Lockdown Sceptics

Nick Hudson Coming to London – Get Tickets Now

Nick Hudson of PANDA is coming to London on Thursday May 26th to deliver “The Quest for Open Science” before a live audience, after which he will be interviewed by Jeffrey Peel from the New Era and take questions from the audience.

The event will take place on Thursday May 26th at 7:30 pm at the Weston Theatre in the Barbican.

All are welcome – the presentation is pitched so as to reach those who understand that there has been censorship of the truth around the Covid response, but who perhaps have not had the time or will to engage with the real scientific story behind what we’ve been told by the corporate media.

Attendees are welcome to join Nick and the PANDA team before the event from 6pm and afterwards from 9.30pm at the historic Lord Raglan pub (a minute’s walk from the venue).

Tickets sales and further details can be found here.

Stop Press: Nick is also speaking at the World Council for Health’s Better Way Conference in Bath this coming weekend, May 20th-22nd, alongside many other well-known names in the sceptical movement such as Robert Malone, Tess Lawrie, Maajid Nawaz and Neil Oliver. Tickets for online and in-person attendance for the Better Way conference are available here.

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a tweet from one satisfied customer.

Looking into their Eyes: Covid Narrative Dissidents in Their Own Words

There follows a guest post by Dr. Raminder Mulla, Amy Willows and Rusere Shoniwa, who decided that rather than just listen to the lazy stereotypes of sceptics portrayed in the press, academia and Government, they would go and find out what people actually thought.

Anti-vaxxers want to kill your babies,” screamed the ‘Fleet Street Fox’ in a September 2021 opinion piece for the Mirror. “These people are terrorists” she added, as if baby killing alone was insufficient to evoke searing hatred against a minority of people whose real crime was merely opting out of a medical treatment – a right codified after the Nuremberg trials to prevent a repeat of the crimes committed by Nazi doctors in World War II German concentration camps.

Such headlines arguably constitute the crime of incitement to violence. After all, if there was a gang of baby killers on the loose, many might justifiably regard it as their civic duty to halt them at all costs. And history teaches us that vigilantism can be highly imaginative and resourceful once the fire has been lit.

Giving an academic veneer to the kind of wild-eyed claims made by the Fleet Street Fox, a January 2021 study by Miguel et al concluded that people who eschewed compliance with Covid containment measures were more likely to display “lower levels of empathy and  higher levels of callousness, deceitfulness, and risk-taking”.

Is there any truth in this? Prompted by a desire to foster genuine understanding between different sides of the Covid camp, a new study led by Dr. Raminder Mulla digs into this question. “Looking Into Their Eyes“, a riposte to the slogan deployed in the Government Covid safety campaign, asks dissidents of lockdown, mask, and vaccine mandate narratives to express their motivations, feelings, and thoughts in their own words.

Boris Johnson Says He Will Lock Down the Country Again if it “Saves Lives”

Boris Johnson has admitted he “can’t rule out” plunging the U.K. into a Covid lockdown again in the future, despite only just releasing the nation from two years of crippling on-off restrictions. MailOnline has the story.

The Prime Minister previously promised the route back to normality was “irreversible”, seemingly consigning draconian stay-at-home orders to history. But the PM has now said it would be “irresponsible” for the Government not to keep a blanket shutdown in its virus-fighting playbook. He added: “I’m not going to take any options off the table.”

In an interview with GB News set to be aired tomorrow, Mr. Johnson added: “I want to avoid any such thing ever happening again.”

However, he insisted any decision on bringing back curbs must get the balance right between prioritising public health and saving lives. …

Speaking to Tory MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies on GB News, Mr Johnson said: “I can’t rule out something. I can’t say we wouldn’t be forced to do non-pharmaceutical interventions again of the kind we did. I think it would be irresponsible of any leader in any democracy to say that they are going to rule out something that can save lives.”

He added: “I believe the things we did saved lives. I’ve got to be absolutely frank with you, there could be a new variant more deadly, there could be a variant that affects children, that we really need to contain, I’m not going to take any options off the table. But I don’t think it will happen. We’re now in the phase where the virus is losing its potency overall and we’ve got a massively vaccinated U.K. population.”

But the PM admitted the endless cycle of on-off restrictions introduced over the last 24 months had caused the nation’s obesity rates to soar. Ministers this week brought in rules that force restaurants, cafes and takeaways with more than 250 employees to include calorie counts on their menu. Mr. Johnson denied the measures equated to a “nanny state”, arguing they were necessary to tackle Britain’s growing obesity problem.

Elon Musk Buys $3 Billion Stake in Twitter

Elon Musk – a prominent lockdown sceptic and free speech proponent – has bought a 9.2% stake in social media platform Twitter worth nearly $3 billion U.S. dollars. Guido Fawkes has more.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has bought a $2.89 billion stake in Twitter, making him the largest outside shareholder in the social media firm, not long after criticising the company for failing to uphold the tenets of free speech.

Musk now owns 73,486,938 shares of Twitter, which represents a 9.2% passive stake in the company, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission filing released this morning. The stake is worth $2.89 billion, based on Twitter’s closing price on Friday. The stock has shot up some 25% in pre-market trading.

This comes less than two weeks after Musk criticised the company, polling people on Twitter about whether Twitter adheres to free speech principles. “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk tweeted.  “What should be done?”

Worth reading in full.

The Guardian Rewrites the Facts

The Guardian has been running a series to mark the second anniversary of the first U.K. lockdown called “Rewriting COVID-19”, billed as examining the “narratives and received wisdom of the first two years of the pandemic”. It aims to ask “experts what we’ve got wrong and how to move forward”.

“Rewriting COVID-19” seems an apt title, with one contribution, from anthropologist Devi Sridhar, criticised for literally rewriting the history of the pandemic by claiming she only advocated Zero Covid before the vaccines arrived, when she is on record promoting it subsequently.

Despite the Guardian saying the series is about asking “experts”, it begins with a scurrilous piece by science journalist Debora MacKenzie, proclaiming, “False narratives about Covid left us with millions of deaths.” Criticising lockdown scepticism as “libertarian” (boo, hiss!), MacKenzie argues: “Infectious disease is always profoundly collective, whether or not leaders find that ideologically congenial… The many people whose age or medical condition makes them more likely to die if [infected], or who have suppressed immunity – perhaps only because they need an arthritis drug – cannot take ‘personal responsibility’ for avoiding Covid if they must return to the office, surrounded by maskless people exercising their ‘individual freedom’ to exhale asymptomatic Omicron.” According to Ms. MacKenzie, then, we must all change the way we live forever in case we inadvertently infect others with our asymptomatic bugs. But don’t worry, if we all wear masks then no one will get infected!

One expert who has contributed is Dr. William Hanage, Professor of the Evolution and Epidemiology of Infectious Disease at Harvard University. It’s not a great start, however, when he cites a figure of 160,000 U.K. pandemic deaths, even though the number of excess deaths during the pandemic is more like 133,000 (a figure which includes collateral deaths). He also claims herd immunity has “stubbornly failed to arrive and expel the virus from the population”, despite that being, as he should know, a caricature of what scientists say about herd immunity.

How to Ensure Lockdowns Cannot Happen Again

There follows a guest post by former Google software engineer Mike Hearn.

How can we avoid a repeat of the last two years?

To ensure policy failure on such a scale never happens again, those of us who oppose them need concrete legislative proposals that could be implemented by a parliament or congress, and which address the root causes of the failed policies themselves. Very often in history we see that ideas for political reform have to be kicked around the public sphere for a while before being picked up by politicians. In that spirit I lay out some proposed changes to the law, designed to encode lessons learned from the Covid pandemic. Not all of these proposals apply to every country and they take for granted the acceptance of a viewpoint that is still contested – namely, that Covid non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) were a mistake. But the ideas here will hopefully prove useful as a launching point for further discussion – and perhaps, eventually, political campaigns.

My goal here is to make proposals that are only partially within the Overton Window of currently acceptable political thought. The justification: ideas fully within the Window will be generated by politicians during any normal public inquiry anyway. Ideas fully outside it won’t be considered at all. All proposals should be somewhat uncomfortable to read for someone fully committed to mainstream politics, but not entirely so. Please note that anything related to pharmaceutical or financial interventions are out of scope for this article. Further work (perhaps by other people) may address legislative proposals around these.

Faroe Islands: The Tiny Country that Rejected Lockdown and Proved it Made No Difference

Mid-way between Iceland and Scotland, the Faroe Islands are a country of approximately 50,000 people. The Faroe Islands are part of the kingdom of Denmark, but self-governing for the most part. The Faroese are of Scandinavian and Celtic descent and speak their own language which is very close to Icelandic. For an Icelander, reading Faroese is relatively easy, but the pronunciation is very different. The seafood industry is by far the largest sector in the Faroe Islands. The Faroese are a close-knit community, proud of their history and traditions, famous for their ring dance, locally called Faroese dance (Föröyskur dansur), which has lived on ever since the Middle Ages, while mostly disappearing in the rest of Europe.

The approach taken by the Faroese authorities at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was starkly different from that of most neighbouring countries. The Government did not issue any lockdown mandates, only recommendations, similar to the approach Sweden took. One of the most vocal opponents of COVID-19 restrictions in the Faroe Islands is musician and events planner Jón Tyril. Jón wrote to several ministers, members of the Faroese parliament and others in the political establishment at the outset. “I urged them to not adopt the same ‘epidemic law’ that Denmark had put in place, and which gave extended powers to the ministry of health and the police, to avoid mandates and forced restrictions, but rather to build on cooperation and trust,” Jón says. This path of recommendations became the route they took.

Government offices and some public services were closed for a while and schools were closed for a few weeks at the start of the pandemic only. After that they remained open, even despite rising pressure for school closures towards the end of 2021. “There was strong pressure on closing schools a week early before last Christmas, but I did not agree to this,” Minister for Education Dr. Jenis Av Rana said in a recent interview with Icelandic online newspaper Frettin. “It is important for children to keep their freedom and lead a normal life, this is important for their development and well-being. There was a heated debate on this amongst the Cabinet members. At first I encountered strong opposition, but in the end we agreed on this,” the Minister said. Dr. Rana, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, along with Education and Culture, decided not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. A practising medical doctor for 35 years, the Minister said using vaccination to counter the spread of coronaviruses is futile. Events have clearly proved him right.

Chinese Lockdown Sceptic Ai Weiwei Has Suffered Greatly For His Art

Last week, my wife and I visited the Ai Weiwei exhibition, “The Liberty Of Doubt“, being held at the Kettle’s Yard art gallery in Cambridge. For those who are unfamiliar with Ai Weiwei, the best way to describe him is as an artist and activist: his recently published memoir, 1,000 Years Of Joys And Sorrows, is a wonderful book, combining a potted history of China from the early 20th century up to the current day with recollections from his father’s and his own life.

The art on display is definitely contemporary and, in some cases, quite challenging: representations in marble of such everyday items as a Styrofoam takeaway box, iPhone case and even a sex toy tested my art appreciation mettle! However, the skill with which these objects are rendered is unquestionable and the ambition of some of the pieces is on a scale that can best be described as mind blowing. His “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” at this exhibition (depicted above behind the artist), rendered in thousands of Lego pieces, is both ingenuous and controversial.

But as well as being a wonderfully inventive creative, billed as China’s foremost living artist, Ai Weiwei stands apart from his peers because of his outspoken defence of human rights, and in particular his championing of free speech and expression. As a man who says what he believes and refuses to be quiet he has, for many decades, been in conflict with the Chinese Communist Party (he currently lives in Portugal, though keeps a base in Cambridge, where his son goes to school, and a studio in Berlin). That conflict has not come without a personal cost, one that most of us would be unwilling to pay. He has been beaten by the police, severely enough to have suffered brain damage (in fact, one of his new pieces in the exhibition is a representation of the MRI performed after the beating), and he has been held, initially without charge but then on the grounds of tax evasion, in conditions of extreme confinement and loss of all personal autonomy. We can say honestly that he has suffered for his art.

WATCH: Lockdown Vindication And Free Speech Threats

Toby appeared this week on “So What You’re Saying Is” from the New Culture Forum to be interviewed by Peter Whittle on lockdowns and free speech. As the Free Speech Union (FSU) marks its second anniversary, Toby says that recent victories notwithstanding, the wider war is being lost and England could wind up having Europe’s worst free speech protection. He also discusses the past two years under Covid and why he feels vindicated. Watch the interview here.