Digital ID : The London Debate

First there were lockdowns. Then came the vaccines. Next, the idea that certain parts of society might be for the vaccinated only – enabled by smartphone-based vaccine passports. But is this momentum towards social control the precursor of digital biometric ID? Will the state require us all to sacrifice our independence and free will to participate in society? Is this all an inexorable move towards an Orwellian dystopia where we are coerced into constant surveillance, or get effectively side-lined by society?  Could we also be looking at central digital currencies, tied to our identity – that could be turned off if we don’t behave, don’t obey?

Or is digital ID merely an inevitable next stage of our adoption of technology?  After all, there are benefits that we’ve all enjoyed – not needing to carry cash, getting whatever we need, when we need it, via eCommerce.  We’ve also adapted to working at home, connected to the world via video conferencing apps, avoiding the commute, office politics and hot-desking.  Digital identity could be the next logical step to better and safer social experiences. After all, we’ve agreed to it for air travel – why not extend it to ensure the world runs better and safer? 

On the 25th of November we’ll be holding our first in-person debate in London. 

The Motion: This house believes that the digitisation of our lives has gone too far and poses an immediate threat to life and liberty. We must never accept any form of digital ID and to guard against this we must preserve the human right to a non-digital life.

FOR THE MOTION
Francis Hoar – Barrister and Human Rights Lawyer
Bob Moran – Award winning political cartoonist and writer

AGAINST THE MOTION
Bill McCluggage – Former Deputy CIO, HMG, Cabinet Office
A second speaker against the motion will be announced soon.

Our venue can accommodate just 200 seated guests so we would encourage early booking. Delegates will be notified of venue, via email, after booking. Please bring a printed paper copy of your ticket with you to the venue on the evening. We look forward to meeting you on November 25thBook Now.

Monetising Fear

I have worked in marketing for over 30 years. I know the monster that I, and other marketers, have created. The monster is called FUD: fear, uncertainty and doubt.

To come to my own defence, I’ve only ever worked in the business-to-business end of marketing. It’s trickier to instil fear, uncertainty and doubt into a hard-bitten business decision-maker than Joe Public.  But we try anyway.  But the assault on the buying public, coercing them to take drugs they almost certainly don’t need, has been going on for years. And this has especially been the case in the so-called “developed world”. 

In the United States pharmaceutical companies dominate television advertising. If you’ve visited America (prior to 2020, when you were allowed to) and flicked on the television, you’ll have been bombarded with adverts for every kind of weird and not-so-wonderful drug.  The Americans are among the most medicated people in the world spending, per capita, twice the OECD average on legal drugs. And this expenditure doesn’t do the nation many favours. America is one of the world’s most addicted nations in terms of prescription and illegal drugs. 

Some 75% of TV advertising expenditure in the United States is by drug companies.  In 2020, pharma companies spent a vast $6.58 billion on advertising (source Kantar Media). It was a bumper year because of Covid – with the majority of Americans seeking out remedies for other chronic health conditions – such as asthma and diabetes. America’s a fat nation of addicts, making it fertile ground for drug peddlers offering spurious remedies for morbidities, co-morbidities and Covid. 

Covid, however, has been a Godsend for the FUD-merchants. Now we have visual FUD: masks, social distancing signage, and government-paid-for advertising to encourage the take-up of big pharma’s latest ruse: Covid vaxes.  America, in addition to its other endemic public health afflictions (with associated pharmacology) has a bit of a problem with asthma. Some 25 million American’s suffer with it. And yet the government’s solution to mitigate Covid risk is to mandate the wearing of masks. Although this, no doubt, helps with the sales of asthma medication and inhalers. Indeed, the global asthma drugs market size is predicted to surpass around $37.3 bn by 2030 from $20.6 bn in 2020, growing at an annual rate of 5.2% from 2021 to 2030 (Source: Precedence Research).  Handy that. 

And then, of course, there’s the lobbying. It takes work to put the FUD-words into the mouths of the politicians. But mostly they handily oblige. According to this report, “From 1999 to 2018, the pharmaceutical and health product industry recorded $4.7 billion—an average of $233 million per year—in lobbying expenditures at the federal level, more than any other industry.”  It continued, “The industry spent $414 million on contributions to candidates in presidential and congressional elections, national party committees, and outside spending groups. Of this amount, $22 million went to presidential candidates and $214 million went to congressional candidates.”

We can only surmise the levels of spending in other jurisdictions.  And, of course, it’s not merely direct lobbying that provides the words for policies, legislation and politician virtue signalling – it’s also the NGOs that are effectively in the pockets of the drug companies. And many of the drug companies are in the pockets of the NGOs – with Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust investing heavily in “innovative” pharmaceutical companies making drugs to treat, you-know, Covid and things. 

The extent of public ignorance of the manipulation that’s going on is simply staggering. In the past many of us, myself included, were of the view that Americans were clearly being manipulated. In the land of the free, we concluded, why not let them eat whatever cake was being peddled. It didn’t affect us.

But now it is. Because the same (or same different) pharma companies are now peddling their wares in new ways with the support of bought governments that are mandating their garbage medicants.  But here’s a message for them. Go sell your crazy some place else. 

Together in Manchester

Every year the major political parties hold their conferences in the Autumn.  In 2020 lockdowns and extended Covid regulations disrupted things. But in 2021 in-person conferences are back. But still the spectre of yet more regulations hang over the proceedings. Covid certification is now required for certain critical workers to keep their jobs. There’s a real prospect that vaccine passports may be required to take part in large events, or even to eat in restaurants.

The continued attacks on personal freedoms and liberty has seen the launch of a new campaign called Together.  Launched just a few weeks ago Together has organised events at all the major political conferences. I took the opportunity to see what they were doing at the Reform Party and Conservative Party fringe.  Watch the video in full below – featuring Richard Tice, Leader of the Reform Party; Alan Miller of the Together Campaign; and Francis Hoar, the Barrister and Human Rights Lawyer.

The heart of the campaign is the Together Declaration which, in early October 2021, has had around 100,000 signatories. The conferences provided an opportunity for leading parliamentarians, journalists and business-people to sign the declaration…a declaration that includes the following words. 

“The glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel — ‘15 million jabs to freedom’ to protect the most vulnerable — soon faded as the goalposts kept on moving. When ‘freedom day’ finally arrived, the accompanying announcement of vaccine passports meant the prospect of returning to ‘normal’ had once again slipped away.

“We are human. We know this makes us seek safety above everything else. We seek it for ourselves, we seek to protect those we love, and we strive for a safe world for our children — and sometimes rules and restrictions can help us to feel safer.

“But being ordered to produce medical certification at pubs, clubs, theatres, on public transport, at schools, universities, or anywhere else, is unwarranted and risks deepening the inequalities already present within our society.”


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Losing my Faith in Secularism

We tend to kick against things when they try to control us. I remember doubting any religious faith I had when I was coerced, forced even, to attend church – or worse, Sunday School – when I was still in my skinned-knees years.  Sunday School was, admittedly, on Sundays but it sure wasn’t school. It involved a surly bunch of kids being talked at by some dour church lay-person who quoted, in monotone, tracts from the bible. It was interminably dull.  My chosen method of relieving the tedium was to ask difficult questions like, “where is heaven in relation to the stratosphere,” or “so who made God prior to him making the universe?”.  The answers were rarely adequate – and so began my journey to worshipping at the altar of secularism.

And so it has been since, until recently. I even got involved in launching the Conservative Humanist Association at the Conservative Party Conference in 2008 – with celebrity atheist Professor Richard Dawkins. The room was packed for the launch. 

Like most secularists I was of the view that society had little need for a moral codex provided by the church. While many in the Conservative Party were still of the view that we needed to respect our Judeo-Christian values, I felt that the church (especially the Anglican Church) had moved so far, politically, to the left that it had lost all credibility.  Society, I thought, and specifically the Conservative Party, would protect our freedoms and would create a political-based set of ethical standards to which we could all adhere.

As it turned out I was both right and wrong. I hadn’t fully bargained on woke, nor the Covid cult.  Nor had I fully appreciated the extent to which most people have become incredibly intellectually lazy. They expect to be told how to think and behave. And they do so readily. In effect, we have infantilised the adult population. There has been no agenda behind this. Rather, the process of ideas being replaced by messages has been happening for decades – and I’m, to some extent, to blame (or people like me). 

Marketing – the process of getting people to desire things and part with money to have those things – is a huge part of the British economy. For a while I even worked with the research division of WPP Group – where we researched the hell out of our target audiences so that we understood, in incredible detail, what messages we needed to use to sell to them. And soon political parties wanted to do this. Marketing messages were boiled down, condensed, tested, re-tested, and put to work.   And even God-squad politicians like Tony Blair realised that it was probably best to keep the messaging generic to keep as many on board as possible – to have an optimum addressable market. Politicians became simply parrots repeating the chosen lines, ignoring interviewer questions, and journalists became ‘gotcha’ merchants who sought aberrations from those chosen lines. 

Aldous Huxley, Author of Brave New World, discusses how people can become hypnotised. But the awake, or partially awake, are our salvation.

Woke emerged from this world. It probably emerged, showed its ugly head, with Cool Britannia – Blair’s revolting pastiche of national pride, consumerism, celebrity and American style schmaltz. He wasn’t one for soundbites, he claimed, while having the hand of history on his shoulder.  Offense was avoided. Electorates were maximised. Ideology was deemed toxic. Diversity was in (to maximise the market).  And to keep costs down it made sense to reuse campaign tools that had been proven in other similar markets. Populism was out, popularity was in.  In short, no one demographic was allowed to define the discourse – because that would mean that the electoral arithmetic wouldn’t work.

And because businesses were using the same techniques, corporatism and government started to look and sound very similar. Corporate-sponsored woke was born.  

In George Walden’s book, The New Elites, he argued that one could barely have squeezed a wafer-thin mint between Blair and Cameron in terms of policy positions or delivery. Both cultured faux common-man parlance, pretended to be interested in football and other common-people things, and built the apparatus of secular campaigning around them.  Cameron started the process of ‘greening’ the Conservatives (the ultimate secular-globalist nonsense) by making the Conservative logo a tree – dumping the Union flag in the process. 

But the secular/globalist golden egg is, without doubt, Covid. The so-called pandemic has allowed Western governments (including the UK government under policy-bereft Johnson) to embrace the version of secular government that is inevitable when the population ceases to realise what ethics are any longer: a command economy. 

Secular command economies can only really emerge when there is an emergency excuse to create them. The virus – handily provided by the Chinese – is anthropomorphised into an enemy that we must attack. The language of war is mustered, so that we can attack the enemy in the air, on the beaches, never surrendering. This requires everyone to rally together, not questioning the corporatist solution that’s mustered. And even when it’s clear that the solution – vaccines, masks, lockdowns and the like – doesn’t actually work (because the emergency is nonsense to begin with), non-compliance can be made to look like repellent anti-social behaviour. In short, a new cultish secular religion has been created that is beginning to look and feel like the command-based People’s Republic of China.  Even normal democratic processes have been suspended, such is the nature of the emergency.  And everyone must be subject to the commands – even children. The King has no clothes, but no-one is prepared to say. 

In short, secularism has turned into a monster religion.  And because some of us, innately, don’t like religions or regulations or to be told to do certain things (because they are counter-intuitive and freedom-suppressing) we end up rejecting them – but only some of us (those who aren’t hypnotised).  Nevertheless, the cultists are everywhere all of a sudden. 

Inevitably people will wake up.  But only a small percentage of our society (probably the best educated – not necessarily academically – and free thinkers) is currently awake. The awake will need to prod the middle group of partially awake, but drowsy.  But in meantime, the ruling elites are drunk on power and are running amok.  We’ll need new leaders to make the changes and restore liberty.  Because there’s every possibility that the Cultists will create too much mayhem for order to be restored.  The government and their cult-members are the problem – not the faux-pandemic. 

And I, for one, may have to embrace those Judeo-Christian traditions out of which our freedoms emerged. Uncomfortable, but true.


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The Non-Disclosure Pact

Throughout history, oppressors have chosen minority groups to persecute. Oppressors are very skilled at persuading the majority of the population to go along with their plans. African people were officially bought and sold as slaves from the 1500s right up to the late 19th century. Society accepted this.

The Non-Disclosure Pact

In the early part of the 20th century, Jews and Romanis were increasingly persecuted throughout Europe. The lack of widespread challenge to this allowed for genocide to take place during Second World War. In the 1980s, worldwide hysteria over the HIV virus and AIDS epidemic gave rise to homophobia, and vicious attacks on gay men occurred while many turned a blind eye. For all these reasons, we have international laws that protect an individual’s fundamental rights and privacy, and we need to be vigilant for new tactics that could enable oppression. Those who seek to segregate and oppress people, often for financial gain, will always look for new ways to label people and cast them out of society. Recently we have seen this done based on people’s cultural and political beliefs. Cancel culture is a real problem in today’s world. But the creep of biosecurity measures is much more alarming. Do not allow your health to be weaponised.     

Your medical records are YOUR business. Your health history is YOUR business. Whatever physical and mental health issues you have had in the past, you are entitled to keep this information to yourself. There is a very good reason for this. When personal information gets into the wrong hands, you are at risk. You are at risk when your private financial details get into the wrong hands, but any data breach can normally be rectified. If your private medical details get into the wrong hands, they could be used against you to devastating effect.

This is why it is essential that we do not declare private medical information to anyone other than a doctor of our own choosing. We should not be uploading our private medical information to an app that could easily be accessed by anyone. Imagine someone knowing that you attempted suicide when you were 19, or that you caught Chlamydia when you were 25. Should these details be accessible? No, they should be private and well protected. 

A health apartheid, through vaccine passports or vaccine status disclosure, not only threatens the lives and freedoms of a group of people defined today as the “unvaxxed”, it threaten the lives and freedoms of every person on the planet. Today, you might be in a group deemed “fully vaccinated” because you got two injections. Tomorrow, this might be invalid and you might be forced to take any number of injections before you are “allowed” your freedom. This is an egregious new form of slavery and we must stamp it out before it takes hold. 

You are being cajoled into believing it is acceptable to reveal whether you have chosen to have the covid vaccines under the false premise it proves you do not have covid. We know that the “vaccinated” can catch covid and can transmit covid. They are just said to experience fewer symptoms. If true, this suggests the “vaccinated” could be a greater risk as they are less likely to stay at home when they have mild symptoms. Either way, no one should be rewarded or disadvantaged based on their willingness to accept medical treatment. We live in a free society and we must all protect that, for our own sakes and the sakes of our children and future generations. 

Please, if someone encourages you to “prove” your vaccination status – whether you have been jabbed or not – say “I have taken the NON-DISCLOSURE PACT because I do not believe in segregating people based on their medical records. I stand in solidarity with my fellow citizens and will not support any form of apartheid.   

Please do not support businesses or enable employers that discriminate and use methods of apartheid. Ask your local businesses if they are “open for all” and if they have signed the “together declaration”. Even amongst friends and family who casually ask if you are “vaccinated”, say, “I have taken the non-disclosure pact, which means I don’t reveal medical information to anyone but a doctor of my own choosing. I am anti-apartheid and stand in solidarity with those being defined as “vaccinated” and those being labelled as “unvaccinated”.

Always remember, if you allow apartheid and segregation against others when you are part of the designated “in” group, you support a system that could be turned against at any time and cast you into the “out” group. We the people, we have the power, and we must unite against apartheid of any kind.


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We Need more Joes

onair

Professor Ian Young is Northern Ireland’s Chief Scientific Officer.  He also sits on the UK-wide SAGE committee.  On Tuesday he appeared on a local BBC radio programme. It proved to be controversial. I’ll explain the controversy shortly. But it’s worth conveying some context because I believe it’s important that a wider audience knows a little more about Young and why his attendance at SAGE meetings has been patchy.

On Tuesday, Young appeared on the BBC Talkback programme, a lunch-time chat and phone-in format programme that is normally hosted by William Crawley – but on this occasion was hosted by Mark Carruthers. None of these characters will be known much to a UK wide audience. They’re both fixtures on the local BBC.

The Talkback format tends to be confrontational. Typically, two ‘commentators’ will appear to represent two sides of an argument.  Then the phone-line is opened-up.  All hell is let loose. So, the format is like many others on talk radio stations.

However, this format is set aside when Professor Ian Young appears. The questions are soft-ball. They are set-up to provide an opportunity to allow the learned professor to convey key messages: the importance of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, the need for young people to come forward and be vaccinated, the safety of the vaccines, the success emerging from the vaccination programme. Statements of opinion are allowed to be made unchallenged. They hang in the air as fact because the learned professor has conveyed his learnedness from on-high.

But on Tuesday things went slightly awry.  A caller called Joe (we only got his Christian name – only invited guests are identified in full so that the callers can be patronised by Crawley or Carruthers) wanted to ask two questions.  Joe’s first question was to ask if the Covid-19 vaccines had been licensed. The professor answered that, yes indeed, they had been licensed by the MHRA.  But Joe refined his question. “Have they been licensed under emergency use?”  The professor took a while to answer and his answer was vague. Joe pressed him to answer. Carruthers intervened and asked, “I don’t know why it matters.”  Joe made clear to Carruthers that it did matter.  But Carruthers persisted, “but does it actually, really matter?”

Joe seemed incredulous. So was I.  I suspected that even the professor was shifting in his seat, but he’d been let off this one. Carruthers pressed Joe to move on to his second question.  Joe asked, “Are they experimental?”

The professor answered with a generic answer – a slippery answer – that many drugs are subject to ongoing trial even when they are being administered. It didn’t sound very convincing. It didn’t seem to be an adequate answer when he and we know that millions of people are being injected with these ‘vaccines’ – could it possibly be the case that they are all subject to a huge experiment?  Joe pressed on, incredulous that the Professor was answering with stock answers when he just wanted to know were these vaccines being trialled, were they at trial, when was the trial end-date?  And Carruthers interjected again, “we’re not sitting in a court here,” he pointed out.  Joe’s final contribution, on-air, before being ejected from the show was that the professor was a “proven liar”.  Carruthers made clear, after Joe’s exit stage left, that he had no idea what Joe was referring to.

One reason why Northern Ireland had no representation on the SAGE committee for the first few months of the year is that Professor Ian Young was on leave for health reasons – pending a decision by the high court relating to an attempt on his part to block an investigation by the general medical council into evidence he gave at the original inquest relating to the death of nine-year-old Claire Roberts.  Claire Roberts’ death was examined by the Hyponatraemia Inquiry – a public inquiry that was set up to examine the deaths of five children and that reported in 2018. A new inquest into Claire’s death was ordered by the inquiry after the chair of the inquiry said there had been a cover-up to “avoid scrutiny” by the Belfast Health Trust.  The inquest found that Claire’s cause of death was an overdose of fluids administered by the hospital.  The inquiry report made clear that there had been a cover-up by the Trust to avoid scrutiny.  In fact, the report was nothing short of damning.  Young’s attempts to block the inquiry by the GMC failed.

After the inquest, Claire’s father said, “We as Claire’s parents have a clear message for the Belfast Trust, the implicated doctors and the chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride – hang your heads in shame.”  Dr McBride and Professor Young now lead the charge in terms of the Vaccine roll-out in Northern Ireland.

The question, of course, is why Professor Young and Dr McBride (and other public health ‘experts’ in England, Scotland and Wales) are given a clear-run by the media when it comes to Covid response and the vaccination programme? Perhaps the BBC is acting under severe restraint. The BBC provided very detailed coverage – and broadcast time, even nationally – to the Hyponatraemia Inquiry and the second inquest into Claire’s death.  But now we seem to need a member of the public to sneak on to a talk show, providing evasive answers to researchers’ screening questions, to make it on air and ask difficult questions.

And Joe was effective.  But other questions need to be asked. How can Professor Young and Dr McBride still be in positions of power given the extent to which their professional reputations been damaged by the Hyponatraemia Inquiry?  To what extent can we give any credibility to their expert advice when expert advice was used as a tool to cover-up catastrophic failings on the part of NHS hospitals supposedly treating (but killing) children?

In addition, questions also need to be asked about the independence of advice being given by senior UK public health professionals in relation to Covid-19 vaccines.  Professor Young is very keen to stress the importance of the vaccination programme. Since 2008 Professor Young has been a Professor at the Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast. The centre has been a major recipient of funding from the Wellcome Trust.  As has the Wolfson Institute at Queen’s. Wellcome, and the Bill Gates Foundation, are heavily invested into vaccines as the means of ‘escape’ from the ‘pandemic’.  However, the only solution that seems to be on offer is pharmacological and fear driven. The loss of freedom and the loss of our civil society seems to be a price worth paying according to the NHS and its public mouthpieces. It’s a narrative that’s never challenged.

When Young and his peers in the other regions claim that the vaccine is resulting in lower hospitalisations they are referring to a vaccine roll-out that started in December last year (targeting the most vulnerable) but resulted in a pretty sharp spike in excess deaths in January 2021 – many of whom were very elderly in care homes – the first to be vaccinated.  I’m not claiming causality but it’s an odd coincidence.

However, Young has little hesitation in claiming vaccine causality for the sharp drop in Covid hospitalisations this Summer. He fails to mention that respiratory diseases (and hospitalisation resulting from them) always fall off in Summer. It happens every single year.  Meanwhile deaths ‘at home’ with non-Covid conditions have peaked massively – as the NHS waiting lists have reached all-time highs and GPs are still refusing to see patients in-surgery.

There are too many vested interests and boys’ clubs at play in the Covid scandal. Many of our centres of research are essentially owned and funded by big pharma under the guise of Wellcome and Gates. The narrative that a pharma solution is the only solution does not have consensus and must be challenged. The argument that we need to be masked in Northern Ireland while masks have been dumped in England, makes no sense. Many think it’s theatre for the stupid. And many think that vaccine passports are morally repugnant – it’s a valid position, it deserves an airing, despite what Young, Vallance, Johnson, Javid or Gates think.

So we must applaud the Joes of this world. Challenging these narratives is what we must do. This nonsense and these egos have to be challenged, constantly. Because the alternative is too repulsive to contemplate.  The parents of Claire Roberts claimed there were “no alarm bells” when they brought Claire to the Royal Victoria Hospital for what they thought was “just a tummy bug”.  The experts at the hospital left Claire dead. More experts were called in to cover-up the failings. Remember that in future when you hear medical experts on the radio, telling you what’s best.

Governments make laws, not Covid.

I have heard and used the phrase “because of covid” probably more than any other in the past year. It’s easy to just write off the problems and madness of the past year as having been because of Covid, but that is not the reality. The government has been the source of many of the issues that have come from a year of lockdowns and my hope in this article to encourage you all not to forget this and end up letting them off the hook. Governments make laws, not Covid.

We live in what I believed to be, until 2020, a democratic and free society in which we valued the rights and freedoms that our ancestors went to war and died in their millions to protect. It’s easy to forget the significance of what they fought for, given how different it is to modern warfare and our view of it. When we fought Nazi Germany, we were fighting a brutal dictator on our doorstep to ensure that he did not take control of Europe because, however foolishly, we seemed to believe in the principles of freedom and democracy that our country was supposed to represent. 1930s Britain was far from a perfect society, but the ideals of democracy that they were defending were well understood to be crucial to our way of life.

Compared to our modern wars in the Middle East over oil, lithium, natural gas and opiates, the fight for democracy seems somewhat more consequential. Our ancestors fought and died in their millions to give us rights that we have surrendered without a second thought. Not once have I heard anyone in a position of power mention the idea of democratic consent for the removal of our many rights and liberties – backbench Tory Sir Charles Walker may be the notable exception.

Freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, the right to protest, visit friends or host people in our own homes have all been banned. We have allowed mandatory curfews, closing of businesses, curbs on alcohol sales after certain times, and witnessed a complete failure of our 4th estate – the media – to hold government to account and ask them to justify these policies.

The government has been able to mandate what we wear, refuse to let us visit or even hug elderly relatives, and stopped us from sharing the last moments with dying loved ones; they’ve even stopped us from grieving together – all whilst ignoring the rules they imposed upon us (while flouting the rules themselves – Michelle O’Neill and Dominic Cummings I am looking at you). They found money from an endless well to hand out to friends and donors whilst fighting tooth and nail not to give nurses a pay rise. They’ve brought the NHS to breaking point over the past decade and then had the audacity to claim it was because of covid. Now, in the latest development of the absurd, they have announced that they are considering vaccine passports (an idea that was laughed at last year for being the spawn of paranoid conspiracy theorists). It’s another assault upon our rights as part of a monstrous attack upon what I long thought to be the cornerstones of modern civilization – inalienable rights and freedoms.

All this was achieved without a single vote by the people, public consultation, democratic consent, or even that much of an explanation. Questioning “the science”, asking for some form of cost-benefit analysis or risk reward assessment, pointing out inconsistencies or outright lies, or even suggesting that people should be allowed to have their own choices in these matters have all become highly contentious. Anyone willing to speak out in contrary to the official narrative has been condemned, ostracised, shadow banned online, or censored entirely. The very idea of freedom of speech and thought has been labelled as dangerous.

It is not controversial to suggest that major changes to our fundamental rights need and deserve democratic consent and justification. It was a time sensitive emergency, but that does not give a free hand to these politicians once the initial period of panic and uncertainty had passed. Unfortunately for us, once the power to lock down and control society is there, it can and will be abused by politicians again and again until we stop them. Sadly it is human nature and whilst we can be kind, so too can we be cruel and even vicious in pursuit of what we believe to be “the right thing”. Belfast’s very own C.S. Lewis wrote in his Essays on Theology,

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.”

This brings me to my second point of contention. Covid was responsible for nothing, our government has made these rules that have inflicted such pain. Covid did not force businesses to close, giving no indication of when they might open, the government did. Covid did not throw out our entire pandemic preparedness plan and fail to stockpile PPE, the government did. Covid did not abandon taxi drivers, hairdressers and beauticians, making their trade illegal, the government did. Covid did not lecture you from their zoom calls and fail to hold the government to account, the media did. Covid did not censor contrary opinions or doctors preaching accepted basic virology, Big Tech did. Covid did not cause the largest upward transfer of wealth in human history (a swing of $8 trillion towards the richest in society), lockdowns and government policy did.

Please do not let our inadequate leaders and politicians off the hook after the pain they have caused us over the past year. When you hear about the sharp rise in mental health problems, homelessness, food bank use, suicides, cancer deaths, waiting lists, children regressing or underperforming, or bars, gyms, and restaurants going bust, don’t forget it was not because of covid. It was inflicted by those who we entrusted to rule us. Remember the £37 billion they wasted outsourcing Test and Trace to Serco next time they tell you there isn’t enough money for a pay rise for teachers, nurses, or carers.

The saddest part of the pandemic was our response as people to this corruption and outright authoritarianism. Whilst we were stripped of our rights with no vote, little debate, justification or explanation, we all sat around and did precisely nothing. If you ever wondered how authoritarians turn democracies into dictatorships, this year has been a front row lesson. We accepted the removal of our rights for our own safety, for our own good, and sat by like good little citizens. Some amongst us brayed and begged for stricter rules and harsher regulation, demanding our government become more authoritarian.

Please don’t forget who did this to us. It was not covid. It was the government.

Josh Hamilton is Editor at https://thejist.co.uk/ and is a book author and podcast host. Watch his chat with Jeff Peel on The Jist, here. Note: all TNE guest posts represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of TNE.

Grown-up Children and Lockdown

BoySanta

By Anna Wright

Every parent is aware that the moment will come when they will have to destroy their child’s fantasy. They will have to admit that Santa Claus is not “real”.

For my friend, it was a particularly painful ordeal. You see, she allowed her 13-year-old daughter to believe in the fantasy for a little too long. A 7-year-old or 8-year old will forgive you and move on, but a 13-year-old has too much invested. My friend didn’t intend to keep the lie going so long. It was far more a case of her headstrong, imaginative daughter being unwilling to give up the magic.

As she grew older, friends at school – presumably a little bemused by her devout belief – would hint at the fact that the Santa story wasn’t real, but she refused to succumb to their bubble bursting tactics. She would come home and roll her eyes at her mother, telling tales about the nonsense her heretic friends were spreading. But this past Christmas, my friend decided enough was enough. She sat her daughter down and explained that Santa was just a made up story, partly upheld to make children behave themselves in the run up to Christmas, because – as we all know – only the good and obedient children get their gifts.

There followed two days of hysterical tantrums. There were tears; doors were slammed. But the upshot was this: Santa would not be defiled. Another Christmas came and went; the fantasy remained untarnished with the truth.

I was reminded of this story when I saw Keir Starmer come up against a desperate, angry, frustrated former Labour voter and exasperated publican on Monday 19th April. Rod Humphris confronted the Labour Party leader, exclaiming that he had failed the country. Rod pointed out that the average age of someone dying with or from Covid is around 82, which is in line with the country’s average age of death in most preceding years, and on that basis there was absolutely no justification for the abhorrent and abusive lockdowns that have devastated lives, left many locked out of any health care and decimated the educational experience of a whole generation of children (my choice of words in describing harms of lockdown restrictions).

Starmer’s response was, “I am not going to be lectured by you!” He sounded like a petulant teenager. Interviewed on camera later, he stated that Rod was entitled to his “opinion” but that he, Keir, “profoundly disagreed” with it. I was reminded of my friend’s daughter who effectively said to her mother, on hearing Santa did not exist, “You are entitled to your opinion but I profoundly disagree with it.” The Labour Press office (sounding like Keir’s playground gang) later Tweeted that their leader had been accosted by a man “spreading dangerous misinformation.” It may well have been dangerous to the Labour Leader’s fantasy, but it was not misinformation since it was taken straight from the ONS website.

I had a similar experience recently when I tried to explain, over the phone, to the operations manager at my gym, that their request for people to wear masks was unwise since they admitted they had done no risk assessment on the harms of mask wearing. When I suggested sources they might refer to, he retorted, “I am not going to have a conversation with a conspiracy theorist!” And hung up on me.

We clearly have some deeply disturbed and disgruntled grown-up children in the world, throwing tantrums over the fact that people are ceasing to believe in their fantasy. I am reminded of a powerful and poignant quote by George Orwell (significantly written in 1946 as the true horrors of the Nazi regime were coming to light). He said, “We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”

I confess that it was with some relief that I watched Starmer stamp his feet. I have found his actions over the past 12-13 months so absurd, I was almost beginning to believe the insane conspiracy theories circulating about him. I have read that he is a member of some elite organisation called the “Trilateral Commission” and is in cahoots with Tony Blair to usher in a digital ID that would create a health apartheid and end civil rights forever. That is clearly utter tosh. Now I know he is just a scared child, juvenile and embarrassed, desperate not to be caught out having made the most horrific mistakes. He could take a leaf out of Justin Welby’s book. Our current Archbishop of Canterbury, a man who has seen and experienced more human suffering than most, recently apologised for “getting quite a few things wrong” when he did not push harder for churches to be kept open during lockdowns. He acknowledged that we now have a national case of PTSD and sounds fully committed to getting the country back on its feet.     

Perhaps Starmer should be reminded that the purpose of the privilege of education, which he has been privy to, is not to make and hoard money, or to seek omnipotence over the human race, but to lead and inspire. Those more fortunate have a duty of care to those less fortunate. And the duty of leadership itself is to have the humility to say, “I was wrong, I made mistakes, I will do everything I can to put things right.”

Lockdowns are profoundly wrong; they are inhumane. Everyone in their right mind knows this. Nothing will ever change that fact. All our leaders need to find the courage to stop digging their destructive rabbit holes, apologise for telling lies, and find the compassion to help people heal.   

Anna Wright is a guest writer for The New Era. Note: all TNE guest posts represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of TNE.