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First Anniversary of a Day That Will Live in Infamy


There follows a post by Will Jones.

Today on Lockdown Sceptics we mark a year to the day since the world changed forever. 

On February 21st, 2020 the Government of Italy did something no Western Government had ever done before. Something that the World Health Organisation had expressly recommended against only four months earlier.

It decided to set aside all established pandemic protocol, as well as all considerations of basic freedoms and human rights, and imitate Communist China (which had already been praised by the WHO for its “extraordinary” response) and quarantine a whole local population in an effort to control a coronavirus outbreak.

What started with 10 towns and 50,000 people in Lombardy quickly established itself as the go-to and unassailable response to the coronavirus threat. Seventeen days later the whole of Italy was locked down, 33 days later most of the world. A year later, we still are.

From that moment on it became acceptable for Western governments to quarantine entire populations to try to control the spread of contagious disease, even one scarcely more deadly than a bad flu. They haven’t looked back. No amount of data from the few Western countries or states which refused to impose such restrictions will convince them they were or are wrong to do so. Model after model appears from respectable scientific institutions to shore up the faith. The politicians seem interested only in listening to the experts who reassure them they were right to take such extreme and costly action.

There will be many anniversaries to mark in the coming weeks, as we complete a full year since the nightmare began – the declaration of the pandemic on March 11th, the “three week” UK lockdown on March 23rd, and so on. But at Lockdown Sceptics we felt that this was the one to flag, the pivot on which the world turned. We can no longer go back to the world as it was on February 20th 2020, because we cannot undo the fact that we were locked down by our politicians for an indefinite period of time to try to control disease, and it was accepted by the public and reinforced by the medics, the scientists and the courts.

In December, Professor Neil Ferguson admitted to the Times the critical role of Italy in bringing lockdowns to the West:

[China] is a communist one party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought… and then Italy did it. And we realised we could.

Our best hope is that in time the lesson will be learned that we must never do this again, and next time must be different – we must not panic but must stick to the pre-prepared plan.

But the tragedy is that even if we reach such a point, we can never change the fact that our Governments now know that “lockdown” is an option, that they can indeed “get away with it”. Western civilisation is undoubtedly diminished as a result.

Neil Ferguson’s Tetchy Response to Yesterday’s Article in Lockdown Sceptics

One of our readers sent a copy of Derek Winton’s article in yesterday’s Lockdown Sceptics criticising Imperial College’s modelling to Professor Neil Ferguson on the off chance he might actually read it and reply. Rather surprisingly, he did. We’re publishing his response in full below.

Dear XXXX,

I presume you sent me this because you feel upset, angry, that no-one is listening, want to hurt me or change my mind. Or all of the above.

I and my colleagues and friends (John Edmunds, Jeremy Farrar, Marc Lipsitch, Christian Drosten, Patrick Vallance, Chris Whitty,…) get so many of these sort of emails that we barely notice anymore. Most get dumped into junk mail folders automatically nowadays.

But for a change, I thought I would reply to you. Not that I really expect it to change the alternative reality you seem to have got sucked into, but occasionally I feel I should try.

To start with may [sic] want to read this: https://www.climatechangecommunication.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ConspiracyTheoryHandbook.pdf

And ask yourself if a loved one started to exhibit those behaviours, would you be worried?

As to the article you refer to, it recycles the same old, same old misinformation. You may be surprised to learn that the Telegraph and Spectator have published over a dozen corrections in response to complaints from Imperial College about inaccurate articles. For instance, no-one ran the Imperial model for Sweden (other than us).

More substantively, the government never relied on just one model. The models written by LSHTM, Warwick University and Institut Pasteur Paris all agreed with “the” Imperial model. All used different code bases.

And in fact, there was never “one” Imperial model, but several. We now have 4 different COVID models, again which all agree.

Government responses were never dependent on one model. They were driven by the reality that any disease which generates epidemics which double every 3-4 days and for which over 2% of those infected require hospitalisation will overwhelm any health system that exists.

In fact, a case could be made that the U.K. government took too little notice of our (not just Imperial- all the SAGE groups) modelling. In that they basically only acted when they saw hospitalisations and deaths growing exponentially.

Best,

Neil Ferguson

Boris Unfolds Road Map – Can’t Tell if it’s Upside Down

According to several of the Sunday papers, the centrepiece of Boris’s Downing Street press conference tomorrow – in which he’s going to reveal his much-ballyhooed roadmap out of lockdown – is a pledge to give everyone in the country an opportunity to be vaccinated by July 31st. The Mail on Sunday has more.

Every adult in the country will be offered at least one dose of a Covid vaccine by the end of July, Boris Johnson is expected to announce tomorrow.

The ambitious new inoculation target will form a vital part of the Prime Minister’s long-awaited roadmap towards easing lockdown restrictions.

The Government previously said it hoped to reach all those aged 18 and over by the autumn, but Mr Johnson aims to greatly accelerate the successful campaign.

He is also expected to say that everyone over 50 will be offered at least a first dose by April 15, rather than by May, as previously suggested.

Unfortunately, the world-beating success of the Government’s ahead-of-schedule mass vaccination programme does not mean we’ll be accelerating quickly out of lockdown. On the contrary, Boris’s “roadmap” appears to have been created before 1958 because it doesn’t contain any motorways. It’s B roads only. The Mail on Sunday summarises its key components.

All pupils will return to school on March 8th, and care home residents in England will each be allowed one regular visitor.

By Easter, at the start of April, two households will be allowed to meet up outside. That will be followed shortly afterwards by the reopening of non-essential shops and pubs and restaurants for outdoor service only.

The hospitality industry is expected to reopen fully in May.

And there we were thinking that Boris was engaged in a game of expectation management: stress how cautious he was going to be in the run-up to tomorrow, then surprise us with some better-than-expected news. If that’s still the plan, he’s kept the good news well hidden.

A Hospital Visit

We received the following e-mail yesterday from a reader of Lockdown Sceptics. It says a lot about what has gone wrong over the past year.

How delightful that the Prince of Wales was able to visit his father in hospital today, despite the Covid precautions. I understand from the BBC News that visiting someone in hospital is considered a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave home.

However, one of our neighbours hasn’t been so lucky. At 2am on Saturday morning her husband (aged two years less than the Prince of Wales, as it happens) was rushed to hospital with heart failure. He’s holding on – just – but needless to say his wife isn’t allowed to visit him. Let’s hope he survives then, because otherwise she and their son may never see him again. Heart failure doesn’t usually delay itself long enough to make sure family members can make it to hospital in the end. Still, at least he’s being kept safe. He’s been vaccinated, so he might not catch Covid.

Mind you, the elderly chap two doors up has solved the problem himself. He has terminal liver cancer and has been in the same hospital for weeks (where of course he tested positive for Covid after catching it following admission, but luckily never had any symptoms). But, completely sick of not being able to see his wife, he’s come home to die, preferring that option to expiring on his own in a hospital ward.

This is Boris’s Lockdown Britain, a year into this nightmare. It is almost beyond belief that it could have come to this. These are the choices real people are having to make on a daily basis as this misery goes on, and on, and on.

And it’s all because of the nebulous pursuit of ‘protecting’ everyone (except Prince Phillip and the Prince of Wales who can do as they please apparently) from one risk at the expense of absolutely everything else, driven by Lockdown Lunatics, and particularly those peculiarly idiotic scientists who have lost any sense of proportion and driven the country to the wall. I wouldn’t wish my neighbours’ experiences on any one of them, but perhaps if one of them is hit by something like this they might momentarily wake up and realise they’re supposed to be human beings. Or at least, they were. Once.

The State of the Northern Ireland Health Service

Northern Ireland Health Minister, Robin Swann (Image: David Young/PA)

There follows a post from a Lockdown Sceptics reader based in Northern Ireland who felt compelled to write about the pitiful state of the local health service, which has been a big factor in the region’s chaotic response to Covid. As this correspondent put it: “Every time I hear Hugh Pym’s sonorous pronouncements on your waiting lists all I can think of is: Northern Ireland –‘ Hold my beer!’”

Northern Ireland is a very small place. We all know each other, and criticism of the system is never welcome. I am therefore remaining anonymous.

A Government Minister invoking the Bible in Northern Ireland is probably of little surprise and satisfies many stereotypes. As we experienced our first official Covid death in March 2020, Robin Swann (Ulster Unionist Party), our Minster for Health, warned us of a Covid experience of “Biblical proportions”.

We are a small country of approx 1.8 million souls. He predicted 15,000 could die. As of February 19th, 2021, we have reached 2026. (Source: Department of Health, NI.)

We were most recently incarcerated on December 26th, 2020 and are now locked down until April 1st, or sometime… forever. We have all lost track.

Swann has the same misfortune that all health ministers faced – a new unknown health challenge – so perhaps some hyperbole should be excused. Also, he had barely opened his brief when it all started. Swann had been left with the short straw of Health when the departments were carved up between our political parties using the byzantine ‘De Hondt’ method. After three years without a Government, he found himself made Health Minster in January 2020. (For anyone looking for a break from the Covid stats, here’s the wikipedia page on how ‘De Hondt’ works.)

There is no doubt, however, that long before Covid appeared his department was quite familiar with a health service that is overwhelmed and in chaos. Here is a short sample list of some of Northern Ireland’s current health issues:

  • In data published in February 2020 – pre-Covid – 130,000 had been waiting a year for their NHS treatment to start and 305,000 had been waiting for their first outpatient appointment with a consultant out of a population of just over 1.8 million. Perhaps the most alarming element of that statistic is that it only went up 4,000 in the first three months of Covid. For an eye-opener on the comparative state of our waiting lists and England’s, see this blog post from the Nuffield Trust.
  • A £200 million Critical Care Unit built at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast in 2012 remains empty – because of plumbing problems. It has never taken in any patients.
  • Muckamore Abbey Hospital – for those with mental health problems and severe learning difficulties – has seen 13 of its staff arrested and 61 others placed on ‘precautionary suspension’. As of November 2020 these 61 have received £1.5 million in pay. After years of campaigning by families of residents, the Minister has announced a public enquiry into the place.
  • Dr Michael Watt, Senior Consultant Neurologist based at the Royal Victoria Hospital, is the subject of an investigation after 3,000 of his cases were reassessed. A report into the recall, published in December 2019 by the Department of Health, found that more than 20% of these patients were misdiagnosed, while a further 329 patients were given “uncertain” diagnoses. As of August 2020, 231 legal cases have been brought against his employer, the Belfast Health Trust (according to the Belfast Telegraph).
  • When Robin Swann took up the reins of his Health Department he was also faced with a nurses’ strike.  
  • The entire board of the RQIA – our equivalent of the Quality Care Commission – resigned in July 2020 due to a falling out with the Minster and his officials. 

This is the Health Department that has been handling our response to Covid. Perhaps we should be relieved that our deaths have been this low and our hospitals were not truly ‘overwhelmed’. Its record of looking after the health of the people of Northern Ireland is not exactly glorious.

Health Minister Swann may be new to all this but his officials are not. The Health Department and Health Trusts are run by the same people who have been in post for years. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, was appointed in 2006. Between 2014 and 2017 he found time to be CMO and concurrently CEO of the Belfast Health and Social Services Trust.

On February 9th, 2021, Dr McBride helpfully announced what we all suspected was the future policy towards lockdown. The summary makes for unpleasant reading: “While restrictions will not be fully lifted until 2022, he hopes this summer will bring some respite from the current lockdown. However, he said it is likely that a range of restrictions will return in the autumn and remain in place into 2022.

Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly has been at the helm of this Health Department since 2014.

Minister Swann confirmed the priority of COVID-19 patients over everything else in Northern Ireland’s NHS in November when the News Letter reported on November 13th 2020 that “cancer patients may die as a result of not turning away patients with COVID-19 from hospitals”. Here is his BBC interview on the point.

Despite what are perhaps truly biblical levels of health problems, our Minster still finds time to castigate regularly “armchair experts” who have the temerity to question his approach to the pandemic. He also contributed an op-ed to Rolling Stone Magazine criticising Northern Ireland’s own Van Morrison for his Covid protest songs.

You may be aware Van Morrison isn’t very complimentary about the orthodox approach to managing Covid. Minister Swann is also a musician – a Pipe Sargent in his local pipe band.

A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Vaccinations – A Reader’s Perspective

Cartoon by Shadi Ghanium in the National, October 4th 2020

In Friday’s Lockdown Sceptics Newsletter we published an article by Dr Mark Shaw, a retired dentist, about some of risks associated with the Covid vaccines. It prompted one reader to write with with an additional point: What about a cost-benefit analysis?

There has been a lot of debate about vaccines relating to Informed Consent and whether that can be properly given due to the speed at which the vaccines have been developed and whether all the possible long term side effects are known, as well as the incessant propaganda in the media telling us that they are safe and it’s our civic duty to have the vaccine when offered. However, there’s another issue that doesn’t seem to have been raised – a cost-benefit analysis of mass vaccination.

I wouldn’t want to undertake a cost benefit-analysis myself, but it’s worth considering the similar situation regarding the flu vaccine. This is offered every year to certain groups of people, namely the elderly plus other high risk groups to whom it gives a certain amount of protection. Being middle aged and in good health I have never been offered the flu vaccine despite having a miniscule risk of becoming seriously ill plus a higher chance of developing a minor illness and passing the infection on to people in a higher risk group. I assume the reason why people such as myself aren’t offered the flu jab is that a cost-benefit analysis shows it isn’t a good use of finite resources to vaccinate everyone. This is a position that I fully support. The NHS’s resources should be targeted where they can do the most good, so I’m happy not to have a flu jab in order that people with more pressing health problems can be treated.

It seems to me that no such cost-benefit analysis has been considered in relation to Covid vaccinations. Given the incredibly low fatality rate among younger people without comorbidities, I can’t believe that vaccinating the whole population offers anything approaching value for money. Obviously, unvaccinated people might catch Covid, but if the at risk groups are protected, so what if the worst that happens is people stay in bed for a couple of days.? Admittedly, given the amount of panic that has been generated by the Government and media leading to a lot of people thinking Covid is an existential threat to us all, it would be politically almost impossible to only offer the vaccine to some people. However, this doesn’t change my basic point that vaccinating the whole population is not good value for money.

A related issue is the funding of vaccine programs in the developing would. Numerous groups such as the WHO seem to think that the whole world should be vaccinated and that richer countries should pick up a large part of the bill for this. I’m all in favour of richer nations giving aid to poorer countries (despite being on a relatively low income, I have direct debits with a couple of aid charities) providing the money is well spent. Given the incredibly low death rates in many developing countries, with the exception of South Africa, I don’t believe that mass vaccination is a wise use of money. Lots of developing countries have serious public health problems, e.g. malaria or limited access to clean water. Surely it would be much better to target aid towards these problems rather than protecting people from something that is highly unlikely to do them any harm.

Not Cock Up or Conspiracy, but Fraud

Today we are publishing a new essay by Jonny Peppiatt, a regular contributor to Lockdown Sceptics. So far, many of the efforts to explain the response to COVID-19 have focussed on placing it on the spectrum between cock-up on the one hand and conspiracy on the other. Jonny reckons, however, that the ‘fraud triangle’ is a more useful analysis tool. As he explains:

The question most often posed of me when I embark on yet another monologue about the endless lunacies plaguing our lives right now is “why?”; if what you’re saying is true, if the damage is so great, if the virus isn’t such a threat, if the efficacy of the measures is so low, then why would the Government be doing this to us?

We’ve heard a lot of discussion around ‘cock-up’, ‘conspiracy’, and even ‘cockupspiracy’; be that, in the case of ‘cock-up’, the recurring inadequacy of advisers and politicians, in the case of ‘conspiracy’, more often than not, the Great Reset, and in the case of ‘cockupspiracy’, the opportunism of the likes of big tech and big pharma.

All of these are important factors that require attention. However, it seems to me that the debate has largely been based on the fallacy that the reason for all this lies somewhere on a spectrum between ‘cock-up’ and ‘conspiracy’, with ‘cockupspiracy’ falling somewhere in the centre. I do not believe this is the case, because I do not believe that there is a spectrum here.

What we are seeing, I’m sure many of you will agree, is a fraud – a wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain (or avoidance of loss) – on a monumental scale, and, as such, and given my background in audit, I believe that, instead, this should be analysed with reference to the fraud triangle (above).

The fraud triangle (comprised of Opportunity, Rationalisation, and Incentive/Pressure) is the basic framework used to explain the reason behind an individual’s decision to commit fraud, and so it is also going to be the basic framework by which I attempt to explain the Government’s actions termed “Polis-20” in James Alexander’s December 9th piece in Lockdown Sceptics (“A Cockupspiracy”).

Opportunity

“The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world” – Professor Klaus Schwab

We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought… and then Italy did it. And we realised we could.” – Neil Ferguson

If neither of these quotes sends shivers down your spine, then I can only conclude you are as spineless as our current leader.

I include these not because I believe that the Great Reset is the factor driving the pandemic response, or that Neil Ferguson is some criminal mastermind intent on watching the world burn, but because they highlight a key fundamental of my explanation: when people panic in the face of an unknown, they are more malleable; and when people are malleable, opportunities arise.

Worth reading in full.

Postcard From Brussels

We have received a new postcard, this one from Paul Farrar in Brussels. From the sound of it, the country has suffered a classic Covid crisis, with experts dominating the national response, lockdown enthusiasts filling the media, and testing data fuelling the general sense of alarm. Here is an extract:

I’m an expat working a living near Brussels. Back in March when the lockdown was announced, we, along with half of Belgium, went out to a restaurant for our ‘last supper’ the night before their closure. Although Belgium’s Hotels, Restaurants & Cafes (HoReCa) were allowed to re-open during the summer, they have borne the full brunt of the lockdown, being the most put-upon industry despite almost no infection incidents being recorded and all the obligatory track and trace measures being in place. Belgium life is all about is HoReCa.

Belgium’s Covid strategy seems to be dominated by a few ‘expert’ individuals, supported by the local media, with an ever-changing strategy as the country tries to follow each of its neighbours by adding their own unique twist to help pretend that they know what they are doing and that they are in charge.

As an example, it was reported on October 20th that the Ministers of Health and Welfare had adapted the corona test strategy:

Those who have no symptoms will no longer be tested, even if you had high-risk contact with an infected person. In that case, a quarantine is still mandatory. If you came back from red zone or had close contact with infected person, but no symptoms themselves? Then you will no longer be tested.

The aim was to reduce waiting times that were too long and to ease the burden on the testing labs. This had an immediate effect on the reported cases… and did calm things a little.

However, this changed again in November when they introduced new travel restrictions and the testing started to increase again.

Worth reading in full.

Poetry Corner

Today’s entry to poetry corner comes from Edmund Sutton. He writes:

The below is a rendering of “Mad World” by Tears for Fears which in some regards describes how I have been feeling after a mental collapse late last year and suicidal depression, exacerbated by the repeated public announcements of a lifting of restrictions, followed by the imposition of new ones. I cannot tell you how much your work, plus that of others like Profs Heneghan and Gupta, has meant over the past few months. In hospital, the psychiatrists said that my personality had been eroded on all fronts, as absolutely everything that I would normally do stopped in March last year – work, social life, volunteering – and I couldn’t even go to church. I missed physical contact greatly, just simple things like shaking hands or passing a cup of tea. Happily, I am receiving treatment, and have support from my parents. I shudder to think of the state of people who do not have such help.

Mad/Sad World
after “Mad World” by Tears for Fears

Nowhere round me are familiar faces:
In all places, hidden faces
Why be early for our daily races,
Going nowhere, going nowhere?

My tears are blurring up my glasses –
No expression, no expression –
Hide my head, I want to end my sorrow:
No tomorrow, dark tomorrow.

And I find it kind of funny,
I find it kind of sad:
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had.
I find it hard to tell you ’cause
I find it hard to take.
When people can’t be people,
It’s a very very mad world – sad world, bad world, mad world.

We are waiting for the day we feel good –
May I see you, even touch you?
And I cry for all the children who must
Sit and listen, not be children.

Went outside and I was very nervous –
No one knew me, no one knew me.
Hello Governor, what may I do now?
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kind of funny,
I find it kind of sad:
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had.
I find it hard to tell you ’cause
I find it hard to take.
When people all are hidden,
It’s a very very mad world – sad world, bad world, mad world.

And I find it kind of funny,
I find it kind of sad:
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had.
I find it hard to tell you ’cause
I find it hard to take.
When we are all imprisoned,
It’s a very very mad world, sad world –

Reducing our world – mad world.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Thirty-four today: “Divide and Conquer” by Hüsker Dü, “We Want Revolution” by Covenant, “We Shall Overcome” by Joan Baez, “Day After Day” by Badfinger, “Slow Day” by Kristin Asbjørnsen, “Yesterday” by the Beatles, “Darklands” by the Jesus and Mary Chain, “Another Day, Another Death” by the Mob, “Fear” by Zounds, “Tomorrow Never Comes” by Dreadzone, “First World Problems” by Ian Brown, “We’re Gonna Get There In The End” by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “Freak Scene” by Dinosaur Jr, “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys, “Sleeping My Day Away” by D-A-D, “The ID Parade” by Danielle Dax, “Dazed And Confused” by Led Zeppelin, “Easter Is Cancelled” by the Darkness, “Sorrow” by David Bowie, “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie, “Could It Be Forever” by David Cassidy, “Join Together” by the Who, “Mistreated” by Deep Purple, “Perfect Strangers” by Deep Purple, “Hysteria” by Def Leppard, “Action” by The Sweet, “Don’t Believe A Word” by Thin Lizzy, “Helpless” by Diamond Head, “Stand Up And Shout” by Dio, “The Bug” by Dire Straits, “Breaking The Chains” by Dokken, “All We Are” by Warlock, “Run To The Hills” by Iron Maiden and “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” by Hubert Parry.

Love in the Time of Covid

Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen in Badlands

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 Lockdown Sceptics 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 Free Speech Union is defending the right of fans to boo football players who take the knee. The Mail On Sunday has the scoop:

Football fans who boo players taking the knee in support of Black Lives Matter should not be banned by clubs, a free speech group has demanded.

In a letter to the Football Association, the Free Speech Union insist that if players are free to make the gesture, then fans must be free to disagree with them.

The FSU argued in the letter to the FA’s interim Chairman Peter McCormick that the “simplest solution” to an issue which continues to split football and other sports, would be to stop players taking the knee at all on the grounds that it shows support for a political cause and not a moral one, something banned in football law. 

And extending that argument, the FSU said players who advertise their support for Black Lives Matter (BLM) by taking a knee should “face similar penalties” to booing supporters.

The FA insist taking the knee is an apolitical stand against discrimination, yet a list of high-profile footballers among them Les Ferdinand, Wilfried Zaha and Britt Assombalonga have started to rail against the gesture, which they believe has become devalued and is covering up a lack of real change in anti-racism policies.

On Saturday, more players in the top two divisions didn’t kneel before kick-off than the concerted support shown for the gesture when it was first conceived last summer post-lockdown.

General secretary of the FSU, Toby Young, wants the FA, whose president is Prince William, to issue guidelines for clubs ahead of the return to stadiums later this season or at the start of the next campaign.

In the letter, he said: “If the position of the FA is that it is perfectly legitimate for players to express their support for BLM in the stadium by taking the knee it should make it clear that it is also acceptable for fans to express their feelings about this political movement.

“If fans want to boo players taking the knee or applaud, come to that they should face no negative repercussions. From a free speech point of view, it cannot be fair or reasonable that people on the pitch are allowed to express their political views, but those in the stands are not.”

Worth reading in full.

You can read Toby’s letter to the to the Football Association here.

Stop Press: The Welsh Government is conducting a historical audit of street names and statues which has amusingly gone a little awry in the case of Peel Street, Wrexham. The street is named after Sir Robert Peel, but which one? James Delingpole tells the story in Breitbart.

A street in Wales has been put on the naughty step by the Welsh Government because of its supposed historical associations with the slave trade. But the man after whom it is named was in fact one of Britain’s most ardent and heroic anti-slavers.

Peel Street in Wrexham is one of dozens of streets put on a warning list as part of a £170,000 audit – The Slave Trade and the British Empire – commissioned by the Welsh Government in the wake of the briefly fashionable Black Lives Matter protests.

Though it doesn’t make it onto the Red danger list reserved for alleged monsters like Christopher Columbus, Lord Kitchener, Clive of India, and Francis Drake “definite personal culpability” — it does make it onto the next-worst amber list marked “personal culpability uncertain”.

But the only reason it’s “uncertain” is because of the sloppiness of the woke crusaders who put the report together. They have confused Sir Robert Peel – the anti-slavery prime minister – with his slavery-supporting father.

True, both men confusingly share the same name. But the son was much more famous than the father and it’s after the son that the street is definitely named.

Stop Press 2: Following the news that an NHS trust in Brighton has started using the term ‘chestfeeding’ instead of ‘breastfeeding’, the Telegraph’s Michael Deacon has examined the implications of the ongoing move to gender-inclusive language. Time to meet your ‘gestational parent’ and ‘non-birthing parent’.

Stop Press 3: The Salisbury Review has published an excellent review of Cynical Theories by Niall McCrae. The book by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay documents the evolution of woke dogma, providing a kind of primer for those that haven’t yet grasped the scale and influence of the cult.

Stop Press 4: Disney’s streaming channel has slapped an “offensive content” warning on… the Muppets. You did not read that wrong. Beneath these words is the following disclaimer:

This programme includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now.

Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to obtain a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card – because wearing a mask causes them “severe distress”, for instance. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and the Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. And 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.

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.

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 and Prof Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson’s Spectator article about the Danish mask study here.

Stop Press: Disney World requires all guests, including those who have been vaccinated, to wear facemasks while on their property except for when they are eating and drinking. But some visitors have been making it known that they would appreciate being permitted to take the things off for the photos, according to Inside the Magic.

Inside the Magic follower, Amy B. (@safarigirl76) shared that she wishes Disney would allow pictures without masks, though she understands why this rule is in place:

“I’m planning to go in May. The masks are a concern, as I’ll have a newly two year old with me. I’m not worried about safety at all. I’d love to take pictures without masks, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

And this is something that ITM fan Emily (@emilyazd21) agrees with:

We are going in November, hopefully for our first Christmas party! While I understand the mask requirements, it would be so nice if Disney would let people remove masks for pictures […] Would love to have pictures to capture and remember the excitement and beautiful smiles of my children when they experience the Christmas party!

Stop Press 2: A restaurant in Hernando County, Florida has gone viral after it made clear that facemasks are not required to dine.

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. In February, Facebook deleted the GBD’s page because it “goes against our community standards”. 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.

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. The current lead case is the Robin Tilbrook case which challenges whether the Lockdown Regulations are constitutional, although that case, too, has been refused permission to proceed. There’s still one more thing that can be tried. You can read about that and contribute here.

The GoodLawProject and three MPs – Debbie Abrahams, Caroline Lucas and Layla Moran – brought a Judicial Review against Matt Hancock for failing to publish details of lucrative contracts awarded by his department and it was upheld. The Court ruled Hancock had acted unlawfully.

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.

Scottish Church leaders from a range of Christian denominations have launched legal action, supported by the Christian Legal Centre against the Scottish Government’s attempt to close churches in Scotland  for the first time since the the Stuart kings in the 17th century. The church leaders emphasised it is a disproportionate step, and one which has serious implications for freedom of religion.”  Further information available here.

There’s the class action lawsuit being brought by Dr Reiner Fuellmich and his team in various countries against “the manufacturers and sellers of the defective product, PCR tests”. Dr Fuellmich explains the lawsuit in this video. Dr Fuellmich has also served cease and desist papers on Professor Christian Drosten, co-author of the Corman-Drosten paper which was the first and WHO-recommended PCR protocol for detection of SARS-CoV-2. That paper, which was pivotal to the roll out of mass PCR testing, was submitted to the journal Eurosurveillance on January 21st and accepted following peer review on January 22nd. The paper has been critically reviewed here by Pieter Borger and colleagues, who also submitted a retraction request, which was rejected in February.

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

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…

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