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Lockdown Rebellion Returns

Bob’s cartoon in today’s Telegraph

Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph reports that the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs is now as many as 100 strong and enjoying increasing clout with Number 10. The return to tiers was, he claims, a concession to the rebels, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy with the result.

It all sounds a bit ungrateful, given that it’s not even a year since Boris Johnson personally won an 80-strong majority for his otherwise-doomed party. But many Tories feel that a national collapse is underway, because the Government cannot think its way out of lockdown. Last week, the Chief Whip finally persuaded the Prime Minister of the seriousness of the situation: there are now about 100 MPs in the “Covid group” of rebels. They wanted a local lockdown system, judged on clear criteria and answerable to parliamentary scrutiny.

What they got yesterday was intended to quell the mutiny. No more Vallance and Whitty horror shows, with blood-curdling slides drawn from data which falls apart on further scrutiny. No more “illustrations” or “scenarios” showing 50,000 cases a day or 4,000 daily deaths. In its place, new criteria for judging local lockdowns: virus infection levels, especially among the elderly. The rate of virus growth (or decline). Pressure on the NHS.

In theory, it’s just what lockdown sceptics asked for: a transparent, evidence-based way of judging the new system. But the way the map has been drawn has led even pro-lockdown MPs into revolt as many find their constituency under tougher restrictions than before lockdown. They ask why their constituency has been lumped with others – and how they can justify voting it through. “This is like one of these old colonial maps where they draw a marker pen through territory they don’t recognise,” says one MP.

The new system is riddled with maddening inconsistencies.

Kent is regarded as one homogeneous lump and been placed into Tier 3, having had no special restrictions before lockdown. All of Buckinghamshire has ended up in Tier 2, in spite of places like the Chilterns being almost as Covid-light as Cornwall and the Isle of Wight. York, too, is back in Tier 2 – in spite of having less Covid than before lockdown. In the Commons yesterday, MPs queued up to ask: where is the logic?

It’s looking like MPs will get a cost-benefit analysis, but not the one they’ve been pressing for.

No 10 has made one final offering: to publish assessments of what local lockdowns do to the economy, society and wider public health. This is intended to persuade MPs that the Prime Minister will now look at things in the round and judge local lockdowns by more than simply the virus levels. This would do much to assuage those who argue that officials should talk about risk to cancer treatment, or the chances of furloughed small businesses making it to Easter. But those who have seen the ideas for the report predict that it will be underwhelming, and unlikely to win over any wavering MPs.

In a press release put out by the Covid Recovery Group, Harriett Baldwin MP, a former minister, said:

I voted for the current lockdown on the basis that it would give us a 28-day period to develop a new and enduring strategy for living with the virus that doesn’t require us to keep having to live under cycles of damaging lockdowns and severe restrictions, and to reform NHS Test & Trace so that only the infectious individuals and their close contacts have to isolate. 

Over 23 million of us were living under Tier 1 restrictions before the lockdown that figure will be under 1 million in December.  There is no logic whatsoever in having a month of lockdown only for people to have to live under an even more severe set of restrictions afterwards.

That’s why we must see the evidence, the data and the cost benefit analysis published in full and on time so that we can assess whether or not the current strategy is working, and make sure we know if we are being asked to vote for something with an end date and which will explicitly save more lives than it costs.

While Labour continues to support the Government’s Covid strategy no Tory rebellion can realistically succeed. However, relying on opposition MPs to bail you out is never a good look for a Prime Minister and often means his (or her) days are numbered. And what if Keir Starmer sniffs an opportunity and switches to opposing the measures? The new tier system, in which the majority of English citizens have been placed in a higher tier than they were before the four-week lockdown, looks to be a massive own-goal by Boris and is bound to poll badly. Starmer may conclude that opposing the measures – and calling for a continuing national lockdown instead – is a way to ingratiate himself with Labour’s traditional voters in the Midlands and the North who’ve been placed in Tier 3, particularly those that deserted the party for the Conservatives last December.

If Starmer does decide to abandon Boris the CRG will find itself in a strong position in the run-up to next week’s vote. Some realistic demands would be:

  • More granular differentiation between tiers, so, for instance, the whole of Kent doesn’t have to be plunged into Tier 3 because there are over 500 cases per 100,000 people in Swale, even though there are only 120/100,000 in Ashford. (See MailOnline for the fury this has unleashed.)
  • Meaningful reviews of the tiered restrictions every fortnight, followed by a Parliamentary vote, instead of asking MPs to approve the current arrangements until March of next year and place their faith in Matt Hancock to decide which areas to move in and out of different tiers.
  • A proper cost-benefit analysis of the impact of the tiered restrictions so MPs can make an informed choice about whether to support them every two weeks.
  • The replacement of Sir Patrick Vallance as Chief Scientific Officer with Prof Sunetra Gupta and Chris Whitty as Chief Medical Officer with Prof Carl Heneghan. Okay, maybe that would be too great a humiliation for the PM, but at the very least Gupta and Heneghan should be invited to join SAGE, alongside Dr Mike Yeadon, Dr Clare Craig, Prof Karol Sikora, Dr John Lee, Prof Ellen Townsend, Prof Allyson Pollock and Prof David Livermore.

If the stars align, we might just be looking at a turning point.

Stop Press: According to today’s Times, Boris faces a growing rebellion on his back benches and won’t be able to count on enough support to get his proposed measures through without Starmer’s help.

Tell Your MP How PCR Testing is Fooling the World

Today, Lockdown Sceptics is publishing a brilliant new briefing document for MPs that explains very clearly (with oodles of illuminating graphs) how the fatally flawed PCR test, which was never designed to be used on an industrial scale, has given the false appearance of a deadly autumn epidemic when in fact the underlying signals, such as GP respiratory consultations, hospital admissions and overall deaths, are normal.

It is authored by Dr Mike Yeadon, Dr Clare Craig, Jonathan Engler and Christian McNeill, and comes with all their expertise and experience as they set out in clear terms the issues and the evidence.

From the introduction:

Across Europe, including in the UK, we see the following:

1. Daily ‘cases’ sky-rocketed in Europe as Autumn arrived.

2. Daily deaths labelled as ‘Covid deaths’ rose in line with ‘cases’ – to levels apparently higher than at the Spring peak.

3. BUT: Total all-cause mortality does not reflect the above.

What is behind this conundrum?

The central thesis of this paper is that we have a major problem with PCR-testing.

This is distorting policy and creating the illusion that we are in a serious pandemic when in fact we are not.

This is causing:

Excess deaths due to restricted access to the NHS.

An NHS staffing crisis which is exacerbating matters.

Unprecedented assaults on civil liberties and the economy.

What we need to do about this:

Stop mass-testing using PCR in the UK and replace with Lateral Flow Tests where required.

Other recommendations as detailed later in this document.

We’ve given it a permanent home on the right-hand side. Find it here.

There is also a PDF version which you can download and this is the best one to use for attaching to an email and sending to your MP. Or you can use a website like Write To Them and include a link to the PDF.

Definitely worth reading in full.

Oxford Vaccine To Undergo Extra Trial

In what appears to be an admission of serious problems that need addressing, AstraZeneca has announced that it will run another trial for the Oxford vaccine. The Telegraph has more.

The drug company behind one of the UK’s leading coronavirus vaccines is set to run an extra trial amid growing questions about the jab’s performance.

On Monday, scientists from Oxford University and AstraZeneca revealed that their vaccine had achieved an overall efficacy rate of 70%  in Phase Three trials. However, this rose to 90% in a sub-group, a finding researchers said was “intriguing“.

It was then revealed that this had stemmed from an error when some of those in the study were given just half a dose for the first jab when a full dose had been intended. Those given the intended dose saw efficacy rates of just 62%.

The company has said it will run extra trials to satisfy regulators after US health officials revealed that nobody in the group with 90% efficacy rates was above the age of 55.

Lockdown Sceptics contributor Barry Norris is not impressed by the spin coming out of AstraZeneca as they manage the PR of their disappointing (and botched) trial results.

There’s been no proper scientific release of the data; it’s all just been leaked out selectively and they breached trial protocol over the doses and switching to give the placebo group saline rather than meningitis vaccine, which was the original plan. I also suspect and this is also true of the mRNA trials that the antibody response fades from the data presented as we develop antibodies against the vaccine.

Things will start to get very interesting when and if the Astra vaccine is rolled out. People will realise that the vaccine hurts and comes with side effects which in most people will be worse than getting COVID. When people who have taken the vaccine still get COVID (as the response fades) there will be complaints and what if it heightens the risk for otherwise healthy adults through inhibiting the natural response? If it wasn’t for COVID the trial would already have been called a failure.

Astra now saying they will do more trials. Normally this is an admission that the first trial failed and isn’t enough to get the vaccine approved. Coincidentally, this was announced at 4.30pm on Thursday, just after the UK market shuts and with US markets shut for Thanksgiving and not even a proper press release, again.

They are claiming that this will not affect UK authorisation but I think it will. If they haven’t done enough for the American FDA of which this is a tacit admission then are we saying in the UK we have lower safety standards?

Stop Press: A poll has found that almost half of doctors would not take a rushed Covid vaccine. A poll of readers of Medscape UK found that of 308 UK doctors, 4 in 10 would not get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is approved by the MHRA. Medscape has the details.

Online polling took place 18th-23rd November after the positive Pfizer/BioNTech results but with most responses received before the positive news about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Of those who wouldn’t have the jab at this stage:

– 56% cited safety concerns
– 27% would rather wait
– 7% mentioned personal health reasons
– 14% had other reasons

Overall, 59% said vaccination for healthcare staff should not be compulsory. Among those who wouldn’t have the jab at this stage, nine out of 10 were against compulsory staff vaccination.

Are We Over-Counting Excess Deaths?

How many more have died in England and Wales in 2020 than in a normal year? To calculate the number of “excess” deaths, most of us follow the ONS in comparing this year’s figure with the average of the previous five years. But is this a fair representation of how many deaths are above what would be expected? Not when the population is ageing, explains Ross Clark in the Spectator.

Not only is the population of England and Wales growing; it is also ageing. The population of over-70s, for example, has grown over the past decade by an average of 2% a year. Therefore, year on year, we should expect deaths to rise – simply comparing this year’s mortality rate with the five-year average does not give us a like for like picture. A more enlightening view is provided by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, which publishes a weekly ‘mortality monitor’ in which it compares this year’s mortality rate with last year’s, adjusting for the change in population profile over the past 12 months. 

Its analysis shows that deaths in week 46 were 1,442 — or 13% — higher than they would have been had 2020 had the same mortality rate as last year. Compare it with the standardised mortality rate for the years 2015 to 2019, on the other hand, and excess deaths for week 46 of 2020 fall to 1,388.

By this way of counting 2020 was only running at 6% above average mortality by mid-November (see graph above). Many of those extra deaths are the result of lockdown, not the virus, of course.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: An article in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter published on November 22nd summarised the findings of Genevieve Briand, Assistant Program Director of the Applied Economics Master’s Degree Program at Hopkins. She analysed all-cause mortality in the US in 2020, comparing the data to deaths in previous years, and found, to her surprise, that 2020 was less exceptional than it seemed at first blush.

After retrieving data on the CDC website, Briand compiled a graph representing percentages of total deaths per age category from early February to early September, which includes the period from before COVID-19 was detected in the U.S. to after infection rates soared.

Surprisingly, the deaths of older people stayed the same before and after COVID-19. Since COVID-19 mainly affects the elderly, experts expected an increase in the percentage of deaths in older age groups. However, this increase is not seen from the CDC data. In fact, the percentages of deaths among all age groups remain relatively the same.

“The reason we have a higher number of reported COVID-19 deaths among older individuals than younger individuals is simply because every day in the U.S. older individuals die in higher numbers than younger individuals,” Briand said.

Briand also noted that 50,000 to 70,000 deaths are seen both before and after COVID-19, indicating that this number of deaths was normal long before COVID-19 emerged. Therefore, according to Briand, not only has COVID-19 had no effect on the percentage of deaths of older people, but it has also not increased the total number of deaths.

These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.

But how is this possible? After all, hasn’t COVID-19 killed over 250,000 Americans this year?

When Briand looked at the 2020 data during that seasonal period, COVID-19-related deaths exceeded deaths from heart diseases. This was highly unusual since heart disease has always prevailed as the leading cause of deaths. However, when taking a closer look at the death numbers, she noted something strange. As Briand compared the number of deaths per cause during that period in 2020 to 2018, she noticed that instead of the expected drastic increase across all causes, there was a significant decrease in deaths due to heart disease. Even more surprising this sudden decline in deaths is observed for all other causes.

This trend is completely contrary to the pattern observed in all previous years. Interestingly, as depicted in the table below, the total decrease in deaths by other causes almost exactly equals the increase in deaths by COVID-19. This suggests, according to Briand, that the COVID-19 death toll is misleading. Briand believes that deaths due to heart diseases, respiratory diseases, influenza and pneumonia may instead be recategorized as being due to COVID-19.

Needless to say, the article no longer appears on the website of the Johns Hopkins Newsletter – far too heretical. But you can read an archived version here. We’ve made a copy in case the enforcers of Covid orthodoxy remove that too. If it’s gone by the time you read this, email us and we’ll send it to you.

Update: AIER have published an analysis of the article here.

Hospitals That Kill

After yesterday’s story about Covid spreading around hospitals, a reader writes to tell us how this happened to people he knew.

How your story yesterday about hospitals not protecting people from Covid rang true. Two days ago our neighbour died at home after coming out of hospital from 15 months’ unsuccessful treatment for leukaemia. Half that time was spent recovering from the stroke caused by the first bout of chemo. The second bout of treatment ended recently when he gave up on it all and was discharged to come home to die. Guess what? He’d also just caught Covid in hospital, having spent months and months in virtual isolation to protect him, after an infected person was brought into the ward so naturally he’ll go down as a Covid statistic. He was 60.

Last week a close friend’s father-in-law died too. He was in his 90s and had acute renal failure. He was whipped into hospital where he tested negative for Covid twice. By the third test he’d caught Covid too after another infected person was brought in and successfully infected everyone in the ward. Of course, he’s gone down as a Covid statistic too.

Now, both these men had terminal conditions and would have died anyway, probably at the time they did. But nothing can alter the fact that we have been suffocated by precautions to protect people like them from Covid only for the health service we are supposed to be protecting actually to allow them and the people in adjacent beds to catch the wretched disease. In this incredible bizarro world we are being exhorted to save the NHS from being crushed by a disease it’s actively spreading.

Covid spreading in hospitals both increases the true Covid death toll and inflates the number of those who die “with Covid”. We need to get much better at separating those with highly infectious disease in the healthcare system.

Dear Deirdre…

A reader has decided to write to Deirdre, the Sun‘s agony aunt, about a relationship that’s gone south.

Dear Deirdre,

I’m starting to suspect that there might be a problem with my relationship. Please tell me I’m not going crazy.

At the start of this year I started going out with a new man, Boris. He was charming and seemed very clever – he’d been to Oxford and could read Latin. He’d “been around the block” a bit, if you know what I mean, and he was a bit overweight. But he was good fun and very decisive. He liked to “get things done”, which was a big appeal.

Anyway, in March he started to change. He went down the pub one evening with his friend, Neil, who’s a bit of a weirdo to be honest, and Neil told him all about this “Chinese bat flu” that was going to wipe out the human race. Neil showed him all this stuff on his phone that he’d got off Wikipedia and he did some calculations on the back of a beer mat showing that the population of the UK would basically be wiped out in six month’s time unless we completely changed our way of life.

When Boris told me about Neil’s predictions I thought he was having a laugh. Sadly not. The next morning he went to the corner shop and bought all the loo roll and Pot Noodles then he insisted that we stay at home completely, no going to work or socialising, and only going out to buy absolute essentials.

He’s a clever guy, so although I had my doubts I assumed he knew what he was talking about, and creepy Neil was good at maths and had once been on Countdown. Anyway, Boris said it only needed to be for three weeks – to “flatten the sombrero” or something (don’t ask me!) so I thought I’d play along, maybe it was a mid-life crisis or something.

Anyway, three weeks came and went, and still Boris wouldn’t let me go out and see anyone or go back to work. I didn’t complain though. It’s hard to explain – he’d spooked me so much I kind of stopped thinking critically about what he was saying. And it wasn’t too bad at first. I was a bit worried about the financial impact of not working, but Boris said he had lots of money in the bank. And it was quite nice to have a bit of time off. We watched Tiger King on Netflix and I bought a lot of stuff off Amazon to take my mind off things.

After several months things got ever so slightly more normal. Boris said that we could go out again and go to the shops and talk to people, but we still had to “stay safe” at all times and stay two metres apart from other people. I could even go back to work for a bit. I kind of played along with it, thinking he was about to lose enthusiasm for the whole bat flu situation. Then, in the middle of summer, out of nowhere he suddenly announced that we had to wear masks whenever we went to the shops! This was when things started to get really weird. He even wanted to wear a mask when we made love, but I drew the line there.

Then he got angry with me one day and said I hadn’t been taking the rules seriously enough. I should say at this point that Neil and these other creepy blokes from the quiz team down the pub, Chris and Pat, were obsessed with this thing called the “R number”. This had something to do with how much bat flu there was going around. Every day they would call Boris up and tell him that the “R number” wasn’t coming down enough and there was too much bat flu, and Boris would go white and say how sorry he was. Then he would take it out on me and give me these long lectures. One day Chris and Pat sent him this really scary chart, showing how we were all going to die again unless we acted straight away. I remember Boris asking if this was a prediction, and for some reason this made them furious, and they kept screaming over and over “it’s a projection!”, which really confused him.

Boris sat me down and said the “R number” was still too high, and it was all my fault for not following “the rules”. I must have been forgetting about the two metres, or not wearing the mask, or not singing Happy Birthday while I washed my hands or something. He said that he had no choice but to introduce a “Three Tier” system. Tier 1 meant things were bad, Tier 2 meant that they were very bad, and Tier 3 meant that they were catastrophic. We were only allowed to do certain things depending on what Tier we were in. This was the only way we could “save Christmas”. I asked if there could ever be anything lower than Tier 1 and he just shook his head and said that was obviously impossible. He called up Chris and Pat and they said that we could start off in Tier 2. This meant I had to wear a mask even when I was driving in my car and no-one else was around.

We went on like this for a while, until one day Chris and Pat called Boris and gave him a stern talking to. Another “projection” – the R number was going to get high again! Boris then started shouting at me, and accused me of having taken my mask off in Lidl. It was back to “lockdown”. This meant no meeting anyone at all, no going to work, nothing. This went on for a month. I started getting very anxious and worried about everything. Plus I had a really nasty shock one day when I happened to see Boris’s credit card statement. He was tens of thousands of pounds in debt! I started crying and shaking and having some very dark thoughts.

I think Boris realised how upset I was and he sat me down and said he knew that it was tough but it was all for my own good. He didn’t like locking me up like this but I had given him no choice. Then his tone changed and he said that there was some good news – the “lockdown” would end in December! I was overjoyed, until he revealed that the “lockdown” would be replaced by the return of the “Tiers”. Only this time it was even more serious. I could forget about Tier 1. It was just Tier 2 or 3 from now on. To be honest, I couldn’t even understand what the difference between these Tiers was. It was something to do with eating a “substantial meal” and “the rule of 6” – total gibberish, really. Boris did say that we could have five days off “the rules” at Christmas so that I could see my mum, but we would have to sit two metres apart with the windows open and not use the same serving spoons.

I asked him if the more serious “Tier system” meant that the bat flu had got worse. And here’s the weird thing – he said that there was actually less bat flu than before. This made no sense, and I tried to get him to explain, but he started muttering “hands face space” over and over again and talking about the toot of the distant bugle. I used to find that stuff quite charming but to be honest it’s got really annoying and I’m not convinced that he’s in his right mind.

I just don’t know when all of this is going to end. It’s unbearable – the bizarre rules that change every second of the day, the uncertainty, the endless control over my every action, the lack of freedom, the fear and anxiety. I think the mask is starting to make me ill. I just can’t see any hope for the future.

And here’s the thing. I’ve got a friend who works in a hospital. She says that the bat flu was actually real, and it was quite nasty, but it wasn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary. They coped with it without much difficulty and it seems to be going away now. They are having a pretty normal winter in her hospital – certainly no busier than usual. So why the Tiers and the masks and the rwo metres and the massive credit card bill? It doesn’t make any sense to me any more.

I’m at the end of my tether. What should I do?

Yous sincerely,

Anonymous

He hasn’t yet received a reply, but he imagines it might go something like this.

Dear Anonymous,

You asked me what you should do. I’ll tell you. Pack your bags and leave this man, right now. This is not normal behaviour.

The constant control, the limiting of your freedoms, the psychological manipulation, the false hope, the small rewards for good behaviour, the forced financial dependency – these are all the hallmarks of an abusive relationship.

Perhaps he can’t help himself. He seems to be a deeply deluded man. He probably wants this to end as much as you do.

This is not your fault. But it needs to stop – now.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “I wasn’t born to follow” by The Byrds, “Living in hope” by The Rutles and “I Think I’m Gonna Kill Myself” by Elton John.

Stop Press: “Safetyland“, the latest tune from lockdown sceptic rockers MediaBear, is out now.

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, McDonald’s has been accused of the weird woke crime of “cultural appropriation” because it introduced a sandwich based on a Jamaican recipe. The Mail has the story.

Fast food giant McDonald’s has been accused of “cultural appropriation at its finest” over one of its new Christmas menu items.

The chain announced a new Jerk Chicken Sandwich for its festive menu, which also features a double Big Mac and a Celebrations McFlurry. But it is the Jerk Chicken Sandwich which has caused the biggest stir – and not all for the right reasons. While some have taken to social media to praise the burger, others have hit out at McDonald’s accusing them of “cultural appropriation”.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity. It is particularly controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.

Jerk chicken originates from Jamaica and is believed by historians to come from indigenous Taino people and Maroons – descendants of Africans who were enslaved in the Caribbean islands.

One person tweeted: “The more I think about it the more I’m bothered by the McDonald’s ‘jerk chicken’ attempt. It shows me one of two things: 1) They don’t care to respect the culture or 2) They have zero diversity on their team.”

Another said: “Jerk Chicken Sandwich, yet there is not one McDonald’s in Jamaica.”

One person tweeted: “Who approved McDonald’s Jerk Chicken Sandwich?”

Another added: “Disrespect to the fullest. McDonald’s slapped a dead sauce on top of a crispy chicken and called it Jerk Chicken Sandwich, unreal.”

By this twisted logic there should surely be a ban on the sale of all Jamaican jerk products to non-Jamaicans, and on all non-Jamaicans enjoying them.

Stop Press: FSU Legal Advisory Council member Andrew Tettenborn has written in CapX on the Universities UK Critical Race Theory capitulation that we flagged up in yesterday’s Woke G.

“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 want 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.

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

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…

In his Spectator column this week, Toby lets on about the unusual sleeping arrangements that writing Lockdown Sceptics – and having the house rewired – have created in his home.

I’ve moved out of my home. No, Caroline and I haven’t broken up. It’s just that we’re having the house rewired, which means we have to be out of our bedroom by 8am Ordinarily, that wouldn’t matter but about eight months ago I started a blog about lockdown and I’m usually up until 4am working on it. We have almost 7,000 subscribers to our daily newsletter and I want it to be waiting for them when they wake up. And superhuman though I am, I can’t survive on four hours’ sleep a night.

I haven’t gone very far. I’ve stuck a blow-up mattress in the garden shed that doubles as my office. But, weirdly, the children seem to think this is a prelude to divorce. Given how many of their friends’ parents have separated — the divorce rate in England and Wales is 42% — they’ve become experts in the telltale signs, and apparently Mum and Dad sleeping in different bedrooms is one of them. My efforts to reassure them have been in vain. Earlier this week, I explained to 13-year-old Freddie that it was only a temporary measure, but he just stared at me anxiously. “Don’t you and Mum love each other any more?” he asked.

And it’s not just the kids.

Even my mother-in-law has become a bit suspicious. She came to lunch last Saturday – she’s in our support bubble – and because she’s an expert on everything to do with home improvement I asked her if she thought it would be possible to add an extension to my shed and get a lavatory plumbed in. The idea would be to create a separate bedroom with an en suite bathroom. “That way, we could Airbnb it,” I said, rather unconvincingly. She arched her eyebrows and adopted an ironic tone: “I thought it was supposed to be a man cave, not a self-contained flat?”

Needless to say, Caroline has no objections to my sleeping in the shed – she says she sleeps better because I don’t disturb her when I come to bed in the middle of the night – but is slightly irritated that after supper, when the children are refusing to do their homework or are fighting with each other, I just slip out of the back door clutching a bottle of wine and a bowl of nuts. In the past, Caroline has complained that I’m more like a fifth child than a parent, but at least I would occasionally play the role of a more experienced older sibling – helping the others with their ties, walking them to the bus stop, telling them what to do if they got into a fight: “Hit first, hit hard and hit often.” But now I’ve been transformed into a kind of lodger. I smile at the children across the kitchen table, flirt with their mother a little and then retire to my room for the evening.

So now we know the secret of how Lockdown Sceptics gets published at 4am each morning.

Worth reading in full – very funny.

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