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Government Extends Coronavirus Laws Without Telling Anyone

Christopher Hope reports in the Telegraph on the latest sneaky move by the Government.

The Government has quietly extended lockdown laws to give councils the power to close pubs, restaurants, shops and public spaces until July 17th this year.

The news will be a major setback for those hoping that life might have returned to normal by early summer once more people are vaccinated against coronavirus.

It comes after Boris Johnson admitted late last week that “it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of the restrictions”.

The Government had pledged to review the lockdown measures in the middle of next month.

The changes to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 were made as part of a review of the third lockdown by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, earlier this month.

This law (originally introduced on July 18th last year) allows a local authority to close or limit access to premises or outdoor spaces in its area to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including stopping events.

The regulation, which applies to England only, was due to expire last week but has now been extended until July 17th, around the date when school summer holidays begin, as part of a slew of other measures.

Mark Harper, the chairman of the Coronavirus Recovery Group of Tory MPs which is campaigning against unnecessary restrictions, said: “The extension of councils’ Covid powers until July will be of great concern to those worried about their jobs and businesses.

“Given the limited time allowed for debate this change in the law was little noticed.” 

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in an interview on Sky News that we are a “long, long, long way off lifting lockdown restrictions”. Three “long”s in a row will not give much reassurance to beleaguered businesses and an increasingly depressed public and will be confusing to those who heard him point out in his recent Downing Street briefing that the high-priority groups the Government is hoping to have vaccinated by mid-February account for 88% of all Covid deaths to date. This latest interview also contradicts what the Health Secretary said in an interview in the Spectator two weeks ago:

The goal is not to ensure that we vaccinate the whole population before that point, it is to vaccinate those who are vulnerable. Then that’s the moment at which we can carefully start to lift the restrictions.

The Express has reported on some of the fighting talk of those in Parliament opposed to the restrictions:

The Prime Minister will be asking MPs to agree to the six month renewal of the Government’s so-called Henry VIII emergency powers to be able to impose restrictions at will to tackle the pandemic. But already senior MPs in his own party have warned that significant numbers could vote against unless there are moves to end lockdown and revitalise the economy. Former cabinet minister Esther McVey, the founder of the powerful Blue Collar Conservatism Movement, said: “It is absolutely essential that once the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated the Government start easing the lockdowns. 

“These restrictions are doing huge damage to people’s livelihoods and mental health in particular, and the Government must start to stand up to those siren voices who want lockdowns and restriction to become a near permanent feature of our lives. 

“If the Government don’t start making rapid headway in doing that it will be the duty of Parliament to remove these swingeing powers from them.”

She also raised concerns over the way seemingly exaggerated estimates are being used to push public policy.

Previously there have been question marks over Professor Neil Ferguson’s claims that 500,000 would die of COVID-19 which initiated the first lockdown and then the claims by Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance in the late autumn of 5,000 infections a day which preceded the second lockdown. 

Ms McVey argued that the concerns are highlighted in a written answer on prisoner deaths.

At the start of the pandemic the Government was pushed to have a mass early release of prisoners because thousands would be killed by coronavirus.

Ministers eventually resisted the calls and a written answer has revealed that just 47 died of the disease.

Ms McVey said: “There is no better example of the scaremongering to drive Government policy they wanted to see from the so-called experts than the predictions on prisoner deaths. 

“I appreciate that these estimates aren’t an exact science but the difference between a prediction of 2700 to the reality of 47 is embarrassing to say the least, and shows why the Government must not hand over total policy control to the scientists who are clearly not infallible with their predictions.”

Sir Desmond Swayne MP also weighed in:

He said: “It seems to me that Boris has been completely taken over. He’s completely given over to these people and as a consequence there’s a complete lack of any sense of urgency on the need to lift restrictions.”

Sir Desmond is gravely concerned by speculation the hospitality industry could still be shuttered in June.

He said: “The notion there will be any industry left in June is barking. What we’ve seen is the most extraordinary mission creep.

“Remember, the issue was to protect the NHS, stop the NHS being overwhelmed by hospital admissions. Clearly, as we vaccinate that proportion of the population most likely to be hospitalised were they to be infected, that risk of the NHS being overwhelmed diminishes.

“They should be planning now at what stage they will lift the restrictions. At what proportion of the most vulnerable being vaccinated will the risk be acceptable?

“That’s the sort of thing they ought to be taking us into their confidence [about] and debating in public now. But what we’re getting is this mission creep.”

Stop Press: The Spectator has commissioned a poll that has returned alarming results:

A new poll for Coffee House by Redfield and Wilton – with a sample size of 2,000 – saw the public quizzed on the current lockdown, restrictions and vaccines. For now, there appears to be majority support for the current Government restrictions with 62% saying the restrictions are more helpful than harmful to society, compared to 24% who think they are more harmful than helpful.

Although Boris Johnson insisted again this week that lockdown measures will be looked at in mid-February to see whether they can be eased, few expect them to be. Only 25% think the current level of restrictions will be relaxed within a month from now. Overall, 70% think the current level of restrictions will be relaxed within three months from now. As for how many people need to be vaccinated before there can be a substantial easing, both the Prime Minister and Matt Hancock have suggested that decision is a matter for debate – one the country should have before making any firm decisions. The poll suggests there is as of yet no clear consensus. When surveyed on when the lockdown should end, 21% say it should end as soon as those over the age of 70 have been vaccinated, 32% think it should end when those over the age of 50 have been vaccinated, while 38% said the current lockdown should only end when the vast majority of the entire population has been vaccinated. On the question of when all non-travel related restrictions should go, a majority – 61% – agreed they should end only once enough vaccinations have been given to the general population. However, 39% think they should end sooner – once enough vaccinations have been given to the vulnerable population.

Pretty depressing, although it’s good to know 24% of those polled agreed with the main contention of lockdown sceptics, namely, that the restrictions cause more harm than good.

Stop Press 2: The Daily Mail reports, Boris Johnson will soon be announcing a draconian new Australia-style quarantine system for all arrivals to the country.

British holidaymakers returning home won’t escape an order to quarantine in airport hotels – signalling the death knell for summer getaways.

Ministers are finalising plans to force travellers to isolate for 10 days as soon as they enter Britain, with details to be decided tomorrow.

Boris Johnson had wanted to exempt British residents and only target those arriving from places where new strains of the virus have been detected.

But Cabinet sources last night said they expect the Prime Minister to sign off on a comprehensive proposal – modelled on Australia – that will see all arrivals sent to airport hotels, regardless of their nationality and where they have come from.

It means people who live in Britain will face having to pay extra, on top of the cost of their trip, to spend their quarantine period in a hotel patrolled by security guards. 

Any new restrictions would be a further blow to the beleaguered travel industry – and could spark chaos at airports already battling through new arrivals checks. 

Children’s Mental Health Continues to Deteriorate

There are recent reports from both sides of the pond that young people are starting to suffer badly from the suspension of their normal lives. In the UK, Camilla Turner, Education Editor at the Telegraph, reports:

The number of children admitted to hospital for mental health reasons now outstrips those with medical conditions, a leading paediatrician has said.

Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said this is a phenomenon that paediatricians have seen across the UK since the start of the pandemic. 

He was addressing MPs at the Education Select Committee which was hearing evidence on the science behind school closures.   

It comes after a survey by the Prince’s Trust found that one in four young people feels unable to cope with life and that crisis has taken a “devastating toll” on teenagers and young adults.

Prof Viner was asked by Dr Caroline Johnson, a Tory MP and practising consultant paediatrician, whether more children were now being admitted to hospital for mental health reasons than physical ailments.

She said: “On a recent shift that I did at hospital, there were more acutely unwell children admitted for mental health presentations than there were acutely medically unwell children. Is that an unusual pattern or is that a pattern that you are seeing in other parts of the country too?”

Prof Viner, who is a Professor of Adolescent Health at University College London’s Institute of Child Health, replied: “Yes, that is absolutely a pattern that our paediatricians around the country have told us about  since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Worth reading in full.

Meanwhile in the USA, Erica L. Green reports in the New York Times that growing fears for the wellbeing of youngsters in Las Vegas is forcing a change of tack on school closures.

The reminders of pandemic-driven suffering among students in Clark County, NV, have come in droves.

Since schools shut their doors in March, an early-warning system that monitors students’ mental health episodes has sent more than 3,100 alerts to district officials, raising alarms about suicidal thoughts, possible self-harm or cries for care. By December, 18 students had taken their own lives.

The spate of student suicides in and around Las Vegas has pushed the Clark County district, the nation’s fifth largest, toward bringing students back as quickly as possible. This month, the school board gave the green light to phase in the return of some elementary school grades and groups of struggling students even as greater Las Vegas continues to post huge numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.

Superintendents across the nation are weighing the benefit of in-person education against the cost of public health, watching teachers and staff become sick and, in some cases, die, but also seeing the psychological and academic toll that school closings are having on children nearly a year in. The risk of student suicides has quietly stirred many district leaders, leading some, like the State Superintendent in Arizona, to cite that fear in public pleas to help mitigate the virus’ spread.

In Clark County, it forced the Superintendent’s hand.

“When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn’t just the Covid numbers we need to look at anymore,” said Jesus Jara, the Clark County Superintendent. “We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them. They’ve got to start seeing some movement, some hope.”

Adolescent suicide during the pandemic cannot conclusively be linked to school closures; national data on suicides in 2020 have yet to be compiled. One study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the percentage of youth emergency room visits that were for mental health reasons had risen during the pandemic. The actual number of those visits fell, though researchers noted that many people were avoiding hospitals that were dealing with the crush of coronavirus patients. And a compilation of emergency calls in more than 40 states among all age groups showed increased numbers related to mental health.

Even in normal circumstances, suicides are impulsive, unpredictable and difficult to ascribe to specific causes. The pandemic has created conditions unlike anything mental health professionals have seen before, making causation that much more difficult to determine.

But Greta Massetti, who studies the effects of violence and trauma on children at the CDC, said there was “definitely reason to be concerned because it makes conceptual sense”. Millions of children had relied on schools for mental health services that have now been restricted, she noted.

In Clark County, 18 suicides over nine months of closure is double the nine the district had the entire previous year, Dr. Jara said. Six students died by suicide between March 16th and June 30th; 12 students died by suicide between July 1st and December 31st, the district said.

One student left a note saying he had nothing to look forward to. The youngest student Dr. Jara has lost to suicide was nine.

“I feel responsible,” Dr. Jara said. “They’re all my kids.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Guardian reports that the Government won’t even commit to opening schools after the Easter holidays – maddening news for families with children of school age.

The Government has refused to commit to schools being open even after the Easter holidays, raising the prospect that parents will have many more weeks of homeschooling before even a phased return of most pupils to the classroom in England.

A senior Government source cautioned that although the data was starting to show signs of a slowing of infections, rates were not falling nearly as sharply as had been expected. The source said the picture had become “more pessimistic” over the past week about the Government’s ability to ease any measures in the short term.

Discussions are under way in the Department for Education to decide which pupils could be prioritised, with early years and those facing exams in the summer among those who could be brought back first. Attendance rotas could also be introduced to keep numbers down in schools, but allow for more face-to-face teaching.

The chair of the education select committee expressed dismay at the delay, urging ministers to put “the whole engine of the state” behind paving the way for schools to reopen.

Stop Press 2: The UK Government has ‘sponsored’ this piece in the Daily Mail attempting to reassure parents that “thanks to tireless teachers, the youngsters will be fine”. Oh really? Worth remembering that Ofsted found the closure of schools during the first lockdown had a negative effect on many children’s learning.

Stop Press 3: Historian Neil Oliver spoke in his regular interview slot with Mike Graham on talkRADIO about the worrying things he is beginning to hear from his children’s peer group.

A Response to Christopher Snowdon

As promised in yesterday’s Lockdown Sceptics, we are today publishing an excellent article by Nigel Alphonso, a business consultant, entitled “To Move The Lockdown Debate Forward We Need More Honesty“. The article is a response to Christopher Snowdon’s “Rise of the Coronavirus Cranks” piece in Quillette. Here is an extract:

On January 16th, an article appeared in the online magazine Quillette by Christopher Snowdon from the IEA, a right of centre think tank. The article purported to demolish the claims of a particular variant of ‘lockdown sceptics’ and as a result has garnered widespread praise including from Toby Young who tweeted that it was a thoughtful piece which sceptics needed to address. I respectfully disagree. The article was disingenuous – not in respect of what it said but in respect of its omissions and its failure to frame the argument within a judicious lockdown/anti-lockdown framework. This is not intended as an attack on Mr Snowdon per se but the criticism I make touches on the wider failure of the libertarian, left of centre and conservative movements to counter the lockdown arguments and the failure of the lockdown sceptics’ movement to achieve any penetration with the wider public. This essay is not primarily about the merits of lockdown or the technicalities of the data but about the intellectual honesty of some of the main protagonists on both sides of the argument.

First to the article itself entitled “Rise of the Coronavirus Cranks.” Mr Snowdon is at liberty to write whichever article he chooses. However, his article might more appropriately have been entitled “My problem with Ivor Cummins and Mike Yeadon” or “My problem with social media Covid deniers” as it seems the bulk of his article focused on a detailed rebuttal of claims made by these two individuals and by extension those he categorises as “Covid deniers”. While he states from the outset that he wishes to focus on “the most extreme variant of lockdown scepticism”, he proceeds to argue on the basis that this “extreme variant” as he puts it is paradoxically the dominant form of scepticism as exemplified by the twitter/social media world he inhabits. If that was not Mr Snowdon’s intention then I accept any inadvertent omission on his part. Unfortunately his article will have been seized upon by all lockdown advocates as being evidence of the general ‘crankiness’ and eccentricity of the lockdown sceptics’ cause. Nor sadly am I convinced that the subtle and nuanced conflating of multiple variants of lockdown-scepticism was entirely innocent – not just on the part of Mr Snowdon, but by multiple other commentators who have sought to attack lockdown sceptics.

Conveniently Snowdon (like Alistair Haimes – another manqué sceptic) positions himself as a “centrist” and spends the opening paragraph reinforcing his credentials in direct contradistinction to the lockdown “junkies” such as (in his estimation) Piers Morgan or the members of Independent Sage. Therein lies the issue with both the lockdown converts such as Snowdon as well as some lockdowns sceptics. Up until the early autumn, one could have been forgiven for thinking that Snowdon was an arch lockdown-sceptic. His myriad articles, podcasts, twitter pronouncements and attacks on the likes of Morgan, Sam Bowman et al, often in the most mocking and vitriolic terms, established him firmly in that camp. If he has changed his mind – so be it. I would fully respect that position as I do those who are clear and unambiguous supporters of lockdown. However, it is mistaken to think that a form of exalted centrism exists in this debate. On one side are those who believe that lockdowns save lives and that the moral imperative is to curtail liberty in the most draconian way in order to achieve that objective. On the other is the belief that lockdown itself is a grotesque invasion of individual liberty which does far greater harm than good and does not meet any public health test of efficacy.

Snowdon, despite his sceptical foundations, is it seems clearly in the former camp. He states explicitly that lockdown “will prevent tens of thousands of people dying this winter”. Leaving aside the veracity of this claim, Snowdon in that one sentence accepts the central argument of the lockdown advocates. The roll-out of the vaccine does not alter that argument although it acts as a useful pretext for those who have moved to the lockdown side. No amount of “centrist” plea bargaining can void the fact that Snowdon has switched sides. In that sense (and to the extent that he has supported two out of the three lockdowns) he is far closer to Piers Morgan than he is to any lockdown sceptic. Moreover, if one is in the lockdown camp, Snowdon’s frequent acerbic critiques against the mainstream media for constantly demanding more lockdowns, deeper lockdowns and sooner lockdowns seem misplaced and ill-judged. If one believes that lockdowns save lives then the logical critique of the UK Government must be that we failed to lockdown expeditiously, that when we locked down the rules were not stringent enough, that the messaging was unclear and that we emerged from it too quickly. Despite the increasing evidence (see the recent study by John Ioannidis et al of Stanford) of the futility of lockdowns in respect of pandemic control, one cannot doubt that if one believes in the central argument about saving lives and protecting the health service, then the mainstream media and academic critique of the Government has an ineluctable logic.

Worth reading in full.

Nothing So Permanent…

Economist Milton Friedman: “Nothing so permanent as a temporary government programme.”

We are publishing another original piece today by Angus McIntosh entitled “Temporary Government Programmes” which raises the alarm about the eagerness with which the authorities have leapt on the pandemic as an reason to curtail our liberty. He is concerned that some of the rights that have been “temporarily” suspended may never be restored to us. Here is an excerpt:

Let us take a moment to look beyond the current turmoil of the pandemic and the ensuing policy chaos and to consider its possible legacy.

At this point we are struggling to cope with the tide of misery which Covid and the lockdowns have created. But eventually, through a combination of spring weather, natural immunity and the vaccine, the virus will subside to the point where we could start to live with it as a normal part of the disease landscape.

It may then take a decade or more to recover from its terrible toll of death, depression and poverty and this is tragedy enough. But potentially even more damaging for our long-term future are the lasting shifts in attitudes which the virus may leave behind.

These will be many and complex, but there are three which are particularly likely:

1. Permanently lowered public tolerance for life’s normal risks and challenges.

2. Increased popular willingness to sacrifice freedoms in pursuit of safety.

3. Greater tendency for authorities of all kinds to exploit the above.

The first two of these malign legacies represent acceleration of existing trends, rather than completely new phenomena. But the third is undergoing more of a revolution.

Anyone who doubts that we have taught certain policymakers an unexpected but welcome lesson need only look at Professor Neil Ferguson’s now-infamous Times interview in which he said, referring to China: “It’s a communist one-party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought…and then Italy did it. And we realised we could.

This insight has allowed Ferguson and other advisors to promote control of the virus above every other consideration and to keep it there.

When governments take control of a new aspect of our lives, they assume permanent accountability for it in the public and media mind. They know that they are far more likely to be called to account for any negative consequences of later relaxation than they are to be praised for its benefits. That’s why new interventions are very rarely eased, even by those who opposed them in the first place.

Worth reading in full.

Sobering Briefing From a Senior Doctor

A reader has drawn our attention to this video of a briefing by Dr Alasdair Emslie, a senior doctor at at a private healthcare provider. It’s long and detailed, and although Emslie comes across as no lockdown sceptic, it contains plenty of interesting information. Our contributor comments:

It’s fantastically sober, blunt, clear, and makes some key points. I believe Lockdown Sceptics’ future has to be the balanced voice of reason and to push party apparatchiks like Neil O’Brien to the side rather than bother with attacking back directly. This video has no bullshit politics or bullshit data or SAGE panic-stricken scientists, or idiotic BBC journalists. I found it fascinating and for the first time I understand where we are. Key moments in the video:

– Starts out by not pulling any punches about how badly Britain has done mortality-wise.

– 2m 08s – Points out that when he started as a doctor there were 300,000 beds in the NHS. Now there are 130,000. 

– 13m 00s – The elderly are not being admitted to ICU because they are being judged as not likely to survive

– 34m 25s – Key slide where he shows that the reason for current high deaths is that 85+ victims are being triaged not to go into ICU; they are just being given palliative care and left to die (one up for Lord Sumption and ‘nul points‘ for those who think everyone gets the same deal on admission). That’s why despite so relatively few confirmed cases in that group, they are dominating deaths. Hence ICU is full of 45-64s and until that group is vaccinated the hospital crises will remain and therefore all the lockdown and other precautions are going to have to stay in place essentially until the autumn. The trade-off the Government has made has been to vaccinate those aged 65 and over first, in the hope of reducing overall Covid mortality, but at the cost of not doing as much as they could to relieve the pressure on the NHS. This really clarifies how deaths and ICUs are not in fact directly related. Elsewhere he talks about the necessity of vaccinating workers who have been hugely disproportionately affected – no use in crying over spilt milk, but that’s where we are.

– 40m 00s – He really lays it on thick about the mental health fallout: “this is going to be a major problem” for several years “particularly affecting the young”.

– 44m 5s – Summarises his key points which starts with the totally unsentimental assertion that Covid is here forever, we will never get rid of it. That tells me, as we all already knew, that anyone foolish enough to be promoting the idea that we can have zero Covid is genuinely irresponsible or stupid.

Worth watching in full.

Labour’s Loony ‘Zero Covid Now’ Group Addressed by Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn addresses the event from his car

Following neatly on from the comments above, a campaign entitled Zero Covid Now, which describes itself as “jointly convened by Diane Abbot MP and the Morning Star” has held a video meeting which was hosted by Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP and included addresses by Richard Burgon MP, Professor Robert West from Independent Sage, Richard Horton of the Lancet, various other figures from trade unions and Jeremy Corbyn MP.

Unsurprisingly, there were a number of highly debatable remarks made, of which the first was only seconds in, when Rebeiro-Addy declared that the UK was headed for the “worst death toll in the world” (deaths in the US currently stand at 417,000) and that the virus could be “stopped in its tracks” while simultaneously protecting lives and livelihoods.

Noticeably absent from the line-up of people apparently seriously suggesting that a seasonal respiratory virus which is now endemic can be completely eradicated was anyone who did not have a safe public sector job.

Ben Chacko, editor of the hard-left Morning Star, was the only contributor to say anything sensible: “Our Government has shown no inclination to learn from other countries that have dealt more successfully with Covid than we have and unfortunately most of the media give them a free pass.”

Hear hear, Ben!

The meeting can be viewed in full here, if you can bear it.

“After My Mum Was Taken Away in an Ambulance, She Disappeared into the System.”

A reader has sent in this distressing account of an ongoing situation involving communication problems with the hospital where his seriously ill mother is being treated:

Over a week ago my mother, in her mid 60s, was taken to hospital in Norfolk with a mystery affliction. Something similar to stroke or another neurological disorder. The situation looked extremely serious with her unable to eat or speak. As I do not live anywhere near her I have been relying on updates from my much younger sister and brother, who live up there with their dad. My grandad, who is 89, is obviously very worried and as he is down south with me he is reliant on updates from my sister, or me.

Initially things seemed to be being dealt with well. As usual the paramedics were excellent and they did not hesitate to take her in. This is where the problems started. The hospital (which I will not name) has a total ban on any visitors, which on the surface sounds reasonable and inevitable. They offered updates by telephone, and numbers for the main switchboard and her ward were given so that we could call in for updates.

However, last week the wheels seemed to come off. For an entire three day period the hospital would not answer the phone. When we called the main switchboard they would transfer the call, only for it to be cut off, and the ward number wasn’t answered at all. Bearing in mind this was near the beginning of the investigation, with tests being apparently carried out on on a regular basis, you can imagine the intolerable worry this total blackout caused to my family, particularly her other children and my grandad. Eventually they did respond, and the diagnosis was still inconclusive, but pretty much no reason was given for not answering the phone to worried family. Things returned to some sense of normality for a few days, but two days ago we were told she had been moved to a different ward as she had contracted Covid (in hospital – sigh) but no further details were given. That was the last we have heard for two days now despite repeated calls. We don’t even know what ward she is actually on. I gather that she has no Covid symptoms (she could have been pre-symptomatic) but her status remains very serious with respect to her other condition.

Without getting into the whys and wherefores of whether any of the current Government measures are proportionate to the virus, the total ban on visitors even for the most seriously ill patients, or the fact that she caught Covid in hospital, I am absolutely furious and shocked that a hospital would not think it crucially important to keep the family informed, especially in a case this serious. Can your readers imagine the absolute horror of relatives who have seen someone into an ambulance, only for them to effectively disappear into the system and have no way to find out if they are okay? I’m certain this cannot be an isolated incident. I understand the NHS is busy, and even if they are much busier than usual for this time of year, there has not been a natural disaster or a war causing mass casualties, and so I do not think it unreasonable for us to expect updates to be given. This pandemic has done nothing to improve my view of the state of the NHS as a whole and this particular incident has shown a lack of basic humanity that has really shocked me.

Magna Carta-Quoting Hairdresser to Reopen Salon

Sinead Quinn invoked Magna Carta when refusing to close down the first time

The Daily Mail reports that Sinead Quinn, the owner of Quinn Blakey, a West Yorkshire hair salon which clocked up eye-watering fines for defying orders to close last year, as we reported at the time, is planning to flout the regulations again:

A salon owner who racked up £17,000 in fines by staying open during last year’s second national lockdown has indicated she plans to reopen next week.

Sinead Quinn, owner of Quinn Blakey Hairdressing, Oakenshaw, near Bradford, has suggested the salon will reopen for on January 30th on a day dubbed ‘The Great Reopening’.

Ms Quinn hit headlines in November after she repeatedly cited the Magna Carta when police officers insisted she close her business during the second national lockdown. 

The salon wracked up £17,000 worth of fixed penalty fines and magistrates ordered its closure for the final two days of the lockdown “to prevent nuisance to members of the public and to safeguard public health”.

Earlier this month, Kirklees Council confirmed none of the fixed penalties had been paid and it had started a prosecution process.

One Instagram comment from the salon said: “We’re all opening regardless of lockdown. They can’t control us all when we stand up to them.”

In a separate post shared two days ago, the comment stated: “When is lockdown meant to end? Feb?

“In February you can bet your life savings that COVID-21 will be here and so will your lockdown.

“I’d like you to sit back and watch it all play out but we’re running out of time.”

Quinn’s GoFundMe page is still active and she has indicated that in the event of winning her case, the funds will be donated to support her brother who is battling cancer.

New Petition to End Restrictions

A petition with an ambitious goal has been started on the Government’s online portal by David Tyler.

The Department of Health and Social Care has already issued a response to the petition, since it has passed 20,000 signatures, but it makes for predictable reading, regurgitating the Government’s standard line on the matter.

View and sign the petition here.

Look These People in the Eyes

Yesterday we included a reader’s disappointed response to the Government’s latest fear-mongering PR campaign, featuring a series of emotive images bearing the words “look them in the eyes”. Predictably, these have inspired a slew of new versions which have been doing the rounds on social media, taking the opposing view. We thought we’d include a few:

Alternative versions of the Government’s images

Stop Press: The Express has reported that a group of psychologist have written to the their professional body objecting to the Government’s use of fear tactics. We flagged up this letter in Lockdown Sceptics on December 15th, asking for psychologists to contact the organiser if they wanted to sign. Looks like many did.

The Government has been accused of using covert strategies to keep people in a perpetual state of heightened fear to make them obey COVID-19 restrictions.

A group of 47 psychologists has claimed this amounts to a strategic decision “to inflate the fear levels of the British public”, which it states is “ethically murky” and has left people too afraid to leave their homes for medical appointments. Led by former NHS consultant psychologist Dr Gary Sidley, the experts have written to the British Psychological Society (BPS) claiming the strategy is “morally questionable”.

In response the Government has vehemently denied using covert techniques, saying its public information campaigns have been “transparent” and necessary to set out “clear instructions” on how the spread of the virus can be delayed.

It has admitted to communicating public information campaigns 17 per week on average during the peak of the pandemic in order to reach an estimated 95% of adults.

The criticism follows evidence from minutes of the Government advisory group SAGE of March 22nd 2020 which stated: “The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent” by “using hard hitting emotional messaging”.

Dr Sidley said: “It is clear from the methods that are now being used that the Government has taken on this advice. Just because the Government is explicit in its messaging, however, it does not mean this is not having an impact covertly. It is the way this is communicated that we are concerned about. Psychologists know that while the content of messaging might be factual, the way in which it is delivered will determine its impact and we believe the biggest impact is at a subconscious level which we do not think is ethical or healthy for people. We believe inflating fear levels to achieve compliance may be doing more harm than good.”

Stop Press 2: A reader has spotted a particularly misleading Government ad.

I doubt I’m the first to send you this ad, which makes the ludicrous assertion that a THIRD of people are spreading COVID-19 asymptomatically. Attached is a photo of the ad that appeared on page 16 of the i newspaper on January 20th and on the back cover of the following day’s edition.

Obviously the wording should read “Around 1 in 3 people who have the virus have no COVID-19 symptoms….etc.” Missing out those words can hardly be a silly mistake, given the presumed oversight of 40-plus professors on the SPI-B nudge group.

Thanks for the link to the Advertising Standards Agency coronavirus reporting form on Lockdown Sceptics. I’ve submitted this one.

Perhaps significantly, Google turns up only a single example of this version of the ad if one does an online search – a nearly illegible 250x300px image of it on the site of the Orkney Islands weekly paper. Drive-by scaremongering that leaves no trace behind…

Sceptics Under Fire

Arrowing in on the sceptics

Following on from our report yesterday about the new website “Antivirus: The COVID-19 FAQ” set up by Neil O’Brien MP amongst others, which attempts to refute sceptics’ arguments as well as compiling a list of those they consider the most egregious purveyors of wrongthink, we have received a good number of responses from readers.

One argued that since prominent lockdown sceptics are being taken to task over relatively minor errors, perhaps the same standard could be applied to the WHO:

Just a reminder of when this mess started: WHO Director General’s briefing on March 3rd 2020.

Four things they got catastrophically wrong:

1. “First, COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza, from the data we have so far.”

2. “While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease. Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”

3. “Third, we have vaccines and therapeutics for seasonal flu, but at the moment there is no vaccine and no specific treatment for COVID-19. However, clinical trials of therapeutics are now being done, and more than 20 vaccines are in development.”

4. “And fourth, we don’t even talk about containment for seasonal flu – it’s just not possible. But it is possible for COVID-19. We don’t do contact tracing for seasonal flu – but countries should do it for COVID-19, because it will prevent infections and save lives. Containment is possible. To summarize, COVID-19 spreads less efficiently than flu, transmission does not appear to be driven by people who are not sick, it causes more severe illness than flu, there are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics, and it can be contained – which is why we must do everything we can to contain it. That’s why WHO recommends a comprehensive approach.”

I’m sure we’ve all got things wrong, but each of these points are amongst the biggest errors of the century so far.

Another points out the strange misapprehension by the authors of the website of the amount of influence sceptics have had:

I’ve been perusing the site and a couple of things are striking. Firstly, the currently popular charge that dissent is “dangerous” gets an outing as early as the fourth paragraph. Apparently, such ideas could lead to individuals “or entire countries” deciding to take fewer precautions. As several nations actually have taken less rigid measures (with not noticeably worse outcomes) this raises the hitherto unexplored possibility that Alexander Lukashenko wakes up every morning listening to Julia Hartley-Brewer or that Anders Tegnell developed his ideas on epidemiology at the American Institute For Economic Research. 

The idea that the people the site seeks to “expose” have been “very prominent and influential during the pandemic” is exactly the kind of misinformation the authors claims it exists to counter. Tragically, lockdown scepticism has barely encroached on our Government’s thinking since the Prime Minister first read Neil Ferguson’s prophecies of doom in March. It may make a tiny amount of sense to say broadcasters in Malmö or Minsk have created a relaxed attitude to the pandemic, but to survey Britain’s landscape of closed pubs, darkened restaurants and broken people and conclude that Whitehall mandarins listen to too much talkRADIO borders on madness. 

In reality, the site is little more than an elongated tweet. A primal scream from the entitled “expert” who spends most of their time in quiet fury at the fact that somebody, somewhere does not agree with them. It’s not so much information for the readers as therapy for the writers. One wonders why it even needs to exist given the grip lockdown fanaticism seems to hold on both Government and the alleged opposition. It may be interesting to see how the site’s authors assign blame if figures deteriorate in the coming weeks. You can guarantee they won’t be finding anything wrong with the policy itself. 

Finally, one thing did amuse me. The FAQ kindly explains that they have received no funding for the website and it was paid for “out of our own pockets”. Given how cheap it looks, it had never occurred to me that anyone with a PR budget might be behind this. But now that they brought it up, I can’t stop wondering who is really paying the bills! They’d probably say I’m a “funding sceptic”. Or is it “altruism denier”?

Another reader points out accusing the sceptics of getting the Infection Fatality Rate wrong is a little hypocritical:

My comment relates to the IFR of COVID-19 and the difficulty of putting an exact figure on it. Imperial College produced this report back in October to which Obersturmbannführer Ferguson was a contributor, which demonstrates the dilemma.

It seems pretty pointless to make an issue about something so vague and mercurial when not even the great man himself can find a definite number. Whichever way you cut the cards, it has an extremely low fatality rate which gets lower all the time as treatments improve.

I’m sure Neil O’Brien et al are avid members of the Ferguson cult so you’d think they’d know this.

This reader points to double standards with peer-reviewed studies:

Looking at the website of Neil O’Brien and co, my first thought was “where to start?” There is so much choice. 

I thought I’d begin by having a look at the dying “with Covid” not “of Covid” section:

I looked at point 3: “Covid isn’t just killing people who were otherwise close to death.” I clicked on this link to the University of Glasgow study which O’Brien and his cohorts present as suggesting that people who died of Covid typically had over a decade to live.

The Glasgow study was funded by grants from the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council. The study is old, having been published ​on April 23rd 2020 and it has not been revised since then. The study involves modelling based on standard World Health Organisation life tables. The report was made available for open peer review and has received three reviews. One peer reviewer, based in the US, approved it. The other two reviewers, based in the UK, did not approve it. 

One of the UK peer reviewers nails one of the study’s key problems with this comment:

“The YLL (years of life lost) figure just doesn’t seem to sit with observed reality. I realise this is a modelling study, but it would be nice to compare your findings to what we have actually observed. For example, what is the average age of death expected from your model compared to observed COVID age of death?”

And lastly for today (although keep emailing us your criticisms, putting “Antivirus” in the subject line):

The Anti-Virus website is a treasure trove of selective quotations and misdirection, but one quote neatly illustrated the fact that with lockdown believers it is “heads I win, tails you lose”. On the page for Cases Were Falling Anyway they include the following final point:

A published paper seeks to argue that restrictions have not worked, but contains a glaring flaw. A paper that appeared in January 2021, co-authored by John Ioannidis, looked at the correlation between restrictive measures introduced by government and the number of cases. Ioannidis and his colleagues found that some lockdown restrictions were even correlated with higher growth in coronavirus cases. This should have been a warning of an obvious flaw – which is that case growth and restrictions are endogenous – in other words, governments have brought in tighter restrictions when cases are higher. The argument of the paper is like arguing that “people in hospital are more likely to have heart disease; therefore hospitals cause heart disease”.

A translation into English? “Our contention is that when lockdowns are imposed and cases fall then the fall is entirely down to lockdowns and no other factors. However, in documented cases where lockdowns are imposed and cases rise then.. mumble, mumble… not strict enough… mumble”.

They are saying in effect that if there was a perfect positive correlation between infection rates and lockdown severity it would be proof of an ideal government response, rather than a policy that had no effect.

I have to concede however that the same page included the knockout argument (point 5) that scientists from Imperial College have posted a report on their website that lockdowns work exactly as intended. They neglected to mention who the lead author was…

Stop Press: Toby had a letter published in the Sunday Times yesterday responding to Dominic Lawson’s attack the previous week.

Stop Press 2: We’ve decided to regularly include some of the best pieces endorsing the Government’s lockdown strategy, inspired by J.S. Mill’s famous line: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.”

Today, we’re kicking off with Sam Bowman’s piece in the New Statesman: “The eight biggest Covid-sceptic myths – and why they’re wrong.

If readers encounter any particularly good arguments from the other side, please do send them to us and we’ll flag them up.

Round-up

https://twitter.com/toadmeister/status/1353334651406979078

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Six today: “Strange Days” by The Doors, “I Shall Be Released” by the Flying Burrito Brothers, “The Last Time” by the Rolling Stones, “Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues” by Skip James, “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, and “If You’re Looking for a Way Out” by Odyssey.

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 as well as post comments below the line, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Sharing Stories

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.

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.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, the shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy MP has become embroiled in a row over her endorsement of a pamphlet that called for the Army to be replaced with a “gender balanced and ethnically diverse” peace force. Sort of like Star Fleet. The Sun has more:

The shadow Foreign Secretary denied she backed a left-wing policy pamphlet – that the Sun can reveal also called for Britain’s nuclear subs to be “reconsidered”.

She told the BBC it was “complete and utter rubbish” that she had “applauded” the loony left wish list.

But she was left red-faced when a recording of a Zoom call emerged where she said: “One of the things that I found really inspirational about this pamphlet is that I think it’s based on the belief that I also share that while we learn from the past we are never bound to it and we have to build a foreign policy fit for this century.”

The introduction to Open Labour’s policy document “A Progressive Foreign Policy for New Times” said it was time to “reconsider” Trident.

It also says Britain should: “Consider a real shift in the nature of our services from classic armed forces to what one might call human security services which would include the military but would also include police, engineers, aid workers, or health workers and would be gender balanced and ethnically diverse.”

“Their central task would be to protect human security and in cases of war to dampen down violence rather than intervene on one side or the other.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Lawrence Fox was unimpressed by Lisa Nandy’s plans for a new peace force.

https://twitter.com/LozzaFox/status/1353376009463222273

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to obtain a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card – because wearing a mask causes them “severe distress”, for instance. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and the Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. And 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.

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 and Prof Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson’s Spectator article about the Danish mask study here.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

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 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it 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. Sign up to the newsletter here.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many legal cases being brought against the Government and its ministers we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

The Simon Dolan case has now reached the end of the road. The current lead case is the Robin Tilbrook case which challenges whether the Lockdown Regulations are constitutional. 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 and Runnymede Trust’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.

And last but not least there was the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review on December 9th 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.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org 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. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

A reader has drown out attention to this 2016 YouTube video by psychologist Kati Morton explaining what “Stockholm Syndrome” is. As he points out, it’s as though the entire country is suffering from this peculiar affliction.

Latest News

NHS Pressuring People to Sign “Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate” Orders

Lucy, 93, had a surprise visit from a frailty nursing practitioner with an unwelcome follow-up in the post

In a further sign of how “protect the NHS” gets things precisely backwards (the NHS is supposed to protect us) and puts the vested interests of the organisation ahead of the medical needs of the public, NHS medical staff have been caught pressuring older people to sign “Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate” orders and even imposing them without consent. The Mail has the details, telling the story of 93 year-old Lucy.

All in all, Lucy enjoys a good quality of life and apart from some age-related ailments she had been rated as ‘three’ on the NHS Clinical Frailty Scale (one is ‘very fit’ and nine is ‘terminally ill’).

Despite all this, the morning after the nurse’s unannounced visit to conduct a ‘frailty review’, an envelope was delivered to Lucy’s flat containing an A4-size notice with a stark red border.

Designed to be displayed in her home, it was a “Do Not Attempt To Resuscitate Order” — known as a DNAR or DNR — and it stated that Lucy should not be resuscitated by doctors, nurses, or emergency paramedics if her heart stopped. It was signed by the frailty nursing practitioner.

“I was shocked the NHS won’t save me. If I collapse, they are refusing to put me together again,” Lucy told the Mail.

Lucy is one of millions of people who have been caught up in a new – and, no doubt, well-intentioned – NHS initiative to help those over 65 live at home and not burden hospitals. 

As part of this, individuals are encouraged to make early decisions about ‘advanced care’ and sign a DNAR.

However, concern is growing about the pressure put on older people to accept DNARs. An urgent review has condemned their “blanket use” in care homes at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis earlier this year.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission says many were put on medical records without the consent of the person concerned and their families.

Lucy Jeal’s horrified family say Lucy never agreed to the DNAR order, which was also sent to her GP. The family now want the order removed from her medical records.

Lucy’s experience struck a chord with readers up and down the country, and we have received hundreds of letters and emails from people sharing their distress at receiving, or seeing their loved ones receive, DNARs without discussion or their permission.

Read Lucy’s story and many more here.

“Queues of Patients Nursed on Trolleys in Corridors – The NHS Was Overwhelmed”

The 2017-18 winter crisis in the NHS, back when it was expected to cope without imprisoning the population and shuttering the economy

An NHS frontline nurse of some 17 years clinical experience has got in touch with some observations about how ludicrous it is to be locking down to “protect the NHS” when the NHS is often in crisis during the winter.

The NHS’s “most serious winter crisis for many years”. A “lack of staff and beds”. 75% of acute medicine doctors say their “hospitals are not properly prepared”. An “inability to cope with the number of patients arriving”. The NHS “not well-equipped to deal with it”. Over 64,000 all-cause deaths in January alone.

Are these predictions for this winter?

No. It is what happened three years ago in the winter of 2017-18. There were more than 50,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales during that period – the highest recorded excess winter deaths since the winter of 1975-76.

Was there a daily death toll on the BBC news? Do you even remember hearing it in the news?

I remember it actually as I was working in the NHS throughout. Influenza was rife, hospitals were full, ambulances frequently diverted, queues of patients nursed on hospital trolleys in corridors, bed managers scoured the wards for potential discharges. The NHS was overwhelmed.

But I didn’t hear anyone calling for lockdown back then.

This year, on the other hand, critical care bed occupancy was below average as it peaked in mid-November, as these graphs from the Spectator‘s excellent data tracker show.

The problem, of course, is that the political leaders who should have been providing this kind of perspective instead joined in the panic. We have also been severely let down by our public health advisers and scientists.

It’s The Covid Panto, But The Children Aren’t Laughing

The coronavirus crisis increasingly seems to resemble a pantomime, with the ludicrous actors playing their parts and delivering their lines, and pretending not to hear when the audience spots the off-message data poking out of the cupboard at their rear and shouts “it’s behind you!” That’s certainly the feeling Sinead Murphy, a philosophy lecturer at Newcastle University and Lockdown Sceptics contributor, has been getting. Today we’re publishing a new article from her setting out the challenges she has faced navigating lockdown with her autistic son, Joseph, and her epiphany that reasoning with people doesn’t work when they are just playing their parts and delivering their lines.

As I stood across from the acting Head in the vestibule of his school – looking, with his visor, like a poorly-costumed afterthought in the school play – it occurred to me how degraded we have become. That one who ought to be a leader in the community – the Head of a primary school of 630 children – should openly admit that the rationality or otherwise of his decisions on behalf of the children in his school was irrelevant when confronted with recently invented and constantly changing guidelines from the state. That the welfare of all the children – not to mention Joseph, with his additional challenges – was not even to be considered, let alone fought for.

What struck me too was the difference in our demeanour. Notwithstanding his ludicrous visor, his comportment was one of (slightly ruffled) calm; he listened and said little. My comportment, by contrast, was one of heated conviction. And yet, it was he who was selling lunacy that defies all facts, and I who was arguing for reason based on evidence. These are times when lunacy is so deeply institutionalised that it can appear calm, and reason so embattled that it has to act crazy.

When I repeated my question to the acting Head, asking him to respond to the negligible risk to children and the zero cases of child-to-teacher transmission, his response was “I am not a scientist”. Well, I am not a scientist either. But Mike Yeadon is. And Sunetra Gupta is. And John Lee is. And Carl Heneghan is. And those who generate statistics at the ONS and the WHO are. Not only this, these scientists produce comprehensible sentences, which can be read and understood. What is the good of being able to read and understand them if their contents are deemed not for me because I am not a scientist? What a truncation, of the Head of a school, that he cannot form a judgement on the basis of reading analyses written for non-experts by experts, but can only play the role assigned to him by the policy. An acting Head reduced to reading from the script.

And that is when the light dawned on my darkest hour.

Well worth reading in full.

Support Sinead Quinn

Sinead Quinn is the brave hairdresser from Quinn Blakey Hairdressing in Oakenshaw near Bradford who has been fined £27,000 by Kirklees council for refusing to close during the lockdown and quoting the Magna Carta whenever the martinet officials appear outside her salon. She has now started a crowdfunding page to help pay the fines if her legal challenge fails – though if she wins, as she expects, the money will go to her brother who is fighting cancer.

I’m confident in the fact we will win this fight, so in that case the money will go to my amazing brother who is fighting against stage four bowel cancer. He was diagnosed in August 2020 and he’s 36 year old with a wife and two children. He is an amazing soul and he gives me the confidence to fight every single day. He is my best friend and I wouldn’t be able to do this without him.

Here’s to 2021 – my brother cancer-free and standing up for our rights and taking our freedoms back. 

A deserving cause – do give as you are able and spread the word by sharing the crowdfunder.

Vaccination Must Not be Compulsory – Tell Your MP

Following our appeal yesterday to readers to write to their MP to call for no restrictions on those who refuse to have a Covid vaccination ahead of the Parliamentary debate on December 14th, a reader has sent us a copy of the letter he sent to his MP, Anthony Browne. It’s a good letter, and we’re publishing it below in case it inspires others to write similarly.

I voted for you at the last election.

I am writing in connection with the upcoming debate on coronavirus vaccines. I wish to stress that I am not anti-vax, but like many I do have reservations about the vaccine and any thoughts the government might have about making it compulsory or imposing restrictions upon those that refuse to take it.

We live in a free society (or used to anyway) and the very thought that a vaccine might be compulsory makes my blood boil. The government’s handling of this pandemic has been utterly shambolic – we have ended up in the worst of all worlds by having a high death rate and a shattered economy and all for a virus that has an infection fatality rate of under 0.5% (and it may be significantly lower than that).

I’ve never bought into the argument that it was a good idea to quarantine the healthy in order to suppress the virus, and nor do I buy into the argument that we should now vaccinate everyone who is healthy to achieve the same goal. Trying to suppress the virus is like trying to put the genie back in the bottle. We should be shielding the vulnerable and allowing the virus to circulate amongst the healthy, lower risk, population – that is the way we have conquered respiratory viruses in the past and vaccines should be available to the vulnerable and those that want them (and should never be mandatory).

I lived through the Hong Kong flu pandemic in the late 1960s – one in which this country lost c80,000 lives. More than in the current crisis and at a time when the U.K. population was c55m. We did not destroy our economy because of that pandemic and public debt fell during the period in contrast to the mind boggling mountain of debt that has been incurred on your watch.

Do not go down the route of making the vaccine mandatory or imposing restrictions on those that prefer not to take it. If you do, then I for one will certainly never put a cross against your name again.

The link to the Write To Them site, which makes it easier to write to your MP, is here.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Helplessly hoping” by Crosby, Stills & Nash and “Down Down” by Status Quo.

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.

Sharing Stories

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.

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.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, it’s the news that Millwall fans celebrated being back in the stands by taking the first opportunity given them to show how they felt about their players taking the knee in support of BLM. They booed. The Mail has the story.

Millwall supporters booed their own players while they took the knee in support of the fight against racism at The Den this afternoon.

The scenes have prompted reactions from pundits and former players including Trevor Sinclair, Gregg Halford and Gary Lineker, who told his Twitter followers the Millwall fans not booing were in the “minority”.

The day marked the first time that fans were able to attend a game in person since lockdown began in March.

As 2,000 supporters were permitted to attend the Millwall versus Derby County game, it also marked the first time fans have been present since footballers started to take the knee before games.

The gesture has been carried out by players and staff across the country originally in support of Black Lives Matter, before the Premier League distanced itself from the movement.

Not all teams continue to take the knee before games, with Queens Park Rangers’ director of football Les Ferdinand saying the impact of the stance had been “diluted”. 

As their match against Derby County was about to begin, video footage taken from the ground shows that there were a large number of aggressive boos from the stands as the players knelt down.

Millwall boss Gary Rowett said he was “disappointed” by the fans’ behaviour, while opposition manager Wayne Rooney said it was “surprising”.

In response, the FA said in a statement: “The FA supports all players and staff that wish to take a stand against discrimination in a respectful manner, which includes taking of the knee, and strongly condemns the behaviours of any spectators that actively voice their opposition to such activities.”

The scenes sparked shockwaves through the game, and have divided social media users.

Some players, pundits and fans have condemned the fans’ actions while others say the gesture is no longer appropriate.

Stop Press: Not to be outdone, it’s been reported that the Vicar of Dibley will take the knee for BLM in her Christmas sermon.

“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.

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.

Stop Press: The US CDC has stepped up its mask guidance and now advises “universal use of face masks” which it claims is supported by “compelling evidence”.

Universal use of face masks. Consistent and correct use of face masks is a public health strategy critical to reducing respiratory transmission of SARS-CoV-2, particularly in light of estimates that approximately one half of new infections are transmitted by persons who have no symptoms. Compelling evidence now supports the benefits of cloth face masks for both source control (to protect others) and, to a lesser extent, protection of the wearer. To preserve the supply of N95 respirators for health care workers and other medical first responders, CDC recommends nonvalved, multilayer cloth masks or nonmedical disposable masks for community use. Face mask use is most important in indoor spaces and outdoors when physical distance of ≥6 feet cannot be maintained. Within households, face masks should be used when a member of the household is infected or has had recent potential COVID-19 exposure (e.g. known close contact or potential exposure related to occupation, crowded public settings, travel, or non-household members in your house). 

Hard to believe these are supposed to be the authoritative experts given how much in that paragraph is inaccurate or misleading. Have they not noticed, for instance, that mask mandates appear to have done nothing to avert autumn surges in France, Italy, California, etc.?

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

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 well over 700,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB 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 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it 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.

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’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org 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.

Quotation Corner

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

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. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

The Ulster Fry has done a brilliant mock Christmas album ad. Not to be missed.

Latest News

The PCR False Positive Pseudo-Epidemic

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance give a Coronavirus Data Briefing in 10 Downing Street on September 21st. Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.

Today, we’re proud to be bringing you a new blockbuster piece by Dr Mike Yeadon in which he debunks the notion that we’re in the midst of a ‘second wave’ – he believes most parts of England reached herd immunity by June of this year – and systematically takes apart the PCR testing data that seems to show daily cases number tens of thousand a day. This is, as he and Dr Clare Craig have said before, a false positive pseudo-epidemic. But Dr Yeadon has never set out his case so clearly, and with such a wealth of evidence, as he has done in this new article. He’s particularly illuminating on the shortcomings of the super-labs set up to process hundreds of thousands of PCR tests every day, drawing on his own 29-year career conducting and supervising laboratory work in UK.

Here’s an extract in which he summarises his argument:

In brief: the pandemic was over by June and herd immunity was the main force which turned the pandemic and pressed it into retreat. In the autumn, the claimed “cases” are an artefact of a deranged testing system, which I explain in detail below. While there is some COVID-19 along the lines of the “secondary ripple” concept explained above, it has occurred primarily in regions, cities and districts that were less hard hit in the spring. Real COVID-19 is self-limiting and may already have peaked in some Northern towns. It will not return in force, and the example again is London. Even here, certain boroughs, e.g. Camden and Sutton, have had minimal positive test results. I’ve explained a number of times how this happened – the prominent role of prior immunity is often ignored or misunderstood. The extent of this was so large that, coupled with the uneven spread of infection, it needed only a low percentage of the population to be infected before herd immunity was reached.

That’s it. All the rest is a PCR false positive pseudo-epidemic. The cure, of course, as it has been in the past when PCR has replaced the pandemic itself as the menace in the land, is to stop PCR mass testing.

Dr Yeadon’s articles have been some of the most read things we’ve published on Lockdown Sceptics and this one will be no exception.

Put the kettle on, make yourself a cup of tea and settle down to read this essential piece. Easily the best 20 minutes you’ll spend today.

The Second Wave Peaked Before Lockdown 2.0

We have previously shared the findings of Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College, London. He is the founder of the ZOE app which over a million people use to report their symptoms every week and which has become a prime source of rapid, near real-time data about COVID-19. He received an OBE for this work, earlier this year. Writing in the Spectator, he explains what the ZOE data shows:

COVID-19 rates for the UK are now falling in nearly all major regions. The Government and the Opposition, who believe in lockdown, will say that the fall in the number of confirmed cases, deaths and hospitalisations proves lockdown 2.0 was a success, regardless of the extra health costs associated with lockdowns.

Looking at our data, I concluded last month that we had passed the peak of new COVID-19 cases before we went into the second English lockdown. Our data has since been backed up by the ONS survey and GP surveillance records that track new consultations. Hospital admissions, which lag new cases, also peaked shortly after the lockdown of November 5th.

This suggests the impact of the tiered system was being felt before the lockdown started. Chris Whitty has said that it takes two to three weeks for the effects of lockdown to appear. Were lockdown essential then we would have expected hospital admissions to peak far later, possibly around now. The below is what the ZOE data suggests:

Areas that were under relatively strict tiered restrictions in October are all seeing a continued drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases after peaking around the second half of October.

He goes on to provide some good news for the NHS.

The higher rates are still among 20 to 39 year-olds, who are probably the most exposed to the virus because they are more likely to be carrying on with their lives; and the lowest is among people over 60… The numbers are still relatively low among those in the older age group who are most likely to become seriously ill or die from the disease.

It is hard to disagree with his conclusion:

Any further restrictions should be based on encouraging voluntary behavioural changes. Persuasion is a far more effective long-term strategy than coercion… The public must be able to see exactly what is happening and be trusted to take the right actions for themselves.

Tim Spector’s analysis is worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Tim Spector gave an interview to Freddie Sayers for UnHerd‘s LockdownTV last week. A must watch.

Switzerland: No Lockdown, No Armageddon

We reported last Thursday that Switzerland is one of five places that seem to indicate that lockdowns are not necessary. Today, with thanks to the reader who flagged it in the comments, a report from Focus Online that bears this out:

Switzerland was, not long ago, considered one of biggest COVID-19 hotspots in Europe. Now, though, the curve is pointing sharply downwards, despite no major new measures being adopted. Even the experts are stumped.

Switzerland opted for a middle course in its COVID-19 policy, between Sweden’s laissez-faire model and a hard lockdown strategy. Up until the middle of November, it looked as though the policy would fail miserably.

But, since then, the curve has shown a clear downwards trend, dropping from 10,000 new infections per day at the beginning of the month to 4,500. And that is without any containment measures being implemented. The Swiss Federal Council has not tightened measures since October 29th.

The report continues:

Why did the numbers fall so rapidly, despite the open restaurants and shops and the loose contact restrictions? The experts don’t quite know. At the moment, “from a scientific point of view it is still too early to judge”, Swiss epidemiologist Marcel Salathé tells FOCUS Online. Antje Heise, an intensive care doctor and President of the Swiss Institute for Intensive Care added: “We can only speculate on what led to the turnaround in infection numbers.”

Whether it was the Swiss middle-course COVID-19 policy that led to the reduction in numbers is therefore unknown. The strategy was criticised by many. There were grave doubts as to whether the measures were sufficient to save the health system from collapse.

Worth reading in full (if you speak German). It goes on to note that the numbers are still very high and that the country has only recently seen its highest daily death toll, and says that caution is still required.

The Rush to Publish COVID-19 Research Saw Errors Triple

New research published today in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA)  has thrown some light on the compromises made in the publication processes of medical journals, a consequence of the rush for new research on COVID-19. 9 News has more:  

The research examined five medical journals considered to be the most critical to informing global health policy and clinical practices: the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the British Medical Journal and the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The analysis compared 134 research papers published between January 1st and May 31st this year to 54 published during the same period in 2019.

The research found that:

  • One in five COVID-19 studies published by the journals during the first five months of the pandemic had corrections issued after publication. This compares to 7.4% of published during the same period last year
  • Three studies had to be retracted altogether, including a highly publicised hydroxychloroquine trial published in the Lancet. This led to a temporary cessation of the WHO trial into hydroxychloroquine. No such retractions were made in 2019.
  • Just 5% of the coronavirus trials were randomised controlled trials – considered the “gold standard” of medical research – compared to 35% of the 2019 trials.  
  • The timeframe given to review, approve and publish trials was drastically reduced. In the case of JAMA, the only journal to release data for this, the average timeframe from first submission to publication fell from 139 days to just 23.
  • Close to half of the COVID-19 studies did not explicitly state that consent was obtained from trial participants. A number of articles also stated that they were granted exemptions from the requirement for ethical review due to the nature of the pandemic.

The study’s lead author, Professor Michael Reade of the University of Queensland, said:

In the new information age, it’s a great thing that people can disseminate information really quickly. You can put a paper up online, you can read these things really quickly, but the other side of that is that by the time it gets into a journal, if journals are going to add anything to this process, it needs to be that they give the stamp of approval that it’s true.

Quite. And it is surely during such times as the last few months that the reliability of papers published in prestigious medical journals matters most. The 9 News article is worth reading in full.

The MJA article has a number of suggestions for facilitating the rapid dissemination of information, without compromising its quality, ethical standards or oversight, including:

A two-track review process for pandemic and non-pandemic research, rapid preliminary assessment of research methodology by skilled in-house reviewers before deciding whether to send for peer review, sharing of peer-reviews between reviewers and journals, and mentored peer reviewing by research trainees.

The MJA article is also worth reading in full.

Dear Commissioner…

Police academy: Cressida Dick at the Met’s specialist training centre in Gravesend, Kent, last month; Andrew Testa, the Sunday Times

A member of the Free Speech Union, Dominic Martin, has written to Cressida Dick the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to complain about the heavy-handed policing of Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest in central London. Hard to disagree with anything he says.

I am writing to express my disgust at how your police force handled the anti-lockdown protest in central London, and indeed how it has handled several previous demonstrations. They have been suppressed in an overly zealous and excessively forceful manner which brings shame upon the force and is chillingly reminiscent of scenes we have scene in recent months in Belarus and Hong Kong. The right to challenge authority by peaceful protest is a centuries-old British liberty and, moreover, a liberty enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was signed by Britain in 1948 (Article 20(1): “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association“). It is a cornerstone of liberal democracy, and can only be rightfully suspended in the most extreme of circumstances, such as war, invasion, or social breakdown. A virus with a 99%+ survival rate – and of the 1% or less who sadly die the overwhelming majority are of a very advanced age with existing health conditions – is no justification for enacting such draconian measures and stripping citizens of their basic rights. It is a highly worrying development. As we saw with the anti-terror laws rushed through in the aftermath of the September 11th and July 7th attacks, powers once gained are rarely surrendered, and are often used in a manner which far exceeds their original remit and purpose.

As bad as the over-reaction is, it is made far worse by the complete inaction shown this summer in regards to other protests, such as when far larger crowds were allowed to gather under the banner of Black Lives Matter (BLM) at the height of the first lockdown. Not only were these demonstrations given sanction to go ahead, they were lightly policed and indeed several police officers were seen running away when provoked, with protestors given free rein to vandalise public statuary. Furthermore, several police officers were filmed “taking the knee”, which, given that BLM is at heart a political lobby group, was a clear violation of police neutrality. A later FOI response by your force (ref. 01.FOI.20.014886) states clearly that “Officers were briefed to use enforcement powers as a last resort”, and the protests were also enthusiastically endorsed by Mayor Sadiq Khan. The contrast with Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest could not be more stark; it was met with a huge police presence and ordered to disperse immediately, with protestors then being arrested seemingly at random and in large numbers. The organisers of such demonstrations in the past have also been issued with exorbitant fines (again, not issued against BLM organisers).

Having a police force that is seen to be fair and impartial is of fundamental importance if public trust and support for law enforcement is to be maintained. I suspect that the real reason for the selective policing this year is that your organisation is still reeling from the impact of the MacPherson Report, and prioritises being seen as “not racist” above enforcing the law in a fair and equitable manner. I for one have lost all faith in the Metropolitan Police as an unbiased and apolitical force, and I suspect that I am far from alone. The damage caused has been enormous and the repercussions will be felt for many years to come.

Stop Press: Sky New Australia has a great report on the protests. They call them “riots”.

Stop Press: It is also worth reading Matthew Scott’s piece in the Telegraph – “Lockdown is being policed in an entirely disproportionate way” and Dr Jade Norris’s article in the Spectator about why she has resigned as a Special Constable – “Why I can no longer police the coronavirus restrictions“.

A Festive Protest Suggestion

Would TSG goons thrown these three to the ground, kneel on their heads and then pepper spray them?

After reading the accounts of Saturday’s protests on the news and in yesterday’s update, a reader has got in touch with a suggestion for an alternative form of protest:

How about organising large gatherings to sing Christmas carols as a form of protest – and a nice way to spread some Christmas cheer.

The problem with the brave protests that have taken place so far is that the media spins it as a few conspiracy theorist nuts protesting against vaccinations, 5G and so on. Much of the population consequently has little sympathy for the victims of heavy-handed policing. I read the comments section on the article in the Sun about Saturday’s protest and although there were plenty of people on our side there were also lots of comments to the effect that the protesters deserved all they were getting. There was even one comment that suggested they be denied a vaccine, which seems an odd punishment.

The police would surely be more reluctant to start brutalising a large crowd of peaceful carol singers. Even our media would struggle to present that as a proportionate response. Perhaps the general public who saw these protests would be more likely to come over to our cause.

Not a bad idea.

“Back Me or Face Lockdown 3”

Morten Morland’s cartoon in yesterday’s Sunday Times

The MailOnline has the latest on the Prime Minister’s battle to squash the rebellion last night:

“The country will face another national lockdown if MPs reject new local limits,” Boris Johnson warned tonight. The Prime Minister was battling to quell a Tory revolt as he unveiled a series of concessions in a bid to persuade backbenchers to back a tougher tier system. But ahead of a critical vote Tuesday, the rebels tonight demanded “hard evidence” to convince them that the crackdown will save more lives than it costs.

Tomorrow Downing Street will publish an analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19 and the measures taken to suppress it. The move is an attempt to limit the scale of a rebellion which has been growing since last week. The document will include forecasts from the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility. Mr Johnson yesterday dangled the prospect that some areas facing the harshest curbs in Tier 3 could see them eased as part of a review before Christmas.

Mr Johnson insisted “no Prime Minister wants to impose restrictions which cause such harm to society, the economy and people’s mental health”. He warned that the “tougher tiers” are needed “if we are to keep the virus under control and avoid either overwhelming the NHS or another national lockdown which is far more damaging and restrictive than these tiers”.

Parliament is due to vote on Lockdown 3.0 on Tuesday. There is no time like the present to join Peter Hitchens’ campaign for a mass write-in to MPs. Numbers count.

A Message from a Donor

We received a generous donation yesterday, and thought it worth sharing the message that came with it:

My part of the Civil Service all received a £100 bonus for adjusting well to working from home. This is possibly one of the most tone-deaf actions I have ever seen, given the state of the nation’s finances and the prospects of those working in the private sector – not to mention a complete waste of taxpayers’ money as there was not a single group of people who had easier during the lockdown. I donate it to a worthier cause.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, “Kingdom of Madness” by Magnum and “Inject the Venom” by AC/DC.

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.

Sharing Stories

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.

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.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we were intending to highlight the plight of Professor Dorian Abbot, a tenured faculty member in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, who has recently come under attack from students and postdocs in his Department for a series of videos he posted to YouTube expressing his reservations about the way Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts have been discussed and implemented on campus.

In these videos, since taken down, Prof. Abbot raised several misgivings about DEI efforts and expressed concern that a climate of fear is “making it extremely difficult for people with dissenting viewpoints to voice their opinions”. The slides for each of Prof. Abbot’s videos can be found here, and his own account of events and his opinions can be found here. Nowhere in these materials does Prof. Abbot offer any opinion that a reasonable observer would consider to be hateful or otherwise offensive.

Shortly after uploading the videos, Abbot’s concerns were confirmed when 58 students and postdocs of the Department of Geophysical Sciences, and 71 other graduate students and postdocs from other University of Chicago departments, posted a letter containing the claim that Prof. Abbot’s opinions “threaten the safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the [Geophysical Sciences] department” and “represent an aggressive act” towards research and teaching communities.

The letter also issued 11 demands, many of which would serve to ostracize and shame Prof. Abbot, while stripping him of departmental titles, courses, and privileges. The signatories further demand that the Department of Geophysical Sciences formally and publicly denounce Prof. Abbot’s views, and change hiring and promotion procedures so as to prioritise DEI.

That’s what we were intending to highlight. Indeed, we were going to ask you to sign a Free Speech Union petition launched a few days ago urging the President of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer, to issue a statement reiterating his support for the Chicago Principles and affirming that Prof. Abbot will not be reprimanded, will not be subject to any departmentally imposed punishments and humiliations, and will not be stripped of any departmental titles, courses, or privileges, or have his tenure put in jeopardy.

But there is no need because the petition has achieved its objective. Yesterday, just three days after the petition’s launch, President Zimmer issued a statement saying he had no intention of watering down the Chicago Principles and affirming the right of Chicago’s academic staff to express their views on controversial topics, however unorthodox, without fear of being penalised by their employer in any way:

From time to time, faculty members at the University share opinions and scholarship that provoke spirited debate and disagreement, and in some cases offend members of the University community.

As articulated in the Chicago Principles, the University of Chicago is deeply committed to the values of academic freedom and the free expression of ideas, and these values have been consistent throughout our history. We believe universities have an important role as places where novel and even controversial ideas can be proposed, tested and debated. For this reason, the University does not limit the comments of faculty members, mandate apologies, or impose other disciplinary consequences for such comments, unless there has been a violation of University policy or the law. Faculty are free to agree or disagree with any policy or approach of the University, its departments, schools or divisions without being subject to discipline, reprimand or other form of punishment.

This is exactly what the FSU was asking for and it is now confident that Prof Abbot is no longer in any danger from the outrage mob that targeted him for cancellation. Thanks to the actions of its President, the University of Chicago has confirmed its status as a beacon of academic free speech that universities around the world can look to for leadership on this critical issue.

But this is no time for complacency. Help the FSU secure more victories like this by joining today.

The enemies of free speech hunt in packs; its defenders must band together too.

“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.

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.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

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 last month 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 700,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB 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 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it 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.

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’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org 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.

Quotation Corner

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.

Aleksandr 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

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. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

Blower’s Cartoon in today’s Telegraph

Latest News

Government Agrees Plan to ‘Save Christmas’

Unpublished sketch by Telegraph cartoonist Bob Moran

At a COBR meeting yesterday afternoon chaired by Michael Gove, the UK Government agreed plans with the First Ministers of the devolved nations to allow up to three households to gather over the five-day period between the 23rd and 27th of December. People will be able to travel freely across all areas of the UK, with an extra day of leeway at either end afforded to anyone wishing to travel in and out of Northern Ireland, to allow for the added journey time. The announcement comes after days of speculation in the media about the fate of the Christmas festivities.

The temporary relaxation of restrictions came with several caveats, as the Times reports:

Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, agreed the exemption with the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at a COBR meeting this afternoon, saying the Christmas rules “will offer hope for families and friends who have made many sacrifices over this difficult year”.

Mr Gove conceded that “the Christmas period this year will not be normal” but said that “families and friends will now have the option to meet up in a limited and cautious way across the UK should they wish”.

Family meetings will be limited to private homes and outdoor spaces, with people still expected to be banned from seeing others in pubs and restaurants across most of England.

The move means that people will effectively be forming a temporary ‘support bubble’ in which social distancing is not required, meaning that relatives will legally be allowed to hug each other. The easing of measures does not extend to the New Year, a particular disappointment for residents of Scotland where Hogmanay can be a more significant celebration than Christmas.

The Guardian has more from the leaders of the four devolved nations:

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that there was a risk inherent in any relaxation of the restrictions and asked everyone to consider very carefully whether the opportunity to mix for a few days is necessary.

She said: “We know that for some, contact with friends and family is crucial during this time as isolation and loneliness can hit people especially hard over the Christmas period. The ‘bubble’ approach aims to reduce this impact.”

Sturgeon’s comments seemed to tacitly admit of the mental health toll her restrictions had wrought. The Welsh Premier also remarked on the new plans:

The Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price, said the plans were “sensible”, adding: “However, it’s crucial we don’t lose the hard-gotten gains of the last few months for the sake of a few days. Flexibility shouldn’t mean a free for all. Sadly, this will not be Christmas as normal and people must know that any relaxation also comes with risks.”

Not exactly tidings of comfort and joy.

The announcement comes as the Prime Minister faces a significant rebellion from his back benchers over the new restrictions. The Telegraph has more:

Boris Johnson’s new “toughened” tier system risks reigniting the North-South divide, Tory MPs have warned, amid a mounting rebellion over the latest lockdown measures.

Conservative WhatsApp groups have been lighting up with “fury” and “anger” over the post-lockdown plan, according to one senior Tory who said: “The idea seems to be to move everybody up, Tier 2 becomes a shady Tier 3, Tier 3 is lockdown. Tier 1 is all but abolished. 

“There’s fury and anger at Boris Johnson on the backbenches about this. He doesn’t seem to care about the economic impact all of this is having. There’s going to be a major revolt.”

London MPs are pushing for the capital to be placed into Tier 1 because of the city’s economic significance but this risks angering Conservatives in “Red Wall” seats facing an “inevitable” return to Tier 2 and 3.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith was among those calling to spare the capital city the worst of the constraints, on account of the city’s huge economic importance.

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is calling for London to be placed in Tier 1 along with fellow London MPs including Bob Blackman. 

Sir Iain, the MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, said: “London is critical to the UK’s economy. Just the West End represents 4% of GDP and it is completely dead. 

“The cavalier way we are treating the capital city is astonishing.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Wall Street Journal details how other European countries are intending to navigate the Christmas minefield.

No End to Social Distancing Until Over-50s Get Jab

Boris Johnson volunteers to… pretend he’s getting vaccinated

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a joint session with the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee yesterday that social distancing measures will not end until either everyone over 50 has been ‘offered’ a COVID-19 vaccination, or enough have taken it to bring the ‘R’ number below one, and predicted that normality might begin to resume by Easter. Laura Donnelly, Health Editor at The Telegraph has more:

The Health Secretary said he hoped the most damaging restrictions could be lifted by Easter, but said that depended on everyone on the first 10 groups of the vaccine priority list having been offered the jab by then.

He told a joint session of the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee: “After Easter, we think we will be getting back to normal.

“But those damaging social distancing interventions that have down sides, whether economic or social in terms of our well-being. I should hope that we can lift those after Easter if these two vaccines are approved by the regulator, which of course is an independent decision for the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency].”

While speculation has run rampant on social media about whether Covid vaccinations would be mandatory, whether explicitly or implicitly, and the implications of that for civil liberties, Hancock’s comments appeared to suggest he is charting another course:

The Health Secretary said there would be a shift to an emphasis on “personal responsibility” rather than social distancing after Easter once vaccines have reached the most vulnerable people.

He said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that this meant reaching point 10 on its 11 point list – which would mean everyone over 50 would have been offered the jab, and added: “Once you have protected, or given the opportunity to protect older people, then obviously the public health rationale, particularly for strict and damaging measures, is reduced.”

This subtle change in tone might prove a small consolation for ardent anti-vaxxers, though only those without travel ambitions. As we reported in yesterday’s Lockdown Sceptics, Qantas has already declared a vaccination certificate will be a necessary condition of international travel and other airlines will likely follow suit.

Another concern is that Matt Hancock also told the same Committee that he anticipated mass testing to remain in place after the pandemic’s over. The Mail has more.

He told MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee that he would like to see an “if in doubt, get a test” approach become the norm for anyone with flu-like symptoms.

For too long Britons’ natural instincts have been to ‘soldier on’ and go to the office even when they are unwell, which doesn’t happen in other countries, he suggested.

But Mr Hancock claimed the COVID-19 crisis had highlighted how problematic this behaviour can be for older, vulnerable employees, adding that it was “going to have to change”.

He said: “Why in Britain do we think it’s acceptable to soldier on and go into work if you have flu symptoms or a runny nose, thus making your colleagues ill? I think that’s something that is going to have to change.”

He added: “I want to have a change in the British way of doing things where “if in doubt, get a test” doesn’t just refer to coronavirus but refers to any illness that you might have.

“If you have, in future, flu-like symptoms, you should get a test for it and find out what’s wrong with you, and if you need to stay at home to protect others, then you should stay at home.”

Alarming.

Stop Press: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed while speaking on LBC that Matt Hancock overruled officials and bought more than three times the planned number of doses of the Oxford AstraZenica vaccine. Could be embarrassing if it turns out to be a dud. Laura Donnelly in The Telegraph has more.

Stop Press 2: Parliamentary Sketchwriter Michael Deacon offers Matt Hancock a crumb of sympathy in The Telegraph, observing that the Health Secretary is beginning to show a few signs of wear and tear after having spent so long answering questions recently. The heart bleeds!

20 Questions to Ask Your MP

Regular Lockdown Sceptics contributor Dr Claire Craig FRCPath, along with Dr Jonathan Engler, has kindly written this list of killer questions for readers to send to their MPs:

  1. Why are SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels flat or dropping across all age groups since May if the pandemic is still going?
  2. What percentage of the population is assumed to have had prior immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in the SAGE forecasting models?
  3. Why do 50% of household members not catch SARS-CoV-2 from infected persons with whom they live? 
  4. Why have Japan and South Korea not had any serious outbreak if the human species has no prior immunity to SARS-CoV-2?
  5. What percentage of the population of the UK is assumed to be immune to COVID-19 (including prior immunity) as of this date?
  6. What percentage of those diagnosed with COVID-19 since July have developed antibodies to COVID-19, confirming the diagnosis? 
  7. If 90%+ (SAGE Minutes: 21/09/20) of the population is still susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, why did the virus case numbers and deaths not double every 3-4 days throughout June, July and August, and indeed throughout the Autumn?
  8. Why have positive test results rocketed while numbers of symptomatic patients in the community and NHS triage data show they have flatlined since mid-September?
  9. Why are acute respiratory admissions through Accident & Emergency significantly below the normal for the time of year if the pandemic is still raging?
  10. Why are total hospital admissions, ITU occupancy and hospital oxygen consumption at or below normal levels for the time of year? 
  11. What percentage of deaths labelled as being due to COVID-19 have had the diagnosis confirmed at post-mortem since July?
  12. Why are the regions of the country that have had excess deaths not the same regions that have supposed COVID-19 deaths, unlike in spring? 
  13. Why has Liverpool testing by the Army failed to find COVID-19 in the community when they are supposedly at the centre of the alleged “second wave”?
  14. How is a 0.22% rate of diagnosed infection in the public in Liverpool to be reconciled with the ONS prediction of 2.3% infection rates in Liverpool on 11th November based on PCR testing?
  15. Why are much quicker lateral flow tests not being prioritised for hospital admissions to prevent the standard 24-48 hour delay with PCR results and ensure that those who are positive can be isolated to prevent hospital spread?
  16. Why aren’t all staff being tested by the lateral flow test to prevent the staffing crisis being caused by false positive PCR results?
  17. Do positive PCR tests for asymptomatic and symptomatic NHS staff, or anyone else, which result in them being required to self-isolate have confirmatory re-tests performed?
  18. Why is the country in lockdown when there are no excess hospital admissions, no excess intensive care bed use and no excess death rates (by date of occurrence) in the midst of an allegedly out of control, raging pandemic?
  19. Why are we in lockdown when the Government’s own Operation Cygnus pandemic plan stated that lockdown could only delay deaths by a few weeks at most? 
  20. What evidence is there that lockdown has prevented more deaths than it has caused?

Dr Craig adds:

SAGE believes over 90% of the UK population are still susceptible to COVID-19 (Sage Minutes: September 21st). There is now a large body of evidence (eg BMJ: September 17th) that 30-50% of the population had prior immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus because of its similarities to some types of common cold.

Rishi Sunak’s New Deal

Rishi Sunak finds even more money down the back of the Treasury sofa.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to reveal a New Deal-like package later today worth an eye-watering total of £4.3 billion in an attempt to fend off predictions by the Office for Budget Responsibility of unemployment almost doubling by next summer. The OBR also suggests that by the end of the year the economy will have endured a 10% contraction, the worst in 300 years. The Telegraph reports:

Mr Sunak’s decision to find billions of pounds for jobs support in Wednesday’s Spending Review will be seen as an acknowledgement that the unemployment crisis has a long way to go.

The Chancellor will pledge to “create and support” hundreds of thousands of jobs through tens of billions of pounds of investment in infrastructure, including roads, houses, railways and cycle lanes.

A £2.9 billion Restart scheme will help the long-term unemployed to find jobs by giving them “intensive, tailored” support to meet their individual circumstances. Another £1.4 billion will be allocated to Job Centres, helping the short-term unemployed back into work.

Mr Sunak will also extend the apprenticeship hiring incentive — which pays employers £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire – to the end of March, when the new tier system of Covid restrictions will end. The jobs schemes will effectively replace the furlough scheme, which finishes on March 31st.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Douglas Murray has written a piece in The Daily Mail taking a very dim view of the Government’s reckless attitude to the public finances.

SAGE: PCR False Positive and Negative Rates Unknown in June

A reader has drawn our attention to a paper by the Government Office for Science (GOS), released by Minister for Social Care Helen Whately in response to a question on November 18th, entitled “Impact of false-positives and false-negatives in the UK’s COVID-19 RT-PCR testing programme” by Carl Mayers and Kate Baker on June 3rd. He writes:

It shows:
1. They didn’t know the false positive/negative rate on June 3rd.
2. Estimates from previous studies on similar tests put it at 0.8% to 4%.
3. Yet when they discuss tests on May 31st they use an assumed false positive rate of 0.4%. (Why should they assume half of the lowest figure on the previous study range?) Assuming a false positive rate of 0.8%, over half of the 1,570 tests on May 31st were false positives. If one assumes a median rate of 2.3% they may all have been
4. They recommend (reasonably) that external quality assessments be carried out – this begs a follow up question in Parliament as to what the results of these have been.

The paper is worth reading in full.

Part 2 of Dr Roger Hodkinson’s Analysis of the Crisis

Yesterday, we published the first part of Dr Roger Hodkinson’s coruscating analysis of the pandemic, entitled “Who Failed and Why?“. Today we’re publishing the second part, entitled “How to Prepare for the Next Big One“. Here’s an extract from the section called “the Experts”:

The current heads of the CDC, FDA, and NIAID should also be removed from office and replaced by non-partisan experts approved by the US Congress. Pragmatism should be the prime quality for the appointments, and there is still lots of that around. Academic/medical credentials are required of course, but should not be the only factor in the search.

Dr. Fauci in particular has vacillated on matters of substance with his nightly hand-wringing in the media. He also insisted on a formal double-blind trial for hydroxychloroquine (a drug with initial successes in France and an outstanding safety record) while thousands of people were dying! That opinion was classic for an academic, but in this crisis he was totally out of his league – or gone “wobbly” as Maggie Thatcher would have said. He also dressed up absurd modelling predictions by saying that they “could happen”, which of course the general public read as likely to happen – significantly ratcheting up public anxiety.

The FDA was similarly culpable for denying immediate use of hydroxychloroquine, actually intimidating very capable infectious disease specialists until they boldly decided to ignore the edict en masse.

Worth reading in full.

Conversation With a Nurse

A reader has written in to describe her recent experience in an English hospital. NHS staff are prohibited from speaking to the press or posting on social media so we’ve omitted mention of the location in case the staff member in question could be identified.

I got damaged by a horse late yesterday afternoon and had to be driven to A&E. I was wearing my mask-exempt hidden disabilities lanyard (which I am genuinely entitled to) but the receptionists asked if I wouldn’t like to wear a mask anyway to protect myself in the hospital environment. There were three receptionists in close proximity, no distance between their chairs and the middle one, who was talking to me, only had hers over her mouth not her nose.

In the waiting area, I was the only non-masked person. They seemed to be quite busy. There was a prisoner there, handcuffed and chained to an officer, both bearded with token efforts at mask wearing but neither were challenged about their ill-fitting efforts.

When I got to triage, I had a most interesting conversation with the nurse. She said they still were not particularly busy and she was very concerned about the increases in certain types of cases. Domestic abuse was the example she gave, and subsequently when I was waiting for X-ray, an extremely distressed and beaten-up woman appeared, who was telling the paramedic how frightened she was that the “guy who did this might have decided to finish the job” if the emergency services had not been so quick.

The triage nurse went on to tell me that the first lockdown had been “lovely from a work point of view, nothing to do and lots of free food”. Apparently, if they were on shift and rang for a pizza, the companies just delivered to the hospital for free. She particularly mentioned Domino’s. The nurse said that this region had never been in any danger of being overwhelmed, and was now beginning to worry that there would be a backlash against ‘Protecting the NHS’ when they could clearly cope and the lockdowns continue to lose people their jobs, etc.

This hospital did appear to be letting companions in to wait with elderly patients, which I believe is better than many other places.

Stop Press: Fiona Hamilton has a piece in The Times describing how the court system is so overwhelmed that domestic abuse victims are being advised to take civil action rather than make criminal prosecutions, while court delays are growing so long that some complainants are attempting suicide.

Have We Been Given a Day Off Lockdown by Mistake?

“Are you sure you mean December 2nd and not December 3rd? … Of course, I’m not questioning your numeracy, Health Secretary… Yes, I am aware you have a degree in Economics. I think you may have mentioned that before, Health Secretary.”

A retired statistician has written in to say that he thinks the Government may have got its sums wrong.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No 4) Regulations 2020 at paragraph 1(2) state: “These Regulations come into force on 5th November 2020” and the accompanying information box says “Reg. 1 in force at 5.11.2020.”

Paragraph 23 (1) says: “These Regulations expire at the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which they come into force”, with the same accompanying information box.”

Now, you may recall that we were told at the time that the new lockdown came into force at 00.01 GMT on Thursday 5th November.

So one would therefore assume that the end of the period of 28 days would be midnight on Wednesday 2nd December so the new rules would come into force at 00.01 GMT on Thursday 3rd December after 28 complete days have elapsed.

Yet the guidance published on Gov.uk regarding the new “Tiers” system states: “The new rules will come into effect from the beginning of Wednesday 2nd December.” Boris Johnson’s statement to the House of Commons said the same thing.
So, either we are being given a day off for good behaviour or somebody in Whitehall can’t count!

Defiant Yorkshire Salon Racks Up £27k Fine

Sinead Quinn of Quinn Blakey hairdressers near Bradford.

An heroic hairdresser in Oakenshaw near Bradford in West Yorkshire – Sinead Quinn – has defied orders to close her salon by the local council and racked up a series of fines amounting to an eye-popping £27,000. BBC News has more.

Sinead Quinn was working at Quinn Blakey Hairdressers in Oakenshaw, Bradford, on Saturday when Kirklees Council officers issued a £4,000 fine.

The council found the salon open again on Monday and Tuesday and issued two further £10,000 fines. It had £1,000 and £2,000 fines for previous breaches.

Ms Quinn said on Instagram she did not consent to or accept the fines.

The salon owner posted videos on the social networking site which show her talking to council officials and police, saying she had not broken any laws.

On the video, she is heard saying: “I don’t consent to any fines, so it will just be returned to sender.”

She had also displayed a poster on the salon door which refers to Magna Carta, and says the shop is “under the jurisdiction of common law”.

At the time of writing we have not been able to locate a crowdfunding page for the freedom-loving Yorkshire woman, but we will link to one in a subsequent update if such a thing exists. If anyone knows of one, please contact us here.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “I Shall Be Released” by Bob Dylan and “Tiers [sic] of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles.

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.

Sharing Stories

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.

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.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today we have the news that staff at the publisher Penguin Random House held an “emotional” meeting to express their dismay at the decision of the company to publish Canadian Professor Jordan Peterson’s upcoming book Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life.

VICE reports:

Four Penguin Random House Canada employees, who did not want to be named due to concerns over their employment, said the company held a town hall meeting about the book Monday, during which executives defended the decision to publish Peterson while employees cited their concerns about platforming someone who is popular in far-right circles. 

“He is an icon of hate speech and transphobia and the fact that he’s an icon of white supremacy, regardless of the content of his book, I’m not proud to work for a company that publishes him,” a junior employee who is a member of the LGBTQ community and who attended the town hall told VICE World News. 

Another employee said “people were crying in the meeting about how Jordan Peterson has affected their lives”. They said one co-worker discussed how Peterson had radicalized their father and another talked about how publishing the book will negatively affect their non-binary friend.

Douglas Murray took to Twitter and commented:

Any such ‘tearful’ staff should be fired immediately and their jobs advertised the next day. If you don’t understand free speech you’ve no right pretending to work in a publishing house. Penguin Random House Canada should “Reagan airport worker” the lot of them.

Worth reading in full.

“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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you want 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.

Stop Press: The Welsh Government has instructed schoolchildren to wear masks at all times, even outdoors.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

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 last month 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 my 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 approaching 700,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB 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 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it 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”.

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.

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’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org 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.

Quotation Corner

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.

Aleksandr 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

Shameless Begging Bit

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And Finally…

Excellent YouTube video from the comedian and satirist WhatsHerFace. This one’s called: “Welcome to THE GREAT RESET.”