Propaganda

The Dangerous Myth of Health Service ‘Collapse’

In the U.K. we are facing threats once again of restrictions and vaccine passports being imposed over winter should the prospect of an ‘overwhelmed’ NHS be sounded by the Government’s medical advisers in the coming weeks.

But how realistic is this threat of health service ‘collapse’? South Korea is currently providing an object lesson in how the concept appears to be very much in the eye of the beholder.

The South East Asian country has been experiencing a spike in reported infections in recent weeks as the Delta variant has become dominant, hitting over 3,000 in one day for the first time on September 24th.

The Government’s Gamesmanship and Outright Cheating on Covid and Vaccines Diminishes Us All

There follows a guest post by Dr. Mark Shaw, a retired dentist and regular contributor to the Daily Sceptic, who says the Government’s handling of the pandemic has lost all sight of what honesty and fair play mean.

In my last post I mentioned how important sport is to me. From a young age it was becoming easier to see, through sport, what was right and wrong, fair or unfair. The rules of the game instilled moral lessons that would help me decide who I could trust – win or lose. Playing fair in competition brings to mind the words of Shakespeare: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

But there are many ways rules can be bent and players, whether professional or amateur, exploit this. I’ve been guilty of it myself. 

In the game of squash there are many instances where one might not be sure that a particular shot is strictly within the rules – and, if unsure, it seems reasonable to allow the game to play on. If present, a referee can decide on it. Sometimes players know that their shot or position is not within the rules but might see that the opponent or referee missed it. I might question an opponent after such an incident and I remember the ones that called this ‘gamesmanship’. But if a competitor does this repeatedly he or she gets a reputation, loses integrity and becomes known for cheating.

These particular aspects of sporting rules can reflect life. Gamesmanship isn’t sport and it is not fair. The moment we suspect foul play we should own up immediately. The gamesmanship element is then removed and that can give all involved mutual respect, the feeling of a greater good, and that it’s only a game. But I’ve learnt that this doesn’t always happen so have to ask what, when given the chance, did someone omit to say or do more than what he or she did actually say or do.

Looking at the way Covid has been handled by the Government I ask whether they have played fair or whether they have used gamesmanship to achieve their goals and whether the actual rules themselves were clean.

What have the Government and those in the media not said or done? Have they allowed full debate on focused protection and provided full unbiased, uncoercive, transparent information on issues such as masks, lockdowns, testing, the vaccination of healthy individuals and the efficacy and safety of these vaccines? Were any lockdown sceptic or vaccine sceptic journalists allowed to ask questions at any of the daily Government press briefings.

Covid Propaganda: Understanding the Communication of Fear

It is interesting to consider just how different the past 18 months would have been without dozens of Government briefings and constant Covid ad campaigns. The propaganda pushed by the Government as part of its Covid response is the subject of an upcoming public lecture by Dr. Colin Alexander, Senior Lecturer in Political Communications at Nottingham Trent University, on September 13th at 7.30pm. He will argue that the Government has “more or less copied the British wartime propaganda strategy from World War II when dealing with Covid”.

In a previous blog post, which gives a taste of lecture’s content, Dr. Alexander writes that: “The best propaganda is the propaganda that the audience doesn’t realise is propaganda.”

The public information briefings that occurred at about 5pm each day from Downing Street during the first lockdown in spring and summer of 2020 were episodes in propaganda straight out of the wartime playbook. Rather than being ‘public information’ events as they were so described, they were in fact filled with ‘strategic communications’ intent on manipulating the public to the ends of the powerful. They were carefully staged, choreographed and scripted by spin doctors and other political communications professionals working for a Government that is addicted to propaganda and cannot fathom engagement in public communications through any other prism.

Furthermore, the U.K. Government’s approach to Covid briefings in the first half of 2020 may harm the long-term trust of the public in governance and the various organs of state that are entwined with the crisis. Public Health England, for example. Indeed, Chris Witty [Whitty], Patrick Valance [Vallance], Jenny Harries, et al – by standing next to the cabinet minister of the day – may end up tainted as manipulators-in-chief themselves through their (and the organisations that they represent) implicit endorsement of the Government’s approach to public communications.

Tickets for the event, which is free and which anyone can attend, are available here.

New Ad For NHS COVID-19 App Admits it’s Unfit For Purpose

I received an email this morning from David Livermore, Professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of East Anglia, about the Government’s latest ad (see above). Apart from the inadvertent admission that ‘pinging’ is a woefully inefficient way of interrupting the chain of transmission, it’s breathtakingly illiterate. The drudge working for 23Red or Freuds, or whichever agency the Government has paid hundreds of millions of pounds to write its propaganda, has no idea how to use the simple comma. Prof Livermore queries one of them, but by my reckoning the commas after “virus”, “every day”, “need” and “together” are all superfluous. I would make a crack about the copywriter lacking a good GCSE pass in English, but, alas, you can get a First in English at Oxford these days and still be semi-literate.

Dear Toby,

Did you see this Govt advert… torn (rather badly) from Friday’s D Tel, and doubtless published elsewhere too?

Put aside the peculiar use of the royal “we”, the slippery “up to” and the redundant comma after “need”.

It’s the rare candour that matters.

First, the Govt is paying to say en claire that “Even if we have been vaccinated, we can still get the virus and pass it on”. That one sentence, which is supported by mounting evidence, demolishes their whole argument for Vaccine Passports.

Second, the “up to 2,000 new infections per day” sounds a lot until one sets it against the current daily tally of c. 30,000-35,000 positives by PCR and the fact that the App pinged around 600,000 souls in July, or an average of just under 20,000 per day.

Taking the upper limit of “2000 cases per day” therefore suggests that the App prevents far fewer than 10% of cases and that a maximum of 10% of those pinged are actually infected. Counterwise, 90% of cases are not forewarned by the App and 90% of those pinged are inconvenienced or frightened when they are not infected

Such figures would ordinarily lead any developer to conclude ‘Not fit for purpose’ and it is rare to see a ‘vendor’ damn their own product so comprehensively in so few of their own words. Gerald Ratner famously did it in the 1980s, describing a sherry decanter that his eponymous company was selling for £4.95 as “Total crap”. Which it doubtless was. But, at least he hadn’t developed the wretched thing using £22 billion of our money and didn’t have the temerity to suggest it was our moral duty to start using it.

Best,

David

Government Infected by Its Own “Scaremongering Propaganda” Over Unlocking on June 21st, Says Professor David Paton

If the Government was truly following the science, it would not delay the lifting of lockdown restrictions beyond June 21st, according to David Paton. Instead, as the Professor of Industrial Economics at the University of Nottingham writes in today’s Mail, the mood at Number 10 is extremely pessimistic because our leaders have become infected by their own “scaremongering propaganda”.

Ministers told us that the vaccines were the route to freedom because they would protect the public and break the link between infections and hospitalisations. That has proved to be the reality.

Indeed, the contrast between the grim peak of the second wave and the vastly improved situation today is stark, despite the advent of new variants.

It is true that the number of cases is currently increasing – up from a low point at the end of April of about 19 positive tests per 100,000 people to 44 per 100,000 now – but the impact of the rise has been nothing like as devastating as previously.

NHS data shows that hospital admissions have risen somewhat from a low of 74 per day to the current average of 103 per day, yet at the peak in January we saw over 4,000 admissions on a single day.

There is even better news when it comes to the number of patients admitted to hospital in the last seven days. The latest figure of 869 is 0.6% down on the previous seven-day period, and nothing like the savage January peak of 34,336.

It is the same story with death rates, which are currently averaging 5.7 per day, up from a low of 4.3 per day, but that compares to a January peak of no fewer than 1,245 deaths on a single day…

Ignoring such hard data, some of the advocates of delay like to bolster their argument by citing the modelling done by the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which sets out some pessimistic scenarios in the event of lockdown’s demise.

But there are two serious problems with this approach. First, SAGE’s record on modelling throughout the pandemic has been poor and overly negative. Second, it was the SAGE models themselves which formed the basis of the Government’s roadmap.

Even against the backdrop of the bleakest SAGE scenario, ministers initially maintained that the reopening on June 21st should proceed.

In fact, fully aware of the gloomiest SAGE projections, Boris Johnson explicitly stated on April 13th that “at the moment I cannot see any reason to change the roadmap”.

Given that the picture has turned out to be much healthier than anything SAGE projected, there would be no logic at all behind any delay. In their two scenarios closest to the Government’s roadmap, SAGE’s models indicated that there could be between 6,100 and 10,200 hospital patients by early June with more increases to come.

In fact, the present total of just 879 is only 14% of SAGE’s lower projection. So we are currently in a much better position than the Government envisaged…

At times it seems as if the Government has developed a bunker mentality, infected by its own scaremongering propaganda and SAGE’s shroud-waving.

But it is time to stop hiding behind the flawed models and fearful messages, embrace openness and get the country moving again without a delay. The real catastrophe would be a timid surrender to the voices of hesitancy and anxiety.

Worth reading in full.

Weary of the MSM Bias? A New Way to Have Your Say

Tired of the constant smearing and silence from the mainstream media such as the BBC when it comes anti-lockdown points of view? If so, you’re not alone. Dr David Seedhouse, Professor of Deliberative Practice at Aston University and a member of HART, is concerned not just at what this skewed public discourse means for policy but what it means for democracy and our country’s capacity to make good decisions. Writing in the Conservative Woman, he says:

Over the past year momentous decisions affecting whole populations have been taken by small groups of scientists and politicians behind closed doors, immune to challenge. Well-reasoned, evidenced views that do not fit the constantly shifting official stance have been ignored, and there have been orchestrated ad hominem attacks on dissenters. We have been talked down to, herded like infants and forced by ad hoc laws to behave in ways that strip us of our dignity.

Just as bad as the poor decisions is the poor decision-making that condemns us to keep repeating the same mistakes.

The one thing Government diktats have shown these past months is that we are terrifyingly powerless. We have no effective means of questioning or educating government ministers and policy-makers, even when they spout the most dreadful nonsense. It turns out that public debate – and the very occasional opportunity to vote for our ‘representatives’ – is demonstrably a pretence.

At least now that we know the truth we can deceive ourselves no longer: the Western political system is closer to despotism than meaningful democracy. We have no say in what happens to us because to those who cherish power, we simply don’t matter.

There is an alternative. Collectively citizens are vastly better informed and capable than a closed circle of politicians and their fixated ‘expert advisers’, but our governments have no desire whatsoever to draw on our insights and wisdom. Nevertheless, we have the technology to engage hundreds of thousands of citizens in transparent, balanced, educated decision-making. We do not need to defer to self-interested politicians bound to political parties, protected by an establishment elite who see no need to change anything.

To address this problem, David and his colleagues have developed a new online democratic tool to allow people of all views to have their say.

We would welcome your involvement in this project. If you agree to participate:

1) You will join a private group on this website; 

2) Over a one-week period you will be invited to offer your opinion on a key issue in the pandemic;

3) At the start of the week you will be able to agree or disagree with a proposal for debate, and offer your reasons (this will take no more than five minutes or so);

4) During the week you will be able to read others’ responses and discuss as much or as little with others as you wish;

5) During the week balanced educational materials for and against the proposition will be available on the website;

6) You will be able to witness a debate (live or recorded) with advocates for and against. If we can arrange it, you will be able to question them;

7) At the end of the week you will be able to respond again to the key issue;

8) We will review the results and changes in opinion and make a report available to all participants. We will endeavour to publish the results widely in public fora and academic channels;

9) You can choose to be anonymous or not at your profile page. We will not publish any personal details outside the private group;

10) We comply with GDPR requirements and will not use your information for any other reason than stated above.

As soon as we have sufficient recruits we will begin. We are seeking participants from any and every background. All opinions are welcome. Nothing will be censored, hidden, or withheld. Everyone’s views and the patterns of their choices will be immediately available to all participants, and there are filters to enable those who wish to ‘deep dive’ into the data to do so.

They acknowledge that by itself this is unlikely to make an immediate impact, but are happy to start small and add to the growing chorus of concern about where Western democracies are headed. They say: “The more people we can include, and the more often we can demonstrate the difference between echo-chamber politics and collective wisdom, the greater the chance we have of living in a truly democratic society”.

To participate, email “I agree to be a member of this project” or similar to Dr David Seedhouse at david@values-exchange.com.

Read the full article about this project at Conservative Woman.

One in 400,000 Chance of Two Vaccinated People Catching a Symptomatic Infection From Each Other Indoors

Boris Johnson has decreed that vaccinated people must not meet indoors because jabs “are not giving 100% protection“. But, according to a new analysis, the risk of catching a symptomatic Covid infection for two people who have been vaccinated is about one in 400,000. For context, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency says that the risk of developing a blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine – which the Prime Minister wants all people to continue receiving – is one in 250,000. Others have placed the risk at around one in 100,000. That’s roughly the same chance of correctly guessing the last five digits of someone’s mobile phone number. So why the hesitancy about indoor meet-ups? The Telegraph has the story.

The risk of two vaccinated people catching Covid from meeting up indoors is “tiny”, scientists have calculated, with just a one in 400,000 chance of picking up an infection.

Last week, Boris Johnson warned that people should not be allowing others into their homes, even if they had both had the vaccine.

“The vaccines are not giving 100% protection, that’s why we need to be cautious,” said the Prime Minister.

But Professor Tim Spector, at King’s College London, has calculated that the risk of catching a symptomatic infection is around one in 400,000 for two people who have been vaccinated – which is far less than the risk of developing a blood clot from the AstraZeneca jab.

Professor Spector, who is lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app and professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s, said there was currently just a one in 1,400 risk of “bumping into someone” with symptomatic Covid, and people should feel more “relaxed” if they had been vaccinated.

Professor Spector set out to give the Prime Minister’s claims about the risk of vaccinated people meeting indoors some context.

“It all depends on how much virus is around in the country and currently with rates of one in 1,400 for someone who has been fully vaccinated, according to our data and the trial data, it suggests they are at a 20th of the normal risk, which means their risk is about one in 28,000. 

“So if they’re meeting someone with equally low risk the chance of those giving to each other are really absolutely tiny.”

Worth reading in full.

What They Don’t Talk About on the BBC

We’re publishing an original post today by Dr Mark Shaw, a retired dentist and regular contributor to Lockdown Sceptics. After getting a double-dose of pro-lockdown propaganda on the BBC last week – first on Question Time, then on Any Questions – he was moved to write this piece. He made a list of those questions BBC correspondents and editors should be asking but aren’t:

  • The scandalous failure and cost of NHS Track and Trace and the serious inaccuracies of the PCR and lateral flow tests upon which lockdown strategy were/are based.
  • Why broadcasters have not been reporting over the years how lethal and devastating flu is and how serious its post-viral effects are; and that flu kills far more young people than Covid.
  • Why the BBC is not reporting projections of the non-Covid death toll resulting from lockdown.
  • While I believe informed adults should be able to choose to smoke, why are reporters not drawing attention to the fact that, despite a global annual death toll around three times that of Covid, the Government does not ban tobacco use to “save lives” and “protect the NHS”?
  • Why has the BBC given so little time to discussing lockdown alternatives, the lack of evidence of the effectiveness of lockdowns and mask wearing, the HART Report (“COVID-19: An overview of the evidence”), and the enormous influence and control that SAGE has in Government policy making.
  • Why, in discussing the pros and cons of this particular vaccine rollout, has the BBC submitted nothing but the ‘pros’ and virtually nothing of the risks?
  • Why has there been no comprehensive investigative journalism into the scientific and healthcare authorities that prevent their employees from speaking openly about the effects lockdowns are having on their institutions, their patients and themselves?

Worth reading in full.

Is Covid the Most Deadly Infectious Disease in a Century?

A new report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) was all over the papers on Monday afternoon making the striking claim that COVID-19 caused more deaths last year in England and Wales than other infectious diseases have caused in any year for more than a century.

Here is the story in the Mail.

The ONS report, entitled “Coronavirus: A Year Like No Other”, was released to mark the one year anniversary of people in the UK first being told to limit their non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel. 

The report confirmed that COVID-19 caused more deaths last year than other infectious diseases caused in any year for more than 100 years. 

More than 140,000 people have died in the UK with coronavirus either described as the underlying cause or as a contributory cause on their death certificates.

Some 73,500 people in England and Wales who died in 2020 had COVID-19 registered as the underlying cause of death. 

The ONS said coronavirus is “likely to be classed as an infectious and parasitic disease”, allowing a comparison with previous deadly outbreaks. 

The statistics body said: “This means COVID-19 was the underlying cause of more deaths in 2020 than any other infectious and parasitic diseases had caused in any year since 1918; that year there were just over 89,900 deaths from various infectious and parasitic diseases registered in England and Wales.”