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Tory MPs Back Legal Challenge to Schools Mask Mandate

More than a dozen Tory MPs and peers have backed a court challenge against the imposition of face masks in school classrooms, saying there is “insufficient evidence” to support the policy and it must be withdrawn with “immediate effect”. The Telegraph has the story.

The Government was sent a Letter before Action by lawyers acting for the parent campaign group UsForThem which claims the current guidance is disproportionate, irrational and discriminatory.

The legal challenge is supported by several Tory politicians, including Sir Graham Brady, chair of the powerful 1922 committee of backbenchers, Robert Halfon, Chair of the Education Select Committee, and Marcus Fysh, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Education.

It is exceptionally rare for MPs to back a legal challenge against their own Government, and the move will ramp up pressure on ministers to axe the policy.

On January 1st, just two days before millions of pupils were due to return to the classroom following the Christmas break, the Government announced that all secondary school pupils would be asked to wear masks during lessons.

The move came just after teacher union bosses issued ministers with a series of demands which included asking why face masks were not required in classrooms in England while they were in Wales and Scotland.

Ministers said at the time that the decision to reimpose masks in classrooms for the first time since May last year would be reviewed on January 26th.

The Letter before Action, sent from JMW Solicitors on Saturday and addressed to the Education Secretary, says the policy must be “immediately revoked”.

It points out that the pandemic has had a “profound impact” on children and says it is “imperative” that steps are taken to aid their mental and physical recovery.

The guidance on face masks in the classroom is “plainly discriminatory”, the letter says, since it puts children with special education needs at a “significant” disadvantage.

The Education Secretary has failed to consider the impact on children’s wellbeing of “largely continuous” mask wearing for up to ten hours per day, it adds.

“To make this decision at this stage is to make a decision that no reasonable public body would make in all the circumstances,” the letter says.

“There is no rational basis to introduce this precaution at this stage. There is apparently no credible scientific evidence to support it and at the same time a large – and growing – volume of evidence which shows its harmful impact.”

JMW Solicitors has given the DfE until January 26th to respond and say that if changes are not made to the guidance, they will launch a judicial review.

Other Tory MPs backing the letter include Steve Baker, Deputy Chair of the Covid Recovery Group, Chris Green, the MP for Bolton West, and David Warburton, MP for Somerset and Frome.

Dame Helena Morrissey and Baroness Foster are among the Conseravtive peers who have lent their support to the legal challenge. And several academics also endorse the legal letter, including Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, and Professor Sunetra Gupta, an epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at Oxford University.

Worth reading in full.

The Rebel Alliance

We at the Daily Sceptic, and countless others across the nation, are forever thankful to the Rebel Alliance, a contingent of House of Commons heroes who saw through the Government’s fearmongering, and voted against the introduction of vaccine passports. Although their efforts were in vain, their defiance shall not be forgotten. 127 MPs stood against the motion, and their names, accompanied by their party affiliation, can be found here, but are also listed below.

Conservative (100 including two tellers):

Adam Afriyie

Lee Anderson

Shaun Bailey

Siobhan Baillie

Steve Baker

Harriett Baldwin

John Baron

Scott Benton

Bob Blackman

Peter Bone

Ben Bradley

Karen Bradley

Sir Graham Brady

Andrew Bridgen

Steve Brine

Miriam Cates

Sir Christopher Chope

Brendan Clarke-Smith

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Tracey Crouch

Philip Davies

David Davis

Dehenna Davison

Jonathan Djanogly

Jackie Doyle-Price (teller)

Richard Drax

Sir Ian Duncan Smith

Tobias Ellwood

Dr. Liam Fox

Louie French

Richard Fuller

Marcus Fysh

Nusrat Ghani

Jo Gideon

Chris Grayling

Chris Green

Damian Green

James Grundy

Robert Halfon

Stephen Hammond

Mark Harper

Sir John Hayes

Philip Hollobone (teller)

Adam Holloway

Tom Hunt

Mark Jenkinson

David Jones

Simon Jupp

Alicia Kearns

Julian Knight

Sir Greg Knight

Robert Largan

Andrea Leadsom

Sir Edward Leigh

Andrew Lewer

Dr. Julian Lewis

Pauline Latham

Chris Loder

Mark Logan

Jonathan Lord

Tim Loughton

Craig Mackinlay

Anthony Mangnall

Karl McCartney

Stephen McPartland

Esther McVey

Stephen Metcalfe

Damien Moore

Robbie Moore

Anne Marie Morris

Holly Mumby-Croft

Sir Robert Neill

Dr. Matthew Offord

Mark Pawsey

Sir Mike Penning

John Penrose

Andrew Percy

Tom Randall

John Redwood

Laurence Robertson

Andrew Rosindell

Gary Sambrook

Bob Seely

Greg Smith

Henry Smith

Dr. Ben Spencer

Jane Stevenson

John Stevenson

Julian Sturdy

Sir Desmond Swayne

Sir Robert Syms

Derek Thomas

Craig Tracey

Tom Tugendhat

Theresa Villers

Christian Wakeford

Sir Charles Walker

David Warburton

Giles Watling

William Wragg

Labour (8):

Diane Abbott

Apsana Begum

Dawn Butler

Emma Lewell-Buck

Clive Lewis

Rebecca Long Bailey

Bell Ribeiro-Addy

Graham Stringer

Liberal Democrat (10):

Alistair Carmichael

Wendy Chamberlain

Daisy Cooper

Tim Farron

Sarah Green

Wera Hobhouse

Christine Jardine

Layla Moran

Sarah Olney

Munira Wilson

Green (1):

Caroline Lucas

DUP (6):

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

Paul Girvan

Carla Lockhart

Ian Paisley

Jim Shannon

Sammy Wilson

Independent (2):

Jeremy Corbyn

Rob Roberts

Find out how to contact your MP here, and even if your local MP was not part of the Rebel Alliance, we encourage our readers to write to any parliamentarians who were to thank them for their vote.

Update: Sir Desmond Swayne has confirmed he voted against the measures, taking the total to 127 MPs and 100 Conservatives. He was initially put down as an abstention owing to an “error in the voting lists”. Pauline Latham was also initially omitted, while Luke Evans was included though he also voted for the measure so effectively abstained.

Return of the Jedi: Rebel Alliance in House of Commons Prepares For Battle Over Vaccine Passports

The Spectator has published a full list of those Conservative MPs who’ve pledged to vote against the ‘Plan B’ measures announced earlier this week. There are currently 60, but the number is growing by the day. If the Government is going to get the measures through the House of Commons, it will need Labour votes. Here is an extract:

When the Health Secretary Sajid Javid introduced the measures in the Commons this week, he was greeted with jeers and calls for him to “resign” from his own party members. There is now a growing backbench rebellion against the Government’s proposals, with several MPs publicly denouncing the winter restrictions, which they feel are a step too far in a society protected by what Boris Johnson once called the “huge wall of immunity” from vaccines.

The full list is below.

  1. Steve Baker
  2. Ben Bradley
  3. Brendan Clarke-Smith
  4. Graham Brady
  5. Philip Davies
  6. Richard Drax
  7. Simon Jupp
  8. Stephen McPartland
  9. John Redwood
  10. Greg Smith
  11. Dehenna Davison
  12. Marcus Fysh
  13. Gary Sambrook
  14. Pauline Latham
  15. William Wragg
  16. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown
  17. Iain Duncan Smith
  18. Christopher Chope
  19. Craig Tracey
  20. Robert Syms
  21. Anthony Mangnall
  22. Greg Clark
  23. Esther McVey
  24. Liam Fox
  25. David Davis
  26. Mark Jenkinson
  27. Alicia Kearns
  28. Mark Harper
  29. Darren Henry
  30. Steve Brine
  31. Craig Mackinlay
  32. Simon Fell
  33. Andrew Bowie
  34. David Warburton
  35. Siobhan Baillie
  36. David Jones
  37. Tom Randall
  38. Ben Spencer
  39. Andrew Rosindell
  40. Charles Walker
  41. Douglas Ross
  42. Karl McCartney

The 60 MPs Who Deserve Our Praise

These are the 60 MPs who voted against the extension of lockdown restrictions on Wednesday evening, plus two tellers.

Conservative

Adam Afriyie (Windsor)

Siobhan Baillie (Stroud)

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

Bob Blackman (Harrow East)

Crispin Blunt (Reigate)

Peter Bone (Wellingborough)

Karen Bradley (Staffordshire Moorlands)

Sir Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West)

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire)

Steve Brine (Winchester)

Miriam Cates (Penistone and Stocksbridge)

Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch)

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds)

Elliot Colburn (Carshalton and Wallington)

Philip Davies (Shipley)

David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden)

Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon)

Richard Drax (South Dorset)

Sir Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green)

Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford)

Marcus Fysh (Yeovil)

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell)

Chris Green (Bolton West)

Mark Harper (Forest of Dean)

Philip Hollobone (Kettering)

David Jones (Clwyd West)

Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire)

Andrew Lewer (Northampton South)

Chris Loder (West Dorset)

Jonathan Lord (Woking)

Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham)

Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet)

Karl McCartney (Lincoln)

Stephen McPartland (Stevenage)

Esther McVey (Tatton)

Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle)

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Mark Pawsey (Rugby)

John Redwood (Wokingham)

Andrew Rosindell (Romford)

Greg Smith (Buckingham)

Henry Smith (Crawley)

Julian Sturdy (York Outer)

Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West)

Sir Robert Syms (Poole)

Craig Tracey (North Warwickshire)

Sir Charles Walker (Broxbourne)

David Warburton (Somerton and Frome)

William Wragg (Hazel Grove)

Labour

Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish)

Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields)

John Spellar (Warley)

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton)

Derek Twigg (Halton)

Democratic Unionist Party

Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry)

Paul Girvan (South Antrim)

Carla Lockhart (Upper Bann)

Ian Paisley (North Antrim)

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim)

Tellers

Steve Baker (Conservative, Wycombe)

Jackie Doyle-Price (Conservative, Thurrock)

You can use the WriteToThem website to easily contact these MPs and thank them for their vote.

The List of the 73 MPs Opposed to Vaccine Passports

The Mirror has published a list of the MPs and Peers who have signed a pledge to vote against vaccine passports. It’s a coalition unlike any other, with ex-leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn’s name appearing alongside that of Sir Iain Duncan Smith, ex-leader of the Conservatives. Thatcherite John Redwood appears alongside former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and ex-Lib Dem leader Tim Farron. The presence of 41 Conservative MPs on this list will have put the wind up Boris since it would mean that if the Lib Dems, the Scottish Nats and Labour vote against, it would be enough to defeat the measure in the House of Commons. Indeed, Boris has extended an olive branch to the rebels tonight, offering to time-limit the passports for one year. Let’s hope that doesn’t win any of them over.

Conservative

Mark Harper MP
Steve Baker MP
Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP
Harriett Baldwin MP
Esther McVey MP
Adam Afriyie MP
Bob Blackman MP
Sir Graham Brady MP
Nus Ghani MP
Andrew Mitchell MP
Peter Bone MP
Ben Bradley MP
Andrew Bridgen MP
Paul Bristow MP
Philip Davies MP
Richard Drax MP
Jonathan Djanogly MP
Chris Green MP
Philip Hollobone MP
Adam Holloway MP
David Jones MP
Simon Jupp MP
Andrew Lewer MBE MP
Julian Lewis MP
Karl McCartney MP
Craig Mackinlay MP
Anthony Mangnall MP
Stephen McPartland MP
Anne Marie Morris MP
Sir John Redwood MP
Andrew Rosindell MP
Greg Smith MP
Henry Smith MP
Julian Sturdy MP
Sir Desmond Swayne MP
Sir Robert Syms MP
Craig Tracey MP
Jamie Wallis MP
David Warburton MP
William Wragg MP
Sir Charles Walker MP

The 76 MPs Who Deserve Our Praise

These are the 76 MPs who voted against the renewal of the Coronavirus Act for a further six months this afternoon, plus two tellers.

Conservative

Adam Afriyie (Windsor)

Steve Baker (Wycombe)

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

Bob Blackman (Harrow East)

Peter Bone (Wellingborough)

Sir Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West)

Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch)

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds)

Philip Davies (Shipley)

David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden)

Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon)

Richard Drax (South Dorset)

Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford)

Marcus Fysh (Yeovil)

Mark Harper (Forest of Dean)

Philip Hollobone (Kettering)

David Jones (Clwyd West)

Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire)

Jonathan Lord (Woking)

Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham)

Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet)

Karl McCartney (Lincoln)

Stephen McPartland (Stevenage)

Esther McVey (Tatton)

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

John Redwood (Wokingham)

Andrew Rosindell (Romford)

Henry Smith (Crawley)

Julian Sturdy (York Outer)

Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West)

Sir Robert Syms (Poole)

Craig Tracey (North Warwickshire)

Sir Charles Walker (Broxbourne)

David Warburton (Somerton and Frome)

William Wragg (Hazel Grove)

Labour

Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington)

Apsana Begum (Poplar and Limehouse)

Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)

Richard Burgon (Leeds East)

Dawn Butler (Brent Central)

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish)

Ian Lavery (Wansbeck)

Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields)

Clive Lewis (Norwich South)

Rebecca Long-Bailey (Salford and Eccles)

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington)

Ian Mearns (Gateshead)

Kate Osamor (Edmonton)

Kate Osborne (Jarrow)

Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Streatham)

John Spellar (Warley)

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton)

Zarah Sultana (Coventry South)

Jon Trickett (Hemsworth)

Derek Twigg (Halton)

Beth Winter (Cynon Valley)

Liberal Democrat

Wendy Chamberlain (North East Fife)

Daisy Cooper (St Albans)

Ed Davey (Kingston and Surbiton)

Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale)

Wera Hobhouse (Bath)

Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West)

Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon)

Sarah Olney (Richmond Park)

Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)

Munira Wilson (Twickenham)

Democratic Unionist Party

Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry)

Jeffrey Donaldson (Lagan Valley)

Paul Girvan (South Antrim)

Carla Lockhart (Upper Bann)

Ian Paisley (North Antrim)

Gavin Robinson (Belfast East)

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim)

Green Party

Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion)

Alliance

Stephen Farry (North Down)

Independent

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)

Tellers

Chris Green (Conservative, Bolton West)

Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat, Orkney and Shetland)

The final toll was 484 votes to 76, giving the Government a majority of 408. The MailOnline has more.

Stop Press: Toby says: “Good to see Layla Moran in the ‘no’ lobby. When I debated her at the Cambridge Union in January she was pro-lockdown. Let’s hope the superior arguments on our side of the debate helped to change her mind.”

Latest News

Hancock Sets Out Vaccination Plan

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

The Government has published its ‘UK COVID-19 Vaccines Delivery Plan‘ and the Health Secretary gave a press conference alongside Professor Stephen Powis on Monday stating that 2.3 million people have been given at least one dose of a vaccine so far and explaining his plan to continue rolling out the biggest mass vaccination programme in history. The BBC reports:

The vaccine delivery plan says it is expected to take until spring to give a first dose to all 32 million people in the UK’s priority groups, including everyone over 55 and those who are clinically vulnerable.

Under the plan, the government has pledged to carry out at least two million vaccinations in England per week by the end of January, which it says will be made possible by rolling out jabs at 206 hospital sites, 50 vaccination centres and around 1,200 local vaccination sites. 

It also reiterates the government’s aim of offering vaccinations to around 15 million people in the UK – the over-70s, older care home residents and staff, frontline healthcare workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable – by mid-February.

According to Mr Hancock, two fifths of over-80s have now received their first dose, and almost a quarter of care home residents have received theirs.

Ministers have stopped short so far of introducing yet stricter measures, and Hancock ruled out scrapping support ‘bubbles’, though several newspapers have run fairly hysterical finger-wagging front pages:

A glaring Chris Whitty is pictured next to an instruction not to “stop for a chat” despite his having repeated yesterday on Radio 4 that fleeting outdoor contact was not a risk.

The Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick, meanwhile, has written in The Times:

It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus. We have been clear that those who breach COVID-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.

The article continues:

Officers are now stopping people on the street and requiring them to explain why they are outside. They will also routinely hand out fines to anyone at illegal gatherings. Enforcement was previously limited to the organisers.

Another force is using surveillance cameras to track down motorists breaching lockdown rules. Devon and Cornwall is deploying automatic number-plate recognition technology, which identifies vehicles on the roads, to monitor vehicle movements.

Despite the doom-laden tone from Number 10, the ZOE Covid Symptom Study App calculated that the R rate in London was 0.9 as recently as January 7th, with infections falling:

The R rate was calculated just barely higher at 1 for the rest of the UK:

On Yer Bike! Did PM’s Journey Contravene His Own Guidance?

Boris Johnson cycles past an aptly-positioned truck

The Prime Minister was accused of making a journey which wasn’t in the spirit of the Government’s guidance after being spotted cycling seven miles from Downing Street. The Evening Standard reports:

The Prime Minister was wearing his TfL hat and a face mask when he was seen cycling with his security detail in Stratford, east London, at around 2pm.

Official Government guidance on exercise says it should be limited to once a day and “you should not travel outside your local area”.

The park has been noticeably busy with families exercising and the PM is said to have been concerned by what he saw in the area.  

Lockdown sceptics will be less concerned by the length of his journey than the existence of such absurd guidance in the first place, although it did give the Health Secretary Matt Hancock an opportunity to clarify that:

“It is OK to go, if you went for a long walk, and ended up seven miles away from home – that is OK but you should stay local. You should not go from one side of the country to another potentially taking the virus with you.

“Remember one in three people who have the virus don’t know they have it because they have no symptoms and yet still pass it on.”

He added: “It is OK to go for a long walk or a cycle ride or exercise – but stay local.”

Steerpike commented in The Spectator:

The guidance on exercise says “you should not travel outside your local area”. So, what does the Prime Minister say? While there’s no official response, a Downing Street source confirmed that the Prime Minister was exercising — but failed to say whether he was driven there to exercise or had cycled the whole way. The former would likely be classed as a rule breach.

They did, however, voice the PM’s concern at the other people using the park at that time: “He did note how busy the park was and he commented on it at the meeting last night. He was concerned about if people were following the rules and was concerned after his cycle ride around the park.”

While going somewhere and then complaining about how many other people have done the same is an unwelcome trend of the pandemic, Mr S had hoped Johnson would know better. After all, if someone should have refrained from showing up there, surely it’s the person who lives seven miles away? 

The Daily Star’s front cover today

Covid, Hyper-Medicalisation, and Viral Interference

We are publishing a guest piece today by Dr Irina Metzler FRHistS, medical historian and former lecturer at the University of Swansea, as well as a Wellcome Trust University Award Fellow. Here is a short extract:

One of the puzzles in the Covid story is how different the effect of SARS-CoV-2 can be from person to person. If we accept the notion of ‘asymptomatic transmission’, then Covid is inconsequential for such a large number of apparently infected people that they notice no symptoms whatsoever, while others have symptoms so mild they are comparable to the common cold, yet a minority of infected people suffer very severe reactions and unfortunately sometimes lethal outcomes. This very wide variance in how individuals’ bodies react to the virus makes COVID-19 a most unusual illness. What follows are some speculative musings on potential factors influencing individual variance, in other words, asking the question: Have we missed something that could explain why some people fall very ill and even die, yet others don’t even know they’ve got it?

Besides individual disparity in reactions to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there is of course the disparity in how regional variation affects mortality and severe illness. Contrary to most beliefs in an efficient health care system (including preventative care, hygiene, nutrition, immunisation programmes), whereby there should be less illness in those nations that have better and more accessible healthcare provisions, Covid actually seems to be less of a threat to poorer, economically weaker nations which had a lower case fatality rate (meaning fewer deaths per number of infected individuals) than economically stronger countries.
Demographics certainly play a role in this disparity, since older people are more likely to fall victim to Covid than younger, and economically wealthier countries have larger numbers of the old than poorer countries. But other factors, such as the former ‘hygiene hypothesis’, now refined as the ’Old Friends’ hypothesis, and the incidence of autoimmune disorders in higher-income countries have also been advanced. The hygiene hypothesis is well known and argues that the more ‘clean’ we have become, the less chance our immune systems have had to be ‘trained’ in how to ward off pathogens. Hyper-hygienic conditions, which have been advocated in most high-income countries, through things as basic as using anti-bacterial products for everything from chopping boards for food preparation to the now ubiquitous hand sanitisers, have in fact contributed to the lack of training in childhood for most Westerners’ immune systems. Lack of exposure to parasites and other pathogens, which would train the immune system, has been linked to impaired Type 1 interferon activity, which in turn has been linked with susceptibility to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (see Impaired type I interferon activity and inflammatory responses in severe COVID-19 patients). Paradoxically, then, the inhabitants of higher income countries are, despite enjoying overall better health outcomes, at greater risk of developing severe COVID-19 than those in lower-income nations.

Worth reading in full.

MP Explains His Vote Against Lockdown Restrictions – Faces Backlash

David Warburton, Member of Parliament for Somerton and Frome, whose email to one of his constituents explaining his refusal to vote for the tier system we published last month, has written an explanation on his website of his reasons for voting against lockdown again last Wednesday. Warburton has done his homework, and it’s a comprehensive argument. Here is an extract:

…I have concerns in several areas:

First, the numbers and how they are being reported. Yes, there is no doubt that the new evolving strains of the virus – though thankfully no more virulent – are more easily transmitted between individuals. But our increased rates of infection are more interesting. The mass scale of our PCR testing and self-reporting through the NHS app means that, for example, our case rate appears to be far higher than many European neighbours. And testing also creates some revealing anomalies: the virus seems to understand the soft border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, for example, crediting those to the north with a far higher rate of infection. Our mortality rate — dreadful though it is — remains much the same as others’. So either the false-positive incidence of our testing is giving us a bleak picture, or we appear more resilient to the worst effects of the virus, which is obviously unlikely.

Everyone who attends hospital is now tested – itself, of course, a terrifically important step. Those who test positive are reported statistically as hospital Covid patients, whether they were asymptomatic or not; whether they attended hospital for a broken ankle or regular cancer treatment. Naturally, when we then hear of hospitals managing thousands of Covid patients, such reporting will concern us all and lead the Government to seek to act.

Every death, for whatever reason, is tragic and shocking. Even to write about it — and especially to do so in terms of data and numbers — belittles and minimises the personal loss which we all feel. It is important to see, I think though, that excess deaths over the past year have not been statistically higher than the average for previous years. And the ONS reveals that, in terms of deaths per 100,000 of population, since 1993 ten previous years have had higher rates than 2020. But I also understand that, given the infection rates and the new strains, it is the predictions of future mortality which concerns the Government. They do not know what may come.

I will not dwell on the historic predictions of SAGE, but I must draw attention to the missing component in this thought process. At the end of the regulations before us yesterday was the bald admission that “No impact assessment has been prepared for these Regulations.”

That means that we were asked to vote, again, on restrictions which will have unknown effects, both positive and negative. We are not provided with evidence for the efficacy of the lockdown, other than our experience of the mixed results of previous lockdowns, and — crucially — we do not know what is the nature or the extent of the detrimental effects.

As I’ve said before, the ONS have estimated that the restrictions across 2020 will have resulted in 200,000 non-Covid excess deaths. Bristol University put the figure far higher. Whether or not these predictions have any more accuracy than SAGE’s own Covid predictions, these numbers are many times higher than those who tragically will have been lost to the virus.

Many of us have repeatedly asked for the data – a cost benefit analysis – which can allow us to make an informed decision. The crucial question we have to ask ourselves is what is the cost to lives, to livelihoods, to businesses, to mental health, suicides, to all non-Covid related heath. It’s imperative that these factors are weighed in the balance against the likely lives saved from those same restrictions.

Definitely worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A Twitter poll has been started by a local Labour Party activist asking whether people support David’s stance. If you use Twitter, you can make your voice heard here.

Stop Press 2: The Swedish physiologist Johan Hellström has published a historic mortality graph for no-lockdown Sweden up to and including 2020, and as you may expect, there isn’t much to see:

This study provides more detail on the comparison between Norway and Sweden, and also concludes that lockdowns do not explain the differences.


Stop Press 3: Yesterday, we reported on a lockdown enthusiast who has repented and joined the ranks of the lockdown sceptics. Today, we bring you another – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo!

What is Law and What is Guidance? Clarification from a QC

Chris Daw QC, author of Justice on Trial, spoke to Ian Collins at talkRADIO to give his legal expertise on the matter of what exactly police are and aren’t entitled to fine people for, after a few well-publicised instances of members of the public being questioned and even fined by over-zealous police officers.

Stop Press: The two women fined by Derbyshire Police for driving five miles to a local reservoir, whose cups of peppermint tea were described as a ‘picnic’ by the issuing officer, have received an apology and had their fines withdrawn.

A Reader’s Cancer Treatment

Barts Hospital

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has sent us her recent experience being treated for cancer in a private hospital through the NHS, as well as her bafflement at reports in the press about cancelled surgery.

You may be interested in my own recent experience of cancer treatment during this Covid crisis. I was diagnosed with cancer on December 30th following a biopsy on December 16th and advised to have a lumpectomy as initial treatment. This was at Barts NHS Trust. The operation took place on January 4th at a well-known London private hospital, which my surgeon explained was being used by Barts for such surgery during the pandemic. I won’t name the hospital, but as it is known for treating members of the Royal Family I doubt if its facilities usually come cheaply. I was shocked to be given such an early date for surgery, but my surgeon further explained that after January 5th Barts feared being ordered to suspend all such surgery. If this has indeed happened, I was very fortunate with the timing of my diagnosis and feel enormous sympathy for anyone whose surgery has now been delayed.

I was puzzled to see it reported today (the Times: “NHS attacks private hospitals for not cancelling operations”) that the NHS stopped using private hospitals for such surgery some months ago and that “NHS chiefs” were strongly critical of private hospitals for carrying out elective surgery during the present crisis (according to a “leaked” letter from senior NHS figures, including, supposedly, the head of Barts Health Trust!) The Times article states as fact that although the NHS is negotiating to use private hospitals again, this does not include any of the main London private hospitals, since the NHS reportedly balked at their high costs. This is clearly wrong from my own experience and makes me wonder if such “leaks” are inspired by political motives.

The Guardian reports that Barts NHS Trust has suspended all such surgery since December 23rd:

People with advanced cancer have had their urgent surgery cancelled at a leading London hospital trust that is treating the largest number of Covid patients in the NHS.

Patients who were due to undergo an operation to treat their disease at Barts Health NHS trust have been told the pressures the resurgent COVID-19 is putting hospitals under was to blame.

The procedures involved are known in the NHS as “red flag” cancer cases and are classed by the NHS as “priority two” surgery, which means they should be done within 28 days of the decision to operate. Any delay risks the patient’s disease spreading or becoming inoperable.

Barts is the second big hospital trust in London known to have cancelled operations as a result of the strain on the NHS, which led to the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers issuing an unprecedented warning last week that parts of the service were close to collapse.

Staff in Barts’ surgical division approached the Guardian to disclose that cancellations had been happening there since before Christmas after reading a statement in the Observer by Sir David Sloman, the NHS’s Regional Director for the capital, that “urgent cancer surgery is not being cancelled in London”.

One member of staff said last week: “This [statement] is not true. At the Royal London Hospital we have not been able to do any non-emergency surgery since December 23rd. We have not done any cancer surgery, except emergency procedures, since then. [There is] no clarity yet on when or where we can restart our elective surgery.”

Furthermore, The Times reports:

NHS chiefs have criticised private hospitals and doctors in London for performing non-urgent operations despite the “unthinkable pressures” of the pandemic.

A letter leaked to HSJ, the health service journal, asked trusts in the capital “not to support” private work for at least a month.

London’s NHS hospitals have cancelled almost all planned care. At least two have postponed urgent cancer surgery as figures show that treatment levels are failing to keep pace with demand. The NHS has been trying to negotiate use of the capital’s private hospitals for cancer patients.

Our reader is right to be confused.

Was I Just Witness to a Covid Death?

We are reproducing in full this account kindly contributed by Thomas Harrington, Professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, USA of a tragic occurrence last week, which he firmly attributes to the Covid restrictions.

Friday night at 4:45 in the morning my partner, K and I awoke to the flashing lights of police and medical teams outside the house where we are currently staying. It was accompanied by murmured conversations between the uniformed people and one of the men who stays with our landlord, who lives in an adjacent part of the same building. 

Tired and not wanting to intrude on the lives of people we knew, but not intimately, we went back to sleep, hoping that nothing really transcendent had occurred. 

By mid-morning those hopes were thoroughly dashed when K returned to our place ashen-faced to tell me that Pete, our 60 year-old weight-lifting landlord, who could have passed for a robust 45, was dead, quite probably by suicide. We just sat there numb for a very, very long time. 

Over the last few months while living in the in-law apartment of his house, K, a woman who naturally invites emotional openness in others, had come to know Pete fairly well. And on my more or less extended visits to the little apartment, I had engaged with him as well. He was extremely bright and gentle, a yacht captain by trade and a romantic adventurer by predilection, who talked longingly and wistfully of lost loves and of business deals gone bad. Speaking to his best friend, Dave, yesterday after the tragedy, we were both confirmed in our suspicion that he was, in many ways, his own worst enemy. 

But a message that came across just as strongly, if not stronger, was that Pete was deeply loved and supported by a network of friends who had remained true to him, and they to him, over a half a century. As Dave explained they had all seen each other through difficult moments, ratifying their support for each other, at times,  through, among other things,  the lending of not insignificant sums of money. 

Indeed, as we spoke, just around the corner in the gorgeous, if decadently unkempt, tropical back yard of the house with its irregularly-shaped pool, the members of that support-crew were sitting together drinking beer while crying and laughing about their friend. This once grand property had, in effect, been their clubhouse, the place was where they had reaffirmed their friendship over and again during 50 years (Pete grew up in the house and had inherited it from his parents) with what he and they, and the women in their lives, liked to call Funday Sundays. 

But over the last several months, that vital social lifeline, along with the possibilities of work in the boating industry, had been, if not wholly severed, severely weakened by the social restrictions imposed by the “fight against Covid”.  

Pete had fallen into a very deep depression,  about which he had spoken pretty openly about with K. Last week, he told her he had finally gone to a mental health professional for  help. 

But last Friday, night, it seems, he decided to end things. As a tragedy, this story requires no adornment. 

But I nonetheless less feel compelled to ask all those out there currently justifying draconian reductions of basic human liberties, and worse yet, human customs of love and caring, on the basis of inflated ‘case’ numbers spawned by a deeply flawed PCR test, as well as a 0.23% IFR, if they might be willing to admit that Pete was also a real Covid fatality? 

And more fundamentally, I’d like to ask all those that constantly tell us about the grave threat posed by Covid — with its 99.77% survival rate and victim cohort tilted overwhelmingly to those at or beyond their normal level of life expectancy — if, after playing profligately and abusively with the threat of death, they have any empathy left for the very real and concrete terminations of life, catalyzed, if not caused, by their serial exaggerations. 

Or do they simply consider such thoughts to be another thing to be mentally “deplatformed”, along with all of those other things that don’t neatly affirm the media’s dominant narrative?

Does Pheasant Shooting Count as Exercise?

A reader got in touch after receiving the following email from Abel & Cole, the organic food delivery company:

Hello there, I’m just getting in touch about the Wild Pheasant on your order. I’m afraid we aren’t able to include the pack in the box as planned this week. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, our supplier can’t go out to shoot the game and we don’t have any stock left in at the moment. As the lockdown is due to last roughly until the end of shooting season this year, we might not be able to bring it back again until next season. I’m really sorry for the disappointment.

In fact, there’s nothing to stop Abel & Cole’s supplier from shooting pheasant. You are still allowed to shoot in England, provided you only do it once a day and it’s part of your daily exercise. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation has the details:

In light of the government providing greater clarity on its COVID-19 guidance and regulations, BASC is advising that outdoor shooting activities as a form of exercise are permissible once per day in England during the national lockdown, subject to two conditions.

1. You should only travel locally to shoot which is to “stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live” as defined in government guidance.

2. When shooting you should only meet with people you live with, your support bubble; or when on your own, with one person from another household.

If any shooting readers can supply Abel & Cole with a brace or two, please contact us here. We’ll put you in touch.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Drinking in the Day” by Elise LeGrow, “Happenin’ All Over Again” by Lonnie Gordon and “Boris Johnson a Big Bumbahole” by Machyo.

https://twitter.com/officialmachyo/status/1345647097161412608?s=20

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, we bring you Christopher F. Rufo’s report “Radicals in the Classroom” in City Journal about the hardcore Critical Race Theory indoctrination occurring in the San Diego Unified School District’s new mandatory training sessions for teachers.

The San Diego Unified School District has been radicalized. In recent months, the district has announced mandatory diversity training for teachers, added a new “ethnic studies” curriculum focused on racial grievance, and even abolished the requirement to turn in homework on time – all in the name of becoming, in the words of school board member Richard Barrera, “an anti-racist school district.”

Last month, I reported on one of these training sessions, focused on “white privilege,” in which white teachers were accused of being colonisers on stolen Native American land and told “you are racist” and “you are upholding racist ideas, structures, and policies”. The trainers demanded that the teachers “confront and examine [their] white privilege”, “acknowledge when [they] feel white fragility”, and “teach others to see their privilege”. After the story caused an uproar, school officials defended the training as a form of “racial healing”.

Phrases such as “white privilege” and “white fragility” will be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the crazier fringes of the woke cult recently, although one of the guest speakers hired by San Diego Unified took the hyperbole to a whole new level.

According to new whistleblower documents, San Diego Unified held an even more radical training program featuring a speaker who believes American schools are guilty of the “spirit murdering of Black children”. The school district hired Bettina Love, a critical race theorist who believes that children learn better from teachers of the same race, for the keynote address at the August Principal Institute and for an additional district-wide training on how to “challenge the oppressive practices that live within the systems and structures of school organizations”.

Though the school district explicitly forbade attendees from recording the session, one whistleblower took detailed notes of the speech and captured screenshots of the presentation. According to these notes, Love began her presentation by claiming that “racism runs deep” in the United States and that blacks alone “know who America really is”. She argued that public schools in particular “don’t see [blacks] as human”, are guilty of systemic “anti-Blackness”, and “spirit murder babies” in the education system.

Ms Love is associated with the Abolitionist Teaching Network, whose website makes for an interesting browse.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Twitter’s stock has plunged after the social media platform banned Donald Trump.

Twitter’s stock price tumbled Monday as investors appeared to balk at the social network’s decision to ban President Trump from posting.

Shares in the San Francisco-based company tumbled as much as 12% to $45.17 in the first trading session after it booted Trump from the platform on Friday, saying his account posed a “risk of further incitement of violence” after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday.

The stock pared the losses through the morning and fell 6.4% to close at $48.18.

Twitter’s move against the outgoing president – whose account had more than 88 million followers – was the first permanent suspension for a head of state, and it’s likely to spark furious debate about the role tech companies play in regulating speech.

It may also hurt Twitter’s user base as Trump supporters and right-wing activists pledge to boycott the company’s blockbuster decision.

“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.

Stop Press: A reader has sent us this article in the Sydney Morning Herald from 17 years ago, written during the SARS epidemic.

Health authorities have warned that surgical masks may not be an effective protection against the virus.

“Those masks are only effective so long as they are dry,” said Professor Yvonne Cossart of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Sydney. 

“As soon as they become saturated with the moisture in your breath they stop doing their job and pass on the droplets.”

Professor Cossart said that could take as little as 15 or 20 minutes, after which the mask would need to be changed. But those warnings haven’t stopped people snapping up the masks, with retailers reporting they are having trouble keeping up with demand.

The article continues:

John Bell from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, who owns a pharmacy in Woollahra, Sydney, said mask supplies were running low.

“At the moment we don’t have any because we haven’t been able to get any in the last few days,” Mr Bell said. “In the early stages it was unbelievable; we’d get people coming in all the time.”

Mr Bell agreed with Professor Cossart’s assessment regarding the effectiveness of the masks.

“I think they’re of marginal benefit,” he said. “In a way they give some comfort to people who think they’re doing as much as they can do to prevent the infection.”

The reader who drew our attention to the piece commented:

The first line sums it up – “Retailers who cash in on community fears about SARS by exaggerating the health benefits of surgical masks could face fines of up to $110,000.”

Fast forward 17 years, and currently three Australian states have mask mandates in place, with fines of $200 for non-compliance. Last time I checked (and I do look out for these things) there has been no new significant evidence brought to light since 2003 that general public mask wearing has any effect whatsoever on community transmission of the sort of virus which causes COVID. The absurdity of Australia’s mask mandates is of course compounded by the almost complete absence of COVID in the general community at this time.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press 2: Both Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have announced that they will ban anyone who does not wear a mask from entering their shops, reports the BBC. The Government has stated that it is not the responsibility of retailers to enforce the rules, but that of the police, who have also said they don’t intend to enforce mask-wearing in supermarkets.

Morrisons will bar customers who refuse to wear face coverings from its shops amid rising coronavirus infections.

From Monday, shoppers who refuse to wear face masks offered by staff will not be allowed inside, unless they are medically exempt.

Sainsbury’s also said it would challenge those not wearing a mask or who were shopping in groups.

The announcements come amid concerns that social distancing measures are not being adhered to in supermarkets.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the Government is “concerned” shops are not enforcing rules strictly enough.

“Ultimately, the most important thing to do now is to make sure that actually enforcement – and of course the compliance with the rules – when people are going into supermarkets are being adhered to,” Mr Zahawi told Sky News.

“We need to make sure people actually wear masks and follow the one-way system,” he said.

The Union of Shop, Distributive, and Allied Workers (USDAW) tweeted the following hand-wringing statement:

Key retail workers deal with hundreds of customers every day as they perform their essential duties. With the #Covid situation developing rapidly, we’re calling for retail workers and delivery drivers to get priority access to vaccinations and mass testing.

We also expect retailers to work with us, urgently, to produce new risk assessments. The new strain of Covid puts our members at increased risk of catching the virus. They need every possible protection, including the following steps:

Limits on customer numbers – back to the earlier levels if necessary – with trained security staff to manage queues. Once inside the store, customers should follow clearly highlighted one-way systems and 2m social distancing markers.

As Ivor Cummins has pointed out on numerous occasions though, and does so again in his recent conversation with James Delingpole on the Delingpod, shop workers worked for four months at the beginning of the pandemic with no masks and experienced no great wave of deaths over and above the rest of the population, even though they encountered the general public every day.

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…

On this week’s episode of London Calling, Toby’s weekly podcast with James Delingpole, they try to avoid getting into an argument about the Great Reset (he’s a believer, Toby’s not) and stick to books and TV shows. But they cannot avoid talking about Trump’s Twitter ban and Big Tech censorship more generally.

Listen to the podcast here and subscribe to it on iTunes here.

Latest News

GPs Told to “Stand Down” Routine Care to Deliver Vaccine

GPs have been told to prioritise Covid vaccinations at the expense of delivering all but the most urgent of care. The Telegraph has the details.

GPs have been instructed to “stand down” routine care and prioritise providing Covid vaccinations in a bid to ensure the NHS can deliver almost 14 million jabs by next month

Doctors have been given guidance saying that delivering the vaccine should be their “top priority”, with advice to “postpone other activities”.

It came amid confusion over attempts to recruit an army of volunteers to administer the vaccine, with retired medics told that the programme had closed despite Boris Johnson saying its expansion is vital.

On Wednesday, Mr Johnson said the current lockdown could last until Easter, with vaccines offering “the means of our escape” from confinement. The Prime Minister spoke as the latest figures showed deaths in the UK have exceeded 1,000 per day for the first time since April.

The Telegraph has learned that health officials have issued guidance instructing GPs to “stand down non-essential work” in the coming weeks in order to prioritise the speedy roll-out of the programme. Practices in London have been told to prioritise vaccines, with other duties restricted to urgent cases.

Suspending routine medical care will of course cause yet more avoidable sickness and death from non-Covid causes.

Problems and confusion continue to beset the vaccine programme.

Last week, the Telegraph revealed that retired medics have been prevented from returning to the front line to administer jabs by red tape. On Wednesday, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said requirements including fire safety and equality and diversity training, have been scrapped.

However, medics complained that their attempts to volunteer to administer vaccines had been blocked. One retired nurse who wanted to take part was told by health officials that the programme was now closed for applications.

A letter sent to Ross Andrews from NHS Professionals read: “Due to such a fantastic uptake from dedicated NHS workers like yourselves, we were able to recruit for the vaccination programme exceptionally quickly. We are now in the process of finalising the vetting and training of all applicants, and the programme is now closed for further applications.”

After being contacted by the Telegraph, health officials said a mistake had been made and that the scheme remains open.

The Lockdown Spartans

Sir Graham Brady MP

Just 16 MPs voted against the new lockdown in Parliament yesterday (the two tellers were Christopher Chope and Chris Green). Here they are, courtesy of Yahoo! News:

  • Sir Graham Brady (Conservative, Altrincham and Sale West)
  • Philip Davies (Conservative, Shipley)
  • Richard Drax (Conservative, South Dorset)
  • Paul Girvan (Democratic Unionist Party, South Antrim)
  • Carla Lockhart (Democratic Unionist Party, Upper Bann)
  • Karl McCartney (Conservative, Lincoln)
  • Stephen McPartland (Conservative, Stevenage)
  • Esther McVey (Conservative, Tatton)
  • Anne Marie Morris (Conservative, Newton Abbot)
  • Ian Paisley (Democratic Unionist Party, North Antrim)
  • Andrew Rosindell (Conservative, Romford)
  • Sir Desmond Swayne (Conservative, New Forest West)
  • Sir Robert Syms (Conservative, Poole)
  • Sir Charles Walker (Conservative, Broxbourne)
  • David Warburton (Conservative, Somerton and Frome)
  • Sammy Wilson (Democratic Unionist Party, East Antrim)

Take a bow.

Sir Desmond Swayne tweets:

Sir Charles Walker makes an impassioned plea on behalf of those dismissed as “covidiots”.

“Highly Contagious” New Variant Dipped in November

Software Engineer and Lockdown Sceptics regular Mike Hearn has dug into the data on the “70% more transmissible” new variant and found something curious: its prevalence dipped before it surged. Over to him.

The graphs of the new variant by region presented by the Government make it look like the new variant starts out near zero everywhere on November 22nd and then starts growing. However, this is due to graph truncation and unfortunate choice of Y axis. The ONS dataset released on December 30th has data going back further. Above is a similar plot to what the government presented but with the full data and a more appropriate scaling.

This reveals something problematic: in some regions the decline in prevalence during November was of the same order of magnitude as the increase during December. This contradicts the claim that the new variant is highly infectious. If that were true, all these graphs should be unambiguously up and to the right for the whole time-series.

The ONS spreadsheet says we should ignore data pre-dating mid November:

There are also other reasons why a swab may be positive for only these two genes, including lower viral load in the sample, which is why we have always seen a small percentage of this type of positive result. Our data suggests the dropping of the S-gene became a relatively reliable indicator of the new variation in COVID-19 from mid-November. Prior to that, the data should not be read as being an indicator of the variant.

There are two problems with this statement:

  1. It’s not an explanation: just an assertion that for “data” reasons the meaning of the S-gene dropouts changed completely during November. The ONS is meant to make data transparent but here that’s not happening. What data suggests this, how is it being interpreted and what was the biological meaning of S-gene dropouts before mid-November, if not this new variant? It can’t be just test noise because the levels at the start of the time series in Yorkshire and the South West were very far from their lowest points.
  2. At some point “mid November” became November 22nd, although that isn’t actually the middle of November. This vagueness suggests that the decision of where to draw the cutoff isn’t data-based at all, but instead might be driven by an attempt to hide the declines while still having enough data in the series to seem credible given the timing of the second variant announcements.

My guess is a combination of two things is going wrong here:

  • When epidemiologists tried to explain the run-up in cases they were informed of the sequencing of the new variant without being given the precise dataset we are looking at now. They proceeded to make a correlation-implies-causation based conclusion, without realising there was no actual correlation.
  • They opted for blaming the new variant rather than the more obvious explanation that respiratory diseases always go up in winter, because one curious feature of epidemiological models is that they don’t seem to incorporate seasonality or in fact, any notion of absolute time at all. If you read the code of these models you’ll see that time is measured as “days since start of epidemic”. This is because their models aren’t able to predict when epidemics start or why, so can only be run once an epidemic has already started. This puts the model into an effectively non-seasonal world in which all days are created equal.
  • When the discrepancy was realised it was too late and the train was already in motion, so this explanation that the signal meant something different before November 22nd was created. The lack of detail and apparent contradictions are evidence of the attempt to reconcile the contradictory output of epidemiological models with the lab reported data.

Lockdown Sceptics quoted Sir Desmond Swayne as saying: “I’m deeply suspicious of the science, and the fact is that we’ve been bounced again. The Government lacks the scientific and statistical expertise to ask the right questions and review the data and modelling.”

Sir Desmond is correct to be suspicious. Dropping data points that undermine your hypothesis is something high school students are taught violates the scientific method, yet it’s been a recurring feature of epidemiology throughout 2020. What’s presented to us as “science” is in reality pseudo-science – that which has the superficial look and feel of something scientific without actually being so. Occasionally the mask slips. After my code review of Imperial College London’s COVID-19 model was picked up by the press, ICL announced that “the conclusions around lockdown rely not on any mathematical model but on the scientific consensus that COVID-19 is a highly transmissible virus”. In other words although we’re presented with data and modelling, it’s ultimately all just for show: what matters most in this community is not scientific truth but friendly agreement.

Did the Government Forget to Close Schools?

A teacher has emailed us, having spotted a hole in the Government’s regulations.

I’ve been reading the Regulations (SI 2021/8) that were passed yesterday.

The method that the Government has chosen to bring in the new lockdown is to amend the existing Regulations establishing the tiers system (The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1374)) and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/750). 

Apart from a very few minor amendments that don’t concern schools, all that the new legislation does that is of significance is to place the whole of England into Tier 4, and to extend the application of the Tiers Regulations till March 31st.  

It leaves untouched the (non-exhaustive) exceptions to the restrictions on leaving home and on gatherings. Those exceptions include the exception for education detailed in Schedule 3A of the Tiers Regulations – the key provisions creating that exception being paragraphs 1(2)(a), 2(5)(b), 3(3), and 6(3)(aa) of SI 2020/1374.

That is to say, there seems to be no legal requirement on schools to close under the new lockdown legislation that came into force today. The January 4th announcement has the status, if I’m right, of unenforceable guidance as opposed to law.

The Secretary of State does have the power to issue a temporary closure notice to schools, or any particular school, under Schedule 16 of the Coronavirus Act 2020; but as I understand it no such power has been exercised, nor – I think – was that power exercised during the first lockdown. 

Can this be right, or am I missing something? 

The point – if I’m right – is, in a way, merely academic: and I’m afraid I’m not about to propose to my employer that we just open the school; I would be dismissed as a time-waster at best, and more likely condemned for taking an “irresponsible” attitude to staff and student health. 

But it is arguably another disturbing aspect of the country’s collective sleepwalking into totalitarianism if 32,000-plus schools are meekly closing on the say-so of ministers who aren’t even being obliged to exercise the legal powers that they have been granted to bring about this effect if they desire it. 

I notice that in R (Dolan) v Secretary of State the argument that lockdown infringed the right to education was rejected for more than one reason: the High Court and Court of Appeal were persuaded that the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic meant that a balance had to be struck between the rights of the individual and the general interests of the community. But they also noted that in fact no order was made requiring schools to close (see paragraphs 113 and 114 of the Court of Appeal judgment).

“Our Hospital Is Not Overstretched” – Senior NHS Surgeon in London

Latest occupancy figures leaked from a large NHS hospital in London

A senior surgeon has told Lockdown Sceptics that his large NHS hospital in London is not “in any way over-stretched” – and sent us a picture of the latest occupancy figures to prove it.

This is just one hospital, of course, and there can be no doubt that a number of hospitals in London and some other regions are under extreme stress at the moment. The situation is exacerbated by the large numbers of staff self-isolating due to Covid testing and the additional workload entailed by Covid constraints.

But the leak is a reminder that there are hospitals even in London where things are not out of the ordinary for January.

Stop Press: A reader based in Kingston (London) has got in touch to say he and his son were tested this week and the nurse had an interesting confession to make:

My son and I were offered a lateral flow test at the weekend. The offer came from his primary school. We turned up, slick operation, had a chat with the nurse helping us. She said they are seeing less than 1% positives for the tests. She expressed amazement that there is apparently a new strain running riot as this wasn’t being seen in their results (they are only testing people with no symptoms).

Stop Press 2: A leak to the Health Service Journal shows that London NHS anticipates running out of beds in just two weeks.

NHS England London medical director Vin Diwakar set out the stark analysis to the medical directors of London’s hospital trusts on a Zoom call.

The NHS England presentation, seen by HSJ (see slides below story), showed that even if the number of Covid patients grew at the lowest rate considered likely, and measures to manage demand and increase capacity, including open the capital’s Nightingale hospital, were successful, the NHS in London would be short of nearly 2,000 general and acute and intensive care beds by January 19th.

The briefing forecasts demand for both G&A and intensive care beds, for both Covid and non-Covid patients, against capacity. It accounts for the impact of planned measures to mitigate demand and increase capacity.

For both G&A and intensive care, three scenarios are detailed: “Best”, which projects 4% daily growth; “average” which plots 5% daily growth; and “worse” which forecasts 6% daily growth.

The briefing says that growth on January 5th was 3.5% for G&A beds 4.8% for ICU beds.

Fortunately, ZOE app data suggests new infections in London have been falling since the end of December, suggesting the current growth rate in Covid hospital occupancy shouldn’t continue for long.

Update on Sweden

Source: Worldometer

New regulations came into force in Sweden on December 14th and despite all the talk of Sweden changing its strategy the new rules still leave almost everything to personal choice and impose almost no mandatory measures. No shops are shut, no pubs or restaurants are closed, there are no laws governing how many people can meet in private (though eight is the upper limit in public), and there are no mask regulations. Seeing that “cases” ceased rising some weeks ago despite it being the middle of December, at what point does the rest of the world notice that lockdowns aren’t the critical factor in “controlling” this disease?

Not Just Emotional Pleading

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is brain-1024x512.jpg

A University Professor has written a further contribution to the ongoing debate about the “failed strategy of lockdown sceptics”. We’ve now had so many responses, we’ve created a new section in the right-hand menu to put them all. (See “Why haven’t our Points Landed?”) He begins:

A piece by David McGrogan on January 3rd implies surprise at the alacrity with which the British public has acquiesced to lockdown and suggests that sceptics embrace some of the more emotive strategies of lockdown proponents.

Dr McGrogan is not alone if he was unprepared for this complicity: even one of lockdown’s principal architects, Prof. Neil Ferguson, was surprised that Western Governments could “get away with” national lockdowns. Yet the roots of blind societal compliance in the UK surely have several components, some of which have been hidden in plain sight. The impact of disinformation has been compounded by a woeful lack of scientific literacy among Parliamentarians. This may in part explain the paucity of due process and failure of legislative oversight, for example in appointing members of SAGE, or not having it publicly audited. The ex cathedra pronouncements of SAGE may have produced unchallenged fear that has prevented un-whipped Parliamentary votes at key points in this unfolding saga. Without full and disinterest deliberation, a balanced policy approach seems unlikely, and that has turned out to be the case. The general population may be forgiven for feeling secure, a mood fostered by the comfort of recent decades and Government borrowing to cushion the economic down-side of lockdown. It has been egged on by a lamentably unquestioning and complicit main stream media. The emergent pro-lockdown, pro-vaccine Zeitgeist has produced a morality of convenience and hostility towards those who would rock the boat.

In as much as these are contributory factors, they cannot readily be undone by a single campaign alone. Appealing to emotions to advance the anti-lockdown case may have a place, and those who agree should pursue it. Two cheers! Yet doing so should not be justified simply on the grounds that this is what the ‘other side’ is doing and they are ‘winning’.

Worth reading in full.

But What Would a Sceptic Have Done?

Lockdown Sceptics regular Freddie Attenborough wonders how sceptics would have handled the crisis had we been in charge.

Now that we’ve entered into another lockdown, and all we’ve got to look forward to is baking banana bread and crying, I thought it might help to keep the phone lines at The Samaritans free for those most in need if I forced myself to engage with the following question: What would we sceptics have done differently? As we’re all too grimly aware, of course, lockdown zealots have spent the past year detaching themselves from reality, and now ride ghost-trains nervously around funfairs that they’ve built in their own minds. Scrutinising what, for want of a better word, we must describe as the ‘logic’ of the plan they’ve devised for the rest of us, however, we find ourselves unimpressed. Angry, even. Enforced participation in a socially destructive, deeply dispiriting negative feedback loop consisting of brief stop-offs at eight endlessly recurring and all equally dismal staging posts is, after all, not everyone’s cup of tea. But there it is. That’s state power for you. The whip is cracked, the organ plays, and Lo! Our hamster wheels just keep on turning. Curtailment of civil liberties, anxiety, depression, white elephants masquerading as ‘Nightingales,’ insolvent businesses, undiagnosed tumours, rising unemployment… and so it goes, day after day. Sifting through the rubble of our national self-respect, cataloguing artefact after broken artefact, and wishing all the while that we could forget the roles we’ve been forced to play within this unreal, nightmare-like mode of existence. If nothing else, the following schematic representation of the circuitous route we’re taking around and around the disaster zone does at least have the merit of reminding us that any relics of the Old World you forget to mourn during one lockdown (livelihoods, businesses, free speech, TalkRadio’s YouTube channel, and so on), can always be picked up and honoured with a few tears the next time around. 

He proceeds to present “12 possible theses on how society could have responded to COVID-19”.

Find it on the right-hand menu under “Have Sceptical Voices Been Suppressed?”. Worth reading in full.

A Village Snitch Story

A reader has written in with a disturbing tale of life in a typical English village in Covid Times.

In my village an example has emerged of what Boris’s Lockdown Culture can do to a community. There’s a recently widowed woman here. Her 60-year-old husband died a few weeks ago after an 18-month battle with leukaemia. The family have been completely shattered by the struggle but by November the game was up, compounded by him being infected at the last minute by someone with Covid being placed in his ward. He came home to die which he did a few days later. The funeral was three weeks ago and I think any right-minded person could forgive the presence of his adult children, who had been there throughout, helping their father die in peace and their bereaved and distressed mother to cope. Not good enough for one villager though. That person has devoted daylight and the evenings to checking up on every car seen in the village over Christmas, noting times and registration numbers to spot for visitors and now making it known this information is available to village organizations. The main target? The widow who is, apparently putting the village spy’s life at risk by having her children there. Threats have been circulated, though fortunately the victim is so far unaware of the mean-minded cruelty afoot. Happily, someone has drawn the spy’s attention to the offences of harassment and intimidation, and that if the spy is so concerned he/she should go to the police. Things seem to have subsided. For the moment. We can look forward to an infinite array of fallout from scenarios like this across the nation once (if ever) the country returns to normal, score settling, and embitterment as a legacy of these dreadful times and an echo of the great evil seen in the middle decades of the twentieth century in Europe which so many Britons have so smugly insisted could never happen here. Yeah, right.

Victims of Lockdown Website Launched

A new website, Victims of Lockdown, has launched for people to share their stories about the toll lockdown has taken on them and those they know. In its own words:

Lockdown is having a catastrophic impact on the people we love and the livelihoods we’ve built. We all feel this pain terribly, but it’s rarely talked about. So, this website is a place to share your story. Join the many others, just like you, who are standing up and speaking out.

Find it here and add your stories and share the page.

Toby’s Newsnight Appearance: A Review

Toby appeared on Newsnight on Tuesday night to talk about whether lockdown sceptics should be outright banned or reluctantly tolerated. You can watch the segment here. A reader has written a review.

Emily Maitlis: “The lockdown worked in March, it brought the R rate down from 3 to .6.”

Toby Young: “It was falling before it was imposed.”

EM: “We will discuss this again I am sure.”

It was an exit cue of course and whilst it may not have quite amounted to an invitation, we must make sure we do discuss it again with Emily, because whether or not lockdowns work is what it is all about.

The exchange came at the end of a nine-minute segment that perfectly illustrated Dr David McGrogan’s piece on “the failed strategy of lockdown sceptics”, with emotive accusations of Covid denial blocking out any light that might have been used to illuminate key areas of contention. The Newsnight segment was on whether YouTube had been right to remove from its platform the recordings of talkRADIO on the basis that its policy is “to take down content that explicitly contradicts expert consensus”. A decision that has since been reversed.

Emily set out her stall. “In a time of public emergency, and in the face of so much irrefutable scientific data, is it responsible to spread the word of the Covid Deniers/the Lockdown Sceptics – is it responsible to air the unorthodox view? Or is it wrong not to acknowledge it?” Emily asked. A deliberate conflation of deniers and sceptics later justified because Toby Young had, in June 2020 when Covid had, for a time, all but disappeared, argued that Covid had “all but disappeared”, that “social distancing was pointless” which it probably was back then, as evidenced by the absence of an increase in deaths following the BLM rallies and that the second spike had “refused to materialise”. It hadn’t then – but there is clearly a problem now. Emily wanted contrition – Toby obliged. Fair enough you might think but did Newsnight pillory the Chief Scientific Officer when, after months of denying the possibility of T cell immunity, conceded he had been wrong all along? A far greater failure with far more significant implications. Last night Emily read out a tweet from children’s author Michael Rosen saying, “If Toby Young had been in charge he would have switched ventilators off and I would have died.” What possible justification did she have? Was she auditioning for a space on the Good Morning Britain sofa? Did reading that tweet really shed any light on the greatest crisis our nation has faced in our lifetimes? Would Patrick Vallance have received the same kind of treatment?

Ian Dunt, the other contributor and editor of politics.co.uk, questioned the morality of publishing a contrary view – “Should you write it or publish it in the first place, is it responsible, is it truthful, does it show moral consideration?” His answer was of course was no – he “wouldn’t be able to sleep at night”. Using phrasing, and in a tone that clearly conveyed her opinion of the lockdown sceptic argument that lockdown damage might outweigh the benefits, Emily then questioned whether “oxygenating views that encourages a change in behaviour that leads to a greater number of deaths that is dangerous”. That is only one small step away from Paul Mason (formerly of Newsnight), who tweeted, “I don’t want Johnson to say ‘Stay home, safe lives’ etc. I want him to call out and ridicule the bullshit anti-maskers, lockdown skeptics (sic) and denialists in his own party – and order social media platforms to suppress/label Covid disinformation. That’s leadership”. It is not, it is censorship, and Mason, Dunt and Maitlis are all patronising the British people.

One thing that Ian Dunt did get right was that “there was no threat of Toby or his allies convincing very many people – a YouGov poll says 85% of the public support the new lockdown measures”. So why is that? I’ve never been a fan of our Prime Minister, he is the perfect illustration of why you should never make a salesman into a CEO (although without him we might have ended up with Jeremy Corbyn). But I did like the look of both Professors Whitty and Vallance. Chris Whitty in particular comes across as unassuming and honest, a family member was taught by him when she was a medical student and was full of praise. A close friend went through medical school with Vallance and spoke highly of him too (less so now). I wanted to believe, I wanted to go along with the narrative. Professor Ferguson grew up just over the border in mid-Wales and his mother is an Anglican priest, as was my father – I wanted to believe him too. And that is the instinct of the vast majority of the people in this country – it is just too overwhelming, and when the MSM are not doing their job, time consuming not to.

It was David Blunkett referencing Matthew Syed’s brilliant book on “group think” – Rebel Ideas – on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One on April 28th that gave me the confidence to look elsewhere. Drawing on Rebel Ideas, Blunkett argued that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has a problem, “major mistakes in the recent past have been made by people of similar ilk, similar ideas, similar background, similar thinking being considered the only experts that you could draw down on”.

I set off on a path that will be familiar to many sceptics which took me to UnHerd, Spiked, Tim Spector and the Covid ZOE App, Lockdown Sceptics and then to Twitter and Ivor Cummins, David Paton, Joel Smalley, GBD, Peter Hitchens, Pearson and more. The evidence that lockdowns do not work seems extremely compelling to me but there are also many unanswered questions – how is it that Japan a highly urbanised country of 125 million, whose response to Covid has been shambolic – little testing, no track and trace, intermittent lockdowns – have had so few deaths? What can we learn from Taiwan and Vietnam? And why is it that Sweden, which has performed so much better than most European countries that have had lockdowns, have suffered more deaths than their Nordic neighbours? Is the “dry tinder” explanation enough?

The sceptic case is supported by a huge number of scientists, physicians, academics and well-meaning people who also want to save lives and find the best outcome for our country. They do not deserve to be vilified. This whole Covid thing is not over yet and these rebel ideas justify opening up the debate not shutting it down. The ideas and the data that underpin them warrant serious, detailed scrutiny by the MSM and the BBC in particular, to whom we look in times of crisis.

Emily Maitlis must, as she mooted, make time to discuss this again – soon. She needs to produce the data to justify her assertions that the scientific evidence is “irrefutable” and that the lockdown in March 2020 reduced the R rate from 3 to .6. The programme content should be about data and not sentiment, her guests should be data scientists and not journalists and the segment should be an hour long Newsnight special and not 8mins 44 seconds. I wait in hope.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “You Caused It All By Telling Lies” by Hank Williams and “Learning To Live With Myself” by Merle Haggard.

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.

Stop Press: The BBC has helpfully done an update on “Sex and Covid: What are the rules in lockdown?

The Terrence Higgins Trust published advice in August suggesting people avoid kissing, wear a face covering and choose positions that aren’t face-to-face during sex.

“Your best sexual partner during the COVID-19 pandemic is yourself or someone within your household and you should follow the Government guidelines about social distancing, hand washing and face coverings.

“However, it’s unrealistic to ask everyone to abstain from sex indefinitely,” the trust says.

Masturbation, sex toys or having phone or online sex are recommended as the safest options.

If you are having sex with people outside of your household, it’s important to limit the number of partners, it adds.

Like with all parts of life at the moment, be aware of any COVID-19 symptoms you or your partner might have – and isolate if you have them.

If you are meeting someone new, the charity says to ask if they or anyone in their household have had symptoms or tested positive.

Is this the BBC publishing something that tacitly endorses breaking lockdown rules?

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.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

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

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

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p, and he’s even said he’ll donate half the money to Lockdown Sceptics, so everyone wins.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here.

The Great Barrington Declaration

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. But the cause has been taken up by PCR Claims. Check out their website here.

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…

Latest News

Parliament to Debate Petition Calling For “No Penalties For Declining Vaccine”

The petition on the Parliament website, “Prevent any restrictions on those who refuse a COVID-19 vaccination“, has reached over 278,000 signatures and Parliament has announced MPs will debate it on December 14th. You can watch it live on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

The Government response given on September 11th was hardly reassuring, coming with an ominous “however”.

There are currently no plans to introduce a Covid-19 vaccine in a way that penalises those who do not take up the vaccine. However, the Government will carefully consider all options to improve vaccination rates, should that be necessary.

A Lockdown Sceptics reader suggests: “It’s really important ahead of the debate on December 14th that as many people as possible write to their MPs to oppose any coercive measures when it comes to the vaccine, and to ensure the vaccine doesn’t become a requirement for business, travel, employment etc.”

We quite agree. Time to hit that compose button. Here’s the Write To Them link again.

A Postcard from Switzerland

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has gone to work in Switzerland for the winter, a country which has faced its autumn surge without a new national lockdown.

I’m working in the Swiss canton of Valais for the winter season. I was initially going to be working in France but Macron decided on another full lockdown so that was off, especially as it seems the ski season opening has been pushed back until late January now. The Swiss have been very reluctant to have a lockdown again and at the national (federal) level restrictions are light: masks, limits on numbers gathering and so on. Individual cantons can set their own rules within reason, much like individual states in Germany or the USA. My canton (Valais) has decided to shut restaurants and bars but all shops etc. are open and the lifts are working on weekends. Some of the rules are just stupid, such as wearing a mask on an open ski lift, but as across most of Europe many of the decisions are political and not medical, to play the game whilst ignoring it in private.

The Swiss in the mountains are keen to push ahead again and in about a week the restaurants and bars should be open for business and they are keen to hoover up tourists from Germany, Italy and especially France who are now threatening to stop travellers at the border. The government here knows that the ski season is worth billions and without foreigners from outside Europe and likely no Brits either they need to make all their money from what they can. Pootling around the resort is a little dull but a lot of places aren’t too bothered about masks either so it feels much more normal. There has been a half-hearted effort at putting up ‘two metres’ signs and similar but they are cheerfully ignored. After months of bullying and shouting from the UK authorities it feels great to be left alone.

The big moment will be this weekend when all the lifts really start moving as the snow has arrived, all the way down to the valley with more to come. There have been murmurings at federal level about limiting lift capacity and so on but this seems more to settle nerves. If we can get through December then I see no reason why the Swiss won’t just plough on and be done with it. The trees are coated in snow, the mountains look more chocolate-boxy than ever and hopefully by the time I go home some semblance of sanity will have returned.

Switzerland’s “cases” have been on the decline for weeks, since November 9th, despite no lockdown.

Switzerland is one of the places we’ve highlighted before which proves that lockdowns are not necessary to avert catastrophe and that SAGE’s doom modelling is wrong. Another is Sweden, where the latest EuroMOMO figures show the “second wave” has not yet produced any excess deaths and appears to be on the decline (though these figures could be revised in future weeks).

Can someone please tell Boris, Gove and Hancock?

Save Our Rights UK Censored By Facebook

Facebook has taken down the private group page of Save Our Rights UK, reported to have been 42,000 members strong. Is this part of the social media site’s vaccine crackdown? The lockdown-sceptic group has organised and participated in numerous protests, most recently in London last weekend where protestors faced brutal treatment from the police. The group’s public Facebook page is still up, for now.

More Big Tech censorship of the little guys fighting for freedom.

Take a Bow, David Warburton MP

What follows is a letter sent by David Warburton, Conservative MP for Somerton and Frome, to a Lockdown Sceptics reader explaining why he voted against the new tier system on Tuesday. It’s a corker.

Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to get in touch on such an important question. I’m conscious that last night’s vote was one of the most consequential in recent decades: for public health, the resilience of our economy and for the preservation of notions of individual responsibility and liberty. I did vote against the proposed tier system last night and thought it may be helpful to share my reasoning as to why I could not offer my support for this system in its current form.

I very much welcome the constructive approach the Prime Minister has taken in consulting widely within the parliamentary party. We’ve seen additional support offered to those hospitality businesses – such as pubs – which stand to be most severely affected by the continuation of the restrictions we’ve seen. We’ve seen further ground given in other areas, but I remain unconvinced that this tier system struck the right balance between the competing imperatives we’ve faced since March. The need to balance protecting our loved ones from harm and keeping the virus contained and the equally vital need to preserve individual liberty and the means by which people can provide for themselves and pursue their own ambitions.

I have seven key reservations which I outline below – and led me to vote against the tier system. For the sake of clarity I’ve outlined them below in bullet-point form:

1, First, the regulations fail in their essentials. For government regulations to work (which can only be achieved through public consent), they must be clear, and underpinned by cohesive internal logic. But the rules that have been proposed are contradictory and, in many cases, seem almost arbitrary. From last orders at 10pm but 11pm closing (do we all order four rounds at 10pm, or do venues have to pay staff for an hour with no takings?), to the vaguely defined ‘substantial meal’. From allowing soft drinks all day but alcohol only with food, to an astonishingly labyrinthine and impossibly convoluted ‘bubble’ system, with no obvious sense of cause and effect. 

From work meetings being allowed in public or private places (only for self-employed), to no one allowed to meet from separate households either outdoors or indoors, unless they’re on a train or travelling. 

2, I have been asking (both publicly on social media and in private conversations with Ministers) for the data – a cost benefit analysis – which informed the decisions around the Tier system. Apparently the Cabinet Office had been putting this together all weekend for us, which sadly suggests that the data was not the basis for the proposed rules. The crucial question we have to ask ourselves is what is the cost to lives, to livelihoods, to businesses, to mental health, suicides, to all non-Covid related heath and – of course – the future of the economy of the restrictions, against the likely lives saved from those same restrictions.

The ONS have calculated that there will be/will have been 200,000 excess non-Covid deaths caused by the restrictions. This is nearly four times the number of presumed Covid deaths. Bristol University put the figure at 560,000. While I don’t suggest these figures are anything other than an estimate (given the circumstances and fast-moving picture), they should nonetheless give us pause to question the wisdom of continuing a course of action that has produced them.

3, The regional basis for the tiering is problematic. The apparent incidence of Covid-19 is inflated in areas (like our own) that are affected by nearby towns or cities. And many, having had lockdown for a month, find themselves moving into stricter restrictions than were imposed before lockdown.  This would seem to imply that lockdown was ineffective. Which itself would imply that the stricter Tier system will also be ineffective. Figures show that the previous Tiered system was having an effect on infections, whereas lockdown did not have a proportionately greater effect. So why will 99% of country continue under effective lockdown?

There is also a clear implication that the Tiers will continue until Easter. This will be devastating to lives and businesses in our area – while costing all of us, and future generations, almost £1 billion a day. It’s imperative that businesses are allowed to open – including those in the hospitality and tourism sector which contribute so much to the economy of the West Country. The restrictions have gone a long way towards the destruction of hospitality and tourism (and much else) in the West Country. 

4, The NHS pressure argument is dubious. We have seven unused Nightingale hospitals in England (more in the other countries of the union). The excess deaths are barely above the annual average, and there is capacity even in regular hospitals. But even if the NHS does suffer pressure ,this  is not unprecedented – and has been the case every winter for year upon year under successive governments of both main parties. But this has never before been regarded as a reason to make it illegal for people to be allowed to take risks with their health.

5, The data showing massive increases in infections/deaths has been shown to be dubious at almost every turn. For the under 60s, there is a 1 in 300,000 chance of death. For the over 60s, there is a 99% survival rate.  For the over 80s, it’s still 90%. 

6,  There is an alternative to hand – based on individual responsibility that we exercise in our own lives anyway. We should allow the vulnerable to isolate and protect themselves, as with any other virus – no-one suffering from ‘flu goes to visit and then embrace elderly relatives.

7, I have very real anxieties about the precedent that’s being set here: of the state arrogating itself the power to impose such stringent measures on its population when the data upon which this is based is chancy and uncertain. Liberty is like innocence, easy to remove and extremely difficult to regain. And a future government with less benign intentions could easily use this precedent to interfere further – and for malign motives.

So, given the economic, social, health, livelihood, business, mental health costs, the unemployment, insolvencies – each of which is a personal tragedy – I could not, in good conscience, vote to compromise lives and destroy livelihoods. I recognise the pressures under which the Government is operating, and applaud many of the mitigation measures that have been implemented thus far. But I felt impelled to vote against a system which poses such an economic and social threat to our part of Somerset.

I do hope this explains my reasoning for my vote last night and my sincere thanks again for getting in touch.

Vaccination Certificates By The Back Door?

GP and Lockdown Sceptics reader Dr Helen Westwood has written to alert us to some serious concerns she has about the Government planned vaccine rollout.

I am a GP and am utterly dismayed by the handling of the Covid response by the Government and the sacred cow we call the NHS.

Currently CCGs up and down the country are scrambling to get the vaccination program rolled out. NHSE have published the service specification for Primary Care Networks (groups of GP practices) to deliver the vaccines. As this “Enhanced Service” arrangement is voluntary, and it is fraught with difficulty, our PCN has decided not to sign up.

Trafford CCG is putting significant pressure on the individual practices within the network to sign up to deliver the service. If the Practices do not sign up then the responsibility for commissioning a service goes back to the CCG. They have no contingency plan in place (in no small part because of a lack of guidance from NHSE to the CCG’s). This is unsurprising and entirely predictable. Despite all the boasting about being the first country to grant temporary authorisation for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine they have no idea how they are going to deliver it.

Is it also worth noting that it is only temporary authorisation that has been granted – the vaccine does not yet have marketing authorisation in the UK. This effectively means it is “unlicensed” and as such the prescriber has a duty to explain this to the patient. In usual practice this means that the liability in case of adverse effects lies with the prescriber, not with the pharmaceutical company.

An additional concern I have is that the service specification states that GPs are not to record the vaccination on the patient’s GP electronic clinical record system. Instead it is to be recorded on “Pinnacle”, a system used by pharmacists. As reported in Pulse:

“Vaccination data ‘will flow from Pinnacle and Sonar to the GP patient record in a similar way it currently flows from community pharmacies for flu vaccinations’, it said.

“NHS England aims to ‘implement as soon as possible a fully automated process’ via GP practices’ own IT systems, but ‘this is unlikely to be in place from Day 1’.

“PCN groupings will get access to Pinnacle and Sonar as well as training on how to use the systems ‘free of charge and prior to vaccinations commencing’, NHS England added.

“Recording vaccinations in Pinnacle/Sonar ‘will generate payment’, NHS England said.

“However it added: ‘GP practices must make arrangements within their PCN grouping for the nomination of a host practice which will receive payments due under the ES for and on behalf of the GP practice.’

“It said this was ‘necessary to take account of the varying number of practices, PCNs and designated sites within PCN groupings as well as the fact that data recorded on Pinnacle and Sonar will be used for a variety of different purposes’.”

I am concerned that the data are to be used “for a variety of different purposes”. Does this mean vaccination certificates? I suspect many patients would not be happy about this and would be under the impression if their GP was administering the vaccines the information would be recorded in their confidential medical record.

WHO’s Revised Vaccine Criteria “Wouldn’t Have Picked Up Narcolepsy”

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has flagged to us a letter to the BMJ in June 2019 from Dr Jacob Puliyel, a paediatrician in Delhi, who warns that the WHO’s new vaccine assessment system, adopted in 2013, would no longer pick up rare side-effects such as the narcolepsy that occurred with the swine flu vaccine.

In the old system, reactions that were temporally associated with immunization, for which there was no alternate explanation, were classified as ‘probably’ related to immunization. It facilitated signal detection. This cannot be said for the currently used WHO causality assessment.

In the new causality assessment, only reactions that have previously been acknowledged in epidemiological studies to be caused by the vaccine are classified as a vaccine-product-related reactions. Reactions observed for the first time during post-marketing surveillance (Phase 4 clinical trial) are not considered as “consistent with causal association with vaccine”. All new serious adverse reactions are labelled as coincidental events “inconsistent with causal association”, or “unclassifiable” and the association with vaccine is not acknowledged. It has, in effect, made phase 4 trials redundant.

He concludes:

Given these apparent anomalies, the new WHO’s algorithm for causality assessment of an adverse event following immunization (AEFI) is not fit for purpose and it fails to inspire confidence that it can identify new, uncommon AEFI. It will erode faith not only in the immunisation programme but also the public’s trust in their physicians.

Worth reading in full.

Watch Dr Puliyel explain the problem in more detail here.

Stop Press: The CEO of Pfizer has admitted that he is “not certain” their vaccine stops transmission of COVID-19. To be fair, this would largely be due to “asymptomatic transmission”, which appears to be a myth put about by China.

Stop Press 2: The Telegraph reports that the Government has said it will be months before having the vaccine will exempt a person from having to self-isolate if contacted by NHS Test and Trace because it’s not been confirmed it prevents transmission.

Stop Press 3: The Mail reports that the Government is planning to compensate people who suffer extreme Covid vaccine side effects with payments of up to £120,000 under an existing compensation scheme. Instils confidence.

Sceptic of the Week

This week’s winner is TV dancer Brendan Cole, who has been branded “totally irresponsible” for claiming face masks do not protect against Covid.

He dared to quote on Twitter the Danmask-19 study that found even surgical masks correctly worn offer no significant protection. Seems zealots don’t like to hear actual science. The Mail has the details.

Brendan’s fans, including medical professionals, were left fuming by his “c**p” post and were quick to tell him they had unfollowed him.

Others urged the New Zealand-born ballroom dancer to delete his controversial message, claiming it was full of “misinformation” and would “put others at risk”. 

Dr Joshua Wolrich claimed that Brendan had his facts mixed up and there was proof of the contrary, adding: “Think before you share c**p that fits what you want to believe otherwise you become directly responsible for people coming to harm. 

“Do the right thing and delete this information.”

While one Scottish nurse echoed the doctor’s sentiments, angrily penning: “That is not what we need at the moment. Follow the bl***y guidance and wear to protect others.”

Another fan branded Brendan as “totally irresponsible”, writing: “I work in healthcare and have had patients refuse to wear masks because of this type of misinformation putting others at risk.”

More of his 88,000 followers told the TV star that they were “disappointed” in his “selfish” actions spreading “fake news” and even told him to just “stick to dancing”.

It is not the first time Brendan has voiced his controversial views on social media, as he previously took to Facebook to slam COVID-19 safety measures as “outrageous”.

He penned: “For the first time in recent history we are being controlled in so many ways. Why can we not protest? 

“Why can we not have an opinion and discuss these differences of opinion openly without being silenced or called names. 

“Why is there so much fear and hysteria being pumped down our airways when the numbers (often put in a certain way to look worse than they are) don’t reflect the outrageous measures being put in place. 

“I’m not saying it’s not dangerous and if you have been affected by it then I am truly sorry for you. 

“However, other lives are important too and millions of lives and businesses are being ruined.”

In terms of preventing transmission to others – the usual retort from mask zealots – worth remembering that countries like Italy and France hardly seem to have benefited this autumn from their mask mandates, while in America a study claiming to show masks lower transmission had to be withdrawn when “cases” resurged.

Well done, Brendan. Stand your ground.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today: “Injected with a poison” by Praga Khan.

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 Nike Japan’s effort to bring Western woke moralising to an Eastern audience in the form of a new anti-racist advert, which backfires horribly. Philip Patrick explains in the Spectator.

The ad snappily titled ‘The Future isn’t Waiting’ features scenes of bullying and discrimination directed at mixed-raced athletes in Japanese schools. They then fight back and triumph through the power of sport – and the power of Nike sportswear. Boycotters have claimed that the ad massively overstates a real, but far from endemic or Japan-specific problem, and is stirring up division under the fig leaf of Nike’s progressive ‘corporate values’ while really just cynically exploiting currently fashionable ideology for profit.

One reason the Nike ad may have been so badly received here is that the Japanese are simply not used to this kind of advertising. Japanese commercials, often far more entertaining than the programmes which interrupt them, are blissfully free of this sort of sermonising. In fact, they are one of the things I feel nostalgic about when I return to the UK, knowing that as soon as I deplane at Heathrow I will be relentlessly battered around the head with messages of diversity from every billboard, poster, and TV commercial I encounter. And it won’t stop until I get back to Japan.

The most egregious faux pas was the US-based company presuming to lecture the Japanese for its own blatant self-serving ends.

But perhaps the more substantial factor that led to the backlash here, and which from my experience is not just limited to older Japanese citizens, is the country’s distinct aversion to being lectured to from outside. Gaiatsu, or outside power, is a word likely to raise the hackles of even the mildest Japanese person, and for a US-based sportswear manufacturer to wag its corporate finger at Japanese society and offer its own self-serving solutions was never going to go down well.

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 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.

Stop Press: A reader wonders whether some lockdown sceptics are missing out on the liberation that is arming oneself with a reasonable excuse and going out with a naked face.

It seems to me that most sceptical commentators are prepared to complain about face masks but are not prepared to take any action, claim exemption and go public about the fact that it’s not against the law to be without a mask if you have a reasonable excuse.

Why is this?  If you read the Government guidance it’s quite clear that you don’t have to have a specific disability to claim exemption and the scope for “reasonable excuse” is broad. Irrespective of the fact that there’s no scientific basis to suggest wearing masks works in the community, most sceptics are anxious about the downsides and hence have a perfectly reasonable excuse not to wear them.

Subject to being considerate of those who are terrified of Covid, I find not wearing a mask liberating, especially when I meet other unmasked people, be they disabled or not. I’m sure many more sceptics would feel better if they did the same but why do so many sceptical commentators go on about mask-wearing being the law, reinforcing the idea that we can do nothing about it when clearly we can?

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

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)

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…

Will Knowland with his wife and five children

In his Speccie column this week, Toby highlights the plight of Will Knowland, the teacher who has been dismissed from his position at Eton College for posting a lecture questioning radical feminism on his own YouTube channel.

The conflict being played out at Eton is quite serious, not least because similar battles are being fought across the educational landscape. It began in September with an English teacher, Will Knowland, composing a video lecture in which he encouraged his students to question the idea that there’s something fundamentally toxic about masculinity. According to a letter addressed to the ‘Eton community’ last week, he felt it was important to acquaint the boys with a more positive view of their sex to counter the radical feminist ideology that’s promoted by the school’s leadership team, which portrays traditional male characteristics as inextricably bound up with a system of patriarchal oppression.

After Knowland posted this video on the school intranet, a member of staff complained to the head. The gist of it was that the content of the lecture was degrading and humiliating and, because of this, the headmaster had a legal duty to prevent it being given. Allowing it to go ahead would have constituted a form of discrimination against women — a ‘protected’ characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

To no one’s surprise, trendy Hendy sided with the complainant. He told Knowland to ditch the lecture and remove it from the school’s internal website. Knowland complied, but when the head also instructed him to take it down from his personal YouTube channel he said he would only do so if he was given a good reason. The head’s claim that the content of the lecture breached the Equality Act is debatable. The Act is ambiguously worded and is often invoked by the promoters of equality, diversity and inclusion to silence dissenters from woke orthodoxy in educational settings. So Knowland was prepared to accept the first of the head’s demands. But even on the most cautious reading of the Equality Act, it doesn’t circumscribe what teachers are allowed to post on their social media accounts. When Knowland stood his ground and said he wouldn’t remove the video unless he was given a good reason, the head suspended him and set a process in motion which ended with his dismissal. Not great, given that the 34-year-old teacher is married with five children, one of them disabled, and they live in a grace and favour house belonging to the school. An appeal is scheduled for December 8th.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Read this tribute to Will Knowland by his former student Cameron Hilditch in the National Review.

Latest News

Victory in Spite of the Tiers

Boris looks sheepishly at Graham Brady, like a teenager who’s just got in from an all-night party being told off by his dad

The post-lockdown tier system comes into force today after the Government won the parliamentary vote. Not the result that readers of Lockdown Sceptics would have wanted in an ideal world, but the vote was a damaging blow to the new tier system nevertheless.

  • Only 291 of 650 MPs voted for the Tier system, which means the new restrictions are being brought in without the backing of a majority of MPs. In such circumstances it’s going to be difficult to enforce them
  • The Labour party abstained. Admittedly, a bit spineless of Keir Starmer, but better than voting with the Government
  • 55 Tory MPs rebelled, up from 34 on November 4th and Boris’s biggest back bench rebellion to date
  • 15 Labour MPs voted against the measures. Sixteen if you count Jeremy Corbyn (independent)

For more on the fall-out for the Government, see this analysis by Camilla Tominey in the Telegraph.

Here is the list of MPs who voted “No” yesterday:

Conservative:

Adam Afriyie, Imran Ahmad Khan, Steve Baker (teller), Sir Graham Brady, Andrew Bridgen, Paul Bristow, Sir Christopher Chope, Greg Clark, James Daly, Philip Davies, David Davis, Jonathan Djanogly, Jackie Doyle-Price, Richard Drax, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Mark Francois, Marcus Fysh, Dame Cheryl Gillian, Chris Green, Damian Green, Kate Griffiths, Mark Harper, Philip Hollobone, David Jones, Julian Knight, Robert Largan, Pauline Latham, Chris Loder, Tim Loughton, Craig Mackinlay, Anthony Mangnall, Karl McCartney, Stephen McPartland, Esther McVey, Huw Merriman, Robbie Moore, Anne Marie Morris, Sir Bob Neill, Mark Pawsey, Sir John Redwood, Mary Robinson, Andrew Rosindell, Henry Smith, Dr Ben Spencer, Sir Desmond Swayne, Sir Robert Syms (teller), Craig Tracey, Tom Tugendhat, Matt Vickers, Christian Wakeford, Sir Charles Walker, James Wallis, David Warburton, William Wragg, Jeremy Wright.

Labour:

Aspana Begum, Richard Burgon, Mary Kelly Foy, Andrew Gwynne, Mike Hill, Kevan Jones, Emma Lewell-Buck, Ian Mearns,
Grahame Morris, Kate Osborne, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, John Spellar, Graham Stringer, Zarah Sultana, Derek Twigg.

Democratic Unionist Party:

Gregory Campbell, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Paul Girvan, Carla Lockhart, Ian Paisley Jr, Gavin Robinson, Jim Shannon, Sammy Wilson.

Independents:

Dr Julian Lewis, Jeremy Corbyn.

If you wrote to one of the above MPs, take a bow. And if you feel like thanking them, the standard Parliamentary email address format is firstname.secondname.mp@parliament.uk.

There were a number of note-worthy contributions to the debate in the lead up to the vote:

I very much want to support my Government and my Prime Minister in the lobby this evening, but I can’t and won’t inflict deliberate harm on my constituency unless I can see for myself that to do nothing would be worse.

Andrea Leadsom, Conservative (abstained)

Restrictions on much smaller areas work better, they are fairer, and they cause much less economic damage. The Government’s proposed tier system does not deliver this. I will therefore be voting against the government this evening.

David Davis, Conservative (No)

This is a dangerous moment in the life of our country. People feel they have been pushed too far and suffered too much. Government’s analysis should have compared its own approach with alternative approaches to show the costs & benefits.

Steve Baker, Conservative (Teller for the Noes)

Tonight I am voting against new Coronavirus tier restrictions. In the absence of a cost benefit analysis of lockdown, clarity about Trafford’s allocation to – and exit from – Tier 3 and sufficient justification for removal of fundamental freedoms, I have no choice but to oppose.

Graham Brady, Conservative (No)

And a special shout-out to William Wragg MP, who made Guido’s Quote of the Day:

There’s no conspiracy. In my brief experience of it, the British state has never been competent enough to mount or organise such a conspiracy, and indeed if it were so in the present climate plans for that would have leaked already.

William Wragg, Conservative (No)

Stop Press: One of the best speeches in the House of Commons yesterday was by Sir Graham Brady.

https://twitter.com/toadmeister/status/1333801494701768706

How to Fight Back, the Gandhi Way

Wondering what we can do, now that we’re facing the prospect of being in lockdown in all but name until Easter? Professor Ramesh Thakur, a former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and a long-standing sceptic who’s written numerous articles attacking lockdowns, has a suggestion: take a leaf out of Gandhi’s book. As Professor Thakur points out, there is a considerable body of scholarship that shows nonviolent protest – civil disobedience – is more politically effective than violent protest, with the road to Indian independence being a case in point.

But Professor Thakur has a particular form of civil disobedience in mind, one perfected by Gandhi and still used in India to this day. Here’s the gist of it:

‘Jail Bharo Andolan’ is one technique of civil disobedience. It literally means ‘Fill the prisons movement/agitation’. It’s a deliberate, coordinated campaign to subvert a law or regime by courting arrest and imprisonment in numbers that physically clog the courts and overwhelm the prisons. The fact that those imprisoned are normally law-abiding citizens adds greatly to the authorities’ embarrassment…

So to those looking for what you can do: protest peacefully in large numbers, have several rungs of leaders to take the place of any who are arrested, be unfailingly polite and charmingly courteous to police officers and judges, refuse to pay fines in favour of court appearance and trial, and after the court has delivered its verdict go to prison rather than pay fines to overwhelm the prison system until the justice system breaks down.

It requires sacrifice, courage and steadfastness to refuse obedience to the dictates of a discredited and despised government. The dissenters must be prepared to accept the legal consequences, including imprisonment. But if you don’t fight for freedom, get ready to lose it.

We’ve given this one pride of place on the right-hand side, filed under “The Left-Wing Case Against Lockdowns”.

Worth reading in full.

Eggsactly!

From the Sun

There was another nearly-as-important debate yesterday on whether Scotch Eggs count as a “substantial meal”. The Sun has the details. Michael Gove, as they say, got himself “into a pickle”.

Michael Gove was asked about the status of the delicacy a day after his Cabinet colleague George Eustice told LBC that a Scotch egg “would count as a substantial meal if there were table service”. That means it could be be served with alcohol by pubs in tier two areas after lockdown ends.

Mr Gove told the radio station: “A couple of scotch eggs is a starter, as far as I’m concerned.”

Forty-five minutes later, he said on ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “As far as I’m concerned it’s probably a starter. My own preference when it comes to a substantial meal might be more than just a scotch egg but that’s because I’m a hearty trencherman. The Government is relying on people’s common sense.”

However, by the time he was interviewed by ITV News shortly afterwards, his position had evolved.

He said: “A Scotch egg is a substantial meal. I myself would definitely scoff a couple of Scotch eggs if I had the chance, but I do recognise that it is a substantial meal.”

A Day in the Life of a COVID-19 Physician

Getty images

The Critic magazine has another piece by the Covid Physician on the effect of lockdowns. It is an extensive and wide-ranging critique of how the virus has been handled, written by an NHS doctor. It starts with a tale of the effect on the treatment of a patient in need of specialised care:

Lockdown has dire, hidden consequences for unwell patients in general practice. Take for example the 34 year-old patient with motor neurone disease. English is a second language, she is an asylum seeker who thought she was escaping persecution and tyranny. In addition to the general muscular spasticity and weakness which will eventually lead to a slow death by respiratory failure she has a progressive bulbar palsy which means she can no longer speak nor swallow well. These will worsen. Each morning she risks a death by choking on her puréed breakfast. A feeding tube has been proposed, but she pretends to her specialist it hasn’t been. She is on medicines that sedate her. She can barely handle a mobile phone. Let us say life is already a multiple misery.

COVID-19 has brought her a special new hell. Carers avoid her due to the vulnerability her medical conditions bring to her. Speech and language therapists (SALTs) avoid her and make-believe care through Microsoft Teams. To make this virtual dystopia impressive and even better than the real thing they have given it an incredible name: The SALT proudly states: “Consultation done with AAC meeting”. What is that? I keep reading. My goodness, another Fourth Industrial revolution thing? Augmentative and Alternative Communication. To me, a simple video-call is demoralising doublespeak, for non-existent care by proxy.

My patient’s neurologist does the same: multi-conferencing the locked-down patient as she slowly rots in her asylum accommodation amidst a cold, bleak post-industrial pseudo-apocalypse. A pathetic dripping roast for everyone to make even easier money off. It occurs to me that the dehumanising, forced-impoverishment and restrictions of my refugee and asylum patient group is now upon us all, meagre social credits, not allowed to work, restricted movement, restricted access to healthcare. We are all in the same lockdown boat, now.

It concludes with an excoriation of Johnson, Whitty, Vallance et al, who worry the author far more than COVID-19:

The Prime Minister is fond of saying he is following the science. He is not. He is absolving himself of command, control and blame by saying so. He may also be too classically-educated to appreciate he is not following the science with lockdown, masks and social-distancing. He is ensconced in an echo-chamber following a narrow body of nominal rubber-stamping medics, scientists and mathematicians without the correct skill sets, incentive nor personality traits to think outside of the box. They are the ones who ruthlessly rise to the top and become the best government mandarins in Whitehall. Ambitious, ladder-climbing, back-stabbing Et tu Brute? sociopaths in the image of their Caesar.

While they do politics, we are suffering and dying in their Yes Minister tragifarce for real. They could lock us up forever based upon their over-reactive criteria. Johnson, Whitty, Vallance, Hancock, and SAGE worry me more than COVID-19 and are far more dangerous to the UK. They have infantilised medicine. What would they do to us if a truly awesome contagion were to turn up?

Professors Hancock and Whitty have erased another fundamental medical principle from medicine: Primum Non Nocere: first do no harm.

Worth reading in full.

Dr Wodarg and Dr Yeadon Call for Halt to COVID-19 Vaccine Studies

Credit: Oldschool3d/Shutterstock

Lockdown Sceptics contributor Mike Yeadon, and Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, a German physician and epidemiologist, have filed an application with the European Medicine Agency – the organisation responsible for EU drug approval – for the immediate suspension of COVID-19 vaccine studies and the BioNtech/Pfizer study in particular. More from 2020 News

Dr Wodarg and Dr Yeadon are demanding that the studies, for the protection of the life and health of the volunteers, should not be continued until a study design is available that is suitable to address the significant safety concerns expressed by an increasing number of renowned scientists against the vaccine and the study design.

The petitioners demand that, due to the known lack of accuracy of the PCR test in a serious study, a so-called Sanger sequencing must be used. This is the only way to make reliable statements on the effectiveness of a vaccine against COVID-19. On the basis of the many different PCR tests of highly varying quality, neither the risk of disease nor a possible vaccine benefit can be determined with the necessary certainty, which is why testing the vaccine on humans is unethical.

They are also demanding that the risks already known from previous studies can be excluded. Their concerns are directed on four points in particular:

– The formation of so-called “non-neutralizing antibodies” can lead to an exaggerated immune reaction, especially when the test person is confronted with the real, “wild” virus after vaccination. 

– The vaccinations are expected to produce antibodies against spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2. However, spike proteins also contain syncytin-homologous proteins, which are essential for the formation of the placenta in mammals such as humans. It must be ruled out that a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 could trigger an immune reaction against syncytin-1, as it may otherwise result in infertility of indefinite duration in vaccinated women.

– The mRNA vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer contain polyethylene glycol (PEG). 70% of people develop antibodies against this substance. This means that many people can develop allergic, potentially fatal reactions to the vaccination.

– The much too short duration of the study does not allow a realistic estimation of the late effects. As in the narcolepsy cases after the swine flu vaccination, millions of healthy people would be exposed to an unacceptable risk if an emergency approval were to be granted and the possibility of observing the late effects of the vaccination were to follow.

EU citizens are encouraged to sign the petition by sending the email prepared here to the EMA.

The Call for Volunteer Vaccinators

Source: iStock

Meanwhile, a couple of readers have been in touch about the call for volunteer vaccinators. One had been sent a solicitation because he’d signed up as an NHS volunteer responder, the other a similar flyer by St John Ambulance. The St John Ambulance volunteers’ tasks include:

  • Administering the COVID-19 vaccine to patients
  • Recognising and responding as needed to any medical emergency. This may include helping a patient with their breathing if they have an allergic reaction to the vaccine
  • Working with other St John and NHS colleagues to deliver a vaccination service including escalating problems outside your scope of training to an appropriate person

In order to apply, volunteers must:

  • Have at least two A-levels or the equivalent during their education
  • Have experience of a paid or voluntary role caring for people, providing customer service or providing signposting and advice
  • Understand that they will need to handle needles and potentially deal with blood and other bodily fluids
  • Be able to follow instructions as given by clinical professionals and act on own initiative within the scope of training

You can sign up here. Our reader is signing up:

Out of interest, to see what happens, I’m signing up… (At the moment, as you can see, they’re requiring two A-levels as a minimum, but I assume that the orders from on high will be to have cats and monkeys stabbing the population if that’s what it takes to create some rungs down the ladder). 

We look forward to hearing all about it.

The advert does say that volunteers will undergo:

Extensive training with a pass/fail assessment, and be subject to assessments (observed vaccinations) and clinical supervision at each of the vaccination sites by a health care professional to ensure the safety of patients and that of the volunteers.  

A good, reliable, proven vaccine would be good news, but people are entitled to require evidence that a new vaccine is indeed reliable and unlikely to have any nasty side effects. See Desmond Swayne’s challenge to Ministers in the House of Commons Yesterday: “You have the Vaccine First

Long Lockdown and Human Rights: A Call for Evidence

The House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights has issued an open call for evidence. It is considering “the impact of lockdown restrictions on human rights and whether those measures only interfere with human rights to the extent that is necessary and proportionate”. In particular, it’s seeking views on:

The impact of lockdown on university students. Have interferences with students’ right to liberty and right to private and family life been proportionate? Have the fixed penalty notices issued to students been proportionate?

The impact of lockdown on the freedom of religion and belief, and in particular on collective worship. Have interferences with the freedom of religion and belief been proportionate?

Care Home and Hospital Visits. Has current Government guidance struck the correct balance between the right to private and family life and the right to life? Is it being applied fairly and consistently in practice?

The human rights impacts of extended lockdown restrictions on those areas subjected to the most stringent, lasting, lockdown conditions. What have been the human rights impacts on family life and mental health for those communities? Are there ways that these rights might be better addressed?

Policing of Lockdown. Is the use of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for lockdown offences proportionate, fair and non-discriminatory? Is it clear why FPNs have been issued and are there adequate ways to seek a review or appeal of an FPN? Are the amounts of FPN fines proportionate? Has there been a disproportionate impact on certain groups?

The right to protest and lockdown. How have lockdown restrictions affected the right to protest? Has the correct balance been struck?

Submit your evidence here by January 11th. It is open to anyone. All evidence is published and can be anonymised on request.

Julia Hartley Brewer Eviscerated Colonel Bob Stewart MP

Colonel Bob Stewart MP appeared on Julia Hartley Brewer’s talkRADIO show yesterday and told her he intended to vote “yes” later that day because he’d spoken to Boris and Boris told him he was following the science.

Light blue touch paper and stand well back…

Pageview Update

Lockdown Sceptics got 1,594,371 pageviews during the month of November. Not too shabby.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Five today: “Find the Cost of Freedom” by Gilmour, Crosby and Nash, “Kick Out The Tories” by Newtown Neurotics, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” by Beastie Boys, “The Deceiver” by The Alarm, “Hurry up Harry” by Sham 69.

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, Nasdaq’s push for diversity on the boards of its companies. From the Financial Times:

Companies listed on Nasdaq should have at least two “diverse” board directors under new rules proposed by the exchange on Tuesday, in a potentially significant expansion of a global movement to force companies to shed white, male leadership teams.

In a filing on Tuesday with the US stock market regulator, Nasdaq also proposed listing rules that would require companies to disclose consistent diversity statistics for board directors and set a standard for companies to have two diverse directors – including one who self-identifies as female and one who self-identifies as an under-represented minority or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer…

Companies that do not comply will have to explain why not. There will also be some flexibility for foreign groups and small organisations which can satisfy the diversity standard with two female directors.

The proposed listing changes were driven in part by increasing demands from investors for board diversity data, said Nelson Griggs, President of the Nasdaq Stock. He also said that the global demonstrations for racial equality this year had played a role.

Additionally, Nasdaq said that its proposal was “designed to reduce the groupthink” that can occur with homogenous boards, and to prevent “fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices”.

Reduce the groupthink?!? You couldn’t make it up.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Coleman Hughes has written a piece for City Journal about White Fragility, the best-selling book by Robin DiAngelo. He isn’t impressed.

White Fragility spends considerable time telling white people that they’re racist, but with a crucial twist: it’s not their fault. “A racism-free upbringing is not possible,” she writes, “because racism is a social system embedded in the culture and its institutions. We are born into this system and have no say in whether we will be affected by it.” For author DiAngelo, white supremacy is like the English language. If you’re born in America, you learn it without trying. Racism, in her view, transforms from a shameful sin to be avoided into a guiltless birthmark to be acknowledged and accepted.

An unstated assumption in White Fragility, and this is where the book borders on actual racism, is that black people are emotionally immature and essentially child-like. Blacks, as portrayed in DiAngelo’s writing, can neither be expected to show maturity during disagreement nor to exercise emotional self-control of any kind. The hidden premise of the book is that blacks, not whites, are too fragile.

The piece is a splendid attack by a brilliant young African-American intellectual on a canonical text in the woke movement.

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 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.

Stop Press: The Netherlands has succumbed to mask-ism. The country has just made it compulsory, as of yesterday, to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces. The rule will apply to those over the age of 13 in public buildings, including shops, railway stations and hairdressers. It is one of the last countries in Europe to introduce such a measure. The BBC has the details.

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.

Stop Press: The Court of Appeal handed down its judgement on Simon Dolan’s case yesterday, ruling that the Government should not face a Judicial Review into the first tranche of lockdown measures. Simon is now planning to take the case to the supreme court. He said:

The Lord Chief Justice, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh have decided that the Government should not face a full Judicial Review of its actions in imposing the lockdown measures on us all between March 26th and July 2nd.

We did score one important victory. The three judges allowed an important ground of the appeal which concerned the legal powers of Ministers to make the lockdown regulations using the Public Health (Control of Infectious Disease) Act 1984. We argued that they had acted “ultra vires” by using this legislation and that, as a result, the lockdown restrictions imposed by the Government were illegal. The Court of Appeal accepted that it was in the public interest for the appeal to be allowed on this important legal point. In doing so, they overturned Mr Justice Lewis’s ruling back in July that this point was unarguable.

Unusually, having allowed the appeal on the ultra vires point, the Court decided to make a final, substantive ruling on the substance of the issue itself – rather than send it back to the High Court. Unfortunately, however, having considered it, the Court of Appeal held against us. It has ruled that on the wording of the 1984 statute, the Government does have the power to impose measures against the whole population as it has been doing.

We still disagree strongly and the fight will go on. We can and will seek permission to appeal the ultra vires point to the Supreme Court.

You can read the full update and make a contribution to Simon’s fundraiser here. MailOnline also has a good summary.

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 Solschenizyn

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…

Morten Morland’s cartoon in yesterday’s Times