Lionel Shriver Hails Daily Sceptic as Vital Lifeline

In the Christmas issue of the Spectator, Lionel Shriver has thanked her anti-lockdown allies in the media and elsewhere for helping her to “maintain my sanity and my faith in humanity”. In particular, Shriver has applauded the Daily Sceptic – and has an unbreakable habit of combing through our daily newsletter during her morning routine.

Beginning the second week of the U.K.’s original lockdown, our own Toby Young has doggedly put out a free daily newsletter, which is still the first thing I read when I get up. Lockdown Sceptics has now morphed into the more broad-based the Daily Sceptic, but under both titles the newsletter has encapsulated new scientific studies at odds with stock narratives, excerpted dissenting articles and provided a forum for isolated prisoners of quasi-police states like Australia. The bulletin has furnished hyperlinks to thousands of blogs, interviews, podcasts and essays that collectively reassure us not everyone is a robot or an idiot, and civilisation isn’t, or not completely, kaput. That newsletter is meaty enough to last through a large, strong coffee and compelling enough that some mornings the coffee gets cold.

Shriver has also heaped plenty of praise on the Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast, former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption, Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, the Spiked team, and many others.

On the Telegraph podcast Planet Normal, Allison Pearson and Liam Halligan have managed a beguiling balance of hard-hitting commentary and jocular repartee. They’ve never let up on NHS neglect of non-Covid patients and disappearing face-to-face GP appointments. Through my headphones in the kitchen, their congenial company has seen me through mounds of chopped onions, bulbs of peeled garlic and bags of individually shelled pistachios, even during the long months when asking friends over to help me eat all this stuff was against the law.

Former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption has tirelessly advanced the case that subjugating democracy to public health tyranny puts the West in a grave political danger bound to persist beyond the pandemic. Ever temperate, articulate and urbane, Sumption bears a faint resemblance to my husband, who never twigs that I mean the comparison as a big compliment.

Every week, professional curmudgeon Peter Hitchens has given grumpy, disgusted and deliciously disdainful interviews on Talkradio. He’s even appeared in legacy media, in the rare instances a discouraging word about illiberal, epidemiologically inane Government policy is allowed on mainstream shows. Hitchens’s primary shortcoming is a belligerent conviction that he’s the only person standing up to the new authoritarianism. Look around you, Peter. You may spurn the helping hand, but you have confederates.

The crew at Spiked, among them Brendan O’Neill, Fraser Myers and Tom Slater, have remorselessly produced Covid content against the grain; ditto the faux-naïf self-styled nerds at Triggernometry. True to its name, UnHerd has consistently run pieces that contest received coronavirus wisdom, and I’d particularly commend terrific recent essays by Paul Kingsnorth (‘How Fear Fuels the Vaccine Wars’) and Matthew Crawford (‘The New Public Health Despotism’). Along with many other freelancers, Ross Clark, Matt Ridley and Douglas Murray have swum against an exhausting tide of ideological uniformity.

The oncologist Karol Sikora has warned about the dire consequences of blinkered obsession with Covid for cancer patients. Epidemiologists such as Sunetra Gupta and Carl Heneghan have put reputations on the line to interrogate ‘known facts’ in their profession. Shockers, even a handful of British politicians have stuck up for their constituencies’ civil rights, including MPs Steve Baker and Sir Desmond Swayne (“Masks are about sending a message — well I don’t like the message!”).

Worth reading in full.

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November 2022
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