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Sunday 31 January 2021

Rachel Riley Ethnic Studies Fail

You may not have heard of the Tablet Magazine, which is no relation to the long-established Catholic journal, but a US Jewish online publication. But Rachel Riley, minor Sleb and numbers person for Channel 4’s Countdown, certainly has. Moreover, she has read an article published there titledCalifornia is cleansing Jews from history”, seems not to have seen apparent flaws in its arguments, and has promoted it vigorously.

Rachel Riley

Some high(low)lights of what’s planned to be taught to 6m kids in California. This stuff inevitably follows across the pond. A pre-warning to UK about Critical Race Theory, a way to view the world through the lens of race, contrary to MLK’s ideas of judging by character etc” she observed. Tristan Kreetz had a warning for her. She may not have been listening.

The basis for the Tablet Magazine article, a curriculum for Ethnic Studies, to be taught throughout California’s school system, is not the current version. “The document was from 2019 and it was amended months ago with input from American Jewish organizations, why are you pretending this is current?” he asked. Ms Riley has not thus far answered.

Worse, the Tablet Mag article claims that some of the language in the curriculum is typical of CRT, but this assertion has to be taken on trust. Also, there was a warning to Ms Riley from Hussein Kesvani on trying to appropriate Dr King’s legacy: “MLK's relatives have been on record a number of times on twitter to denounce and reject people using his legacy for cover when they demean movements like BLM too”.

And then Rachel Riley lost it. Lost it big time. Here it comes: “I don’t know who you are, and I have no idea if you know me, but if you think I’m demeaning the need for anti-black racism then you definitely don’t. I just don’t think teaching a doctrine established by 13 proponents of a genocidal anti-Jewish movement will help anti-racism”. Er, WHAT?

Quite apart from the hint of “Don’t you know who I am?” and the horrendous “need for anti-black racism” howler, the claim that an ethnic studies curriculum was “established by 13 proponents of a genocidal anti-jewish movement” is off the scale. Ms Riley has, it seems, not noticed a bait-and-switch move by the author of the Tablet Mag article.


Some way down the page, this snippet appears: “Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of AMCHA Initiative, which fights campus anti-Semitism, points out that all 13 founding members of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association (CESA) are BDS activists”. The clue that this is the first mention of CESA is giving its full title before its acronym.

What relevance does CESA have to the California ethnic studies curriculum? We are not told. But it’s enough for Ms Riley to go off on one, inflating criticism of the BDS movement into demonising it as being “genocidal” as well as “anti-Jewish”. There has been much criticism of BDS, but the idea that it was “genocidal” is a new one on me.

In publicising the Tablet Mag article, Rachel Riley has suggested that quoting a single and uncorroborated source is fine by her. She has also slipped up by appearing to appropriate the legacy of Dr King. And her argument only holds if she ignores that the California ethnic studies curriculum has since been amended with input from Jewish organisations.

So that’s one subject she won’t be passing. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Saturday 30 January 2021

John Mann’s Regulation Howler

The Jewish Chronicle’s Lee Harpin, many of whose articles have resulted in hugely costly and equally embarrassing legal actions, has returned to the fray, telling “The Canary and Skwawkbox, two of the websites most closely linked to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, have been found to promote ‘heavily negative coverage of Jewish issues’ to audiences that are ‘associated with antisemitism’, a damning new government report has found”.

Government report? Maybe not as such: “The new study, carried out by King’s College London for the Government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism Lord John Mann”. Always helps to read the small print when Harpin is sounding off. So, what’s it about?

This snippet gives a clue: “parallels between editorial lines taken by the two sites and that of the extreme far-right online outlet Radio Albion”. Note that The Canary and Skwawkbox are presented as somehow equivalent to two outlets from the far-right (the other being TR News, home to fans of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson).

Why partisan left-leaning sites are not equated with partisan right-leaning sites, like that run by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, is not told. The explanation for this “left-leaning on the one hand and far right on the other” approach will make for interesting reading. If it ever sees the light of day.

In the meantime, let’s see what happened when “Lord” John Mann opened his North and South. “Ahead of publication of the report, Lord Mann said: ‘Whilst not all such sites promote anti-Jewish racism, it is increasingly clear that some of them have content which is used as part of the reservoir of such hatred and the conspiracy theories that drive forward antisemitism’”. Didn’t he manage to dig up any anti-Semitism, then?

The purpose of this report is, it seems, to inform debate on online harm and hate speech. But Mann gives the impression he doesn’t understand his subject matter. Take this paragraph. “There needs to be parity between regulation of the media and newspapers and our failure to democratise the online space and ensure that alternative platforms do not act as echo chambers for hate, fuelling racism and inspiring real-world harm”.

Newspapers ARE media. What does he mean by “democratise the online space”? And if, by “media” he means Online Media, there is parity of regulation where The Canary and Skwawkbox are concerned: both are regulated by independent regulator IMPRESS - unlike most newspapers, whose regulator IPSO is in the press’ pocket.

But do go on, good “Lord”. “Those on the receiving end of the vitriol generated by the bias that some of these sites are riddled with should have a clear right of recourse to defend themselves and at a minimum a parity with newspapers and broadcast media”. Circular argument: vitriol and bias are assumed, therefore guilty. On parity, see above. Next.

There must be a clearly defined and fair remedy for those impacted by content on these sites, with regulation underpinned by statutory enforcement powers and sufficiently strong sanctions”. Where was John Mann during the Leveson Inquiry? Was he asleep? Statutory underpinning was rejected by the party to which Mann has now hitched his wagon (the Tories) and if he wants that, he wants much more than parity with press regulation.

Mann concludes his supremely wayward rant with “Our democracy requires Jewish citizens and all others impacted to have the right to seek redress to defend their human rights through an empowered regulatory system”. This sounds for all the world as if he wants sites like The Canary to be held to a higher standard than the press, and to be subjected to far more rigorous sanctions. That is not parity. It is censorship.

Worse is the guilt-by-suggestion typified by “The report gives further detail on the way it believes Skwawkbox, which is edited by hard-left activist Steven Walker, has promoted the viewpoint that British Jews who support the state of Israel … are a corrupting influence on politics in this country”. “Believes that”. “Hard-left”. Some research this is.

As is attempting to create what are termed “parallels” between Skwawkbox and Radio Albion, “whose contributors include Jeremy Bedford-Turner, jailed in 2018 for inciting racial hatred”. One has to ask what remit was given to those compiling the report.

One might ask that question a little more loudly after reading “Assessing the output of The Canary, whose editor in chief is Kerry-Anne Mendoza, the study says that ‘accusations of antisemitism have circulated’ around the website ‘for some time’”. Oh well, might as well not bother going further, guilty as charged. Nod’s as good as a wink, eh?

The conclusions seem confused, too: “Dr Allington, the report’s author, added: ‘Government and civil society must encourage use of high quality, reputable sources of information at the expense of low-quality fringe sources,’ it said. ‘We need not be helpless in the face of hatred’”. He’s not read the Fawkes blog, then. Or right-leaning papers. Or listened to TalkRADIO. But he can make a false assumption (“low quality fringe sources”).

All that is left is for “Lord” John Mann, who “says that under current legislation, websites, unlike newspapers, are able to walk out of the regulatory body Impress if it begins to investigate them in advance of possible sanctions”. He missed Richard Desmond pulling the Express and Daily Star titles out of the PCC, because he didn’t like being investigated.

IMPRESS, for its part, has reminded Mann “News websites regulated by IMPRESS are part of the only officially approved system of press regulation in the UK, which provides easy redress for complainants through a complaints handling scheme and arbitration system that is outside of the control and influence of any publisher, politician or commercial interest”. Also, it seems IMPRESS was not contacted by Mann or the JC.

As for the accusations of hate speech, “Publishers regulated by IMPRESS are free to advance a partisan editorial agenda as long as content is accurate, avoids language that is prejudicial or pejorative and does not incite hatred against any group on the basis of that group’s religion or other characteristic that makes a group vulnerable to discrimination".

So IMPRESS has contacted the report author and “Lord” Mann to secure a copy of the report. After all, the two left-leaning sites concerned take regulation seriously enough to have joined a properly independent regulator, something which one might not have known by reading Mann’s diatribe. One hopes that there is some point to this report, other than going after The Canary and Skwawkbox for being of inconvenient thought.

That would amount to censorship. And I’m sure “Lord” John Mann doesn’t want that.

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Friday 29 January 2021

So Farewell Then Gary Matthews

Few knew of Gary Matthews while he was alive, apart from his family and friends. But now that he has become another sad statistic in the mounting UK Covid-19 death toll, his name, and his story, is becoming rather better known, to the clear discomfort to some among our media class who would rather not discuss the matter.

Gary Matthews

Matthews’ friend Peter Roscoe told the Observer’s Nick Cohen “He was a gentle guy. He wanted a better world. I am so sorry in recent times he became convinced that Covid was some kind of hoax”. Cohen went on to explain “Matthews’s cousin Tristan Copeland said he had begged him to wear a mask and maintain social distance. ‘But he and his friends had the mindset that they needed to go out and meet people to show they didn’t believe the government.’ Perhaps his posturing killed him”. Matthews was just 46 years old.

Hang on, there's been a Hitch

The result of those contacts? “He had a positive Covid-19 test and went home to isolate. He died, aged 46, alone in his flat in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, on 13 January”. He didn’t go to hospital, where he could have been effectively treated. Cohen added “His creepy conspiracy sites are not so far from the newspaper columns and radio shows of the London right. Not far at all”. And that is what is making some pundits uncomfortable.

Peter Jukes of Byline Media had confronted contrarian Peter Hitchens, noting “When asked when he had an ounce of remorse for the death of Gary Matthews, who died from Covid having keenly admired Mr Hitchens’ Covid sceptical tweets, [Hitchens] did the typical thing, and doubted whether he had died from Covid”. What say The Great Man?

Some readers may not be aware here of the low technique you are using, demanding that I show remorse for an action of which you do not dare accuse me, which you cannot prove, and which you cannot show I am responsible for … This disreputable approach is just the sort of thing we might expect to find in a People's Court in some banana dictatorship. In *this* country we have spent 1,000 years developing proper justice, which is plainly not safe in the hands of fanatics such as you”. There had been no accusation.

Dooda Alert!

One of the last things Matthews Retweeted before he died was from self-promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Brewer, which asserts “Most people in the UK don’t know someone who’s died from Covid … Most people in the UK probably don’t know someone who’s been very ill with the virus”. This was pointed out to her this morning.

As a result, Ms Hartley Dooda immediately assumed victim status, although not in quite the same righteous manner as Hitchens. To Jay Rayner, she frothed “This man retweeted this tweet. Could you please explain where in this tweet I express ‘Covid-diminishing’ content? I have never once downplayed the threat of Covid or encouraged anyone to break the law or not to socially distance. Your tweet is repulsive. Shame on you”.

And to Brian Moore, there was “Ooh, and another one blaming me personally for a man's sad death. A man dies. A man who has retweeted my tweet. Ergo, I am responsible for his death. These people are cynically exploiting a man's death to score points against people they despise over Brexit & lockdowns. Sick”. Two things here. Moore did not blame her for Matthews’ death. And nor does he “despise” her. Someone is protesting too much.

Indeed, Ms Hartley Dooda has shown that she is of less than perfect courage by deleting the Tweet. It therefore no longer shows up in Matthews’ Twitter feed, which is still extant. But her fellow TalkRADIO host Mark Dolan, shown cutting up a face covering, is still there. As it Hitchens being his customary contrarian self.

This one is particularly damning

And what none of these less than august individuals can bring themselves to accept is this: they did not say the pandemic did not exist, but what they did say, and the way in which they expressed their view, fitted in with the view of the world that Matthews, and those with whom he agreed, shared. It was what he wanted to hear. It was casting doubt on what the Government and its scientific experts were saying. It told him he was right.

Gary Matthews was not alone in deciding that he didn’t need to distance, wear a face covering, or be concerned enough about Covid-19 to admit himself to hospital. There are plenty more such individuals in the UK and elsewhere who inhabit a similar mindset. And that is why those who enjoy the platform that the media class has given them bear a responsibility not to mislead, encourage distrust, or present a loaded or slanted debate.

It is this that Hitchens and Ms Hartley Dooda cannot, or will not, take on board. No-one is trying to silence them or otherwise circumscribe their freedom of expression. What is being made crystal clear is that actions can, and do, have consequences. No one person radicalised Gary Matthews. No one person can have his death laid at their door. But there has clearly been a cumulative effect on someone susceptible to persuasion.

The result of that effect is that Gary Matthews is now dead. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Thursday 28 January 2021

Desmond Swayne - A Suitable Case For Treatment

Those who have looked in on Zelo Street down the years may recognise the name of very old school Tory MP Desmond Swayne, and his occasional difficulty with reconciling his beliefs with reality. Swayne threw his weight behind sacked ticket clerk Ian Faletto in the infamous Lymington litter pick case (featuring a shopping trolley which did not exist), only for reality to intervene. Faletto remained sacked and Swayne ended up looking foolish.

Desmond Swayne

Desmond Swayne was either unable, or unwilling, to consider a simple truth: the railway does not just sack someone who has more than 25 years’ service to their name on a whim. You have to have done something serious for that to happen. And now has come another example of Swayne not acquainting himself with real world facts before going off on one.

More than 100,000 UK residents have now died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19. The pandemic is seriously taxing health services. Many who recover will have to live with long-term conditions as a result. But now the people at Sky News have toldA senior Conservative MP urged anti-vaccination campaigners to keep going with their fight against government restrictions and told them NHS capacity figures were being ‘manipulated’ to exaggerate the scale of coronavirus”. There was more.

Sir Desmond Swayne, who was a senior aide to former prime minister David Cameron, told Sky News he would not apologise for telling a group - who say vaccines are dangerous - to ‘persist’ with their campaign against COVID restrictions”. However, “There is no evidence of data being manipulated, and at the time of the MP's comments, deaths were 14% above the five-year average - according to the Office for National Statistics”.

Do go on. "During an interview in November with Save our Rights UK, obtained by Sky News, Sir Desmond said: ‘It seems to be a manageable risk, particularly as figures have been manipulated... We're told there is a deathly, deadly pandemic proceeding at the moment … That is difficult to reconcile with ICUs (intensive care units) actually operating at typical occupation levels for the time of year and us bouncing round at the typical level of deaths for the time of year’”. Sadly for Des, his view is not universally held.

A Tory MP who urged anti-vaccination campaigners to keep going with their fight against coronavirus restrictions and told them NHS capacity figures were being ‘manipulated’ is ‘wrong’ and ‘completely out of order’, a senior minister has said … Michael Gove told Sky News that Sir Desmond Swayne should apologise and retract his comments”.

It’s only a pity that it has taken so long for the Tories to admit that the Member for New Forest West is a problem. After all, Swayne has previously claimedThere may be a virus one day that threatens our very way of life, but this is not it”, argued against wearing face coverings, and told that the Government was “paying too much attention to health professionals and scientists on health and science issues”. Wibble. Hatstand.

Will Swayne lose the Tory whip? But you know the answer to that one: in the party of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his merry band, no-one is ever disciplined, no-one accepts personal responsibility, and no-one resigns.

Desmond Swayne is not yet beyond redemption. But you can see it from there.

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Wednesday 27 January 2021

We’re Honestly So Fucking Sorry

With the grim inevitability of night following day, the UK yesterday officially passed the milestone of 100,000 Covid-19 related deaths. The journey from a mere 50,000 had taken just two and a half months. To mark this occasion, alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson did something totally out of character: he said sorry.

Bozo rambled away: “It's hard to compute the sorrow in that grim statistic...for so many relatives, a lost chance to say goodbye … As Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything the Government has done... we did everything we could”. Would he care to tell the world what that meant? “You'd exhaust the thesaurus of misery”.

On he shambled. “I just want to repeat what I said ... We did everything that we could to minimise suffering and loss of life in this country ... I'm deeply sorry for every life lost. What I can say is that the Government will continue to do everything we can to minimise life lost”. Just how much more of that success can we take before our resolve snaps?

Pass the sick bucket

Worse than Bozo’s weasel words has been the sycophantic response not only of our free and fearless press, but also the BBC, who really should know better, and serve its audience better. We expect the Daily Mail to tell us of “Boris’ Heartfelt Message”. We expect the Murdoch Sun to proclaim in vomit-inducing tones “We Will Remember Them”.

Make that two sick buckets

But the Beeb trying to deflect and excuse is something else. “How did we come to be one of the countries with the worst death tolls? There is no quick answer to that question … Some will point a finger at the government … Others will spotlight deeper rooted problems with British society - its poor state of public health, with high levels of obesity, for example”.

Do go on. “Some of the UK's great strengths - its position as a vibrant hub for international air travel, for example; its ethnically diverse and densely packed urban populations - exposed its vulnerability to a virus that spreads effortlessly in the close air between people”. What about all those tens of thousands of avoidable deaths? “This, of course, is said with the benefit of hindsight”. No. Just no. This is not good enough.

Nick Pettigrew did not take long to deliver a dose of reality. “The UK is ranked 50th-highest in the world for median age. We're ranked 36th in the world for obesity. We have one airport in the top 40 busiest airports in the world (China has 7, for example). None of these excuses work. It took me five mins to look this up. Do your job, BBC”.

Jonathan Lis was also unconvinced. “‘Everything he could.’ Just think about that. The man who boasted about shaking Covid patients’ hands, skipped the early meetings, and refused to follow immediate advice to lock down *three* times. He did everything he could, alright”. Also, Bozo undermined public confidence by refusing to sack The Polecat.

Mic Wright pointed out the joint failings of both Government and media. “If Boris Johnson was truly ‘deeply, sorry for every, every, every life lost,’ then he would resign .And so would Hancock. And Williamson. And the editors of The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, and The Daily Mail … for starters … Any fucker who tells you that the newspapers and TV news have generally held power to account during this pandemic should be made to dig graves”.

They’re honestly so fucking sorry. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

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Tuesday 26 January 2021

The Man Who Would Be Salazar

Within the living memory of those of A Certain Age, the southern fringe of Europe was dotted with totalitarian dictatorships, all now almost forgotten. In Greece, the régime of the Colonels expired in the aftermath of a foolish attempt to impose énosis on Cyprus - the result of which, partition, is still with us. The following year, Francisco Franco died and his Falangist state soon followed him to the grave. And then there was Portugal.

André Ventura - the man who would be kingmaker

The very oldest of those dictatorships, the Estado Novo, was established in the early 1930s under the less than benign leadership of António de Oliveira Salazar. He balanced the books, doing do by keeping his people poor, and for many years, less than totally literate. Portugal was still the poorest country in Western Europe by the time the Estado Novo was overthrown peacefully by the Carnation Revolution of April 1974.

Salazar’s régime was corporate, authoritarian, and only marginally less brutal than that of Franco. Going back to those dark times was not a serious proposition - until last weekend’s Presidential Election. Centre-right-to-Independent favourite Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa won a second term with over 60% of the vote. But there in third place, with almost 12% of the vote, was André Ventura. Remember his name well.

António de Oliveira Salazar - the casting of a long dark shadow

Ventura became a Deputado in the Portuguese Assembly in 2019. He has criticised his Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He has been scratching an anti-Roma racist itch, saying those people should be put into camps. He has called for a new dictatorship. He has claimed that the Presidential vote may be rigged. Sound familiar?

As his Wikipedia entry points out, “he provoked an outcry in Parliament in January 2020 by proposing that a black colleague be ‘returned to her country of origin’. At the 2020 convention of the Chega [‘enough’] party, he passed a motion at the party's 2020 convention calling for the removal of ovaries from women who have abortions”.

A playbook we have seen before ...

Where is he, politically? “At the beginning of the Portuguese electoral campaign, the president of the French Rassemblement National party, Marine Le Pen, confirmed that she would go to Lisbon to support André Ventura's presidential candidacy”. Right there.

What is more concerning is where Ventura got his support: as well as largely rural Bragança and Portalegre, he did well in Évora, Beja and Faro - the areas from where the 1974 revolution drew its support. And how did he get his message across? As Aitor Hernández-Morales has shown in a must-read thread [HERE], it’s a familiar story.

... and fringe loudmouths amplified by the media

In addition to copying the Bannon / Trump playbook in terms of diatribe, Ventura also similarly benefitted by media complicity in his rise. Portuguese TV personalities were totally fine with bringing him onto their shows (and whitewashing him) in order to boost their ratings”. Just as the BBC did with Nigel “Thirsty” Farage. Look where that led us.

Portugal’s constitution prohibits “armed associations, military, militarized or paramilitary-type associations and organizations that are racist or display a fascist ideology”. It looks like André Ventura is determined to put that to the test in the near future. His latest claim is that he will be the kingmaker in future electoral contests.

We thought the dictators had left the European stage. Just hope they don’t come back.

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GB News - Chat Shit, Get Wedge

Sounding more and more like a media offering following in the footsteps of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), GB News has tried to head off claims of right-wing bias. Press Gazette has headlined its latest report on the newcomer “GB News launches recruitment drive for 140 jobs and declares commitment to 'impartial journalism’”.

Andrew Cole

It is been widely reported that the channel will be right-wing, with some even predicting that it will be the UK’s answer to Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox [News] in the US … But today chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said ‘we are committed to impartial journalism’”. Sadly, early reports that the channel is courting LBC’s Gammon Emeritus Nick Ferrari, and self-promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Dooda, suggest otherwise (The latter had far right agent provocateur Andy Ngo on her show today).

As does this snippet: “Chairman and ex-BBC presenter Andrew Neil … has said GB News will target ‘the vast number of British people who feel under served and unheard by their media’”. Those of us who remember Brillo as long-serving editor of the Murdoch Sunday Times, which indulged in AIDS denialism, crudely libelled the lead witness in ITV’s Death On The Rock, and otherwise cosied up to Mrs T, will not be reassured.

Nor will those who saw Neil use the BBC Sunday Politics to push climate change denial. But that is not the only driver of GB News’ potential editorial direction: there are also the media players in the background. Like Andrew Cole, about whom Byline Times notes “Cole is a director and board member at Liberty Global - a multinational telecommunications company with roughly 47,000 employees”. And what does Liberty Global own?

According to the trading website Wallmine, Cole is also a shareholder at Liberty, reportedly owning stock worth more than $1 million. Liberty Global has an interest in mainstream broadcasting in the UK, owning 9.9% of ITV Plc, the company that effectively owns and operates the ITV network”. So much for Brillo’s non-MSM pitch.

Cole, co-owner of All Perspectives Ltd., the company which appears to own GB News, has an interesting LinkedIn entry, telling us where he might expect the channel to position itself. His recent likes include three Tory posts - two from Bozo, one from Matt Hancock.

But none by other political parties. And in response to a Google post on how to position oneself for that big job interview, he has sniped in response “Other tips from Google: - How to position yourself as something you are not - How to appear to be good when in fact you are a politically motivated negative force for the world - How to unethically squeeze your competition - How to influence politicians in unscrupulous ways - How to undermine a constitutional right in the US: free speech”. FREEZE PEACH! FREEZE PEACH!

What free speech would Cole seek to protect? His latest LinkedIn like: “Biden’s been in office 2 days and Democrat cities around the country are reducing Covid restrictions and opening indoor dining. YOU LITERALLY CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP! They ruined American businesses, livelihoods and lives for an election. This should repulse you”. Christine Yeargin, who penned those words, is an ambassador for Turning Point USA.

What should repulse anyone concerned is that someone with influence on GB News is liking wacko conspiracy nonsense. Ofcom is going to be awfully busy very soon.

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Monday 25 January 2021

Julia Hartley Dooda Protests Too Much

As the Covid-19 UK death toll passes 100,000, those bleating at Government restrictions on all our freedoms and claiming that they don’t work might have been expected to stop and think. But that would have been to underestimate the determination and self-justifying behaviour of those who claim merely to be “sceptics”, such as those at the Murdoch noise floor operation TalkRADIO, and especially the self-promoting Julia Hartley Brewer.

Such is Ms Hartley Dooda’s belief that she is right, and anyone suggesting otherwise is not only wrong, but also a very bad person to boot, that this morning she has taken out a king-sized onion and told anyone not yet asleep that she is a victim. The problem with her apparently spontaneous protestation is that she had to keep looking down as she pontificated, suggesting that she was reading from a pre-prepared script.

I’ve been called a lot of names … names I can’t say out loud on the radio … I believe when they start calling you names, that’s when you’re winning the argument”. There’s delusion for you: someone thinks she’s channelling Mrs T. Then comes sheer desperation as she fixes on the D-Word, as in Denial or Denier.

To use Denier - echoes of a Holocaust Denier, people who deny the worst crime in history, is just despicable”. That lame excuse was trotted out over a decade ago by the Climate Change Denial brigade. The problem with it is that the word Holocaust is missing. And without the word Holocaust, no-one is suggesting Holocaust Denial. Next.

Then it was on to mere scepticism. “Since when was being sceptical about Government policies rolled out without any evidence [false claim: there was plenty of evidence] that would achieve not anything that they claim to achieve [false claim: restrictions last Spring and Autumn reduced the number of infections, which was the whole idea]”.

There was more. “Since when was being sceptical about that a bad thing? Asking questions, demanding evidence and proof for a policy that devastates millions of lives [no citation] … destroys children’s education [at the very least, this is wilful exaggeration, and again, no citation] and according to eminent experts from some of the top Universities in the world, will cost more lives than it will save [no citation]”. But enough.

Let’s just see what she’s defending. Comments such as “The virus kills. It just isn’t causing excess deaths anymore … No, we are not seeing excess deaths over and above roughly what we would expect at this time of year … Excess deaths are no higher than, for eg. autumn 2018, and they are happening at home and to under 65s, which suggests very strongly that they are NOT Covid deaths … We don't have 200 deaths from coronavirus a day. There are no excess deaths”. And then there were all those False Positives.

She claimed “An FPR of 0.8% when the virus prevalence is so low means that at least 91% of ‘Covid cases’ are FALSE POSITIVES”. When Dominic Pimenta, who you can tell as he’s a doctor, told her she had her sums wrong, she sniffed “you actually don't understand the maths, do you?” followed by “Why don't you do some basic research into those statistics and into the false positive paradox and then get back to me”.

Some might take that as a flat-out denial of reality in order to push misinformation. Like supporting the Great Barrington Declaration, which suggested erroneously that the elderly and vulnerable can simply be shielded. They can’t. You cannot, repeat cannot, REPEAT CANNOT simply “shield the vulnerable”. What about care home staff? They interact with families, families interact with friends, transmission happens. The GBD is a sham.

Not that Ms Hartley Dooda is having any of that: “the Great Barrington Declaration was and is correct: help the millions of old & sick to shield while allowing the young & healthy (& our economy) to carry on living”. She also misunderstands the concept of “underlying conditions” to excuse her contention that restrictions should be ended.

Just 377 healthy people under 60 have died of Covid. That's not a typo. There are no zeros missing. 377. Yes, that's sad but we have locked down an entire country for a virus that mostly kills the very old & the very sick. The rest of us should be free to decide our own risks”. What she means is 377 people with no underlying condition.

But those underlying conditions include hypertension, asthma, diabetes and many other common conditions which are managed by medication and which would otherwise not stop those affected from being full contributors to society, or indeed from living long and happy lives. In the world of Julia Hartley Dooda, they simply get in the way.

Still, back to her pleading this morning. “If the evidence for lockdowns is so strong, and not just a totally debunked computer model from a year ago [false claim] then why are those in favour of lockdowns so terrified of a public debate?” Who’s terrified? Dominic Pimenta wasn’t terrified. Ms Hartley Dooda was. So is there a point to all this?

The people who want to shout names, or insults, or slurs, including by the way, some MPs [probably a reference to Tory MP Neil O’Brien, who has been roasting the loathsome Toby Young] and leading newspaper columnists [Nick Cohen of the Observer, and even Dan Hodges of the Mail on Sunday, have called her out]. If they want to carry on, so be it. But they will not stop me … from speaking out on behalf of the millions of people who do not have a voice”. That’s just plain delusional. So let me put her straight.

Nobody wants lockdowns. Nobody is a lockdown enthusiast. This is a false premise which Ms Hartley Dooda, and her fellow “sceptics”, peddle in order to demonise their opponents. Lockdown is something most people accept, given the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Claiming otherwise is just more peddling of misinformation.

She calls the current restrictions, which are at last showing a reduction in the number of new Covid-19 cases, “a policy which has been proven time and time again to be wrong”. This is a pack of lies. We don’t want lockdowns, but they do their job.

Let history be the judge” pontificates Julia Hartley Dooda. It might just. And in that case, I hope she and her fellow misinformation enthusiasts have their excuses at the ready.

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