Political censorship and suppression in the UK – the new norm

Look at this story. Look at the banner. It is making an intelligent point – that the regime in Saudi Arabia is pretty distasteful by Western standards – they do indeed carry out beheadings and persecute minority groups. They do not respect ‘civil rights’ in a Western sense. The claim that the regime is involved in terrorism may be arguable but there is no doubt at all that the regime ordered the bloody and revolting murder of a critic in their embassy in Istanbul. The statement from the fans is informed and intelligent political comment; they are simply pointing out the double-standards from the Premier League in supporting women’s football and gay rights in the UK while allowing a regime which has built in suppression of women’s rights and which suppresses homosexuals to take a big stake in English football. (PIF – which has taken ownership of Newcastle is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia). There is nothing racist about the banner. Zero.

Yet – people are apparently being investigated by the police for displaying it.

There is really pretty alarming stuff; the police acting in support of corporate interests controlled by a rather nasty regime (by normal Western standards) to prevent informed public criticism of those interests. The Guardian simply reports the story giving plenty of space to Newcastle’s PR efforts. No comment. All normal for the Guardian.

This one is arguably even worse. No one is having to live in fear of prosecution by the state for commenting that one of the allied regimes of the state has a bad human rights record but in this case academic discussion is being shut down. A youth worker has complained that a history text book for schools about 19th century America asks students the question: “To what extent do you believe the treatment of Native Americans has been exaggerated?”. The youth worker has kicked up a fuss – on Twitter and the publisher has withdrawn the book.

Let’s be clear; this is a valid question. (Even if poorly worded – it should say “bad treatment”). Of course there will be those who might want to exaggerate the bad treatment of Native Americans by the colonisers – and it is the job of historians to see through any such attempts and establish an objective conclusion. The book is training students to think about history. It is asking a question. In academic circles many questions can be posed and entirely without implying that the answer will be Yes. It is perhaps telling that the complainant is described as a youth worker who “offers history mentoring lessons to students”. Does she understand how academia works? Apparently not; but it is a sign of the times that the publisher has bowed down before this ignorance. This is a sign that children are not allowed to think. They are simply to be fed the correct single-truth uncomplicated party line. (The treatment of Native Americans was terrible and we should all feel guilty and ashamed). The tradition of free enquiry and thought is being silenced before our eyes. It really is very worrying. For clarity; of course Native Americans had a terrible time at the hands of the colonisers and were to all intents and purposes wiped out as a civilisation – but asking whether in the present day or since then there might not be those who exaggerate this (just asking) is a very valid training in history studies for students. The complainant cannot even tolerate the exercise of considering alternative points of view.

Covid conspiracy theories

Here is one Covid conspiracy theory; side-affects from the vaccines are very rare and should not stop you taking the vaccine. This particular conspiracy is promulgated by Britain’s NHS.

Any side effects are usually mild and should not last longer than a week, such as [then the page lists things like a sore arm]

More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or blood clotting, are very rare. [1]

If and only if you follow a link on the above page will you find information about blood-clotting. This is what we have:

The MHRA is carrying out a detailed review of reports of an extremely rare blood clotting problem affecting a small number of people who had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19.

For people aged 40 or over and those with other health conditions, the benefits of being vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any risk of clotting problems. For people under 40 without other health conditions, it’s preferable for you to have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine instead of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. [2]

The above is the current information at 27 July 2021. It tries to present the blood-clotting problem with AstraZeneca as something which is being studied. In fact the truth is it is already firmly established that AstraZeneca carries a risk of causing serious blood-clotting events. I have had to search very hard indeed to find this information on the Internet. I cannot prove it but it looks to me like Google may be suppressing it. (For example the search autocomplete feature which is usually very responsive did not help at all; and most of the pages returned were out of date). However the fact is that AstraZeneca causes blood-clotting events in 1 in 100,000 people over 50. For those under 50 the rate is 2 per 100,000. 17% to 20% of these events are fatal. It also seems that a study has concluded that giving AstraZeneca to people in the age group 18-39 would cause more deaths than lives saved. We can extrapolate from this to say that in children the risks from the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh the risks. This information comes from an Irish newspaper [3] which is reporting a study by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and information from the Irish HSE. These are the facts as they pertain to AstraZeneca.

I would not say that a 1 in 100,000 chance of a serious blood clotting event (in those aged over 50) which carries a 17% – 20% of being fatal – is so rare that it can simply be discounted. Taking myself as an example; I am aged 55 and in good physical condition with no existing health conditions. I am not overweight. The chances of my dying from Covid-19 are remote. It is therefore a rational decision for me not to get a vaccine in the UK – in particular since I cannot specify that I don’t receive AstraZeneca. (In the UK only people under 40 are being automatically offered Pfizer or Moderna). The information offered by the NHS that “the benefits of being vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any risk of clotting problems” is probably not true in my case. It is simply misinformation. (“blood-clotting problems” is further misinformation since the fact is that 17%-20% of these will be fatal; not just a ‘problem’). At any event surely it is up to the patient to make the risk-decision assessment herself? Isn’t there some principle of “informed consent” which has simply been abandoned here?

Another lie told by the NHS is this one: “The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19.” This pretends there is a single vaccine. In fact there are multiple vaccines which use a range of different technologies and which carry different risk profiles. Again; surely it is the job of the NHS to present accurate information about treatments and allow patients to make their own choices? AstraZeneca has a risk of blood-clotting. Pfizer carries a risk of heart inflammation – especially in younger men. [4] These risks appear to be of a very small percentage and rarely fatal; less serious than the AstraZeneca blood-clotting problem.

We are supposed to live in free democratic and scientifically literate society. This is why millions of young people who are destined to become builders and hospital porters and florists are nonetheless forced each year to take exams in biology and chemistry and physics. So they can participate in a modern rational and scientifically aware society. But instead of offering actual information which enables people to make up their own minds the health bureaucracy feeds them untruths and tries to make up their minds for them. It is mind-bogglingly irresponsible.

Meanwhile the police are investigating a woman who made a speech at a public event in London in which she apparently compared doctors and nurses promoting vaccination to Nazi war criminals and referred to the Nuremberg trials. [5] This is obviously going too far and is extremely idiotic. But amidst the idiotic analogy she may have a point; there is a push to vaccinate and a sustained effort to supress information about the risks. Most outlets are not even reporting the rest of her speech. The BBC is rare in saying that “Speaking about the vaccine, she encouraged the crowd to challenge vaccinators about its safety.”[6] So – the NHS can publish what is manifestly false information about the risks from the vaccines but someone who calls for this narrative to be questioned is subject to police investigation. This really is rather Orwellian.

The state health bureaucrats wonder why there are so many conspiracy theories. Such as RNA vaccines will alter your DNA. But one reason is that people can tell when they are being lied to. This is what creates the ground in which conspiracy theories flourish. The public health bureaucracy has decided on a campaign of mass vaccination and they are not going to let scientific fact or the principle of informed consent get in their way. The conspiracy theories are the inevitable blow-back.

Notes

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/safety-and-side-effects/
  3. https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40328123.html
  4. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-57781637
  5. https://ca.movies.yahoo.com/met-police-investigate-anti-vaxxer-125232384.html
  6. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-57962675

The backlash against ‘Freedom day’ – how valid is it?

Only Boris Johnson could come up with a cheap slogan like “Freedom Day” in the middle of a deadly pandemic. (This is reminiscent of his joke in the early stages of the pandemic about “operation last gasp”).

Idiotic remarks aside is it indeed crazy and irresponsible to remove all remaining Covid restrictions (laws and that ambiguous middle-ground of “government guidance”) now as this widely backed letter in the Lancet argues?

The authors of this letter – who could be said to be from the pro-lockdown side of academia – make 5 arguments. Let’s consider them. Before we do that let’s just remind ourselves of the context. Currently 50% of the UK population has been offered both doses of a vaccine (spaced apart by more than the manufacturer’s recommendations in the case of Pfizer of course). This includes all the especially vulnerable groups. By some point in September all over 18 year olds will have been offered 2 doses. Vaccinations in children has not yet been decided. Lifting all restrictions now will lead to more infections than if they were maintained until, say, September when all adults will have been offered a vaccination. This delay is what the authors of this letter in the Lancet want.

Continue reading “The backlash against ‘Freedom day’ – how valid is it?”

And so to the cover-up

This is a report on Dominic Cummin’s fascinating revelations about how the government worked (didn’t) during the early days of the epidemic.

It makes juicy reading. Especially when you consider how many died. The description of the Prime Minister responding to being asked difficult questions in meetings by saying “let’s take it offline” and then rushing out of the meeting shouting “forward to victory” sounds both plausible and terrifying. Cummins claims that lockdown was not considered until the 14 of March. This is my post from 11 March 20 reporting on the Director of WHO bemoaning the lack of action by governments. The Cummins revelations confirm what we already know – that for the first few crucial weeks of the epidemic there was a total failure at the heart of government not just in No. 10, but at the senior levels in PHE and the DHSC, to respond to the crisis. (This is another of my posts from the early stages when I point out what Cummins is now saying; that the government was rudderless and its response was completely inadequate).

A lot of the revelations concern Matt Hancock. He is depicted as incompetent and a liar. I read recently an anonymous account of a backbench Tory MP who said that Hancock has a tendency to report as true-fact-now things which are in fact just at the planning stage. This interpretation syncs with Cummins’s account. For example; it would explain how Hancock could have told the PM that patients were being tested in Care Homes when what he meant was that they were working on it.

Continue reading “And so to the cover-up”