There follows a guest post by the Lockdown Sceptics’ in-house medic, a former NHS doctor.
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
I hope the readers will forgive a little self-indulgence on my part if I relate an anecdote from the tail end of my 12 years as a junior doctor in the early years of the first Blair government. At the time, the Health Secretary Alan Milburn (advised by the youthful Simon Stevens) had issued strict waiting time targets to all hospitals.
I was tasked with sorting out the numbers of patients on the surgical waiting lists at a large teaching hospital. It became apparent that if a patient had a date for surgery, they were no longer counted as ‘waiting’, even if that date was many months in the future. Accordingly, I issued dozens of patients dates for surgery and achieved compliance with the waiting time targets at a stroke.
There was just one problem. Both the managers and I knew that all those patients had virtually no chance of getting into the hospital on their designated dates. Due to lack of available beds, they would all be cancelled a couple of days before admission. At a meeting with the CEO of the Trust, I pointed this out. He looked me in the eye and said, “Let me make one thing clear to you. There is no problem with beds in this hospital.”
I briefly considered debating the assertion, but realised it was a pointless endeavour. The facts did not fit the Chief Executive’s preferred narrative – so the facts had to change. He was subsequently awarded a Knighthood for services to healthcare.
And so, here we are twenty years later – still believing six impossible things before breakfast. We might call it the ‘rule of six’!
Here is my first example where a target failed to be matched by real world data. When considering facts there are three basic components. Understanding the collection process and the inherent errors and bias within that, the interpretation process, during which there will be a range of opinion, (although currently only one viewpoint is permitted) and finally presentation of the data which is open to the greatest amount of bias.
Graph 1 shows the actual number of patients admitted with COVID from the community in June (orange bars). The blue line indicates where SAGE predicted it would be as a consequence of easing lockdown restrictions. How annoying – the data does not correlate with the prediction. In fact, hospital admissions are stubbornly refusing to increase significantly.
Never mind. If we simply state loudly that something nasty ‘could happen’ in the future that will cover just about every situation where the observable data do not support the required conclusion. And we can also show Graph 2 – which records the number of positive ‘cases’ in May-June 2021. The public won’t realise that most of these cases were asymptomatic and they may well think that they are the same as people being admitted to hospital.
Unlike the last anti-lockdown protest, Saturday’s Unite for Freedom rally has actually received some media coverage. This has, of course, focussed on anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists. Protesters held signs reading: “My body, my choice”, “we do not consent” and “you have no power over us”. The Met, concerned also about a protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill taking place at the same time, “urged people to comply with the restrictions that apply to large gatherings”.
The MailOnline has more (although it smeared the protestors as anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists in its headline).
[Those gathered] protested [in part] against the idea of vaccine passports.
It is thought many of the crowd travelled from outside of the capital to take part in the gathering.
Several people set off smoke bombs and one launched a firework.
One man, who did not give his name, told the PA news agency he had come to the capital “because I want to be free and I want you to be free and the Government are lying to us”.
Another said she had attended because the press “are lying to us”.
By lunchtime, the crowd had started to disperse and head to Whitehall, with some heading to Trafalgar Square.
Pictures showed a London bus covered in anti-vaccination stickers.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: The Guardian actually ran a fairly balanced report about the occupation of Westfield by the protestors. The march, which began in Parliament Square, snaked all the way to Shepherd’s Bush and beyond to Acton.
Hundreds of anti-vaccine passport protesters invaded the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush on Saturday evening at the culmination of a mass march that drew many thousands and snaked miles through central and west London.
There were tussles with police who tried to block access through one entrance to the shopping centre at about 6pm, before protesters quickly realised that another door just yards away was unguarded.
Hundreds made it into the shopping centre where they stayed for about half an hour chanting “no more lockdowns” and “take your freedom back” before they were cleared by police with batons drawn, although without scenes of violence.
Worth reading in full.
Anti-lockdown protests are taking place across the world today. Above are protestors streaming through Central London this afternoon. Needless to say, the BBC has yet to cover this, although one Lockdown Sceptics contributor estimates the turnout at 100,000. More later.
Stop Press: Still no coverage of the march by 4.30pm, other than this short snippet posted on the Guardian’s ‘Covid Live’ page. Just “several hundred” protesters outside Broadcasting House, London, according to one of the paper’s reporters.
Stop Press 2: Nothing on the BBC front, too – though editors have found the time to publish stories on cattle grazing in gardens and “a lost whale” on the BBC News homepage, under the banner “Must see”. And, of course, on the pro-Palestine protest.
Stop Press 3: BBC News has stuck a report about an anti-Israel protest in London on the front page of its website. But still nothing about the anti-lockdown protest.
There follows a guest post by James Delingpole, the Executive Editor of Breitbart London.
I don’t know how many people went on the Freedom March through London at the weekend, but it was definitely a lot more than the “hundreds” initially reported by the BBC and Sky [did they get Neil Ferguson to do their arithmetic?], and probably ran into the tens of thousands.
We gathered beforehand in small ‘bubble’-like groups in Hyde Park and tried to avoid the attentions of the large numbers of police who were trying to find an excuse to disperse us or arrest us. Someone said it felt like being in Occupied Europe during the war. Everyone was slightly tense, keyed up, knowing that the police have shown themselves to be much more brutal and unforgiving towards anti-lockdown protestors than they are with, say, Black Lives Matter or Extinction Rebellion mobs.
At a pre-arranged smoke signal – everything was organised on Telegram and announced at the last minute so as to keep the police guessing – we began to coalesce and marched out of the Marble Arch entrance, up Park Lane then right down Oxford Street.
It was, as always at these events, a good natured crowd. Only a minority, I’m guessing, had been ruined by a university education. These were people that we’d call ‘salt of the earth’ and Hillary Clinton would call ‘Deplorables’. There was a great deal more racial diversity than you’d find at a BLM or an XR rally.
As we weaved through the traffic on Park Lane which had been brought to a standstill I expected hostility from the trapped drivers. What we got, though, was solidarity – especially from the bus drivers. They beeped their horns and accepted fist bumps and flowers through the windows.
I joined London Mayoral candidate Laurence Fox, leader of the Reclaim Party, who got a lot of love from the crowd for his pro-freedom, anti-lockdown, open-up-London-immediately campaign ticket. We snaked with the long conga line the length of Oxford Street heading for Holborn, acutely conscious that any moment the Territorial Support Group vans circling us like hungry wolves could close off the side-streets and kettle us in for hours in order to inflict torture by boredom, claustrophobia and bursting bladder.
On this occasion, however, the police were mostly restrained. Some said it was because the crowd was simply too large to confront; others that the police were taking a softly-softly approach after criticisms that they had been too harsh at the previous weekend’s vigil for Sarah Everard. My own suspicion is that they would have welcomed some aggro in order to discredit the anti-lockdown cause (as the state is very keen to do) but that in the event they opted for the next best thing: denying it the oxygen of publicity.
The compliant media certainly helped here. How often do tens of thousands of people march through London’s main thoroughfares on a Saturday with barely a mention in the Sunday papers? I remember, for example, last year most of the Sundays devoting double-page spreads to the Black Lives Matter march – with huge photographs and swooning copy. But this march – in support of a far less politically tainted cause: quite simply an affirmation of people’s right to work and play free of government oppression – was ignored. Sad.
Stop Press: Read Laura Dodsworth’s account of being on the demo for Spiked.