COVID Follow-ups: The Four Countries of the UK


By Neil Lock

It’s been a few months since I last looked at COVID statistics. This time, I thought, I’ll get the figures for the four constituent countries of the UK, and present them against each other for comparison. I chose to look at cases, deaths and lockdowns, and to leave testing and vaccinations for later.

This exercise may also help to give some insights into the effectiveness, or otherwise, of various lockdown measures. This is because, for the last four to five months, England has been under a significantly lighter lockdown régime than Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Update, December 2nd: This is no longer the case, at least as far as face masks are concerned. See here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/measures-against-omicron-variant-come-into-effect-30-november-2021. All this, so we are told, is due to a new variant, of which there have been a total of 22 cases in England and Scotland up to November 30th, compared with a UK new case count that day of almost 40,000. Yet again, the political class are missing no possible excuse to violate our rights and freedoms, even without any proven evidence. But, as I’ll explain towards the end, I think they’re going to find it hard to get away with this one.

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Time to take back our civilization from the parasites and pests


Part One: Indictments

By Neil Lock

Political governments all over the world today are treating people as if we were mere animals to be exploited, or even objects to be used and manipulated at will. And this is the case even in so-called democracies.

In the United Kingdom, from which I write today (and which is neither a kingdom nor in any way united – but I digress), levels of taxation are now higher than at any time since the immediate aftermath of the second world war. Bad tax laws have been made and used to ruin the careers of many innocent people, including my own as a one-man software consultant. And those same bad laws have recently been used to disrupt the lorry driving industry, precipitating a national supply chain crisis. Meanwhile, taxes are heading higher yet.

Our rights and freedoms were already being routinely violated, even before the arrival of the COVID virus. For example, for many years now there have been cameras watching our every move to catch us out in the smallest indiscretion. There have been data snoopers watching what we do on the Internet, and tracking the movements of mobile phones. And our freedom of speech is under serious threat. We are in constant danger of being accused of nebulous “hate crimes.” And there is a bill going through parliament to allow bureaucrats powers to order removal of on-line material they consider to be “harmful misinformation,” with huge fines for non-compliance. Even if the material is simply telling factual truth! Moreover, they are proposing to exempt officially sanctioned “news publishers” from these rules.

Since COVID arrived, the establishment and its political class have missed no excuse to lock us down, or to take away our right to choose, or to disrupt our economy, or to put obstacles or formalities in the way of people simply going about our lives. They have been particularly hard on the “little people,” such as small business people. The more independent you are, so it seems, the more the establishment hate you and want to hurt you. Meanwhile, they award their cronies multi-million-pound contracts without any proper tendering process. And our right to protest has been seriously curtailed. But most of all, they have continued and even accelerated their green agenda of draconian – and totally impractical – energy, transport, environmental and taxation policies, that go against the needs and the well-being of ordinary people. Meanwhile, we are assaulted by barrages of lies, scares and hype intended to “nudge” us into conformity, or propaganda about “staying safe” or “protecting each other.”

On the day I began this essay, tens of thousands of delegates were flocking in to a United Nations “Conference of the Parties” (CoP) meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. Many were from governments, internationalist organizations and green or “woke” pressure groups all over the world. A lot of them arrived in private jets, and the more pretentious among them travelled from the airfield in huge motorcades. The UK had even relaxed COVID restrictions for high-ranking attendees at the conference: [[1]].

This gabfest lasts (by the time you read this, lasted) 13 days, beginning on Sunday October 31st 2021. Its stated purpose: “to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.” And its theme statement: “uniting the world to tackle climate change.”

That theme statement is in George Orwell’s Newspeak. So, let me translate it into English for you. “Uniting the world” means setting up a Big Brother style world government of unelected, unaccountable élites, with absolute powers to do anything to anybody. And “to tackle climate change” means to take actions up to and including the destruction of human industrial civilization, for the sake of nothing more than an unspecific, unproven and unlikely-to-be-true accusation that humans are causing some kind of big problem with the Earth’s climate.

This will be a long, long essay. It will also be provocative! To make it as readable and easy to understand as possible, I’ll divide it into three parts. This first part, Indictments, covers the woeful tale of what is being done to us today under the banner of climate change and other aspects of today’s political agenda. Because it is very much an evidence-based essay, this part will include many external links; skip them if you wish.

In the second part, Diagnosis, I’ll tell you what I think is going on underneath. And in the third, Cure, I’ll offer some (radical) suggestions as to how we might start to move things in the right direction.

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Apology for a Thin Dribble


Apology for a Thin Dribble
Sean Gabb
(1st August 2021)

There was a time when I would turn out thousands of words a week on politics. In the past year, I have slowed down. What used to be a gush of words has become a thin dribble. The reasons for this? One is that I have become busier than I could once have imagined with teaching the ancient languages. I have classes and private students all over the world, and I am often up half the night making unlisted YouTube videos on Greek and Latin grammar. The other reason still shocks me and ought to shock others. This is that I am, for the first time in my life, scared to write about politics. I find that I have an hour free of other duties. I open Word for Windows and start writing. Then I stop. I ask myself: “Will this get me into some kind of trouble?” Sometimes the answer is: “Yes—this will get me into trouble.” More often, it is: “I don’t know, but better safe than sorry.” The result is the same. I close the Word document and turn back to Livy or Herodotus or the editing of a video on the present participle in Latin.

How could I possibly be scared to say what I think about politics or culture or some other matter of public importance? I am a freeborn Englishman. None of the liberties I inherited from my ancestors has been abolished. Indeed, since 1998, these liberties have been formally augmented by the Human Rights Act, which gives a bias in law to freedom of expression, and positively compels all public bodies to respect freedom of speech. No doubt, if I want to speak uncharitably about people of different races, there are laws to restrain me. But, if I resent these laws, I have no wish to speak uncharitably about such people. On all other issues, the laws of my country tell me I have more solid legal protections of my right to free expression than my ancestors ever enjoyed. All this, and I sit wondering if my proposed sneer at the latest Coronavirus claims or yet another denunciation of the Great Satan America will get me into trouble. My reason for wondering and then not writing is that these apparently solid legal protections are of no validity against a new and rather scary kind of censorship that never shows up in the Law Reports.

A few weeks ago, there was a football match between England and Italy. I usually pay no attention to these things. This time, though, it seems that the management of the English team saw the chance of making propaganda for one of the current orthodoxies. The chance was mishandled, and the working class fans were left angry. Since there was no hiding from the fans of what was done, the regime media responded with hysterical denunciation of anyone who complained. The usual authority figures were pressed into service. The result was an orgy of virtue signalling. I will not bother quoting any, but my Facebook feed was stuffed with the sort of rhetorical abuse you would once have seen in Soviet Russia during the purges.

A further result was that anyone who stepped too identifiably out of line risked shadow punishment. According to The Daily Mirror, reporting just a day after the match,

Savills estate agents have suspended an employee after his Twitter account posted racist abuse at England’s players.

According to Sky Sports, reporting nearly a week later,

A university has withdrawn an offer to a student following racist abuse towards England players after the Euro 2020 final…

Now, I neither care about football nor understand the details of what happened in that match. My interest in what happened is that this is how dissent is mainly policed in modern England. Getting the police to put on ski masks and smash down doors looks too much like censorship. Outsourcing the job to Human Resources makes denial much easier. I suspect The Daily Mirror reported that first victim as a warning to everyone else. The real wave of sackings will not be reported in the regime media, though its scale will be known by word of mouth or from the reports on social media. The desired message has been sent out.

Earlier this year, I wrote a long essay on outsourced censorship. Because this was so long, hardly anyone read it. What I said, though, was that censorship has indeed been outsourced—offenders nowadays are more likely to get the sack than see the inside of a police station. The outsourced persecution of those disappointed football fans is just an extreme and peculiar illustration of the point I was making. It is extreme and peculiar so far as football is a kind of religion in England, and it would not do to allow an open discussion of what may have happened with those penalty kicks. Apart from that, there is nothing unusual about the denunciations. England has become a country where all dissent against the dominant opinion is dangerous. It is not legally dangerous. There is no official censorship of opinion, or not very much. Dissent is economically dangerous. Dissenters risk losing their jobs or businesses. They risk having their books pulled from distribution and their bank and social media accounts closed. Debate is being shut down on matters that, even a few years ago, were completely open.

I am a man of reasonably firm mind. For years and years, I went on the BBC to say what I thought on the issues of the day, and would laugh at the shocked reactions. I am now largely silent. For the moment, there will be no more incredulity about the environmentalist claims, no sceptical doubts about the nature of the Coronavirus claims or the efficacy of the vaccines, no more defences of the British Empire.

I call this a “new and scary kind of censorship.” To be fair, it is only new for me because of when I was born. By 1959, the old ruling class had lost legitimacy. Its efforts to guide public opinion were laughed at. I grew to manhood in a moral environment where I was free to say anything I wanted. Oh, if I had been some kind of white advocate, I might not have been so free. But I was not a white advocate, and nothing I said ever got me into trouble with employers or clients or any government or business organisation. If I had been born in 1859, I might have been aware of a very firm pressure to conform. Suppose I had been a schoolmaster in the 1880s, and I had spoken out for Irish home rule, or disestablishment of the Church, or a confiscation of the landed interest, or a republic, or birth control, or I had held any other of the unpopular views of the day, I would almost certainly have found myself out of a job and blacklisted from getting another. Instead, I grew up in a kind of interglacial, where one set of established views was no longer hegemonic, and no new set had yet replaced it. That has now changed. There are once more established views that it is dangerous to mock or denounce too openly.

I could argue that the old views were somehow healthy and the new ones are not. I see no point in that. I will instead say that just because something undesirable happened in the past is no reason for putting up with it now. The old pressures to conform were wrong. So are the new. And they are wrong simply because they are pressures to conform. I find myself at last appreciating a part of Mill’s essay On Liberty for which I never used to have much time. Until recently, I would insist that the only real oppression was by the State: all else was the working of private choice. If the authorities fined a man £5 for having sex with another man, that was outrageous tyranny. If his tastes became public knowledge, and he was unable to find work, that was merely unfortunate. This is, I still believe, essentially true. Indeed, I could argue that, without a State having centralised and corporatised powers of discrimination that ought to be  widely distributed, there would be no problem—or there would be a problem that was bearable. But these powers were centralised and corporatised a long time ago. They are now being used to achieve a uniformity of opinion outside the home in which the formal organs of compulsion have no obvious part. This is not the “tyranny of the majority” that worried Mill. I find it inconceivable that anything close to a majority could believe the insane drivel pouring from the regime media. Neither, though, is it the kind of oppression against which liberal bills of rights have traditionally been written. Because of this—

when society is itself the tyrant…, its means of tyrannising are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them….

(J.S. Mill On Liberty, 1859, “Introductory”)

We need protection indeed. But the protection we need is not yet another law telling the police to leave dissidents alone. We already have a stack of these, and they are protections against a threat that largely does not exist. The answer, I suggest, is an amendment to the anti-discrimination laws to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of what may be loosely called political opinion.

I say hardly anyone read my original essay. Sadly, most of those who did read it stand in the more wooden reaches of the libertarian movement, and these set up a cry that I had become a Communist. I was suggesting that private organisations should be coerced in their choices of whom and whom not to employ, and even in their choices of customer and supplier. I had abandoned the non-aggression principle. Here, briefly expressed, is my answer to these claims.

I run the Centre for Ancient Studies. This provides a range of tuition services in Greek and Latin. It is a sole tradership. As such, I reserve the unconditional right to decide what services I offer and to whom. If I dislike the colour of your face, or the status of your foreskin, or your tastes in love, or anything else that I may think relevant, it should be my right not to do business with you. It may be that only a fool turns away customers with money to spend, and I am not that sort of a fool. Even so, I do claim at least the theoretical right, and I ground it on my right to do as I please with my own. But I claim these rights as a human individual. A limited company is not a human individual. Whatever entrepreneurship may exist in them, these companies are artificial persons and creatures of the State. Their owners have the privilege of limited liability. That is, they have the right, in the event of insolvency, not to pay the debts of a company if these are greater than the assets of the company. If this were not a valuable right, there would not be so many limited companies. There are almost no large companies, and none lasting more than a single generation, that do not have limited liability.

This being so, limited companies benefit from a grant of privilege from the State, and are legitimate subjects of regulation by the State for as long as they are receipt of this privilege. No doubt, some forms of state regulation are bad in their objects, or bad as regards the means to their objects. But regulation is not in itself an aggression by the State. It follows that, whether or not we can get it, libertarians should not feel barred from demanding laws to prevent limited companies from discriminating against their employees on the grounds of political opinion, and to require them to do business with customers and suppliers regardless of political opinion.

I appreciate that I am asking for more than the regulation of limited companies. The anti-discrimination laws we have make no distinction between incorporated and unincorporated associations. Even so, the extension of these laws to cover political opinion would mainly affect only the larger limited companies. At the same time, there is an obvious and overriding public interest in the protection of political opinion. People are now scared to speak their minds. Whether intended or just revealed, this is part of the strategy. The reason why the collapse of both freedom and tradition is gathering pace is because no one dares stand up and protest. In the absence of protest, everything will carry on as it is. Given a restored right of protest, there is a chance of stopping the collapse. The only way to lift the blanket of fear that now lies over all but approved opinion is somehow or other to get a law making it clear that no one who speaks his mind can be loaded with shadow punishments.

“Somehow or other!” In a sense, I am making a fool of myself. I am asking the politicians to make a law against what they themselves may not be doing, but that has no effect on their main reason for being in politics, which is to fill their pockets. I am asking them to take on the entire mass of the non-elected Establishment. I am asking a lot of these people. On the other hand, the politicians still need to be elected, and that was the weak point in the Establishment’s plan to stay in the European Union. We had to spend four nears voting and revoting, but we did eventually get what we wanted. It is conceivable that, if enough of us call loudly enough for protection, some kind of protection will be granted.

Short of that, we are lost.

The Barber of Owosso


In Owosso, Michigan, USA, a 77-year-old barber named Karl Manke has taken on the might of the state of Michigan, by opening his barber shop in defiance of “laws” made by the state government. He’s been suppressed. But he’s gathering support:

https://eu.detroitnews.com/story/business/2020/05/18/owosso-barber-calls-all-business-owners-open-up/5214002002/

I confess that I have an interest in this case. I’ve had a beard for 47 years now, and I like to keep it neatly trimmed. Luckily, I happened to go to my barber just a couple of days before the UK “lockdown” in the middle of March. But now, my beard is trending out of control. (A bit like the hysteria about “climate change.”) And under current UK plans it’s “illegal” for his (or anyone else’s) barber shop to open until July 4th at least! By that time, everyone who meets me will think I’ve gone Muslim. A claim which I can’t falsify until the pubs re-open.

Now let’s look at how US politicians have behaved on this issue, shall we?

Kansas Democrat governor Laura Kelly took a haircut in early May, which she claimed was done by her husband. Republicans congratulated him – a lung doctor, would you believe! – on his barbering skills. Can we believe either side? No. But that same governor sought to forcibly close down a barber shop in Wichita:

https://www.kansas.com/news/coronavirus/article242647601.html

As to Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8211169/Chicago-Mayor-Lori-Lightfoot-defends-decision-haircut-amid-city-wide-lockdown.html

Look, Lori, in your part of the world (and I lived in Chicago for a year, 30 years ago) you’re supposed to have something called “the rule of law.” That means that what is wrong for one person to do in a given situation, is wrong for another. No exceptions.

This suggests to me that honest people should focus, hard, on the dishonesty, hypocrisy and double standards that are rife among our enemies. Don’t let any of them get away with anything.

The Coronavirus and the Conservative Party: Time for a Refund?


The Coronavirus and the Conservative Party:
Time for a Refund?
Sean Gabb
9th May 2020

One of my books. Read here for free, or buy a hard copy here.

Since 1945, and arguably since some time before that, the Conservative Party in government has been reliable for one purpose only – this being to let down anyone stupid enough to vote for it. Last December, I thought it would this time be different. The Conservatives had spent two years under attack by an Establishment openly at war both with conservatism and with the causes of conservatism. They swore blind they would take on that Establishment and give us our country back. That was what they promised. It was in their obvious interest to deliver part of what they promised. So millions of us pinched our noses and voted for them. We gave them their best majority since 1987.

Six months later, we are in week six or seven of a lockdown without precedent. Hundreds of thousands of private businesses have been closed since the third week of March, and many will not reopen. Much of the public sector has been sitting at home on full pay, with all the usual contributions dripping into gold-plated pensions. The National Health Service has been made into a new established religion. The police are so in love with their new powers that they are taking more besides. The public finances are a wreck. We are looking at an internal and external collapse of the pound. Cash will probably be abolished. Our mobile telephones will be repurposed as identity cards. Anyone who fell into a coma just before the last election, might, on waking now, assume a Labour victory, followed by an Enabling Act that had taken us into a kind of Venezuela plus social workers. Instead, we are where we are with a Conservative Government. Continue reading