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Free Speech Union Overturns Ban on Bob Moran in Cartoon Competition

Telegraph cartoonist Bob Moran was originally excluded from this year’s ‘Political Cartoonist of the Year’ competition because the organiser, Tim Benson, disapproves of the fact that he’s a lockdown sceptic. But thanks, in part, to the intervention of the Free Speech Union, the ban has been overturned and Bob is now in the competition. Turns out, the company that sponsors the annual event, Ellwood Atfield, wasn’t aware of the ban and as soon as the FSU flagged it up to the owners they intervened on Bob’s behalf.

You can view the shortlisted entries here and anyone can vote. Bob has cartoons in two categories – the Political Cartoon of the Year and Covid Cartoon of the Year – but there are plenty of other strong candidates. I’ve voted for Bob, naturally.

Where’s That Pesky Virus Gone?

Leslie Howard as the Scarlet Pimpernel: “They seek him here, they seek him there, those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven, is he in hell, that damn elusive Pimpernel.”

The lateral flow tests have struck another blow against the Covid hysterics. According to the BBC, the mass testing of students in the run-up to Christmas has so far turned up almost no cases.

The University of Portsmouth is reporting “very low numbers” of positive cases from its Covid testing.

“We are seeing fewer than two per day on average at present,” said vice-chancellor Graham Galbraith.

He criticised a “blame culture” in which students had been accused of spreading infections.

“Prevalence in students is now very low indeed,” said Prof Galbraith.

Edge Hill University in Lancashire says it has so far found zero positive cases in its end-of-term testing.

The mass testing of students, launched on campuses last week, has been screening hundreds of thousands of students preparing to leave for the Christmas holidays…

At the University of Portsmouth, an initial sample of about 4,500 students, showed a rate of 0.2% positive results, or about nine students.

This follows the recent news out of Cambridge in which zero students tested positive out of a sample of 10,000. Initially, some Cambridge students did test positive, but when they were retested every single one of them turned out to be a false positive. Needless to say, the test in the Cambridge case was the PCR test not the lateral flow test.

Hmmm. This is a head-scratcher. If not a single Cambridge student in 10,000 has the virus and only 0.2% of students at Portsmouth have the virus, does that mean… could it be… that the student population has achieved herd immunity?

Stop Press: In case you still have any faith in the accuracy of Covid tests, check out this story. An Austrian lawmaker tested a glass of Coca-Cola for coronavirus during a speech accusing his Government of medical tyranny – and the drink turned out to be positive.

Rumours of Covid Deaths Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

We’re publishing an original piece today by Neville Hodgkinson, former medical and science correspondent of the Daily Mail and Sunday Times and a sharper, more clear-eyed analyst of the Covid fiasco than many of his present-day counterparts. He has spotted that the number of critical care patients in hospitals was no higher in October than it has been for the previous five years (see above). Odd, when October was supposedly the peak of the “second wave”, when, according to Witless and Unbalanced, NHS trusts were so close to being overwhelmed that if we didn’t lock down immediately Covid deaths would climb to 4,000 a day. I’ll let Neville take it from here.

The October figure shows an increase in patients in critical care whose illness was attributed to Covid, but nowhere near that of the April peak. And it hasn’t continued to rise: latest figures show a decline in both admissions and deaths where Covid was involved.

Total deaths are running at about a fifth higher than the five-year average, though how much of that is attributable to the massive disruption of people’s lives caused by the lockdown, or to the virus, is questionable.

About 1,800 people die each day in England and Wales currently, and out of those about 430 are said to involve Covid. This is a far cry from the prediction of up to 4,000 deaths a day by this month, made in one of the slides shown by Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief medical Officer Chris Whitty when they explained the necessity for a second national lockdown.

The figures have immense implications for Government policy. They call into question the value of the restrictions that are still in place, which are continuing to damage the wellbeing of millions.

Worth reading in full.

State schools in England that close a week early have been threatened with legal action by the Government, according to the Telegraph‘s Camilla Turner.

At least one council has already told some of its schools that it would support them to move to online learning only for the last week of term, and secondary schools across London and the South East are expected to tell parents that they will be closing early for the holidays.

Headteachers whose schools do stay open also intend to turn a blind eye if parents choose to keep their children at home, the Telegraph understands.

However, senior sources at the Department for Education warned schools and councils that it would be prepared to apply for High Court injunctions to force them to stay open.

Presdales School, an academy in Hertfordshire, is the first school in the country to be told it could be taken to court over its plans to move to remote learning at the end of term.

Good to see Gavin Williamson finally getting tough with schools that aren’t discharging their duty to pupils.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A reader has passed on a letter she’s received from St Marylebone CE School in London, notifying her that the school is going to shift to ‘online only’ for the last three days of term, meaning her child will be sent home. She asks: “Is this legal?”

You might know that recently the Schools Minister has suggested that schools can put an additional INSET day at the end of this school term, to finish teaching a day earlier.

At St Marylebone School, we are not going to do this, as we want learning to continue until the end of term and we have planned our INSET days for the rest of the year. But we are going to do something developmental for staff and students next week which you need to know about.

Monday and Tuesday at school will continue as usual. Year 10 and 11 students’ learning will continue online as it has been.

On Wednesday and Thursday, learning will continue online, via Google Meet, for everyone. Students will not attend on-site. This is a two-day opportunity for all students to adapt to learning online, which is especially important for students new to St Marylebone in Years 7 and 12, and for the many of our students from disadvantaged backgrounds who need the opportunity to check they are able to access learning via Google Classroom and Google Meet. Lessons will be live online all day both days and all students will be expected to attend, from registration at 8.30am onwards. Full attendance is expected, as are the usual high standards of participation and engagement.

Teachers will be using this as an opportunity for their own professional development and confidence with delivering remote teaching. In a sense, this is an INSET, but one which includes students.

Friday 18th December is our planned half-day. This will also take place safely online, with registration starting at 8.30am, planned form group activities, year group assemblies and the Carol Service. Full attendance is expected, as are the usual high standards of participation and engagement.

This plan means that students’ last day on site in 2020 will be Tuesday 15th December. Activities planned on-site after this, including immunisations for Year 9, will be postponed.

Having taken advice, we feel it is appropriate to do this in the context of our school in current circumstances, our students’ learning, staff development and the well-being of all. It is no secret that cases of covid are rising and that secondary schools are increasingly affected by this. We are making this plan in the context of the recent confirmed cases of covid in our school community and to promote teachers’ and students’ development and well-being.

This letter really does take the biscuit. It’s as if the school is sending all the children home as a favour to them. The author of the letter, who I won’t name to spare her blushes, even has the gall to say this will benefit children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Pretty extraordinary, given the overwhelming evidence produced by Ofsted and others that kids from poor backgrounds suffer far more than their peers from school closures.

Williamson, here’s your test case. Get on the phone to the Chair of Governors on Monday morning and tell them to raise their bloody game.

Stop Press 2: Rod Liddle pointed out in his Sun column yesterday that some heroes among frontline workers have emerged during the coronavirus crisis, but teachers aren’t among them.

Covid Marshals Patrol Pubs

Three Covid Marshals prepare for their evening patrol

A reader has sent an alarming email about an experience he had in a pub in Watford earlier this week.

Last night the local pub I was in was visited by two goons only one of which was wearing a hi-viz Covid Marshall jacket. The other was dressed head to toe in black with a huge mask and hat. You could only see his eyes. He must have been well over 6ft tall and built like a brick shithouse. He was obviously trying to intimidate everybody but didn’t have much success around the people I was near to. A couple of cheery “f*** off’s” which they both chose to ignore let them know how welcome they were.

The pub is struggling as it is but these actions are going to kill the place completely. They told the bar staff that they would be back a bit later to make sure the people drinking and eating had left. Presumably an empty pub would have suited them just fine. Then they left and started taking pictures of the customers through the pub Windows.

Do you know if this is even legal? As far as I can tell Covid Marshalls don’t have any powers at all.

I needn’t point out that they stood very close to each other and approached the bar, something that nobody else is allowed to do.

What has happened to the country?

Stop Press: A publican has written a piece for the Conservative Woman about the devastation that lunatic Covid restrictions have wreaked on the pub trade. Worth reading.

How Will the Fiction be Sustained?

We’re publishing another terrific piece by David Mackie today, Head of Philosophy at d’Overbroeck’s, Oxford.

It starts with a healthy dose of scepticism about the Government’s mass vaccination programme.

Wedded as it now is to the idea of the vaccine as the ‘solution’ to the coronavirus crisis, the Government will continue to exert all the pressure that it can on the population, through the media and other channels, to downplay any public concerns about the reliability or the safety of the vaccine(s). We already know the form that this pressure will, for the most part, take: it will consist largely of the kind of pro-vaccine propaganda masquerading either as news stories or as ‘myth-busting’ public information broadcasts that we are already seeing.

Mere pro-vaccine propaganda, however, will clearly not suffice on its own: not if the numbers of ‘Covid cases’ reported and ‘COVID-19 deaths’ fail to decline in line with public expectations. Yet it must be obvious to sceptics of my kind that, if testing continues at current or increased levels, there is no reason at all to think that the numbers of positive tests or COVID-19-related deaths will decline. If testing is as unreliable as we believe it is, persuaded as we are by the scientific analyses by Dr Clare Craig, Dr Mike Yeadon, and others, then continued mass testing of the asymptomatic must inevitably continue to produce thousands upon thousands of positive tests and deaths attributed to COVID-19. As Mike Yeadon has said, if the testing continues, then, given the false positives, the appearance of a lethal epidemic can never end.

Sceptics of my kind, of course, believe for these reasons that the mass vaccination programme is in reality just one more gigantic coronvirus-related waste of public money among countless others: it can serve no genuine, scientifically legitimate, purpose in bringing the epidemic to an end, or in justifying an end to lockdown-style restrictions. This is because its explicit aim is to bring about a result – ‘herd immunity’ – that has already been substantially achieved by entirely natural processes to which all deliberate interventions have been essentially irrelevant.

David then poses an interesting question: if the current number of ‘cases’ is a pseudo-epidemic produced by the shortcomings of the PCR test, as well as the testing facilities and the superlabs, how will the Government create the illusion that the vaccine is working? Will they test fewer people? Increase the number of cycles used in the PCR testing lab to identify fragments of the virus? Or finally admit that the test is unreliable and not to be trusted?

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A reader is pleasantly surprised by Public Health England’s new poster promoting the Covid jab.

The flu jab poster this winter was still written in new speak, i.e. protecting the NHS, not killing granny, etc. The Covid jab slogan is subtly “old normal”. Enjoy life. Protect yourself. Then look at the graphic. In reply to all those wondering when we will be allowed to stop the mask wearing, it’s in the poster. Once the over-65s have been vaccinated. Look, they’re not wearing masks below the line.

The other resources are here.

This includes the shiny new “green book” (the immunisation Bible) entry as Covid immunisation takes its place among the many other immunisations available with the quietly sane sentence “Symptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission (1-2 days before symptom onset), is thought to play a greater role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 than asymptomatic transmission”.

It’s all so understated. This is THE VACCINE for THE VIRUS! It reminds me of the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when they wheel an unmarked box containing the ark into a warehouse full of other unremarkable boxes.

Could this be designed to nudge us, with the help of the vaccine of course, out of the panic and back to a “personal responsibility” approach as hinted by Hancock last week? I really hope so.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “Gimme Some Truth” by John Lennon, “Pub Feed” by the Chats, “How did it come to this?” by Take That, “Lacrimosa” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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 the story of how Roedean, the £40,000 a year girls’ boarding school, has decolonised its curriculum. The Times has more.

With its view across the Channel from an East Sussex clifftop, the elite girls’ boarding school Roedean has always had an international outlook.

It will now become one of the first private schools to rewrite its history syllabus, abandoning the “island story” beloved of Michael Gove and challenging the “white western narrative” after this year’s Black Lives Matter protests.

The school, founded in 1885 by three sisters to help girls to get into the women’s colleges at Cambridge University, is transforming history lessons for pupils aged 11 to 14.

Girls will learn about black Tudors, Queen Victoria’s black goddaughter and how Africans helped to resist the slave trade. As well as the Norman Conquest, they will have lessons on the Song dynasty that ruled in China from 960 to 1279.

Pupils will be encouraged to see the Second World War in a global context, examining how it was experienced in countries other than Britain. They will also study global societal changes in the postwar era…

Oliver Blond, Roedean’s headmaster, said: “We wanted to challenge the predominantly western European narrative and to look beyond the limitations of Britain’s ‘island story’, to discover hidden histories both nationally and internationally.

“The question was raised as to whether everyone in the Roedean community saw themselves in the history they study at school and to this end more diverse perspectives have been incorporated within the existing programme, in order to challenge preconceptions and stimulate debate.

“We hope that some of this passion to rediscover the past both at home and around the world will inspire the pupils towards a deeper love of history.”

I’m delighted the school is teaching its students about Africans who resisted the slave trade. But will it also be teaching them about the slave trade in North Africa? Somehow, I doubt it.

Stop Press: Honours associated with the British Empire are “offensive” and should be rebranded, says Labour MP Kate Green, the Shadow Education Secretary. Ms Green is, of course, an OBE. Is she going to give it back?

“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 my 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 three quarters of a million 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 here. Alas, he’s now reached the end of the road, with the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear his appeal. Dolan has no regrets. “We forced SAGE to produce its minutes, got the Government to concede it had not lawfully shut schools, and lit the fire on scrutinizing data and information,” he says. “We also believe our findings and evidence, while not considered properly by the judges, will be of use in the inevitable public inquires which will follow and will help history judge the PM, Matt Hancock and their advisers in the light that they deserve.”

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’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review yesterday, but the FSU may appeal the decision. Check here for updates.

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

I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.

Thomas Paine

Shameless Begging Bit

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And Finally…

Bob’s cartoon in today’s Telegraph