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Last week I posted about the comedian Jerry Sadowitz, whose Fringe show was cancelled by Edinburgh’s Pleasance Theatre.

We have seen more examples of the demise of free speech, particularly in the UK, in 2022.

Restaurant’s help wanted ad

In February 2022, Steve Bothwell, who owns the 27-year-old Aberdeen restaurant Cafe 52, placed a no-nonsense advert online in an attempt to hire more staff:

The job advert went viral on Twitter

On February 28, Scotland’s Daily Record reported that the advert went viral and received much online how-dare-he criticism, included in its article.

However, the ad’s wording spells out what Steve Bothwell wants: a hard-working employee who is focused on continuing the excellent reputation of the restaurant rather than his or her social identity politics.

I admire a man who says he doesn’t want mask wearing Guardian readers, virtue signallers and self-testers. I wouldn’t, either. He was also right to say that hospitality works only when staff:

leave their egos in their lockers.

He gave an interview to the paper (emphases mine):

Speaking to the Daily Record he said: “I don’t regret the wording [of the job advert], but I wish people would get on their pins about more important issues.

“I’m not banning anyone. The advert was tongue in cheek.”

He added: “I’ve had three good applications this morning off the back of the advert.”

Some weeks later, one of The Guardian‘s restaurant critics, Grace Dent, had lunch at Cafe 52. Wow! If any of my readers are in Aberdeen, this place looks great. It’s right across the street from Aberdeen Market.

Dent’s review, complete with must-see close-up photos, appeared on April 1, but this was no April Fool’s joke:

The menu was full of delicious-sounding things such as cullen skink, hot smoked mackerel, and Normandy chicken casserole with leeks and tarragon. As I loitered by the door, something about the cafe’s name rang a bell, then, to my glee, I realised this was the place whose owner famously doesn’t like Guardian readers, and who earlier this year penned a job advert banning them. Perhaps I should have been offended, but there was a bread-and-butter pudding made with crumpets on the menu, plus, to quote Groucho Marx, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

… This charming, long, narrow strip of a bistro has survived for more than 25 years without the likes of me, and is these days serving a sort of boho, rustic, French-Scottish, casual-elegant menu to a unending stream of walk-ins. Cafe 52 has no need for my pronouncements.

Dent was complimentary about the servers as well as the food. So, the advert worked!

She described the food as follows:

I like Aberdeen a great deal, and spent three wonderful days there alone, talking to strangers and eating …

But Cafe 52 was my favourite. Proprietor Steve Bothwell … has created a place where glorious food matters, and I can say beyond doubt that my restorative bowl of Normandy chicken casserole will be one of the greatest things I’ll eat all year. Chicken soup – or stew, in this case – does touch the soul, and a good one is as close to a cuddle from Mother T herself as you can get. This one featured five or six chunks of soft, stewed breast, thigh and leg in a clear tarragon broth with the very occasional chunk of soft potato or slice of garlicky mushroom, and was way more than the sum of its parts. This stew, topped with a vivid pink bundle of pickled red cabbage, was a wonder, with fragrant tarragon the hero ingredient. I ate it with a side of kale, deep fried and laced with chilli, which is the only way to treat it – that is, mercilessly …

Steve Bothwell’s mother, who is in her 80s, makes all the desserts. Amazing:

Bothwell’s octogenarian mother makes all the puddings at Cafe 52, and just two spoons into her crumpet bread-and-butter pudding I felt the need to check with the staff if anyone had written down the recipes for her carrot and brandied fruit cake or her coffee cake with rum syllabub. The bread pudding is a fearsome, rib-sticking challenge of a dessert, with crumpet after crumpet smothered in sweet, eggy custard and served with vanilla ice-cream. It’s the sort of dish that makes guests at other tables wink and wish me luck, as if I was some sort of amateur at this game. The first four or five spoons were sublime, all sticky and compelling; I was living my best life.

The owner also asked if she had enjoyed her lunch:

“Yer stew all right?” he asked, semi-begrudgingly, as if he didn’t really care what the answer was going to be, but was curious anyway.

“Incredible,” I said. “I loved it.”

“Fine,” he said, and walked off without another glance in my direction. I have paved a way for all of us. Just don’t go in carrying this newspaper.

Edinburgh Fringe’s best jokes

Speaking of Scotland, the Edinburgh Fringe is supposed to be — and once was — the world’s edgiest comedy festival.

It was last held in 2019 and resumed again this year.

Each year, a series of comedy awards are bestowed upon the best talent. They were once sponsored by Perrier and propelled comedians to stardom. Now it seems that the UK comedy channel Dave has assumed the mantle.

On Monday, August 22, The Guardian gave us the top, award-winning jokes from the 2022 Fringe.

At best, these are Christmas cracker jokes, most of which a 10-year-old could tell:

1. I tried to steal spaghetti from the shop, but the female guard saw me and I couldn’t get pasta – Masai Graham (52%)

2. Did you know, if you get pregnant in the Amazon, it’s next day delivery? – Mark Simmons (37%)

3. My attempts to combine nitrous oxide and Oxo cubes made me a laughing stock – Olaf Falafel (36%)

4. By my age, my parents had a house and a family, and to be fair to me, so do I, but it is the same house and the same family – Hannah Fairweather (35%)

5. I hate funerals. I’m not a mourning person – Will Mars (34%)

6. I spent the whole morning building a time machine, so that’s four hours of my life that I’m definitely getting back – Olaf Falafel (33%)

7. I sent a food parcel to my first wife. FedEx – Richard Pulsford (29%)

8. I used to live hand to mouth. Do you know what changed my life? Cutlery – Tim Vine (28%)

9. Don’t knock threesomes. Having a threesome is like hiring an intern to do all the jobs you hate – Sophie Duker (27%)

10. I can’t even be bothered to be apathetic these days – Will Duggan (25%)

Dire.

On Sunday, the topic came up for discussion on Andrew Doyle’s Free Speech Nation show for GB News (54:43 to 58:00):

Doyle’s guests, fellow comedians, deplored the level of comedy at this year’s Fringe.

One said that there are ‘tastemakers’ who nominate comedians for an award and go on to nationwide shows.

Another said that, if this trend continues and edgy comedians like Jerry Sadowitz aren’t allowed back in, it will spell curtains for the top Fringe venue:

The Pleasance will die.

Another intimated that the establishment wanted to reshape comedy into something anodyne:

These big venues are getting large donations from the Scottish Government.

That might well be true. I read or heard somewhere that someone from the Scottish National Party owns a few comedy clubs in Edinburgh.

Hmm.

Censored television shows versus nudity

On the topic of censored comedy, British actress Vicki Michelle from the classic sitcom ‘Allo, ‘Allo! weighed in last week on the current preference for saucy reality shows over reruns of old family-oriented shows.

‘Allo, ‘Allo! satirised the Second World War and was a huge hit that ran for ten years. Until recently, it, and other classic sitcoms from the 1960s through to the 1980s, were often shown on the BBC.

Now they are all on a paid-subscription streaming platform called BritBox. It’s odd that the British paid in television tax to see these shows, now they are expected to pay again to see them.

BritBox has put content warnings on ‘Allo, ‘Allo! and other programmes from that era.

Television and streaming services are dictating what we can and cannot see.

On August 19, Vicki Michelle gave an interview to The Mirror, which The Telegraph reprised:

A string of content warnings for TV series was issued last year by streaming service BritBox – a collaborative venture between the BBC and other broadcasters – including one advisory note which told viewers that ‘Allo ‘Allo! featured “outdated” material.

Comedy is being neutralised – or nuked,” Ms Michelle said. “I think 80 per cent of this country would love comedy like ‘Allo ‘Allo! to be made again, so 20 per cent might take aversion to some of the content.”

The series which ran from 1982 to 1992 was set at the Cafe Rene in the town of Nouvion and followed the comic troubles of proprietor Rene Artois – played by Gorden Kaye – as he juggled the dangers posed by British airmen, the French resistance and Nazi occupiers.

The humour stemmed from innuendo and mockery of national stereotypes and accents, and in 2021 Britbox warned modern audiences about the supposedly dated content of the decades-old programme, with a note stating: “This classic comedy contains language and attitudes of the time that may offend some viewers.”

BritBox explained at the time that certain classic programmes required advice on the “potentially sensitive language or attitudes of their era”.

The actress objects, pointing out the near-obscene content of some of our reality television shows, both visually and orally:

Michelle argued that contemporary television is far more offensive than the comedy now deemed worthy of content warnings, telling the Daily Mirror: “People eff, blind and use the c-word on telly and that’s considered fine.

“And on reality TV people make love under a sheet, and that’s fine. There was none of that in ‘Allo ‘Allo!. I don’t think there’s anything in there that would upset a normal person.

She added: “‘Allo ‘Allo! didn’t send up anyone in particular – we sent up everyone.

“It was a family show where the adults got the double entendres and the children just thought the situations were funny. You can see someone on telly in a bikini and their boobs out.”

Let’s look at it another way. If Blazing Saddles were shown on television now, it would only be seven minutes long:

https://image.vuukle.com/7be2fc3b-e0e9-40d3-9ac0-27c21ba272b2-04dc70c2-ca8f-4962-a68e-f88f450a7770

Free speech, Salman Rushdie and the average Twitter user

Along with many millions, I hope that Sir Salman Rushdie is making a steady recovery from his attack less than a fortnight ago.

Conservative commentator Emma Webb told Andrew Doyle on his show last night (see video above) that no publisher would dare print anything like Satanic Verses today. Publishing houses are self-censoring, as if there were a blasphemy law in place:

This year, a few high-profile arrests have been made in the UK with regard to tweets that have caused other Twitter users ‘anxiety’. Not long ago, a middle-aged man was pinned down by five police officers in his garden, so it is a bit rich of Boris Johnson to come across as a big supporter of free speech in Salman Rushdie’s case when the average Joe is being arrested for lesser offences:

https://image.vuukle.com/63ebaa37-331d-4dc2-90ad-c81b2ee54efe-cafde0c8-a6fc-4408-83c4-e703a8da3b2c

On that subject, lefty lawyer Jolyon Maugham rightly condemned the attack on Rushdie, then asked who has a platform on which to speak.

Well, I do wonder.

A reply to Maugham’s tweet told the raw truth of the matter. The Left used to advocate free speech when they thought theirs was censored. Now that the leftist point of view is ubiquitous, they censor any opposing view:

https://image.vuukle.com/42c85f62-4bbb-4aff-b15a-100d5034d7aa-1ad7eb2a-b8f4-4af7-8869-fd9bce9ea47c

Scarily, this clampdown extends to health issues now.

Censorship of coronavirus vaccine opposition

The truckers’ protest in Ottawa in February showed how draconian censorship can get.

The men and women were protesting against the Canadian government for mandating coronavirus vaccines as a condition of employment. Justin Trudeau took the extraordinary action of freezing some protesters’ — and contributors’ — bank accounts.

On March 8, The Spectator‘s Jane Stannus wrote an excellent article about this, just as Premier Justin Trudeau visited the UK: ‘Where’s the outrage over Trudeau’s trip to Britain?’

She wrote:

Trudeau used the Emergencies Act to allow banks to unilaterally freeze accounts and assets, not only of participants in the peaceful Ottawa freedom convoy but also of anyone who supported the protest financially – all without a court order and legal immunity. And insurance policies of participants were subject to cancellation. Nothing says ‘free country’ like being able to freeze the assets of your political opponents without notice, judicial oversight, or possibility of legal recourse, on suspicion of having donated $25 to a trucker who parked in front of Canada’s parliament because he didn’t want the government to take away his job

Perhaps this seems unfair. Trudeau may have invoked the never-before-used Emergencies Act to resolve a parking problem. An error in judgement, but in the end he rescinded it.

Quite true. But not before he suspended Canadians’ rights to due process and to peaceful assembly. Or delayed the Act’s debate in the Canadian House of Commons until after the protestors were forcibly removed by police. Or cynically strong-armed its approval through the House of Commons via a confidence vote – cleverly changing the subject of the vote to whether or not MPs wanted to call an election. And remember too that he hinted that the Act would be needed for months to come. Can the country ever be considered truly safe when – at any time – a truck driver apparently going about his business might approach the heart of Canada’s capital city and run up the Canadian flag, thereby magically metamorphosising into a terrorist?

Trudeau lifted the Emergencies Act on 23 February when it became apparent that the Canadian Senate was likely to vote against it. The next day, Russia attacked Ukraine and both national and international attention turned elsewhere – doubtless to the Liberal government’s great relief.

But anyone who thinks Trudeau has learned his lesson is sadly naïve. In a speech to the Toronto Ukrainian community on 4 March, he had the audacity to deplore the ‘slippage in our democracies’ and express concern about countries around the world ‘turning towards slightly more authoritarian leaders’. Why is this happening? According to Trudeau, it’s because ‘misinformation and disinformation’ are allowed to be shared on social media, thus ‘turning people against the values and the principles of democracies’. Right. To preserve democracy, what we need is censorship?

For all Trudeau’s talk, the real threat to Canadian democracy is not the truckers’ movement, whose actions revealed that large numbers of Canadians just want a return to normal life. No: the real threat to democracy is Canada’s ideologically driven leadership, seizing more and ever more unchecked power so as to force Canadian society into the mould of a collectivist utopia. It would be nice if the British parliament cared enough to discuss it.

Lord Ridley — Matt Ridley — pointed out that it was quite the opposite for the British parliament with regard to President Donald Trump. MPs wanted to ban Trump for ‘hate speech’:

When Trump came to the UK, neither House of Parliament extended him an invitation.

Yet, when Trudeau uttered real hate speech against people who did not want to be vaccinated, that was A-okay with our parliamentarians:

Fortunately, he was not invited to address Parliament.

He did, however, address EU parliamentarians in Brussels. A German MEP, Christine Anderson, took strong exception to Trudeau’s actions over the truckers’ protest and pointed out his love of Chinese coronavirus policies.

This very short video is a must-watch. Anderson’s English is flawless in every respect:

I don’t know what the reaction was, but at least she said it and he was there to hear it.

GB News’s Mark Steyn has been interviewing British family members of those who have died from the coronavirus vaccine and have been receiving compensation (£100,000) from the British Government.

Unfortunately, many are heartbroken as they share their stories on Twitter and other social media platforms. Not only do they get harsh feedback from readers accusing them of lying, but the social media moderators accuse these people of peddling mis- or disinformation.

This has been going on not only in the UK, but also in other Western countries.

Alexandra Marshall, the editor of the online edition of The Spectator in Australia, says the censorship is taking place because the push to get people to take potentially harmful vaccines has been a ‘global error’, one that, in some countries, could result in class action lawsuits. This catastrophic failure is too big to fail and no politician wants to jeopardise his or her career by facing a legitimate pushback from citizens. This video is from May 11:

The Online Safety Bill

Meanwhile, our Conservative Government has put forward a potentially damaging Online Safety Bill, notionally designed to protect the most vulnerable but which, in reality, will ‘protect’ — restrict — everyone else.

Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said that she wanted to stop social media ‘pile-ons’. It’s like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Guido Fawkes explains in a Twitter thread:

Who is going to define what a ‘pile-on’ actually is?

And will different rules apply online and offline? Think of newspapers:

On May 11, Kathy Gyngell, editor of The Conservative Woman, wrote:

YESTERDAY marked a black day in British history. It was the most repressive Queen’s Speech ever. A reversal of Britain’s centuries-long march to freedom. 

It contained not one, but a number of ‘innovative’ measures that threaten to curtail our basic rights, including our freedom of speech and movement, under the guise of what are, I am afraid, spurious claims to reform the law and protect us.   

The proposed new Bill of Rights and a series of other state interventionist and regressive measures will make it harder for any who ‘dissent’ the official narrative – whether on ‘pandemic’ policy, vaccine risks or further lockdowns – to air and share their critiques and evidence, or to publicly protest against such curtailing of our rights. 

The Bill of Rights is set to replace current Human Rights law in the name of curbing an incremental rights culture. However, it will quite specifically undermine, if not take away, individual choice and responsibility when and where it is deemed to conflict with the State’s definition of the common good.  

Back in March, I asked whether this was the reform of human rights we need? My answer was that it emphatically was not. I argued that the proposed legislation is a perversion of the traditional notions of rights and duties, and a mendacious and threatening one at that.  

Who will decide what those broader interests of society may be? The Government, the World Health Organisation, or any other international public health body with undue influence over our political masters? The last two years of irrational lockdown and all but compulsory vaccination, all in the name of the higher public good, fills me with foreboding. 

The proposed Online Safety Bill is also deeply worrying. Under its terms, ‘major social media firms will face fines worth up to ten per cent of their global turnover if they fail to tackle illegal content getting on to their sites under reintroduced duty of care plans to protect users from online harms’.

At the rate we at TCW are already being censored, under the notion of ‘harms’, this also bodes very ill for us and any other dissenting or free speech site

The proposed Public Order Bill and its additional police powers, also in yesterday’s speech, again would be welcome if it was restricted to stopping eco-protesters blocking roads and inflicting fuel shortages on motorists, and not used against peaceful protest against government policy.  

However, it will allow police to ban suspected troublemakers from attending specified events. Does that mean Piers Corbyn, for example? I defend his right to protest and so should anyone. Does it mean in fact any government critic or opponent could be singled out? How will it be interpreted? The degree to which the police are already politicised and discriminate does not augur well … 

All this proposed new legislation needs to have a bright torch shone on it. We need to protest against it and remember those of centuries past who gave their lives for today’s, now to be curtailed, freedoms.

I could not agree more. It is difficult to believe that Conservatives have come up with this unholy intrusion into our lives and thoughts.

Labour have since said that they would take these laws even further once — or if — they are ever in power. We would do well to take them at their word.

On June 27, Lord Frost urged Conservatives to scrap the Online Safety Bill. The Daily Mail reported:

The Tory peer claims the Online Safety Bill contains so many flaws ‘it is hard to know where to start’.

He singles out for criticism the fact that it will outlaw comments on social media that would be legal in the real world.

Lord Frost, the former Brexit minister, says the move will be ‘highly damaging’ to free speech and will benefit only the ‘perennially offended’ who want to be protected from anything they disagree with.

He says: ‘A Conservative Government should not be putting this view into law. The best thing the Government could do would be to slim down the Bill so they can proceed rapidly with the genuinely uncontroversial aspects, and consign the rest where it belongs – the wastepaper basket.’

It is hoped that a new Prime Minister will sink this bill once and for all in September.

I certainly hope so. We have bigger worries right now.

My advice to social media users? If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

The 150th birthday of Speaker’s Corner

In late June, advocates of free speech gathered at London’s Speaker’s Corner to celebrate its 150th birthday.

The day before, police arrested a female Christian apologist at Speaker’s Corner because she wore a tee shirt with a Charlie Hebdo cartoon featuring an image many think should not see the light of day.

I do not know if this was the same lady who was brutally attacked with a knife there some months earlier for giving a defence of the Christian faith.

Toby Young, the General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, was at Speaker’s Corner on its 150th birthday and gave Mark Steyn his report, including one about the Christian lady:

Young pointed out that, in Victorian times — certainly leading up to the founding of Speaker’s Corner in 1872 and beyond — people were much more able to speak their minds than they are today.

Young lamented the fact that not many people were present at the 150th birthday celebration. Nor did the mainstream media cover such an important event.

He said that, if people want to read or hear free speech, they now have to go online.

Conclusion

The great irony in all of this censorship is that it took a Russian emigré to the UK to point it out.

Author, comedian and podcaster Konstantin Kisin is putting his views, personal and historical, into a book on the subject: An Immigrant’s Love Letter to the West.

On July 10, he discussed free speech with Andrew Doyle and told him that, right now:

We are in the late Soviet stage …

He went on to describe how his grandfather fell foul of this in Stalin’s Soviet Union. He lost his job and ended up in a gulag as a result.

Here’s the video:

It is sad that it takes an emigré to point out how far down the rabbit hole we are.

That said, thank goodness for Konstatin Kisin. I hope that people listen to him and read his book.

We must defend free speech at all costs.

Advertisement

Last weekend’s big news stories concerned freedom of speech.

The world was horrified to learn of the bloody and debilitating assault on Sir Salman Rushdie, who might lose his sight in one eye. He was off his respirator early this week, thankfully, but, unfortunately, still has a long recovery awaiting him.

Then, here in Britain, on Saturday, August 13, we awoke to the news that raunchy comedian Jerry Sadowitz, 60, had his Edinburgh Fringe gig cancelled at the city’s Pleasance Theatre.

Sadowitz gave only one performance before the Pleasance pulled the plug.

I’ve lived here as long as Sadowitz has been a comedian. For all that time, I have never met a man who liked his brand of comedy.

One could describe him as an equal-opportunity offender. He has appeared on television from time to time. I first saw him in the early 1990s on a comedy show. I couldn’t see what was funny. His jokes were gratuitously offensive and filthy.

Nearly everyone in the UK knows about Sadowitz’s humour, if one can call it that.

His show is not appropriate for a first date and certainly not for a blind date.

Being generous, I would say that, in terms of comedy, Jerry Sadowitz is the 21st century British version of Lenny Bruce.

Like Bruce, Sadowitz was born in the United States.

He moved to Scotland with his Glaswegian mother at the age of seven.

Let’s look at the facts surrounding his cancellation, keeping in mind that the month-long Edinburgh Fringe is supposed to be the bastion of comedic free speech. Its whole purpose is to shock and provoke.

Another thing worth keeping in mind is that Sadowitz actually said what sort of material his show at the Pleasance would include.

The show was called ‘Not for Anyone’.

That should have set people’s expectations, but it did not.

On Saturday, I read Guido Fawkes:

Guido posted Sadowitz’s tweet about how well he thought Friday night’s show went:

Guido tied the news in with that of Salman Rushdie (emphases in the original):

Here’s some news from the Edinburgh Fringe that Salman Rushdie might find amusing. In a statement announcing that they were cancelling further appearances by the comedian and magician Jerry Sadowitz, the venue said:

The Pleasance Theatre Trust have cancelled Jerry Sadowitz’s second and final show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with immediate effect. In today’s society, opinions such as those displayed on stage by Sadowitz are not acceptable and The Pleasance are not prepared to be associated with such material.

Anthony Alderson, Director of the Pleasance said:

The Pleasance is a venue that champions freedom of speech and we do not censor comedians’ material. While we acknowledge that Jerry Sadowitz has often been controversial, the material presented at his first show is not acceptable and does not align with our values. This type of material has no place on the festival and the Pleasance will not be presenting his second and final show.

You couldn’t make it up….

No, you couldn’t.

Apparently, among other things, Sadowitz exposed himself to a woman in the front row.

The Scottish Daily Express reported (emphases mine):

Controversial Scots comedian Jerry Sadowitz has been cancelled by the Edinburgh Fringe after complaints from shocked audience members and venue staff.

The 60-year-old had two shows booked at the Pleasance called ‘Jerry Sadowitz: Not for Anyone’ which came with a warning of “strong language and themes some may find distressing”

However, the decision sparked fury from fellow comics such as Leo Kearse, who said: “If the Islamic fundamentalists don’t get you, the wokeists will.”

He added that Sadowitz, who was born in the US and moved to Glasgow with his Scottish/Jewish mother at the age of seven, was the “only comedian worth seeing” at the Fringe this year.

Good grief. Yet, judging from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe and Festival reviews in The Times, he’s probably right.

Anyway:

The Pleasance said anyone who had booked a ticket for Saturday’s gig would receive refunds for their tickets and that they “won’t be working” with the entertainer again.

Meanwhile, Sadowitz was soon busy on Twitter promoting his run of 14 gigs at venues south of the Border later in the year.

How could the Pleasance not have known about Sadowitz’s material when he’d performed there before?

On Sunday, the paper had an update:

The Pleasance has hit back at critics following the Jerry Sadowitz cancellation claiming the comedian made people “uncomfortable and unsafe” to remain in the theatre.

The Edinburgh Fringe venue slammed those who ripped into the “woke” decision as an attack on freedom of speech. The theatre claimed that Sadowitz crossed the line and that controversial comedians “need to be challenged” in a “changing world”

Fans say his unique brand of black comedy has to be viewed in context and questioned why the venue booked him in the first place, as well as asking why people bought tickets to the show if they were so easily offended.

I completely agree.

Whereas Sadowitz tweeted that he didn’t see anyone walk out, the Pleasance claimed that a number of people left during his act:

“A large number of people walked out of Jerry Sadowitz’s show as they felt uncomfortable and unsafe to remain in the venue. We have received an unprecedented number of complaints that could not be ignored and we had a duty to respond. The subsequent abuse directed to our teams is also equally unacceptable

“In a changing world, stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged. There is a line that we will not cross at the Pleasance, and it was our view that this line was crossed on this occasion.

“We don’t vet the full content of acts in advance and while Jerry Sadowitz is a controversial comedian, we could not have known the specifics of his performance. The Pleasance has staged his work numerous times over the years, but as soon as we received complaints from those in the building which caused us great concern, we knew we could not allow the final performance to go ahead.

“The arts and comedy in particular have always pushed the boundaries of social norms but this boundary is always moving. Our industry has to move with it. However, this does not mean that we can allow such content to be on our stages.”

I was heartened to read that a Scottish Conservative and a feminist were critical of The Pleasance:

Former Scots Tory strategy chief Eddie Barnes was among the critics of the decision. He tweeted: “The Pleasance’s statement is totally contradictory. But it’s that mealy-mouthed, morally vacuous phrase ‘not acceptable’ that really grates. To whom? And on what grounds? Who decided?

Feminist campaigner Lucy Hunter Blackburn added: “I first came to the Fringe in 1986. The cancelling of Jerry Sadowitz (who I’ve never seen – not my bag, I strongly assume I’d not enjoy his material) feels like an important moment – something to stop and look at hard.”

While discussing the furore on GB News on Saturday night, Scots comedian Leo Kearse said: “The Edinburgh Fringe is over, the SNP have put a nail in it by restricting the amount of accommodation so there’s not enough space for audiences and acts. Nobody wants to go and see woke comedy. It’s like women’s football, it gets written about by the Guardian but it’s rubbish.”

On Sunday evening, GB News’s Andrew Doyle, a former teacher who went into stand up and created Titania McGrath, emphasised that what the audience sees is Sadowitz’s ‘persona’, not the man himself. He added that while Sadowitz is lobbing his offensive material, he simultaneously performs magic tricks. (Sadowitz is accomplished at card tricks in particular. That’s how he got his start.)

Doyle, who has seen Sadowitz’s act, explains that the material is so out there that it makes people laugh:

He’s an equal opportunities offender. Think of the worst thing in your head and then say it.

Leo Kearse and Josh Howie, another British comedian, joined Doyle in slamming the manager of The Pleasance, the Fringe’s premier venue.

According to them, Sadowitz’s material this year was nothing new. Doyle also confirmed that Sadowitz circulated a promo video in which he said what would be in the show.

Kearse said that the people complaining are probably the types who would be okay with Drag Queen Story Hour for children:

Why are we treating children like adults and adults like children?

Howie and Doyle were annoyed to see that some comedians at the Fringe supported The Pleasance. Howie said:

They’re putting themselves out of a job.

Doyle added:

They’re making a rod for their own backs.

Howie pointed out that Sadowitz is ‘revered’ on the comedy circuit and that he has inspired many newer comedians’ material, which makes his cancellation a ‘flash point’. Every new boundary push in comedy today has been thanks to him.

Doyle closed by saying that he had heard most of the complaints had come from members of staff at The Pleasance. Howie said that most venue employees are ‘mostly students’, ergo, likely to be offended and to ‘feel unsafe’.

Doyle asked:

Why do people keep submitting to these brats?

Theirs is a great exchange about freedom of speech in comedy:

On Monday, August 15, BBC Scotland interviewed Russian emigré and free speech advocate Konstantin Kisin. Kisin, who hosts his own podcast, says that such censorship helps no one and that, ultimately, the Edinburgh Festival might become less appealing and lose its audience. The male BBC co-host implied that audience members went only so they could laugh at racism because they rarely get the chance to do so.

Kisin responded, beginning with:

If I were a mind reader like you …

and said:

I have more faith in human beings than you do …

The co-host doubled down:

I was there in the audience. You weren’t …

Kisin asked him how he would assess what was going on in people’s minds as they watched Sadowitz:

You can tell what someone thinks from their body language? … No, no, you did say that you knew from their body language. You said exactly that.

At which point, the co-host abruptly terminated the interview.

Here it is. I applaud GB News’s Colin Brazier for his scathing remark about our being forced to pay for the BBC and their bias:

The same comedians had another go on Monday’s Headliners show on GB News. By then, Sadowitz felt forced to explain his act, which disappointed Josh Howie. Sadowitz is also seeking an apology from The Pleasance. Nick Dixon, another comedian, said that today’s big names in comedy (many of whom probably got where they are today thanks to Sadowitz) need to stand up for him. The owner of The Assembly Rooms, another top Fringe venue, has rightly criticised The Pleasance for cancelling the act:

Earlier that evening, Dan Wootton asked comedy veteran Jim Davidson, whose style is the exact opposite of Sadowitz’s, for his opinion. Davidson got dragged into this because Sadowitz wrote ‘I am not J** D*******, folks’ and ‘a lot of thought goes into my shows’. Davidson was generous in defending a comedian who does not wish to be compared to him. Davidson criticised The Pleasance, saying they knew ‘exactly what act’ Sadowitz was going to do.

Davidson thinks someone within the local council complained, which has happened before in England. He also pointed out that The Pleasance said that even performing material ‘in character’ should not be allowed:

Isn’t every comedian in character?

Here’s the video:

There is a huge gulf between the author of The Satanic Verses and obscene, offensive comedy, however, it is important to defend both.

James Marriott wrote about this conundrum for The Times on Wednesday, August 17: ‘The grubby truth about freedom of speech’.

He gave an unintended plug for GB News. Remember that Murdoch owns The Times and TalkTV:

An honest defence of free speech acknowledges that it inflicts pain on vulnerable people, disperses power unequally and has no scientifically identifiable principles — but that it is precious nonetheless. It is a grubby, unfortunate truth.

Has there ever been a less glamorous time to support free speech? Because social media companies refuse to accept editorial responsibilities, the internet is overrun with the gory worst of what humans have to say.

The most vocal modern defenders of free speech are not artists or libertines but pimply “Enlightenment bros” and the talking heads of GB News. Of course, one’s principles should never be formed in accordance with what is and isn’t trendy. So we are left as the awkward, perhaps half-embarrassed, defenders of this unhappy, dysfunctional system which is nevertheless by far the best one we’ve yet devised.

That probably explains why GB News’s ratings are way ahead of TalkTV’s.

I’ll leave the last word to The Telegraph‘s theatre critic Dominic Cavendish:

Though I’ve seen a number of his shows over the years, I didn’t catch this one. His act – initiated in the 1980s, and bolstered since the 1990s by dexterous card tricks – is easy to summarise: misanthropic, unrelenting bile, awash with expletives and at war with political correctness. No one escapes his performative contempt, which springs from him, but qualifies too as an act.

His patter is knowingly extreme, and can be extremely funny, although the exhalation of laughter wars with the sharpest intakes of breath. His offence-giving once brought him celebrity but that has been on the wane – TV has barely touched him since the early 2000s. Sick-taste comedians have come up in his wake, most successfully Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle, yet he has admirers across the spectrum; even Stewart Lee, the darling of the progressive Left.

As Lee wrote in the New Statesman in 2013, “because Sadowitz is one of the most complete and perfect stand-ups in history, his exact political position is complicated. By accident or design, he appears to be socially, sexually, culturally, physically and economically at the bottom of the pile. This gives him licence to attack everything and everyone, like a drowning rat swimming desperately up the U-bend. And this tells us a lot about the essence of stand-up.”

… It’s impossible to justify every line of Sadowitz’s sets but his worldview is to be suspicious of pleasantness and to detect phoneyness in progressivism. He confronts us with his viciousness and by extension, our own. Times have changed, have they? His pertinent thrust is that people haven’t.

The Pleasance can hardly say they didn’t know who they were booking, this time around.

That they de-platformed Sadowitz just after Salman Rushdie was attacked felt doubly uncomfortable. There’s a world of difference, of course, in being told that your show is cancelled, and being stabbed in the face. But how could the Pleasance feel on the right side of history? Though worlds apart in terms of finesse, and import – Rushdie is a highbrow culture hero, Sadowitz an increasing anachronism – are the two men not both flying the flag for freedom of expression?

Today, sure, cancel Sadowitz. But tomorrow? What about other less provocative but maybe also problematic acts? Take another fringe veteran, Arthur Smith, who gratuitously if comically has a naked woman walk across stage during his Pleasance show. Should he go next? The 2022 Fringe so far has been a sun-lit occasion – but dark clouds have gathered.

I don’t like Jerry Sadowitz’s comedy but I will defend his right to perform on stage.

Like him or loathe him, where freedom of speech is concerned, he’s every bit as important as Salman Rushdie.

Last week, Mark Steyn had excellent coverage of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos.

Neil Oliver also had a round-up of Davos news on his GB News show on Saturday, May 28, 2022. One of his guests was Sophie Corcoran, who went to the Swiss resort with Rebel News. She then went on to cover the WHO meeting.

Most of the tweets below are hers, although there are also some from Mark Steyn’s correspondent.

Sophie, a British university student and regular GB News commentator, left for Switzerland on Saturday, May 21:

Here’s the Rebel News team and a cartoon insight of the elites at play:

The summit started on Sunday, May 22. Apparently, attendees had to be treble-vaxxed in order to get in:

Employees had to be masked:

One wonders if the masked woman was able to enter the Equality Lounge. Probably not, because she would not have had a badge:

A small anti-WEF protest about the planet took place:

There was also an anti-coronavirus restriction protest:

On a lighter note, Sophie met a Swiss GB News fan:

Cars were heavy on the ground:

The great and the good relied on cars throughout their stay:

I saw the following video on Mark Steyn’s show. It’s short and to the point. The Rebel News reporter, Avi Yemini, was gentle and polite when he asked the New York Times journo to answer a brief question, but she refused. This has been going on for decades at these events, as the quote from David Rockefeller shows:

Day 1 left Sophie singularly unimpressed:

The next day did not change her mind as she saw all the private jets. There was a record number of them this year:

Yes, they are hypocrites:

TalkTV — and former GB News presenter — Tonia Buxton agreed:

This is yet another case of ‘for thee but not for me’:

British television presenter (and GB News guest) Carol McGiffin approved of Sophie’s coverage:

Another security measure was the WEF’s own police force. Interesting:

So many questions — and no answers:

Oh to have been a fly on the wall in the conference proceedings. If only:

Avi Yemini of Rebel News had the good fortune of running into UN Special Envoy for Climate Change Mark Carney, a Canadian who used to head the Bank of England. When asked about the huge carbon footprint of those few days, Carney replied jovially, ‘Drop it! Drop it!’ The two ran into each other again the next day:

WEF co-founder and head Klaus Schwab proclaimed, ‘The future is built by us’:

Mark Steyn picked up on that for his show:

Here’s a bit more about Klaus:

Freedom of speech will have to be curtailed, according to this WEF panel:

Twitter, it has been reported, even suspended the account of the person who first tweeted that video.

Natalie Winters from National Pulse said that the woman calling for a curb on freedom of speech used to work for Twitter. Hmm. Interesting, in light of the aforementioned account suspension:

Some journalists ran into trouble:

This video is about one of them, Jack Posobiec:

Here’s his video account of the incident:

Here is Sophie’s coverage of Day 2:

It received this reply:

On Day 3, Sophie visited the shops:

Keeping in mind the aforementioned David Rockefeller quote, here is the Wall Street Journal stand:

On a happier note, she was looking forward to discussing her trip with Neil Oliver on his Saturday evening show:

Bill Gates spoke on Day 3, about — surprise, surprise — preparing for the next pandemic:

He also thought that vaccine passports were useless. That’s easy to say after the fact:

That day, Dr Tedros was re-elected as the head of WHO. We hope that the UK does not sign up to the WHO treaty about global management of the next pandemic:

On a related topic, National Pulse‘s Natalie Winters discovered alleged deletions of certain attendees’ names:

The next video comes from Sav Hernandez for Rebel News. This is one of the few times I’ve agreed with a left-winger:

Meanwhile, Reuters was busy fact-checking independent journalists:

On Mark Steyn’s show, True North journalist Andrew Lawton discussed Metaverse’s Nick Clegg, the one-time Deputy Prime Minister, and his hefty security entourage:

The next day, Lawton reported on the head of Oxfam who spoke about how profitable the pandemic was for some. From what Lawton said, it was not meant as a criticism:

The next video is of Albert Bourla, head of Pfizer, moaning with Klaus Schwab about people who disagreed with coronavirus vaccines:

Meanwhile, Sophie spoke with a Colombian who said that lockdowns were so helpful during the coronavirus crisis that they should be implemented for the climate crisis. He said that the climate could renew itself while people stayed at home:

Who is going to argue with a military officer, though?

Lockdowns only work if people are getting paid to do nothing. Perhaps that’s part of the plan, but where will the money come from?

As Sophie points out, if they’re so concerned about the planet, perhaps Zoom would have been a better vehicle than a private jet, helicopter and limo:

They’re lording it all over the rest of us:

Ironically, this year’s WEF summit theme was regaining public trust:

It seems the WEF lost world leaders’ trust, too, as very few heads of state attended.

It also seems that, to the WEF, everyone else is a problem. The theme of their 2017 summit was populism.

On May 25, the Rebel News team gave their conclusions of the summit. Concerning the reply, I agree that the WEF is what happens when a majority of people lose their religious faith, and more than just the global elites:

Sav Hernandez said that Davos is a microcosm of the world as WEF would like to see it, with the great unwashed (my words) looking in from a very safe distance outside. Another reporter said that he was shocked to see how small the WEF bubble is and how isolated it is from society. Someone also remarked at the shock of WEF attendees in being confronted by independent journalists. 

And they wonder why they have lost the public’s trust:

Rebel News boss Ezra Levant was proud of his team:

He is looking for more talent to join Rebel News:

Then it was time for Sophie Corcoran and Sav Hernandez to travel to Geneva for the WHO assembly, where the new global treaty for pandemic response was discussed. One pandemic, as mentioned above, could be climate change:

They went straight to the WHO upon arrival:

Although there are no mask mandates in Switzerland, isn’t there an irony in the WHO support for masked children during the pandemic. Did this lady wear a mask at the height of the pandemic?

Here’s the thing about the WHO. We will never truly learn what goes on there outside of what we read in mainstream media:

Sophie was delighted to have been able to make the trip from Thurrock, Essex, to the WEF and WHO:

She appeared on Neil Oliver’s show on May 28:

Her segment was excellent.

Oddly enough, although most people do not pay any attention to what the WEF does at Davos, it is possible that what they discuss does have an impact on our daily lives.

What about this experiment in Wales with serving schoolchildren protein-rich bugs for lunch?

Just below is a charming film from the WEF about eating less meat.

Keep in mind that Welsh farmers produce some of the world’s best lamb.

Why then should Welsh schoolchildren be eating locusts? First Minister Mark Drakeford (Labour) has much for which to answer:

But, wait, there’s more in store for children — and not just in Wales:

In conclusion, it’s hard to disagree with Sophie when she explains the WEF post-pandemic slogan:

I fully agree — let’s get back to normal:

In closing, I’ll leave you with Neil Oliver’s excellent opening editorial from last Saturday on Davos. It’s a must-watch and is just under ten minutes long:

The full transcript of his editorical can be found here.

These are his last three paragraphs about our being frogs in an ever warming pot:

Now a handful of frightened billionaires and their enablers seek to make the pot a prison. By the manipulation of fear and the application of propaganda, they want us to be and to remain forever as frightened as they are.

They tell those of us who’ve noticed that we are being silly, that nothing of the sort is happening. This is gaslighting – and that is the gas that’s already lit under the pot. But look at what they’ve done. Having slipped and shouldered their way further and further into our lives, every aspect of our lives, they’ve only made a mess of everything. For all their wealth and their so-called wisdom we’re all about to get poorer, colder and hungrier. Already millions have had their health – physical mental or both – hopelessly compromised. It is increasingly hard not to see this as having been the plan all along. After all, surely no one in authority is stupid enough to have caused all this harm by accident.

As far as I am concerned, the social contract has been broken – not by we the many law-abiding, tax-paying majority, but by the few of the State.

Of course, an analogy only goes so far. We are not frogs. We are human beings. This is our country, our world. In the moment we decide collectively that we have nothing to fear from those who would take advantage of our good nature … in that moment the fear is gone. And somewhere in their hearts, and somewhere in their heads, the billionaires in Davos must know it too.

One can only hope so.

When is the wool going to drop from everyone’s eyes about the WEF?

Their next meeting is likely to be in December.

On Saturday, December 18, 2021, Lord Frost resigned as the UK Government’s chief Brexit negotiator.

He cited his dissatisfaction with Boris Johnson’s ‘political direction’:

Most Conservatives were in shock at the news. He was among the top-rated Cabinet members and was negotiating Brexit as well as could be expected, given the nature of the EU in Brussels:

Lord Frost had been in a Brexit negotiating post for two and a half years. He became a full Cabinet member on March 1, 2021, at which point he became Britain’s chief negotiator, taking over from Michael Gove, who was then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Guido Fawkes has the text of Frost’s acceptance of the Cabinet position:

I am hugely honoured to have been appointed Minister to take forward our relationship with the EU after Brexit. In doing so I stand on the shoulders of giants and particularly those of Michael Gove, who did an extraordinary job for this country in talks with EU over the past year.

Frost was sworn into the House of Lords on September 8 as Baron Frost of Allenton in the County of Derbyshire. Because of coronavirus, wearing ermine has been optional:

The most intractable part of Brexit has been — and continues to be — the EU’s holding Northern Ireland hostage. Goods from Great Britain cannot get through, such as English oak trees, which the Province wants to plant for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. British Christmas cards were taxed last year, according to EU rules. The transport of medicines is a much more serious problem.

Guido Fawkes has the full text of Lord Frost’s resignation letter and Boris’s reply.

This is the main highlight, wherein the peer mentions his ‘concern about the current direction of travel’, particularly with coronavirus lockdowns. Interestingly, he thinks that Brexit ‘is now secure’:

Although Lord Frost had tendered his resignation the week before, according to the Mail on Sunday, and had agreed to stay on until January, he changed his mind and left Government with immediate effect, after the Mail on Sunday leaked his impending departure a week before. See the end of the first paragraph of his letter below:

The story made the Mail on Sunday‘s front page on December 19. Frost also objected to, quite rightly, to tax hikes and green policies, neither of which is Conservative:

The article clearly worried some Conservative MPs. Sam Coates from Sky News tweeted a bit of their WhatsApp exchange.

Theresa Villiers wrote:

Very worrying that Lord Frost has gone.

Andrew Bridgen replied:

Worrying? It’s a disaster. Lord Frost was concerned about the policy direction of the Gov. So are most of the Conservative backbenchers.

Marcus Fysh said, in part:

Frost is a hero and 100% right on this.

The day he resigned, The Spectator posted the text of Frost’s speech to the Centre for Policy Studies, ‘Britain needs low taxes and no vaccine passports’. Excerpts follow:

We can’t carry on as we were before and if after Brexit all we do is import the European social model we will not succeed. We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the European Union from Britain with Brexit, only to import that European model after all this time …

It is all too easy to get captured by the interest groups and the lobbies. We don’t have time for that. The world is not standing still. No-one owes us a living. Earning one is now fully in our own hands. The formula for success as a country is well known. Low taxes – I agree with the Chancellor, as he said in his Budget speech, our goal must be to reduce taxes.

Light-touch and proportionate regulation, whatever our policy objectives. Free trade – of course – simultaneously increasing consumer choice while reducing consumer costs. Ensuring competition stops complacency – keeping our economy fit and responsive to innovation and progress abroad.

And personal freedom and responsibility. Unavoidably, we have had a lot of state direction and control during the pandemic. That cannot and must not last for ever, and I am glad that it is not. I am very happy that free Britain, or at least merry England, is probably now the free-est country in the world as regards covid restrictions. No mask rules, no vaccine passports – and long may it remain so.

The Mail on Sunday‘s editorial explained why Frost’s departure is a serious blow not only for the UK but also for Boris’s premiership (emphases mine):

Lord Frost, the Brexit Minister, is the opposite of a career politician. He is a distinguished diplomat with a long record of skilled negotiation who gave his talents to Boris Johnson in the hope of getting Brexit done, successfully and to the benefit of this country.

He is a serious and substantial figure, a genuine patriot who believes in Britain

He transformed the Brexit talks, symbolising a new, unapologetic and frankly patriotic approach by getting our negotiating team to wear Union Flag badges.

His approach was so unlike the feeble and defeatist attitudes of so much previous British contact with the EU that Brussels realised it was for once dealing with serious opponents, with an iron determination to stand up for ourselves …

But his departure is less to do with the continuing problems of sorting out the details of our new relationship with the Continent and more to do with the PM’s conduct of the Covid crisis.

With his usual sharp perception, Lord Frost has decided that he has had enough of the Government’s increasingly European-style approach to the pandemic.

Lord Frost has been among the strongest voices in Cabinet in favour of keeping the country open and for avoiding more legislative controls to deal with the disease. He is believed to have objected in principle to the idea of ‘vaccine passports’. He is also thought to have been disillusioned by the latest resort to regulations.

This is all of a piece with his more general disenchantment with the whole policy direction of the Government in recent months – especially on tax rises and the green-driven preoccupation with the target of ‘net zero’ CO2 emissions.

This view meshes with his public statements, disagreeing with the European-style high- tax high-spend economic model recently embraced by the Chancellor. Lord Frost believes that such a policy, whatever the excuse for it may be, is unlikely to deliver the benefits of Brexit. These are serious objections from a serious man.

Boris Johnson, who understands very well the value of figures such as Lord Frost, needs to heed what he says, and soon. The Covid crisis has caused the Government to wander very far from the principles on which it was so decisively elected. And, while it is easy to read too much into bad by-election results, it would be very unwise for Mr Johnson to brush the North Shropshire defeat aside.

It is because he has failed to deliver what his supporters want that they are now prepared to shift their votes elsewhere. For the moment, protests of this kind are just a warning, as Lord Frost’s departure is a warning.

But if these danger signals go unheeded in the year ahead, the Government will face a much more serious defection and its future could be in real danger.

The Sun‘s article was along the same lines, signposting danger for Boris, who was already sinking in the polls at the time:

Lord Frost’s walk-out will intensify the pressure on Mr Johnson’s faltering leadership — and will be particularly painful as he was his “Brexit brother in arms

A Downing Street source said: “This is a proper kick in the balls for Boris and the team.

“Frostie hated the Covid restrictions and higher taxes — but vaccine passports was the final straw.”

The hammer blow came as Boris planned his fightback after his worst week in charge.

Senior allies have told him heads must roll if he is to cling on to power …

Cabinet big guns have said they will stand by the PM.

A source said yesterday: “We all need to pull together. We need the whips to make it clear that there is no other option than to stick with Boris.”

The Spectator said that Frost’s departure was worse for Boris than the recent Shropshire by-election loss, which saw the Liberal Democrats take over a long-standing Conservative constituency:

On December 19, Boris wasted no time in appointing Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as Frost’s replacement:

Guido reported that Truss will be primarily responsible for the Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations and that Chris Heaton-Harris will become her deputy:

The Foreign Secretary is to become lead negotiator with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol, following the departure of Lord Frost.

Liz Truss will take over Ministerial responsibility for the UK’s relationship with the European Union with immediate effect.

She will become the UK’s co-chair of the Partnership Council and the Joint Committee, and will lead the ongoing negotiations to resolve the problems arising from the current operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Chris Heaton-Harris will become Minister of State for Europe and will deputise for the Foreign Secretary as necessary on EU Exit and the Protocol.

Nikki da Costa, Former Director of Legislative Affairs at No 10, posted an incisive Twitter thread explaining how hard Lord Frost worked on Brexit negotiations, despite all the obstacles. He remained cool-headed and diplomatic throughout:

At that point, I will add that, having seen the Lords grill Lord Frost when he answered their questions, they gave him a very hard time. Not surprising, when most of them are Remainers, but he really did not need the extra aggravation.

Nikki da Costa concludes:

On December 20, The Spectator took a closer look at what Frost wanted out of negotiations concerning Northern Ireland. Henry Hill, who wrote the article and works for Conservative Home, concluded that the Government didn’t have the nerve to go through with his plans:

Whether Frost speaks out or not, this speaks to a deeper political problem for the government. Frost could only ever be as muscular as Johnson was prepared to allow him. Thus, over the past couple of months, we have gone from a very robust line about triggering Article 16 — the mechanism that allows either side to suspend the Protocol — to the most recent news that actually, maybe the government’s red line about the jurisdiction of the ECJ wasn’t quite so red after all.

According to Dominic Cummings, Frost and his team did have a proper strategy for invoking Article 16 and using it to secure the reforms required to safeguard the integrity of the British state. But they knew the government didn’t have the bottle for it. And following the departure of most of the rest of the Prime Minister’s original Vote Leave team, they were also isolated within government.

Even accepting that Cummings has an axe to grind, that seems perfectly plausible. Johnson’s overall approach to the Union has been wildly erratic. One might plausibly favour either a more conciliatory ‘four nations’ strategy or a more muscular approach to unionism. The government has instead lurched haphazardly between the two.

Boris’s lurching, as the article puts it, seems to be affecting other areas of government policy:

It’s the same story on pretty much every important area where the Tories should be pursuing structural change. Ambitious planning reform has been abandoned. Detailed proposals for reforming the courts have been sidelined in favour of disinterring David Cameron’s ‘British Bill of Rights’. I couldn’t even tell you if this ministry has an education reform policy.

Time and again, Johnson has proven that his ‘fight or flight’ instinct is stuck on ‘flight’. He’s a talented campaigner with an uncommon knack for connecting with voters, at least until recently. But he isn’t going to fight to the last for the things he believes in because neither fighting nor believing things are major parts of his political character.

That day, LBC (radio) interviewed Lord Frost, who said that being a Cabinet minister involves supporting Government policies, something he no longer felt he could do, hence his resignation (H/T Guido):

On January 8, 2022, the Mail reported that Lord Frost supports Boris as Prime Minister but thinks he has the wrong advisers. He also hit out at ‘woke warriors’, stifling public debate. How true — on both counts:

Boris Johnson must reset his Government along traditional Conservative lines if he is to avoid defeat at the next General Election, his former Cabinet Minister Lord Frost warns today.

In his first interview since his sensational resignation as Brexit Minister last month, Lord Frost calls on Mr Johnson to revitalise the country with ‘free markets, free debate and low taxes’ and to ‘set the direction of travel’ to appeal to ordinary voters.

He says that the course change is essential for the party ‘if we’re going to get out of this little trough and win the Election in a couple of years’ time’

Lord Frost makes clear he does not want Mr Johnson to stand down, but to change his policies – and the people around him.

‘What I think we need to do is be clearer about the direction of travel, clearer about how we’re going to get there. And I think the PM should trust his instincts a bit more,’ he says, before criticising the No 10 operation.

The PM has a right, when he wants something to happen, for the levers that he pulls to actually produce something. And he has the right to the best possible advice around him.

‘So I think there needs to be machinery changes and there probably need to be some different voices around him to make sure that he gets the best possible advice.’

Setting out a manifesto for post-Brexit Britain, Lord Frost says: ‘I think we need to focus on rebuilding the nation and be proud of our history.

‘We need to get the country going economically again and that means free markets, free debate and low taxes. People need to look at this country and think, yes, something is changing here. You’ve got to set the direction of travel …

His intervention comes after Tory MPs were shaken by a poll in last week’s Mail on Sunday showing a Labour lead of 16 per cent in the ‘Red Wall’ seats seized by Mr Johnson in the 2019 Election, which are critical to his chances of winning the next one.

Lord Frost says: ‘I saw the polling and it doesn’t look good. I don’t think the Red Wall is so different to the rest of the country. What people want is their own lives to get better. They want control of their lives and to be prosperous‘ …

‘It isn’t about just, “Is this tax increase justifiable or not?” It’s about the big-picture things we are trying to do and why.’

That includes the ‘policing of people’s opinions’ by ‘woke warriors’ and mounting ‘Twitter pile-ons’ targeting those with opposing opinions.

‘It really worries me it’s becoming difficult to advocate certain positions that have been reasonable in public debate in the past,’ Lord Frost says.

‘All of Western history is about free debate, intellectual inquiry, the ability to take the conclusions where you find them.’

… Despite the many problems afflicting the Government, Lord Frost still believes that Mr Johnson will be Prime Minister this time next year, if he gets ‘the right sort of support’.

Lord Frost refuses to name his preferred successor to Mr Johnson, although he believes that Brexit is safe in the hands of Ms Truss, who has taken over his portfolio

How would he define ‘Johnsonist Conservatism’?

‘Good question. It’s about a ‘can do’ attitude – he is relentlessly optimistic and positive about this country, which is a good thing, and he’s right to be. I think his fundamental views about the world and politics are good ones.

‘I look back to the speech he gave at party conference in 2018 about tax cuts.

‘That was a good speech and I think we could get back to that.’ 

Lord Frost expanded on his views in this January 21 interview with Mark Steyn on GB News, which is well worth watching:

With the controversy over Boris’s Downing Street parties still a subject of daily debate, pending civil servant Sue Gray’s report, on January 27, Frost said in The Sun that we should not condemn the Prime Minister until the facts are made available.

I am glad that he brought the PM’s critics’ hatred of Brexit into the mix, because that’s what is really at the heart of the matter:

Sue Gray’s report must be published and judgments must be made.

Her report may provide evidence to condemn the Prime Minister. 

Or it may turn out, as so often before, that his critics have allowed their dislike of Brexit, or of Boris Johnson personally, to blind them to the facts.

For my part, I think the Prime Minister of this country should have the right to be believed — unless there is clear contrary evidence

That is why the Gray report is so important

MPs will have to draw their own conclusions from it. 

On January 31, Lord Frost ruled out a return to Downing Street as an adviser.

The Telegraph‘s political editor tweeted:

Frost had tweeted:

I hope that Boris gets the message. He needs the proper help — and fast.

Over the weekend, I read two contrasting approaches to coronavirus, going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

El Salvador

This is the latest message from the government in El Salvador about coronavirus. It advocates exercise, achieving a normal weight, eating properly and getting enough sleep:

It is sublime. If only other governments had advocated the same thing over the past 22 months. Then again, there’s no Big Pharma involvement, so this never could have happened in the West.

France

Now we move to the ridiculous.

Last summer, the French government mandated the vaccine passport, popularly called le pass sanitaire, when in reality it is le pass vaccinale.

In August 2021, the Minister for Work, Elisabeth Borne, said that anyone refusing to get a vaccine passport would be denied his/her salary or unemployment benefit. Someone replied to this tweet with a quote from February 2021 in which Borne said that, as a woman of the Left, fighting for social justice and equal opportunity were her two biggest objectives in life. Oh, the irony:

Initially, at least, vaccine passports were required even to go into a supermarket.

Here’s a chap at Carrefour who could not get past the security guard on August 17 at Noisy le Grand, just outside of Paris:

Two more videos appeared on August 18. One was in the city of Pau in the south west of France. Police prevented angry shoppers from entering Leclerc:

The second confrontation took place at an Auchan in Marseille. Shoppers chanted ‘Liberté, liberté’:

I don’t know what happened after that, but I haven’t heard or seen any more about people being prevented from entering a supermarket.

I did see videos with police checking people sitting outdoors at cafés and bars for vax passport status.

Fast forwarding to January 2, 2022, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that food and drink can only be taken in bars and cafés sitting down. A bit like Wales and Scotland, then:

That same day, the education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, explained that every school would have a list of students showing their vaccination status, thereby violating the principle of privacy with regard to personal health records — a slippery slope:

The following day, the president of France’s parliament, Richard Ferrand, got coronavirus. No one was allowed to ask questions, though, because it wasn’t anyone’s business. Circulez, il n’y a rien a voir. Keep moving, nothing to see here:

Incidentally, no vax passport is required in France’s parliament. Typical:

On January 4, French president Emmanuel Macron said that he wanted to ‘p— off’ as many unvaccinated as possible. This means that the unvaccinated will not be able to go to sports fixtures, the cinema — or even restaurants, bars and cafés.

Contrast that with what he said on December 15, 2021: ‘With some things I’ve said, I’ve hurt people. I won’t do it again’:

There is even an older statement from Macron from April 29, 2021, in which he pledged there would never be a mandatory vax passport in France:

Jean Castex refused to comment on Macron’s pronouncement about p—ing off the unvaccinated:

Meanwhile, an anti-vax passport petition circulated online. It had over 1.2 million signatures as of January 5. The initiator of the petition was not allowed to present it to parliament. Police restrained him:

France’s senate will be voting on further vax passport measures this week, postponed from last week:

Constitutionalists say that the vax passport measures are unconstitutional:

Here is a roadside hoarding (billboard) critical of Macron’s vaccination policies:

The vaccine passport mandate was supposed to end on November 16, 2021. Yet, it is still in place.

On Saturday, January 8, many thousands of French citizens took to the streets to protest.

This was the scene in Aix-en-Provence:

Paris had the largest demonstration, despite the rain:

Here’s another view:

Of course, the media, in this case BFMTV, reported ‘only a few thousand’ protesters. They would, wouldn’t they?

On Monday, January 10, a French physician who works in ER called for the abolition of vaccine passports and urged the government to focus on treating the sick — ‘Revenons au basique‘, or ‘Back to basics’:

Just before Christmas, a general practitioners’ union pledged their support for the unvaccinated, a clear refutation of Macron’s policy:

France’s talk radio station, RMC, discussed the unvaccinated on Monday. Here’s the segment from Les Grandes Gueules [The Big Mouths], for any interested Francophones.

A general practitioner who is a regular guest on the show said that anyone spreading ‘disinformation’ should be put in prison. Unbelievable:

One of the panellists complained about the constant testing of schoolchildren, which she thought was a waste of time and money:

Some time ago, when waffling on about the necessity for constitutional reform, Macron pledged that any petition with more than 1 million signatures would go to a referendum in order to give the French people a voice. As the anti-vax passport petition has 1.2 million signatures, will Macron prove good on his word?

Even during an election year, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Macron’s voters are pro-vaccine and pro-vaccine passport people. Sadly, I think he will win another five-year mandate in May 2022.

Please, someone, stop Project Fear.

Last week, a new coronavirus variant, B.1.1.529 — initially named Nu and now changed for whatever reason to Omicron — hit the headlines, having been discovered in South Africa.

How worried should we be? I’ve been ignoring the news hysteria pumped out by Britain’s main channels and have been focusing on the views of scientists who have offered good information in the past.

A senior scientist in vaccine research and development advises ignoring the media hysteria:

The scientist notes that full vaccination rates in South Africa are very low:

There is no need to panic, especially before Christmas. Note that the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association says the symptoms are ‘extremely mild’:

We cannot extrapolate whether ‘cases’ will spike in countries where most of the population is fully ‘vaccinated’. According to another scientist who tracks viruses, it could be that the variant will not take hold quite as easily or with devastating effect:

Sir John Bell, an adviser to the UK government, agrees that the symptoms are like that of a cold. Our T-cells can probably deal with it:

Read further on for what this means for travel and our civil liberties.

First, here is confirmation that Nu was renamed Omicron in the Greek alphabet:

It seems that a Greek letter — Xi, coincidentally — was skipped:

Omicron is under the microscope not because of overflowing hospitals but rather genomic monitoring by clinicians:

As with the other variants, Delta included, Omicron would have been discovered months before now:

In fact, despite what the WHO says, the World Economic Forum (WEF) reported on it back in July:

Now for the bit on travel and our civil liberties.

As expected, travel restrictions to and from six African countries are now in place in Britain

Travel to and from South Africa and five other southern African countries was banned from noon on Friday. Malawi and Mozambique are expected to be added to Britain’s travel red list imminently and there is acceptance in Whitehall that further bans are likely while scientists attempt to assess whether Omicron evades vaccines or spreads faster.

Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, described travel bans as “precautionary” and said it might be possible to lift them once the variant had been better assessed.

Travel industry bosses warned that the introduction of the red list was a “hammer blow to consumer confidence” in before the peak winter sun window.

… and in the United States. It’s okay when the Democrats do it, but not when Trump did it in 2020:

https://image.vuukle.com/bc54e186-eef4-45e2-afa4-a98d98408671-a5d7cc88-d773-4816-bb46-14fcf94c773a

No doubt politicians will attempt to restrict our movements but, as this pathologist explains, human activity has little to do with viral transmission, which appears to be caused by seasonal activity:

Keep that in mind if there is a push for England to implement Plan B for the winter months. Plan B includes vaccine passports, something we have been able to evade, unlike Scotland and Wales (both socialist-governed nations):

On that subject, here is a coronavirus passport poster from Ireland. The Irish government now refers to freedom as ‘privileges’:

Journalist Julia Samuel reminds us of what the situation looked like a year ago. Remember when the vaccine rollout was nearly ready and we were told we would get our freedom back? One year on, and the Government is telling us that we will now need boosters. Who thought then that we would have vaccine passports? Northern Ireland’s Assembly will be voting this week on whether to have them and where:

Julia Samuel says that the Government now considers freedom to be on loan and can be rescinded whenever our notional leaders see fit:

I deeply deplore this state of affairs but am not surprised by it.

Meanwhile, vaccine efficacy has raised a few questions. Last week on RMC (French talk radio), the mid-morning show had a heated discussion as to whether the vaccines were working.

Gibraltar has had huge problems with new cases, yet 100% of its population is fully vaccinated.

On November 17, The Express reported that The Rock has cancelled Christmas:

The Rock has urged people to “limit mixing as much as possible”, in new guidance published last Friday. The Gibraltar government has also cancelled all functions across departments, including Christmas parties, in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

Ministers have not yet ordered the public and businesses to follow suit, but the decision had sparked anger in the hospitality sector …

Gibraltar, which has a population of around 33,000, also boasts an impressive rate of vaccination.

Gibraltar has administered 94,019 vaccine doses – meaning most of its citizens have received three jabs …

The Government of Gibraltar has nevertheless reiterated masks should be worn in shops, hospitals and public transport.

People are also encouraged to meet in outdoor spaces, where possible, despite winter drawing in.

At that point, two people were hospitalised, with one in intensive care.

Malta has the same problem in case rises. Unlike Gibraltar, many of these people are ending up in hospital:

On the other hand, a study from Northwestern University near Chicago has reported that the booster has dramatically increased antibody levels:

In a nutshell:

Data from England appear to corroborate the same findings, with lower hospital admission rates for older people:

The peer-reviewed study appeared in The Lancet (yes, I know):

This is the effect of booster shots:

The only question now is how long the 93% and 94% efficacy lasts. The public will soon tire of getting covid booster shots every six to eight months, that is for certain.

In the meantime, we must continue to keep a gimlet eye on our governments, especially where civil liberties and our God-given freedoms are concerned.

I will cover England’s restrictions in a separate post.

Most of the British population has now had their two injections, myself included.

However, in terms of efficacy, the jury is out.

Since the summer, we have been told that boosters will be required as soon as this autumn.

This is what a Guido Fawkes reader had to say, referring to the implementation of vaccine passports in Scotland:

… the vaccine does not prevent infection, re-infection or onward transmission of those vaccinated, so is utterly futile as a warranty of safety for entering any type of premises. Indeed it gives a false warranty about those things. The lurgy may still be lurking.

Indeed.

Remember back in 2020 when Drs Fauci and Walensky told us that the vaccines are 100% effective and that vaccinated people do not carry the virus?

https://image.vuukle.com/8d46442a-2514-45e7-9794-98dfc370ce1b-38de1bd2-2c2e-418d-af28-40a799475b0e

Not so, as we have discovered.

To make matters worse in this parlous state of affairs, the British public are now expected to help market vaccinations on social media. This campaign is called #ValuingVaccines:

https://image.vuukle.com/8d46442a-2514-45e7-9794-98dfc370ce1b-576e74a7-ba95-4413-ba88-1d3fef45793e

This is a photo of a letter to young Britons urging them to get vaccinated. What is missing from it? Any mention of health benefits:

https://image.vuukle.com/afdabdfb-de55-452b-b000-43e4d45f1094-7d50a664-3aa0-4b52-8139-f72ebbff46b7

Note the mention of ‘freedoms’ in the last bullet point.

Here’s a thought. Since when did our basic freedoms ever rely on getting a vaccine?

https://image.vuukle.com/7be2fc3b-e0e9-40d3-9ac0-27c21ba272b2-472beefc-c715-4032-a9ce-7545c6c02af1

Also, minors eligible for the vaccine in the UK do not require their parents’ consent. This is a mock-up of Chris Whitty, our chief medical officer. It’s not far from the truth:

https://image.vuukle.com/f3eecb08-251a-4488-8ed6-566c515e74f7-515da440-7888-410b-9518-a8874aab5420

There are other issues with these notional vaccines.

One of them is the redefinition of the word ‘vaccination’, which has gone from disease prevention (I will always hold by the original and best) to producing immunity against a disease to the current protection from a disease. We’ve been had, folks, but most of my readers know that by now:

https://cms.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/E-zwVThXoAA8l37.jpg?itok=DNK7_Ty7

Now let’s look at how long producing a vaccine has taken throughout history. With regard to coronavirus, we were told that vaccines take a lot less time these days. Perhaps. However, six months to market seems rather brief:

https://image.vuukle.com/8d46442a-2514-45e7-9794-98dfc370ce1b-8e264ee2-67bd-4d3e-a4be-bb063b731e54

Now let’s look at what six months to market has produced — a product that doesn’t even work and could be injurious to one’s health, if not fatal, depending on the individual. Some American youngsters have experienced heart problems after taking Pfizer or Moderna. The cure can be worse than the disease:

https://image.vuukle.com/afdabdfb-de55-452b-b000-43e4d45f1094-fdf0770c-bcd9-4fc8-b310-bfa702d3305b

I am glad to see that ‘vaccine’ has quotation marks around it in this risk/benefit analysis:

https://image.vuukle.com/4df088ea-a2bd-4e5a-9a27-e8d14bfdebbc-2e41fe08-9e5f-467a-a329-7154d6991159

Our notional betters, including journalists, say that the unvaccinated are causing the vaccine to fail. Hmm. That’s a new one:

https://image.vuukle.com/8d46442a-2514-45e7-9794-98dfc370ce1b-8aaf77af-cf19-493c-90ce-1e8a9fc41f42

Now we have to worry about vaccine passports. France already requires them just to go to the supermarket. In other words, you cannot eat if you have not been vaxxed:

https://image.vuukle.com/7be2fc3b-e0e9-40d3-9ac0-27c21ba272b2-416ebb2e-f7f1-41d7-950d-fae688bc96c3

Speaking of supermarkets, here’s Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, a former Labour MP, moaning about the lack of social distancing at Tesco. Yes, he named the chain. Yet, here’s Burnham partying at Labour’s conference this week as if it were the old days. The sheer hypocrisy of our leaders is mind-boggling:

But I digress.

Those are my thoughts on the coronavirus vaccines, a necessary evil if one wishes to go out again.

I would have liked to give credit to the people who created these images, which I found in various places online. My compliments to everyone involved.

There’s time only for a short post today.

Here is a powerful, must-see video that is only just over a minute long:

Who said, ‘Ordinary people are too small minded to govern their own affairs’?

It was not George Soros, from whom we get a short soundbite at the beginning of the video. He cannily said that global governance might or could happen, acting as if he did not know one way or the other.

The next person to appear is Obama. It was he who said:

Ordinary people are too small minded to govern their own affairs.

In fact, he says it not once, but twice.

He says that ‘order and progress’ (his words) will come only when:

individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign.

But the real kicker comes in starting at the 45-second point with a man reading from a Communist book outlining how to discredit opposition: build up verbal attacks, then label person(s) ‘fascist’ or ‘anti-Semitic’, followed by open discreditation by leftist organisations. That part of the video was filmed in the 1950s or 1960s. The book from which he read was published in the United States.

Please circulate the tweet.

Sunday, June 6, 2021, was the 77th anniversary of D-Day, the Longest Day:

https://image.vuukle.com/22960bff-3d6b-4a49-a432-932c3bcb0216-0b634bbf-66d0-4fa6-87f7-d50f45ed7cf5

This map shows the landings in Normandy:

https://image.vuukle.com/42c85f62-4bbb-4aff-b15a-100d5034d7aa-ef9ba589-c623-406a-8fba-3ce6e0827859

While preparing Sunday dinner, I listened to C-SPAN’s Sunday morning show, broadcast on BBC Parliament. Sarah Rose, the author of D-Day Girls, was the guest. Her book is a novel, but she did a lot of historical research showing the intelligence work that women did behind the scenes as part of a carefully-managed international network.

The phone-in included many sons and daughters of Second World War veterans. Nearly all said that those veterans were, understandably, highly reluctant to talk about their war experiences. However, some said that their fathers or grandfathers opened up in their later years. One caller said that she has several hours of memories that she has recorded for posterity, particularly for younger family members.

With more and more of those veterans passing from this mortal coil, now is the time for children and grandchildren to record and catalogue those memories, if they can. One person who has done so is the author of Pacific Paratrooper, remembering Everett A Smith, their father. It’s an excellent website, which also documents much history about the battles and conditions in the Pacific theatre. I am delighted to have the author as one of my regular readers.

We will always remember those heroic men and women:

Incidentally, the Houses of Parliament were bombed in 1941 and had to be reconstructed authentically in the 19th century manner. Both were faithfully restored. The next tweet shows the House of Commons:

Seventy-seven years later, we are still in the grip of the coronavirus crisis and a loss of freedom the troops involved in D-Day would have found unthinkable.

In Britain, former Prime Minister Tony Blair (Labour) appeared on The Andrew Marr Show to say that Britons who have had two vaccinations should be allowed greater freedoms, thereby creating a two-tier society:

If a Conservative had said that, Marr would have heaped criticism all over him or her.

It is mystifying that Tony Blair even gets airtime on this topic. He isn’t in government, nor is his party.

It appears I am not alone, judging from the replies to this tweet:

On the topic of vaccines, Tony Blair has never said if his son Leo, born when he was in No. 10, had the MMR vaccine, which was highly controversial at the time. So, it was okay for him to refuse to give his son a vaccine that every other child born in Britain had/has to have. It is very difficult to get separate children’s vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella. One imagines that Blair managed to get them for his son.

Tony Blair also wanted national ID cards. The debate raged for a few years in Parliament. Fortunately, nothing happened.

On Monday, Guido Fawkes’s cartoonist Rich, recalling the ID card debate from the Blair years, posted this:

On the topic of vaccines, the Government is talking about giving them to children. Highly dangerous, one would have thought. The Telegraph‘s Bob Moran was moved to create this cartoon a week ago:

ITV’s Good Morning Britain stoked the flames by asking whether the vaccinated should refuse to associate with the unvaccinated:

Fortunately, most Britons disagree with Good Morning Britain:

June 21 is supposed to be Freedom Day, according to the Government, with the caveat that full reopening of Britain will be based on data rather than dates.

It should come as no surprise that the Government could now backtrack on that date:

On June 1, we had no coronavirus deaths, but that did not make the news:

TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley-Brewer is fed up with the delays. In fact, as the chart below from Peston shows, the UK’s actual coronavirus stats are much better than SAGE’s models:

On June 3, Portugal, the only European country on the UK’s green list for travel, was moved to the amber list, yet these charts tell a different story:

One suspects that it was only ever on the green list for the Champions League final in Porto:

Oddly, we had more freedom a year ago — with no masks and no vaccines — than we do now:

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford (Labour) says that social distancing will not be disappearing any time soon:

Data for the UK should be available on June 14, at which point the Government will announce their decision regarding June 21:

The Government have paid for coronavirus advertising and COVID marshals, extending to 2022. Former London Assembly member David Kurten tweeted a reminder:

I, too, want my country back.

In Germany, scientists from Munich University say that lockdown had no effect on the virus spread:

Something is very wrong when, in a five-minute speech on television, a prime minister or a president can remove everyone’s civil liberties at a stroke.

Monday, March 23, 2020, will be etched on my memory forever. That was the date of the UK’s first lockdown.

D-Day. Freedom Day. What has happened to us — and for a ‘pandemic’ with fatality rates no worse than influenza? We are in a very bad way, not only in the UK, but also elsewhere in the West.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption has been a doughty opponent of lockdown since last year.

He has given many interviews during that time.

His most recent one was to Freddie Sayers of UnHerd, an excellent site which explores the world of ideas, history and current affairs.

I found out about Lord Sumption’s interview via Guido Fawkes. On Friday, March 5, Guido posted an article about it as well as an ONS (Office for National Statistics) survey about over-80s breaking lockdown rules:

Guido’s post says (emphases in the original):

Buried in the latest ONS data dump of Covid research is a remarkable – if logical – statistic. Just 33% of over 80s have not met with anyone indoors since having their jab, with 43% admitting to meeting with people other than their carers or support bubble after receiving the first dose. After two jabs, this explicit rule-breaking rises to 48%. Despite the widespread rulebreaking, hospitalisation and death rates amongst the age group are tumbling…

Cheeky octogenarians are not alone – spritely 72-year-old Lord Sumption yesterday made a splash by telling UnHerd that “sometimes the most public-spirited thing that you can do with despotic laws like these is to ignore them” – even claiming that a quiet campaign of “civil disobedience” has already begun …

With regard to the vaccine, most in this age group support it enthusiastically, despite the fact that 41% of the survey’s participants experienced side effects after the first dose. Here are more ONS findings on that subject (emphases mine):

    • Of those who had experienced side effects and were still awaiting their second dose of a vaccine, 63% said the side effects would not affect their decision to get the second dose, and 35% were more likely to get the second dose.
    • Around 19 out of 20 over 80s (96%) would be very or somewhat likely to encourage others to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Also:

Of over 80s who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 49% reported that they had met someone who they do not live with, outdoors, since receiving their vaccination; 54% had left home to go shopping, and 45% had left home to participate in outdoor leisure activities.

In contrast, one in five (20%) people who had received at least one dose of a vaccine reported that they had not left home for any reason since receiving their vaccination.

The survey findings add background to what Lord Sumption, 72, told Freddie Sayers of UnHerd.

The video is 51 minutes long and requires concentration:

Note his tie, which has a motif of American flags from the Colonial era with ‘We the People’ printed on it. He also sits with his arms crossed much of the time to hide a physical ailment.

It looks as if they met in his office. Sayers must have been thrilled to resume in-person interviews, as he has had to do them remotely over most of the past year.

Many of the comments beneath the video are from Britons disappointed that Lord Sumption implied that the vaccine will be the only way forward at this point in returning to a normal life. To be fair to him, he did describe it as ‘a regrettable step’ and that ‘people should be prepared to trust each other’, instead (31:00-31:14). Also:

I recognise that most of my fellow citizens want coercive measures.

Unfortunately, I agree with him. There is no way out right now. It is doubtful that the vaccine will be made mandatory by law, but most adults won’t be able to resume much of their prior lives without it. Many employers and businesses will require proof of vaccination. This is likely to also be true for package holidays and international travel.

Lord Sumption talked about how we arrived at this point. He said that the public were afraid of this pandemic and wanted protection from the government. The government protected the public and helped to reinforce the fear factor in their coronavirus briefings and other public statements. Hence, civil liberties went out the window. He said that once those are gone, it is very difficult to regain them, particularly as government ministers enjoy their new roles in controlling the population.

UnHerd has an article with notable quotes from the interview.

On the dangers of public fear, Lord Sumption said:

John Stuart Mill regarded public sentiment and public fear as the principal threat to a liberal democracy. The tendency would be for it to influence policies in a way that whittles away the island within which we are entitled to control our lives to next to nothing. That’s what he regarded as the big danger. It didn’t happen in his own lifetime; it has happened in many countries in the 20th century, and it’s happening in Britain now.

He pointed out that the civil liberties we have taken for granted as being well established are, in fact, highly fragile. They can vanish at any time. To this end, he explained that democratic forms of government are but recent developments in the time line of history:

Democracy is inherently fragile. We have an idea that it’s a very robust system. But democracies have existed for about 150 years. In this country, I think you could say that they existed from the second half of the of the 19th century — they are not the norm. Democracies were regarded in ancient times as inherently self-destructive ways of government. Because, said Aristotle, democracies naturally turn themselves into tyranny. Because the populace will always be a sucker for a demagogue who will turn himself into an absolute ruler

Now, it is quite remarkable that Aristotle’s gloomy predictions about the fate of democracies have been falsified by the experience of the West ever since the beginning of democracy. And I think one needs to ask why that is. In my view, the reason is this: Aristotle was basically right about the tendencies, but we have managed to avoid it by a shared political culture of restraint. And this culture of restraint, which because it depends on the collective mentality of our societies, is extremely fragile, quite easy to destroy and extremely difficult to recreate.

Allow me to add that this is why America’s Founding Fathers established a republic, not a democracy. They feared eventual despotism. The establishment of the Electoral College was also intended to be a safeguard against demagoguery.

Freddie Sayers asked Lord Sumption how we got to the point where we consented to the government taking away our civil liberties when they had been held sacrosanct for so long.

Lord Sumption said that our stability as a society and as a nation relies on the support most citizens have towards national institutions. Once a large enough percentage of people begin to question those, everything is gradually thrown into doubt. Socio-political fissures develop and something or someone comes in to replace what citizens as a whole once respected and valued.

Sayers asked him how he became so outspoken on the government’s coronavirus policies. He replied that no one else was stepping up to do so, therefore, he decided to speak up:

I would very much have preferred the kind of points that I have been consistently making for the last year to have been made by just about anybody else. Those colleagues or former colleagues who disapprove of what I’ve been doing have got a perfectly good point. But there are some issues which are so central to the dilemmas of our time, which are so important, where I think that you have to be prepared to stand up and be counted.

He reiterated his awareness that he is in a minority, however, that small minority from last year is now becoming a ‘significant’ minority.

He thinks the Coronavirus Act 2020 is an example of bad law. As such, he does not feel any moral obligation to obey it and advises each of us to do as we think best as individuals:

I feel sad that we have the kind of laws which public-spirited people may need to break. I have always taken a line on this, which is probably different from that of most of my former colleagues. I do not believe that there is a moral obligation to obey the lawYou have to have a high degree of respect, both for the object that the law is trying to achieve, and for the way that it’s been achieved. Some laws invite breach. I think this is one of them.

Politically, Lord Sumption describes himself as a ‘small-l Liberal’, which is classical liberalism — free market economy and small government — rather than what Americans define as ‘liberal’, meaning left-wing.  He served as a Justice of the Supreme Court under David Cameron’s and Theresa May’s Conservative governments.

He had this advice for Boris Johnson’s government:

My first proposal is that governments should not treat information as a tool for manipulating public behaviour. They should be calmer than the majority of their citizens; they should be completely objective. My second lesson would be that governments dealing with scientific issues should not allow themselves to be influenced by a single caucus of scientists. They should always test what they are being told in a way that, for instance, judges test expert opinion by producing a counter expert, and working out which set of views stacks up best.

In other words, the government should stop ginning up fear and listen to scientists other than those on SAGE.

In closing, while watching the video and based on nothing at all, I had a recurring thought that Lord Sumption is an opera lover.

Afterwards, I looked up his Wikipedia entry. Amazingly, I found this:

An opera lover, he serves as a director of the English National Opera and as a governor of the Royal Academy of Music.[46]

I do wish Boris and Co. would meet with Lord Sumption, listen carefully to what he has to say, then act on his advice.

In closing, curtailment of civil liberties can extend to protests. There are the correct kind of protests, such as those in June 2020. Then there are the wrong type of protests.

This one was obviously in the latter category, because the organiser received a £10,000 fine:

Currently, the only places in the UK where a group of people can gather to discuss anything outside the home are the two Houses of Parliament.

An MP pointed that out last week.

As he said, that is wrong on so many levels.

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