The failure of mainstream journalists to challenge UK government claims in 2003 that Iraq had ‘WMDs which could be assembled and launched within 45 minutes’ had catastrophic consequences. Britain went to war on a lie and up to 1m people were subsequently killed, including 179 British Armed forces personnel. I don’t need to tell you that Saddam Hussein’s WMDs were never found. That’s because they didn’t exist.
You might have thought that after the Iraq debacle journalists would have become a bit more sceptical. Learnt not to take lurid government claims at face value. To do proper journalism and seek to hold the powerful to account. But they continue to act as if the Iraq War, and the massive deceit deployed to bring it about- never happened.
In 2020 the only criticism most journalists have levelled at the UK government is not ’why are you locking us down when there is no evidence lockdowns work even on their own terms’, but ‘You’re not locking down hard enough!’.
We saw a classic example of that at Monday’s Downing Street Press Conference, when journalists seemed upset that Prime Minister Boris Johnson wasn’t announcing that other regions were joining London and the South East and going into Tier 4. ‘Why isn’t the whole country not in lockdown?’ asked the Daily Mirror’s Pippa Crerar. Gary Gibbon of Channel 4 News carried on in the same vein.
There are so many questions journalists could have asked at these pressers, but all they seem to do is to is to ask variations of the four, illustrated in this tweet.
Think you could cut it as one of Britain’s top political journalists? It’s easier than you think. Just stick to these four key issues. pic.twitter.com/a7XXOlVYag— Christopher Snowdon (@cjsnowdon) December 21, 2020
For much of the summer there was an obsession with Dominic Cummings, the chief adviser to the Prime Minister who went to Barnard Castle with his wife and child during lockdown. Of course that was a genuine news story, but where have the questions been about the role of ‘Professor Lockdown’ aka Imperial College’s Neil Ferguson, on whose ludicrous modelling he first lockdown was based, and who broke the rules to visit his married lover in Oxford? After that news broke we were told Ferguson was stepping down from SAGE (The ’Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies’) and Downing Street said he wouldn‘t be sitting on any of the advisory groups that are linked to SAGE. But it wasn’t true.
He ‘s still advising the government as a member of ’Nervtag’ which is a part of SAGE, and giving dire warnings about the ‘new strain’. Again, no one at the press conference thought fit to ask ’Why’?
Likewise to my knowledge not one question has been asked about the unreliability of the PCR testing for Covid-19. False positives of asymptomatic people have been reported as ‘cases’ or ‘infections’ ramping up fear levels. You only need to do about half an hour’s basic research to realise that the PCR tests, particularly when set at a certain cycle- are not fit for purpose, when it comes to Covid. Unless of course the purpose is to cause unnecessary alarm.
Ditto, about the ‘new mutant strain‘. There are reports that the much-hyped strain was known about in September. Sir Charles Walker, the Tory MP and Chairman of the 1922 claimed that the government had already decided to reverse the easing of restrictions for Christmas last week. ‘The Government, in my view, knew on Thursday, possibly even Wednesday, that they were going to pull the plug on Christmas but they waited till Parliament had gone,” Sir Charles said.
It’s a pretty serious allegation, so why didn’t any journalist ask about it?
While most political journos have let the public down big time in 2020 by failing to speak truth to power, we have to mention those who have dared to challenge the deadening pro-lockdown establishment consensus. In the Daily Express, columnists Freddy Forsyth, Fergus Kelly and Anne Widdecombe have been terrific.
So too has Allison Pearson in the Telegraph, and Peter Hitchens (who told us this wouldn’t end well in back in March), in the Mail on Sunday.
Online, the websites ’Off Guardian’ , 21st Century Wire and Conservative Woman edited by Kathy Gyngell, have produced some great journalism, putting many ‘left-wing’ sites, who have sadly never transcended binary group-think in 2020, to shame, while James Delingpole has not only written some of the best articles of the year but also has had the courage to mention the WEF’s ’Great Reset’ too, which others have decried (wrongly) and rather arrogantly, as a ’conspiracy theory’. Kudos to the independently-minded liberal James Melville too, who didn’t get the ’party line’ memo that as a Remainer he was supposed to support locking people down in their own homes.
Without blowing my own trumpet, I’d like to think I’ve played my part as well, with articles like this one on how Covid-19 had become Britain’s newest religion
and this, on the significance of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s chilling comments that ‘social distancing’ was here to stay.
The journalists who have spoken out about the biggest destruction of our liberties in Britain since the days of Oliver Cromwell’s equally grim 17th century ‘Commonwealth’, and who haven’t been frightened to questioned the extremely dodgy ‘data’ on which lockdowns and other restrictions are based, are heroes. They at least tried to do something about the human disaster that is unfolding in front of our very eyes. And make no mistake, a new national lockdown lasting until the spring would be a disaster. A government report from last summer said that more than 200,000 people could die as a result of lockdown and cancelled NHS operations.
In November it was reported that year-long waits for surgery were at their highest level since 2008. The economic damage of another national lockdown -which is likely to be a ‘hard’ one with only supermarkets and basic food stores open, would run into hundreds of billions of pounds. It was calculated in April that the cost of lockdown was £2.4bn a day.
And all this at a time when the UK faces its worst national recession for 300 years.
We literally cannot afford another shutdown whether we are talking about money, nor in terms of people’s physical and mental health. Those who say we need a ‘lockdown to ‘protect’ the elderly seem to forget that loneliness, neglect and social isolation are terrible, proven killers. That’s true not just of the old: a US study showed that loneliness and social isolation may increase the risk of premature death by 50%.
History will not look kindly on those with privileged positions in the media who had a chance to end this nightmare, by asking the right questions of government, but who instead only urged the authorities to become even more draconian.
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