet are starting to trickle into the country, Kiwis are fleeing the country en masse. GB News has the story.

Government officials have estimated 50,000 New Zealanders will flee the country over the next year as the borders reopen after two years of Covid-19 restricting travel.

Speaking exclusively to GB News, Act Party leader David Seymour says Jacinda Ardern and her Government’s policies have resulted in New Zealand experiencing a level of despair not seen for years.

He said: “Don’t believe the hype. Anyone can quarantine a remote island, the hard part was always going to be reconnecting and getting our way of life back.

“At that, Jacinda Ardern’s Government has failed. Tragicomically, her own rules mean she herself is now forced to isolate and miss parliament despite testing negative because her partner has Covid.”

Mr Seymour says the country is going in the wrong direction, and Kiwis are desperate to properly reconnect with the world.

He added: “New Zealand faces a hangover from its Covid measures in the form of a cost-of-living crisis, like many countries. What is different here is the despair that comes from being lectured to and restricted while the rest of the world moves on.

“The Government has blown a 25-point lead to trail the opposition just 18 months from the election, and the majority of New Zealanders say our country is going in the wrong direction for the first time since the GFC.

“We are hearing the phrase brain drain for the first time in a decade, hospitals report their nurses are leaving. It is dismal and we could be doing so much better.”

A spokesman for popular Facebook group for New Zealanders living in Britain, “Kiwis in London”, told GB News it has experienced a surge of interest from Kiwis desperate to make the move to Britain: “The people are sick and tired of the controlling narrative along with the fear campaign that has engulfed the media and government messaging for the past two years.”

The toothy tyrant is losing her grip.

Worth reading in full.

Daily U.K. Covid Stats Axed and Moved to Twice a Week as Reporting Winds Down

The U.K.’s daily Covid statistics were axed on Monday as the country moves forward in the pandemic. MailOnline has more.

The U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will now only publish Britain-wide updates twice a week, on Monday and Thursday.

It follows pressure from Tory MPs and experts who warned the case numbers became increasingly unreliable after free Covid tests were stopped for the majority of Britons. They called for the daily figures to be ditched as the final part of the ‘living with Covid’ strategy.

The UKHSA will still publish daily England figures but headline U.K. numbers – used throughout the pandemic to remind public of situation – will be affected.

It comes as the UK today logged 26,280 new Covid cases in the last three days, the equivalent of around 8,700 each day on average, and 212 deaths, roughly 70 per day. 

Ministers stopped publishing the figures on weekends following ‘Freedom Day’, meaning the Government dashboard update on Monday now also includes data for Saturday and Sunday.

The Government is relying on the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) weekly infection survey, which uses random swabbing, to get a read on the virus’ true trajectory. It also reported a drop last week.

Meanwhile, latest Covid hospital data shows there were 992 admissions for the virus on May 3rd, down nearly a fifth on the previous week.

Daily hospitalisations have now fallen for four weeks in a row – despite NHS leaders calling for masks and outdoor mixing to return at the start of April.

The move to scale-back the U.K. figures was prompted by Public Health Scotland, where the national Covid dashboard will only be update on Mondays and Thursdays. From June, it will move to weekly updates. 

England should follow suit.

Worth reading in full.

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