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London Threatened with Tier 3

Bob Moran’s cartoon in Sunday’s Telegraph

While the news cycle is dominated by last-minute Brexit negotiations, The Telegraph reports that a “worrying” rise in cases in London may lead to the city being “plunged” into Tier 3 restrictions:

The Government must consider placing London in Tier 3 restrictions, scientists have said, after 21 out of the 32 boroughs showed worrying rises in cases.

The capital is now the second worst region in the country, just behind the West Midlands, with more than 15,000 people testing positive in the past week, a rate of 169.6 per 100,000 people, up from 150.9 a month ago.

It means London is now higher than many of the Tier 3 areas, such as the North East where case rates have halved from 330.2 per 100,000 to 160.4 since the beginning of November. 

The case rate in the capital is higher than all but five of the current Tier 3 regions with the borough of Haringey seeing rises of 46% since last week, Bromley 40% and Kingston 33%.

Those “very worried” include Professor Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia who said:

…it was “very worrying” that cases had continued to increase during the national lockdown and said a rise from Tier 2 must now be considered.

“There were more cases at the end of lockdown than at the start in London,” he said.

He did not offer an explanation why the recent national lockdown had failed to affect the case numbers or why, despite this, subjecting the capital to additional restrictions would be a wise course of action.

We Need to Talk About Sweden

The country which bucked the trend against the coercive measures we have come to loathe has been subject to an increasing amount of unfavourable coverage suggesting that its recent change of tack – bringing in greater restrictions – are proof of abject failure. The Daily Mail reports that “lockdowns loom” for the country:

Lockdown is finally looming in Sweden with coronavirus infection rates now more than double that of Britain, Germany or Spain and its death rate once again the highest among Nordic nations. 

Some parts of Sweden have infection rates similar to the worst hotspots in Europe, and cases have yet to start falling after the second wave as they have in Britain, France and many other European countries. 

After Sweden’s death rate fell to similar levels to Denmark, Norway and Finland over the summer, it is now once again the highest of the four, with 1,000 new deaths recorded in the last month. 

After insisting that ‘cases’ are very high, and making invidious comparisons with Sweden’s Nordic neighbours , the article continues:

Sweden’s current average is 55 deaths per day, up from 12 only a month ago although still lower than the peak of 107 at the height of the crisis in April. 

When adjusted for population, Sweden’s overall death rate is no worse than in the major countries of Western Europe such as Britain and France. 

Not much is made of that last point, even though it essentially admits that there’s no correlation between economic shutdowns and death rates across Europe.

Ivor Cummins’s latest video update, “The Last Word on Sweden Viral Issue – Understanding the Reality“, digs deeper into the data. Despite avoiding draconian measures so far, the statistics still show nothing particularly remarkable going on in Swedish mortality rates:

Graph showing worse death rates on previous occasions.

Cummins also addresses the current plateau in ICU admissions as well as the ‘dry-tinder’ explanation for some of the variation in Nordic death rates – essentially those countries that suffered relatively low excess mortality during the last one or two winters were hit harder this time.

Kathy Gyngell at Conservative Woman today implored her readers to watch Ivor’s video, adding:

Ivor Cummins has produced another of his crystal-clear videos on lockdown, the science and the critics. This one… certainly ought to be the last word on evidence that neither lockdown nor testing mitigate Covid mortality rates.

That doesn’t mean it should be parked. The argument with the politicians is far from being won. It needs presenting and re-presenting until the whole country is made aware that the lockdown policies of Britain and many other Western countries have been based on a false premise. It is even more relevant now that we are being told the double lie that a vaccine is the key to ending the lockdown and the only way that we can return to a semblance of normality.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. A voluntary vaccine, if and when proved safe, might be a good thing. A vaccine in which vast swathes of the population understandably lack confidence, as the deus ex machina solution to the already misguided lockdown policy, is not. In answer to Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times, if you think a rushed-through vaccine about which there are credible doubts has vindicated the Government’s strategy, it is you who are not examining the evidence dispassionately. It is wishful thinking at best. And the idea that it might be made a condition of freedom surely should give you, once an open-minded critic of the intrusive and ever more authoritarian state, some serious doubts.

For confirmation that Sweden’s current death rate is nothing out of the ordinary, see Statista’s total mortality graph for the country for the last 10 years. It only runs up to November 27th of this year so far, but it seems implausible that in the remaining month and four days of this year it is likely to climb above normal levels.

Total deaths in Sweden 2010-2020. Source: statista.com

Can you spot the pandemic?

Similarly, the Euromomo data show no excess deaths outside the initial peak, up to the end of November, with the rate for large parts of the year actually running near the lower end of the ‘normal’ range, and now on a downward curve, despite much more lax restrictions than most European countries even now.

2020 Mortality Z-Score for Sweden. Source: Euromomo

Scottish Government Issues Cringeworthy Covid ‘Etiquette’ Guide

The Scottish Government has published an astonishingly patronising guide to avoiding “awkward situations” with fellow citizens. The eight-page document has prompted howls of derision, as reported in The Telegraph by Scottish Correspondent Daniel Sanderson:

Nicola Sturgeon said it was intended to be a “helpful” guide to dealing with awkward social situations brought about by the pandemic.

But Scotland’s First Minister has faced accusations that she is treating Scots like infants – while wasting taxpayers’ money – after SNP ministers published a coronavirus “etiquette guide” that was condemned as “the definition of patronising”.

Scots have been urged to frame remarks urging others to follow rules as “an offer rather than a request”, a tactic the guide states “will help to reduce tension or offence while still changing the outcome of an encounter”.

For example, if a stranger in a supermarket breaks two metre distancing, it suggests saying “I’ll step back and give you some space – it’s tricky in busy spaces to keep to two metres isn’t it?”

Meanwhile, if a friend attempts a hug, the ‘pandemic politeness’ guidelines suggest saying: “I so want to hug you! But I guess we have to wait until it’s safe. I don’t want to risk harming you or anyone else you are in contact with. I’m giving you a virtual hug.”

Nic Sturge-on, when quizzed about the document, stated that she did not know how much public money had been spent on it.

Back to Normal: Another Rallying Cry

Part of a Back to Normal leaflet.

After a positive response to his last announcement in Lockdown Sceptics several weeks ago, Geoff Cox from Back to Normal has got back in touch with a second call to arms, this one with the ambitious target of delivering one million leaflets through British letterboxes.

Staggered by the falsification of Covid data? Enraged by police bullying? Depressed by the loss of civil liberties? Frustrated that you can do little except rail and wail in your own bubble? Well, now you can do something – a little something, but something. Back to Normal is a well organised, public facing, grass roots organisation with the simple goal of delivering a folded postcard to people in the UK. The idea is that the postcard will: 

  • Dent the confidence of those who only get their news from the TV
  • Convince those who are having their doubts about the Government message; and last but by no means least, it will
  • Encourage sceptics to speak out who may currently feel they are alone or who have been “shamed” into silence

While we have a website and social media on MeWe and Facebook, they are purely back-ups for our main purpose of putting our case before the public. Our target is to distribute one million postcards and we have just gone past 80,000. We are also asking for volunteers to act as coordinators in their own constituency to ensure there is no overlap in deliveries and to bulk up orders. There is a proliferation of groups being set up in this country and all over the world to campaign against the current global madness. Back to Normal is just one of them. Therefore, we hope our coordinators will be joined by other like-minded sceptics from every campaign to act locally and as independently as they like. For more information about becoming a Back to Normal postman or a coordinator or both, please email me.

Welsh Border Pub Takes Dim View of Drakeford

The Boat at Erbistock, Wrexham

A reader has sent us an exasperated mail-out from his favourite local pub, The Boat at Erbistock, situated just 50 yards from the border with England. Here is an excerpt:

We’re sorry to say that The Boat will be temporarily closing until further notice.

As a result of the frankly unfathomable, illogical latest set of rules laid down by a naïve, allegedly teetotal, Cardiff-centric, ex-social studies teacher – breathe and try not to use expletives! – staying open just isn’t financially viable. We had hoped to try and bridge the gap to Christmas as a quasi-riverside-café, open for food and soft drinks until 6pm, but by now making it legal for our Welsh customers to be able to visit pubs and restaurants in Cheshire and Shropshire for food and whatever they wish to drink until 10pm, understandably the vast majority of our regulars have, somewhat apologetically, told us that this is what they will be doing.

To be clear, we don’t think that open borders between the home nations is a problem – quite the reverse. That’s how it should be. The issue is the strategy of targeting hospitality as a whole when we have put so much time, money and emphasis on social distancing, sanitisation and supervision. The statistics and data quoted regarding transmission rates by sector vary hugely and are blatantly twisted depending on which body is trying to justify what point. But within our sector, which has proper Track and Trace, it is generally accepted they are significantly below most others sectors, like retail, offices, institutions and higher educational establishments.

The Welsh Government brought in restrictions last week which required pubs to close at 6pm and not serve any alcohol.

Stop Press: Just a month after the ‘fire-break’ lockdown in Wales, the Guardian reports that, extraordinarily, the Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething is considering yet another lockdown:

Describing the situation as “incredibly serious”, the Welsh health minister, Vaughan Gething, accepted more restrictions might be needed, possibly even before Christmas.

The figures come just a month after the end of a 17-day “firebreak” lockdown, which was believed at the time to have been successful and was expected to give the country a clear run up to the new year.

But the Welsh government has since conceded that it might have been better to bring in other curbs when the firebreak was lifted.

At a press conference on Monday, Gething said coronavirus cases were rising again across almost the whole of Wales. The country was the only part of the UK where infection rates were not falling at the end of November, he said.

Toby’s Interview with Unlocked

Lockdown Sceptics Editor Toby Young gave a wide-ranging interview to Martin Daubney at Unlocked that was broadcast yesterday, covering everything from the politicisation of the police to universities, cancel culture, the Free Speech Union, and of course, lockdowns.

Worth watching in full.

Stop Press: Dr Arif Ahmed of Cambridge University spoke to Freddie Sayers at UnHerd about the current debate taking place about the university’s new academic free speech policy.

Poem from a Reader

A reader has sent in a short poem inspired by watching her granddaughter taking a Zoom dance lesson in the midst of Tier 3 restrictions, an experience she described as “heartbreaking”.

Chloe in Lockdown, aged 9

Chloe’s dancing in the kitchen,
lovely leaps and elegant toes.
Her teacher’s on the iPad screen,
and no-one sees the cancelled shows.

Chloe’s writing at her small desk,
trying hard to solve her maths sheet.
Perhaps her teacher is at school
but doesn’t need or want to meet?

Her desk is small but full of ‘things’.
Pens and pencils, Lego and toys.
She would swap these in a heartbeat
for hugs from everyone she knows.

Chloe’s learning darker words now.
Furlough, COVID and Work From Home.
Keep Your Distance and Wear A Mask.
My dancing girl is still locked down.

Sick-Making Nativity Scene

A ghastly sight greets shoppers in Mayne, one of the Gulf Islands

A reader in one of the Gulf Islands has sent us a note about the above picture. She’s not happy.

Attached is a picture of a ‘Covid nativity scene’. This was erected on Mayne, off the coast of British Columbia.

You will see that one of the wise men has been replaced with our unelected health officer, Bonnie Henry. She has been elevated to quasi sainthood, and now takes her rightful position beside Jesus. This is the same woman who closed church services across my province.

I can’t even describe the disgust I feel right now.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “No Plans” by Novo Amor, “Poison Arrow” by ABC, “Have I the Right?” by The Honeycombs and “I Won’t Have It” by Pennywise.

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, we’re bringing you an extract from a piece about Eton by a recent graduate that appeared in the Mail on Sunday.

One of the teachers promoted under Mr Henderson was Hailz Osborne, Director of Inclusion Education, who is keen to point out that she spotted the early potential of a young Eddie Redmayne when he had a non-speaking role in a school production of The Madness Of George III.

She was chosen as the school’s new director of inclusion education, charged with appointing a committee of boys to shape school policy around issues ‘focused on, but not limited to, race, faith, sexuality, gender, disability, age and outreach’.

Hailz says her greatest achievement at Eton is how proud she is of seeing the Pride flag being flown on the official flag pole above the school’s gateway.

Interestingly, when asked about her career goals, Hailz once said she’d like to see the BLM flag flying over the college gateway, too. I’m gay and I can say with certainty that Hailz’s interventions on sexuality didn’t help me.

In my early years at Eton, being gay wasn’t a big deal. Then we became a ‘protected’ community, singled out for attention. By my final year, a kid four years younger than me was running around calling us all ‘fags’.

Realising I was gay at the age of 12 was terrifying. It’s not that my parents are conservative – one’s a therapist and one’s a musician – but like most boys on the cusp of their teens, I felt as if the world expected me to grow up and have a wife and family one day.

That dissolved when I went to Eton. I found the boys in my year were more open and more liberal than I could ever have expected. I never heard them say anything homophobic in my presence.

This gave me the courage to be honest about my sexuality and by the end of my first year, aged 14, I was ready to come out.

However, by then the headmaster’s progressive policies were embedding themselves in the school.

As this culture consolidated, with the notion of ‘protected groups’, gay people at Eton became seen not as individuals who happened to be gay, but as part of a monolithic community with the same aims, the same politics and the same beliefs.

It was as if people in general are defined by who they choose to sleep with. Being brilliant at rugby, or music, or debating, or computer coding all seemed to take second place to this ‘protected’ characteristic.

As a result of this shift, and a sense of being labelled or categorised, I no longer felt able to come out, and ultimately I spent another miserable year and a half in the closet.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: John Jolliffe, a member of the Free Speech Union’s Legal Advisory Council, has written a great piece for the Critic about the free speech row.

“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 will not 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. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here.

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 in October 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 well 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.

Stop Press: The Free Speech Union’s permission hearing will take place at the High Court on Wednesday.

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

We know they are lying. They know they are lying, They know that we know they are lying. We know that they know that we know they are lying. And still they continue to lie.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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.

Alexander 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

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Joseph Goebbels (attributed)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

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…

YouTube comedian JP’s latest video, “Proof that Lockdowns are Working!