But over the past 20 years, local authorities have started to take a more police-like role. They issue an increasing number of penalties, carry out patrols, and issue new legal orders. This trend has been furthered under Covid, with new powers and funding to issue legal orders and penalties, and a new patrolling role for ‘Covid marshals’, who ensure businesses and individuals are following social-distancing rules. Over time, local authorities have also been increasingly released from legal and governmental checks on how powers are used, meaning that they now hold remarkable power over the lives of citizens.
In truth, it’s very difficult to ‘hold governments, companies and international bodies’ to account on climate change. The public have been given no vote on climate-change policies, and no political party has offered criticism of climate-change alarmism. Certainly don’t expect any real criticism to come from CCAG.
But then perhaps that is the point of Indie SAGE or CCAG – not to hold power to account, but to prevent the technocratic apparatus from being properly held to account. For there is nothing fear-mongering technocrats like King fear more than democracy – because it threatens to take away the power granted to them by endless emergencies, be they Covid or climate change.
I had no choice but to speak out against lockdowns. As a public-health scientist with decades of experience working on infectious-disease outbreaks, I couldn’t stay silent. Not when basic principles of public health are thrown out of the window. Not when the working class is thrown under the bus. Not when lockdown opponents were thrown to the wolves. There was never a scientific consensus for lockdowns. That balloon had to be popped.
…Ultimately, lockdowns protected young low-risk professionals working from home – journalists, lawyers, scientists, and bankers – on the backs of children, the working class and the poor.
We have become almost accustomed to this. To state censorship. To the police collaring people for what they say. Woke leftists are, despite all their bullshit, basically in favour of it, because the cops are on their side on these issues. Such is their historical illiteracy that they are completely chilled out about the state taking on the power to police speech.
To this day, many commentators think that coercion is justified in defence of public health. Arguments over ‘vaccine passports’ and obligations to get vaccinated in contracts of employment are already raging. The voluntary principle, however, is a good one. It is what allowed Britain’s vaccination programme to move beyond the controversies of the 1880s, squaring the circle of vaccination and opposition by letting people opt out. Pointedly, the conscientious objection clause over time killed off Britain’s anti-vaccine campaigns by removing the causes célèbres of vaccine martyrdom.
The ‘Unite for Freedom’ anti-lockdown protest in London yesterday was as good-natured and peaceful as the previous anti-lockdown protests I have reported on for spiked. Seeing the sculpture and words was a gladdening moment on a day blessed by sunshine.
…The coverage from major news agencies and outlets told the story of ‘hundreds’ of ‘anti-vaxxers’. ‘Hundreds’ is the downplaying part. It worries me. I was there, and I know it is not true. Do I need to see the news unfold with my own eyes every time in order to fact-check the front pages?
I can’t estimate the numbers because the scale of the crowd was too vast, and moved steadily for many hours through the streets of London. Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Presumably the Met Police could estimate if they wanted to. The Guardian at least reported ‘vast numbers of people’. The Press Association declared, ‘Hundreds join anti-vaccination protest in central London’. The comments put that misconception straight.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) published a special report last week, setting out its proposals for achieving ‘Net Zero’ carbon emissions. One of its headline demands is that gas-fired domestic boilers should no longer be sold after 2025. This echoes one of the main policies in the UK government’s Net Zero plan. This is no coincidence. National governments, including the UK, draw all of their climate policies from faceless global agencies like the IEA (as well as domestic quangos like the Climate Change Committee). This process leaves out one important constituency: the public.
In this year of lockdown, it is not just our movements, social lives and work that have been restricted. Big Tech has also stepped up its efforts at closing down what we can say and read. Two issues in particular have been central to Silicon Valley’s escalating war on wrongthink: the Covid-19 pandemic and the US presidential elections.
There are approximately 30,000 student-nurse places in the UK each year, which, given nursing is a three-year course, means there are about 90,000 student nurses in total (notwithstanding dropouts). Moreover, there are 84 university nursing departments throughout the UK, each with a body of nursing professors, senior lecturers and lecturers, many of whom will be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (although they are not required to work clinically to maintain registration). In this emergency pandemic, it would seem quite rational for these students and teaching staff to be deployed by government to staff the Nightingale Hospitals.
Clearly, the long-term effects of coronavirus need research, and those suffering from them need help. But these long-term effects also need to be seen in perspective. Long Covid is only unique insofar as it has been named and advertised as such. A post-viral syndrome can follow many types of viral infection, from the common cold to influenza and pneumonia. Yet no one has compiled and publicised data sets for those suffering from such a syndrome, let alone anointed it Long Flu or Long Cold.
My 30 years of working in academic environments, as both a scientist and a clinical academic, tell me this: a scientist’s career objective is to big up his subject, which increases his personal likelihood of gaining grants, influence and promotion. Scientists focus on narrow topics, often almost to the exclusion of everything else. Perspective is rarely a strong point. The more their subject is in the public eye, preferably centre stage, the better it is from a career point of view. Any crisis is, I’m afraid, a career opportunity for some. Unbiased, agenda-free, selfless public service is not, I believe, a key feature of academic life, nor is there any real reason to expect it to be.
The management of the Covid ‘crisis’ – a crisis substantially caused by the very management itself – has all the hallmarks of government being advised by a group of experts in the limelight, in thrall to groupthink, and with far too cosy a consensus to do effective science.
The great 20th-century pandemics, comparable in so many ways to their 21st-century heir, accounted for myriad private tragedies. Yet, unlike this novel coronavirus, their public, political significance was negligible. They were treated as public-health challenges, problems for clinicians, virologists and epidemiologists. And there were arguments at the time that more should have been done to mitigate their harm. But there was no sense of a world ending. No talk of a new normal. No attempt, that is, to reorganise the entirety of societal life around the threat they posed.
- Some experts argued that masks would help slow the infection rate.
- Others pointed out that improper use of face masks can amplify risks, for instance by acting as a reservoir for virus particles.
- It seems that today’s mantra of ‘listen to the science’ is not as straightforward as it seems.
- Claims to wear masks are untested and unchallenged, then elevated to the status of ‘the science’.
- The hasty assembling of research articles in support of a policy position is not science. This is as likely to be to be dangerously misleading as it is to yield even negligible benefits.
- Scientific controversy in the 21st century is settled by institutional weight and muscle, not by experiment.
- The president of the Royal Society wants to have his cake and eat it: he wants the government to defer to institutional science, but not for science to be accountable for this influence.
- The government, weakened by its capitulations to breakfast TV anchors, politically motivated scientists and scientific institutions, may find itself unable to roll back policies which turn out to do more harm than good.
The really concerning thing is that if all the deaths taking place during lockdown are put down as Covid-19 deaths, we are going to miss the fact that the lockdown policies have caused an increase in deaths from many other things. There has been a 50 per cent reduction in people turning up to A&E. It is clear that people just do not want to bother the doctors. And a number of these people will be dying. If we muddle the Covid-19 statistics in with the other statistics, we might think the lockdown has prevented a certain number of deaths, when it has actually caused a large number of deaths.
You hear this idea that all NHS staff have been working 20 times as hard as they have ever done. This is complete nonsense. An awful lot of people have been standing around wondering what the hell to do with themselves. A&E has never been so quiet.
The chances of children dying from COVID-19:
How many people aged 15 or under have died of Covid-19? Four. The chance of dying from a lightning strike is one in 700,000. The chance of dying of Covid-19 in that age group is one in 3.5million. And we locked them all down. Even among the 15- to 44-year-olds, the death rate is very low and the vast majority of deaths have been people who had significant underlying health conditions. We locked them down as well. We locked down the population that had virtually zero risk of getting any serious problems from the disease, and then spread it wildly among the highly vulnerable age group.
It is not clear that getting the virus actually makes you immune to it in the future, and it is not clear a vaccine would either.
And yet the government and the media perpetuate the fiction that lockdown is still in place.
With lockdown at an effective end, this foolish belief will only do us damage. The UK’s GDP is estimated to have fallen by two per cent in the first quarter of 2020. Other factors are inevitably at play, but the first quarter only includes the first week of lockdown. What effect will the past seven weeks of lockdown have on the economy in the second quarter?
In all of this, I could be wrong. Instituting the widest expansion of the state since 9/11, while suspending the boundaries of political power, quarantining healthy people and enacting a controlled demolition of our economy, might turn out to have been the ‘safest’ response to the pandemic. But my instincts, as well as a growing number of epidemiologists, virologists, economists, historians and journalists, tell me otherwise.
I can’t clap for the NHS because of a truth that all NHS staff come to learn – that the NHS runs only by exploiting its workers.
This unaccountability is not limited to hospital management. The failures of procurement departments and of Public Health England during this crisis are by now well-documented. As for how much time and money is wasted by countless other NHS bodies – including (but not limited to) NHS Digital, NHS Resolution and NHS Business Services Authority – I can only guess. No one seems interested in holding these bodies to account, either.
Covid conformism must be confronted. In their echo chambers, where they’re all trying to outdo each other in their levels of commitment to smashing Covid, the political and media elites have become increasingly blinkered, dogmatic and intolerant on everything related to Covid-19. The lack of relaxed, freely stated opposition to their lockdown mania means they become madder and madder in their commitment to it. The corrosion of freedom of thought in relation to Covid-19 has deadly consequences, because it means the lockdown endures – nine weeks now – when many people know in their heart of hearts that it is wrong and deeply damaging to the future of this country.
[M]any of these measures were not included in the government’s initial decree for phase two of the easing. Many of these changes are due to pressure applied by the public and civil society.
It was striking that one of the first changes was made after pressure from what is traditionally one of the most conservative sections of Italian society: the Catholic Church…Some brave priests were violating the lockdown.
Officially, the [lockdown] process has been led by experts. The government has created various committees of more than 450 experts to guide its coronavirus policies. These include a taskforce established on 10 April of economists, scientists, managers and psychologists to help the government navigate the path out of lockdown.
Economic hardship was undoubtedly a major factor compelling people to protest….Lots of Italians are angry because they can see there is no rationale or fairness in the way the government has chosen to ease the lockdown.
Only a truly democratic government, which draws its authority from the people, has a chance of dealing effectively with Covid-19 and the emerging social and economic crisis.
It is hard to know where to start with transport. One certainly shouldn’t start from home, if at all possible. In our age of lockdown, transport away from the home is considered anti-social, if not downright dangerous.
In this atmosphere, it is worth recalling that democratic rights relate not just to free speech, but also to freedom of movement and freedom of assembly. Some restrictions on travel have been lifted recently. But with every new official statement about how we can and cannot move around, the government confirms that the state and only the state holds the cards in relation to our basic freedoms.