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New Year, New Lockdown Restrictions

Andy Davey’s cartoon in today’s Telegraph

Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Boris Johnson warned the country that COVID-19 restrictions are “alas, probably about to get tougher”. The Spectator has a summary:

The Andrew Marr Show returned this morning, and with it came an in-depth interview with the Prime Minister. It will surprise no one to hear that the bulk of the interview focused on the coronavirus, and Boris Johnson signalled throughout that the new year could see fresh restrictions being brought into place. He did not go into any detail about what measures could be introduced under a potential “Tier 5”, but it was clear enough that his 5pm Downing Street press conferences were not yet a thing of the past

BJ: It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country. I’m fully fully reconciled to that, and I bet the people of this country are fully reconciled to that… Alas, [the tiering system] is probably about to get tougher, but we’ll review it.

Boris said that we need to see if the “extra steps that we’ve all taken in Tier 4 areas are going to work in driving the virus down” and insisted that the Government has got to keep things “under constant review”.

Rather than a national lockdown then the Government’s preference appears to be for a tightening of the Tier system – probably because imposing another national lockdown would require Parliamentary consent. Johnson would not go into any detail on what these tighter restrictions might look like, but the Telegraph appears to have been briefed:

England could be back in lockdown by the middle of this month, Government sources suggested, prompting fears that it will be kept in a straitjacket until at least Easter.

The Telegraph understands that discussions in Government about the return of shielding have already begun, and a further announcement on school closures could come as soon as this week…

Whitehall sources told the Telegraph that discussions are under way about the return of shielding – telling vulnerable people to stay indoors – and whether that could also be extended to people in specific age groups, such as the over-70s.

Last month, the “clinically extremely vulnerable” were told they should stay at home if they live in Tier 4 areas, but the latest discussions could see the return of national shielding measures with a wider group of people told to shield.

Senior Whitehall sources said they expected more parts of the country to be put into Tier 4 which already covers 78% of the population.

Many will agree with Sir Desmond Swayne when he says:

“What more pain do they want to cause us? What are they going to stop us doing now? Close down essential shops and the takeaways? 

“The whole thing is madness. It will be so ridiculous – what difference does it make if you are out in the fresh air for one hour or all day? It won’t make a blind bit of difference. It’s going beyond ridiculous.”

In an entirely predictable intervention, however, Kier Starmer called for new national restrictions to be implemented immediately. The Telegraph has more:

The Labour leader said the virus was “clearly out of control”, as he insisted that it was “no good the Prime Minister hinting that further restrictions are coming into place in a week, or two or three”.

“That delay has been the source of so many problems,” he said.

“So, I say bring in those restrictions now, national restrictions, within the next 24 hours.

“That has to be the first step towards controlling the virus.”

Stop Press: The Daily Mail is reporting that the Government’s ‘Covid-O’ committee, which makes decisions on lockdown restrictions, will meet today to decide on the next steps to take. Expect a Downing Street briefing at 5pm.

Not Going Back to School

Bob Moran’s cartoon in the Telegraph on June 25th 2020

In his conversation with Marr, Boris Johnson stressed that parents of primary school children should send their charges to school today, insisting that the risk is small and that the benefits of education are huge. Unfortunately, amid the warnings about the new strain, the decision to keep some schools closed, and the underlying threat that they might all need to be closed soon anyway, this has proved to be a tough sell. The teaching unions and Labour-controlled local authorities are doing everything in their power to obstruct this plan, as the Daily Mail reports:

Parents are facing chaos over classroom closures as primaries across the country stay shut today despite Boris Johnson insisting “schools are safe”.

The Prime Minister told families yesterday that children should return to school in all areas where they were due to open today and tomorrow.

But as COVID-19 rates soar, teaching unions said that a “snowball effect” was shutting scores of schools despite the official advice to stay open.

Yesterday council leaders in Cumbria, Brighton, Kent, Birmingham and Wolverhampton all formally requested permission for schools in their area to stay shut.

While it waits to hear back from Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, Brighton and Hove City Council has advised all primary heads to shut their schools, apart from for vulnerable children and those of key workers, and to move learning online.

In Southampton the city council warned that some schools “do not have enough staff to reopen safely to all children”, while Slough Borough Council in Berkshire said some primaries would stay closed amid “confusion across the board” caused by the Department for Education.

Councils in Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne all pledged to support heads who needed to close their schools, while Preston City Council’s leader said primaries should remain closed “until they can reopen safely”.

Norfolk County Council also said it would support heads who needed to keep their schools shut.

The chaos has left thousands of parents facing a scramble to find care for their children.

It has worrying parallels with the first education shutdown in March, which was only announced by the Government after many schools had already closed of their own accord. Secondary school pupils in exam years are already due to return a week later than planned, from January 11th, while other years are scheduled to go back from January 18th.

And all London primaries were ordered to stay shut for the first two weeks of the January term after a U-turn on Friday.

The Government’s list of areas where primaries will stay shut also includes parts of Essex, Kent, East Sussex, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

Now nearly a third of the country, some 17 million people, are living in areas where primaries have been told to close by the Government, or where councils have said they will back heads who decide to close their gates.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Lord McConnel, the former Labour First Minister of Scotland, has urged the Scottish Government to vaccinate teachers rather than close schools.

Stop Press 2: Kirstie Allsopp was trolled on Twitter for pointing out that primary school children were “at far more danger from journeys in cars, or swimming, or trampolining than Covid”. That’s surely indisputable?

Heartwarming Tale

We got this message from a reader yesterday in response to our story about paediatric wards not being full of children with Covid.

Just a quick anecdote on the number of children in acute care controversy. A relative works in paediatric A&E in a big London hospital. They had a ‘heartwarming’ experience over Christmas and New Year, with a family turning up at the hospital. Both parents went admitted into the Covid ward and were indeed ill with Covid. The children tested positive but were completely fine. However, there was nowhere for them to go so they stayed in the A & E paediatric ward and became special pets over the holiday period, until a parent was well enough to reclaim them. This was no doubt practical and kind, and I don’t suppose it is a widespread occurrence, but would add to the numbers.

Lockdowns Spread Bugs Faster Than Liberty

Shutterstock.com

William M. Briggs, statistician and co-author of The Price of Panic, has an interesting piece on his blog in which he explains that lockdowns are not simply ineffective – they actually increase virus transmission.

Suppose a bug is 100% transmissible. Everybody in contact with somebody infected therefore gets it, and passes it on with certainty to the next person they meet.

A lockdown will spread this bug faster than allowing people to remain at liberty.

Lockdowns are not quarantines in the old-fashioned sense of that term, where infected people were isolated, kept separate in every way from the non-infected. If you think lockdown and hear quarantine your ears are busted. Quarantines can make sense; lockdowns never do.

Lockdowns are merely forced gatherings. People in lockdown are allowed to venture forth from their dwellings to do “essential” activities, like spending money at oligarch-run stores. These stores are collection points, where people are concentrated. Some are allowed to go to jobs, such as supporting oligarch-run stores…

Lockdowns are not quarantines. Lockdowns concentrate people into fewer areas. Lockdowns are only pain.

Lockdowns allow people outside to mingle for a time, then it forces them back inside to mingle with a vengeance.

It’s clear that our 100% transmissible bug will spread much faster when people are forced to spend more time indoors with each other. Once one person gets it, he will spread it to those at his home immediately. If people were at liberty, and therefore more separated, the bug would still spread to everybody, but more slowly (the speed here is relative).

Now suppose the bug only has a 1 in a 1,000 chance of spreading per contact. Low. Lockdowns will still spread it more quickly than liberty. And for the same reason. Lockdowns force people together. The venues they are allowed to venture to are restricted, and therefore concentrate contact, and they force people inside their homes where it’s obvious contact time increases. Lockdowns concentrate contact spaces and times.

Transmission rate, then, has little to do with the efficacy of lockdowns. There is no efficacy of lockdowns preventing transmission, only in controlling where the transmissions will take place.

Worth reading in full.

The Great Reset: How Did a Corporate Boondoggle Become a Conspiracy Theory?

Unsplash

Writing for UnHerd, Gavin Haynes takes a look at “The Great Reset”, the title of both a tedious seminar hosted by the World Economic Forum in June and of a metastasising conspiracy theory.

In June of this year, the World Economic Forum hosted a video seminar called The Great Reset, to promote a book, also called The Great Reset. It was a crushingly tedious time for all concerned. Bookended with the mitherings of Prince Charles, the event mainly involved a panel of worthies, who all had that NGO tan that comes from endlessly staring at discussion documents about third world poverty from a luxurious Alpine apartment, sharing their thoughts on “sustainability”, “green jobs” and “the global south”.

Their Great Reset, as unveiled in their seminar, proposes a generational shifting of the track-lines of our economic development. It calls for de-carbonising, with the help of massive government stimulus; it wants an internationalist approach that clamps down on tax-dodging companies, paid for by new taxes on the wealthy. Lame, perhaps. But on the face of it, hardly sinister.

The stronger thesis of The Great Reset was best stated by the former Vatican ambassador to the US, Archbishop Carlo Vagano, who in November of this year wrote an open letter to President Trump: “Mr. President, I imagine that you are already aware that in some countries the Great Reset will be activated between the end of this year and the first trimester of 2021. For this purpose, further lockdowns are planned, which will be officially justified by a supposed second and third wave of the pandemic. You are well aware of the means that have been deployed to sow panic and legitimize draconian limitations on individual liberties, artfully provoking a world-wide economic crisis. In the intentions of its architects, this crisis will serve to make the recourse of nations to the Great Reset irreversible, thereby giving the final blow to a world whose existence and very memory they want to completely cancel.

This is the Great Reset as it now exists within the conspiracy world: the premise that life as we knew it is being flattened so as to be re-forged into the bugman’s paradise – with special emphasis on COVID-19 being essentially fake, or at least wildly overstated.

Clearly, these two Great Resets – the lame version and the conspiracy version – are very different propositions. Yet there is also a sense in which they talk to each other, feed off each other. Above all, each provides an excellent strawman for the opposing team to attack.

The Great Reset, says Haynes, was just too good a phrase not to be taken up by conspiracy theorists.

Of course, Klaus Schwab’s annual talking shop is hardly the only organisation vying to turn the crisis towards their agenda. The problem, it seems, was that they were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off; the title was just too good, too on-the-nose, to be ignored. The Great Reset was accidental over-sell, but only in the way that lighting [sic] striking the highest conductive point is “accidental”. By November, when the phrase really took off, societal disquiet was already rumbling, looking for an obvious point-of-contact with reality. Suddenly, a vague unease had a name.

But at the same time, both sides also refuse to concede that the term has multiple meanings. For the WEF and its allies, any opposition to their policies must therefore come from wackos. 

On the other side of the fence, those who deal in the fantasies can deploy their own motte and bailey. They point to the WEF’s actual plan as a safe harbour in reality – a stout Christmas tree of genuine fact, on which they can then hang their madder baubles. 

Between them lies the real argument, unloved and untackled. The crisis has already put down several waymarkers towards a world few of us signed up for: from the steamrollering of mom-’n’-pops in favour of Amazon, to the truly cashless society, to credit scores based on your Google history to the oft-floated “vaccine passport”. The bugman is always figurative: a kind of platonic ideal pointing towards the dangers of a technocratic 2020s. To take it literally is always to miss the point.

The WEF case rests precisely on explaining why we won’t end up in that future. But tackling the unease fuelling The Great Reset’s wide spectrum of critics would also mean addressing the sentiment underlying its opposition: that however buttery the buzzwords, human beings are rightly suspicious of those who make abstruse high-level plans for their ‘welfare’. Especially if they’re designed by pointy-heads from Davos with no skin in the game — whether they come bearing a thought, a plan, a scheme, or an outright conspiracy.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Several readers have sent us an article that appeared in Principia Scientific pointing out the discrepancy between official UK Government data about how many people have died of COVID-19 and the data for statutory notifications of infectious diseases (NOIDS) in England and Wales. According to PHE, GPs are supposed to notify the local authority when one of their patients dies of a notifiable disease, yet only 13,844 deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded using this method in England and Wales. According to Principia Sceintific, this “shows beyond any reasonable doubt that the pandemic narrative peddled for the last nine months by politicians (in cahoots with the mainstream media) is gross misrepresentation and exaggeration”.

Not so fast. A bit of sleuthing (emailing some GPs) reveals a couple of reasons why GPs wouldn’t report the death of one of their patients from COVID-19 using this clinical reporting system.

  • They aren’t aware a patient of theirs has died of COVID-19 because said patient has been admitted to hospital via A&E.
  • All lab results are sent to PHE and a note is then inserted into the patient’s notes indicating that as PHE has already been notified a NOID is not required. A clinician has a legal duty to submit a NOID if they have clinical evidence of a notifiable disease, except if PHE has already been notified.

One GP responded thus:

It’s an extremely antiquated system. Useless in my view and should been abandoned years ago. The only thing you can get from it is trends over long periods, although that makes the massive assumption that reporting behaviour doesn’t change. I haven’t reported any Covid cases. In fact, we’re told we don’t have to. It’s a useless piece of data and should be ignored!

Response to Dr David McGrogan’s Article on Why Our Points aren’t Landing

Emotion trumps reason – and it was ever thus

Regular Lockdown Sceptics contributor Guy de la Bédoyère has written a response to yesterday’s article by Dr David MrGrogan.

David McGrogan’s judgement about the failed strategy of lockdown sceptics and the failure to address emotion is absolutely correct – for the most part, but he’s missed something out. What I’m most surprised by is that he’s surprised. I’ve been an active supporter of this website from the start, but I will freely admit that from the outset I thought we were probably making a futile gesture – sorry Toby – though it was one worth making, nonetheless.

There is nothing new or special about the phenomenon David describes. We don’t live in an age that is any more emotional than any other time. The French historian and political theorist Georges Sorel (1847–1922) was quite convinced that emotion and myth were the driving forces behind human action. He said a man “must have in himself some source of conviction which must dominate his whole consciousness, and act before the calculations of reflection have to enter his mind”.

Sorel added: “We do nothing great without the help of warmly-coloured and clearly defended images, which absorb the whole of our attention”.

In short, human beings are primarily driven by the forces of irrationalism and emotion. They always have been, from the ancient Egyptians exulting in the theatre of pharaonic rituals to the visceral response felt by most Britons of a certain age when they hear the Merlin engine of a Spitfire thundering overhead.

Both experiences were, and still are, defined by myth and the warm glow of righteous belonging.

Strikes and demonstrations, whatever their beef, are about breaking out of the humdrum everyday tedium, the chance to stand beside a brazier warmed by the fire and righteous zeal, or hurl abuse at a policeman, or topple a statue.

Brexit was fought with emotions, on both sides, and defined by myths. Rational arguments, whatever form they might have taken, had and still have no currency. Leave or Remain – both were myths but Leave got the emotion right.

So it has been with Covid. The last year has been a convulsion of triggered emotions, the chance to participate in a mass ritual of self-flagellating righteousness and zealous enthusiasm, the opportunity to share in the endless mythologizing of heroes, villains, and victims. To cheer on the crusading saints in the NHS, to be seen to suffer oneself and do without, to share in the pain, to exult in the excitement of action and participation in an epic tale of Homeric intensity.

It is exactly the same for Piers Corbyn and his own counter-army of anti-lockdown disciples. Their marches and protests, difficult though it might be to believe, serve the same purpose for the participants. Exciting days on the streets of London, tussles with the police, the endorsement of a fine and arrest. The chance to be hero – just for one day.

Sorel understood that the collective emotions of the masses were the key to action. It is remarkable how successful a cabal of our Government ministers and scientists have been in harnessing that force, though in an unprecedented way. Or is it?

In truth, the Covid nightmare has only revealed to us that we are as human beings have always been since time immemorial – driven by myth, inspired by action, and immune to rational thought. Data has been deliberately massaged, manipulated, selectively disseminated to have an emotional impact. Journalists in whole legions have been caught up in an endless cycle of vicarious participation in the cavalcade of emotion.

I’m not sure that talking about all the devastating consequences of lockdowns will have the effect David would like it to have, regardless of how many heartstrings are tugged in the process. The human tragedy is all too real but in an extraordinary way it’s only served to amplify the moral and heroic intensity of being in the middle of a disaster. Being a victim of the fallout can be for some the validation of personal sacrifice, membership, and an endorsement.

Whether a person is hiding at home, working in a hospital and cursing the public, or protesting about wearing a mask, each is – perhaps for the first time in their lives – at last in possession of feeling truly alive, the peaceful mediocrity of the past set to one side in favour of living dangerously.

The only difference about our era is the desperate need to present every position as rational, considered, and substantiated. Hence the mantra of one camp, ‘we’re following the science’. The anti-lockdown marchers are equally convinced by the rationale behind their actions.

Nothing could sum the idea up better than this comment by a French scholar called Pierre Rouanet almost 60 years ago:

The morals of heroism are based on a blind belief in the superior ethical worth of a cause and in the almost religious loyalty elicited by the latter. When reason intervenes, heroism becomes a calculation of alternatives rather than an unqualified devotion to a transcending reality.

That’s precisely why there is no transcending reality to Covid any longer, and maybe there never was. While the disease pervades every corner of our society remorselessly and unilaterally, forever beyond our control, we are each acting out parts in what has become the great emotional drama of our era, and which will in time become as mythologized as Brexit, the Battle of Britain, the Great Plague of 1665, and even the Trojan War – if it hasn’t already.

I’m afraid our efforts to be a rational voice in the hurricane were always going to be a struggle, but at least we have been heroes of a sort – haven’t we?

Poetry Corner

Author and poet Jonny Peppiatt suffered a bout of depression this year, like so many other people. He decided to write a short poem about its ugliest manifestation: suicidal ideation.

He says: “I was going to say that I hope you like it, but really all I hope for is that, should you choose to share it, it finds one person who is struggling and gives them strength.”

It waits for me

It waits for me, ’round the corner;
It waits for me to be alone;
It waits for me, when we part ways;
It waits for me, it’s there, I know.

I’ve faced it down from time to time,
I beat it once, twice, time again,
But it haunts me, still, ev’ry day,
And it’s just a question of when.

When will I face this beast of mine?
When will it be at that corner
I turn; at that very next step?
When will it be all I have left?

When will it take me in its arms?
Embrace me, hold me, whisper to me
What I’d told myself already:
That tomorrow need not be.

It waits to be my only friend
By my side; all else shut inside,
Shut away, away from me, away
From seeing what might be my end.

It waits for me to be alone.
And it knows it won’t need to wait
Much longer to truly have me
To itself.

But as I breathe, I know I must
Fight with all I am to conquer
This beast of mine, and his, and hers.
I’m not alone, I’m not deterred.

I’ll wait for it, I’ll face it down.
I’ll wait for it, I’m not alone.
I’ll wait for it, I’ll stand and fight.
I’ll wait for it, I’ll win, I know.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Think About The Children” by Lucky Dube, “January Hymn” by The Decembrists and “Iron Hand” by Dire Straits

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 as well as post comments below the line, 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 bring you the news that The Merchant of Venice is a bit too much for Michael Morpurgo’s new book Tales from Shakespeare. The Sunday Times has the story.

Sir Michael Morpurgo is refusing to include The Merchant of Venice in a new children’s book based on Shakespeare’s plays because of its “antisemitic” and “offensive” attitudes.

Morpurgo, 77, who was knighted in 2018 for his services to literature and charity, admits his 21st-century sensibilities also grappled with male “bullying” towards women in The Taming of the Shrew, and the “little Englander” prejudices against the French in Henry V.

The War Horse author is retelling and modernising the stories of 10 Shakespeare plays for children aged from six to 18 in a book called Tales from Shakespeare, which will be published next year. His aim is to ensure that a generation of youngsters “switched off” Shakespeare, because they are drilled and crammed on compulsory texts for exams, grow up to love his stories.

The list of plays includes staples of the school syllabus such as Romeo and JulietA Midsummer Night’s DreamKing LearThe Taming of the Shrew and Macbeth. But Morpurgo said that when he reread Shakespeare’s plays last year he decided he could not “honestly” retell the story of The Merchant of Venice, even though the play appears on A-level syllabuses.

“I did not tackle Shylock. I avoided [the play] because it worried me too much if I am honest about it… there are assumptions right the way through about what it is to be a Jew, and how Jews are thought of, which are so important for our society that, for me, it was best not to go there,” he explained.

“The play can be antisemitic… I did feel this was Shakespeare’s play and I could not tell it honestly. It would be offensive.”

Morpurgo’s squeamishness about Shakespeare is not unique. His Tales from Shakespeare is intended as a modern version of Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare (1807), which he said “children used to grow up with” before they were old enough to appreciate Shakespeare in the original.

The Lambs rewrote the works for children, leaving out the bawdy and sexual aspects, among other things.

Thomas Bowdler also edited the plays in 1807 as The Family Shakespeare, to make them acceptable for women and children. It is from his acts of excision that we get the verb “bowdlerise”.

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: “This is the dead hand of political correctness. It is cowardly not to face up to great literature. Of course there is going to be plenty to be offended by in Shakespeare, as well as in the Bible and the Quran. Children do not want to be protected all the time against great literature.”

At least if children discover that what they’ve been given is censored it might just encourage them to reach for the unexpurgated originals.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: West Midlands Police are recruiting an Assistant Director Fairness and Belonging and offer a salary of £74,340. How much does the Director get paid? The job description reads as if it came straight out of W1A:

Assistant Director Fairness and Belonging

Are you a forward thinking, creative individual looking to achieve ambitious outcomes? Do you have demonstrable ability to lead, develop and deliver a first class diversity and inclusion function?

We are looking to recruit a new Assistant Director, Fairness and Belonging to lead the implementation of the WMP Fairness and Belonging agenda, strategy and plan which underpins delivery of our workforce vision and values, and our “This Work Matters” strategy.

You’ll support and oversee improved inclusive culture throughout the workplace – encouraging the integration of initiatives in the force. The role will also see you managing all inclusion issues relating to operational force activity, as our recognised expert in this field. You’ll also lead and develop your people which includes a team of Diversity & Inclusion practitioners and the Fairness in Policing team, but your influence will be felt across the force.

Get your application in here.

“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. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p, and he’s even said he’ll donate half the money to Lockdown Sceptics, so everyone wins.

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 over three quarters of a million signatures.

Update: The authors of the GBD 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. Sign up to the newsletter here.

Stop Press: The Guardian has run a vindictive, score-settling piece entitled: “Now the Swedish model has failed, it’s time to ask who was pushing it.” (It didn’t fail, obviously.) Cue a repeat of the smear that the GDB is a dangerous, libertarian project funded by the Koch Brothers. The author is billed as the “investigations editor” of openDemocracy. Let’s hope his other “investigations” have a little more substance to them.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many legal cases being brought against the Government and its ministers we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

The Simon Dolan case has now reached the end of the road. But the cause has been taken up by PCR Claims. Check out their website here.

The current lead case is the Robin Tilbrook case which challenges whether the Lockdown Regulations are constitutional. 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 and Runnymede Trust’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.

And last but not least there was the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review on December 9th and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision because Ofcom has conceded most of the points it was making. Check here for details.

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.

Shameless Begging Bit

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And Finally…

Watch Triggernometry‘s latest episode, a discussion with comedian, satirist and Free Speech Union Advisory Council member Dr Andrew Doyle. Together with presenters Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster (also members of the FSU Advisory Council), he takes a look back at 2020 – a year in which all the worst fears of free speech defenders were realised.