Lockdown situation report

Dave – the editor

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything in depth about the seemingly endless lockdown/tiered restrictions scenario. One reason being is the toll it’s taken on my own mental health and the need to find some distraction to keep my mind off a bleak situation. That distraction came in the form of my town being flooded after heavy rainfall on January 14: A lack of joined up thinking = a clusterf**k! Never in my life did I think I’d be grateful for a flood situation that posed a threat to the house I live in but I was!

A few words about these pieces on lockdowns… They’re not meant to be comprehensive overviews of the situation. There are some aspects where I’ll go into some detail and others where I just deal with things briefly and encourage you to undertake your own research and draw your own conclusions.

‘Follow the science’ is the mantra we’ve been subjected to since March 2020. That reads as though science is one unified body of knowledge whose veracity can never be questioned. I’m not sure how many people are actually taken in by this… My understanding is that science always questions itself and that conclusions are only reached after a rigorous process of testing and proofing. Even then, there’s always the implicit understanding that as new developments come along and new understandings are arrived at, what once may have been thought of as the truth will be subject to further interrogation. This is dealt with in more depth here: “Following the science” in the COVID-19 pandemic. I would urge you to type ‘follow the science’ into a search engine because that will bring up an interesting range of observations as to what this mantra actually means.

Which begs the question of why every announcement from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is taken as the gospel and never subjected to any serious questioning. Given how much damage has been done by the government slavishly following the advice from SAGE and never seeking out an independent opinion as a counterbalance, it’s criminal that pretty much every mainstream journalist has failed to question ‘the science’. Following the version of the ‘science’ as espoused by SAGE has led to a sledgehammer to crack a nut approach rather than a more precisely targeted approach which could well have saved lives. Also, the SAGE approach appears to rely too much on the vaccines that are coming on stream and no where enough on boosting the immune system through better diets, health regimes and ensuring the intake of the vitamins that could help achieve this.

If we had a truly free press with proper journalists unafraid to ask difficult questions as opposed to ‘churnalists’ who are nothing more than stenographers for the government and the big corporations who are making a killing from this crisis, we’d be in a much better place than we are now. Aiding and abetting a craven mainstream media are the social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter who are increasingly screening out anything deemed to question the narrative coming from government, the pharmaceutical industry and the mainstream media. If in spite of all this, the number of lockdown sceptics continues to grow, then a largely compliant and unquestioning mainstream media could well be in for a troubled future. If that prompts the re-emergence of proper journalism, that may be one of the few good things to come out of this shitshow. A bit of a caveat… At long last, it appears that some journalists are now turning their attention to the damage lockdown has done, not just to the economy but also to people’s mental health: Behind closed bedroom doors, a teenage mental health crisis is brewingGaby Hinsliff and this: ‘Pandemic burnout’ on rise as latest Covid lockdowns take tollSarah Marsh.

It’s not exactly a shock that lockdowns are taking a toll on people’s mental health. Not being able to see family and friends and the subsequent loneliness will take it’s toll on even the most robust of people. On top of this, there’s the constant messaging about masks and social distancing that feels it’s all pervasive as soon as you step outside the front door: Gaslighting. Staying indoors doesn’t mean you can escape from the messaging. It’s there from the constant mentions on the news bulletins to the advertising the government has brought on the radio and the TV. For FFS, it’s even there, uninvited, on your social media feeds! Which may explain why there’s a growing number of people zoning out news coverage of the Covid-19 crisis and to a certain extent, the lockdowns, simply as a way of maintaining some degree of sanity.

On the subject of the mental health impact on kids and teens of lockdown and the subsequent isolation from their peers, to be brutally honest, the damage has been done. The question is what, if anything, will be done to prevent more damage being done? Over the years, I’ve become more wary about making predictions, however, this is one I’m prepared to stick my neck out and make. The area we cover has a lot of deprivation. There were already a number of kids being failed by the system and slipping through the net.

With education being pretty much confined online, how many hard pressed working class households are going to have the resources let alone the time to ensure their kids continue to follow the curriculum? What about the kids who were already on the edge but who could have been saved by intensive, real life face to face interventions? The harsh truth is that a lot of kids are going to fall through the net. These will be kids who will feel that society has pretty much abandoned them. These will be kids who feel they’ve nothing else to lose – the consequences of this will not be pretty. It could well be a long, hot summer as society reaps what it sows: School closures and job losses in UK ‘could lead to social unrest’.

How much more shite are people prepared to accept? That’s a difficult one to answer because assessing what people really feel about the lockdowns and tiered restrictions isn’t that easy. One reason being that given the level of hostility there is between those who accept and follow the words of SAGE as gospel on the one hand and on the other, the lockdown sceptics, we’ve noticed people being quite guarded in revealing what they really think. Which is an understandable reaction to be honest because people already have enough to deal with and don’t want to spark unnecessary confrontations.

Maybe it will be the increasing restrictions on freedom for those who refuse the offer of a vaccine: ‘Freedom passports’ for vaccinated people would risk ‘two-tier society’, Information Commissioner warns. The idea is still being discussed but the drip feed of announcements, partial denials and news items about it is a way of testing and ultimately, softening up public opinion so they’re eventually accepted here in the UK. In other countries, it would appear that they are going to get rolled out: Sweden plans for digital coronavirus “vaccine passport” by summer. Pressure to accept the ‘offer’ of a vaccine could well be applied by a knock on the door from a ‘persuader’: Nadhim Zahawi: Coronavirus vaccine refuseniks face visit from the persuaders. As things stand, unless there’s the number of people fed up with lockdown reaches the critical mass needed to challenge what’s being done to us in the name of following ‘the science’, I can’t see any significant relaxation happening this year. Sure, ‘vaccines’ are being rolled out but the ‘experts’ are still saying that even with these, social distancing protocols will still need to be observed: These Harvard scientists think we’ll have to socially distance until 2022. So effectively, restrictions are here to stay until enough people decide that the situation can no longer be tolerated and take the appropriate action to change things.

If this all sounds downbeat, so be it. It’s best to start from a realistic assessment of where we are rather than kid ourselves with false hopes and expectations. Looking back at some of the pieces I wrote during the course of 2020, I realise that in some cases I may have been guilty of raising hopes when there was no realistic basis to do that. With the anti-lockdown protests that took place during the latter part of 2020, there were gimmers of hope. However, the sheer number of arrests and other forceful tactics used by cops on crowds that by and large were new to street protests inevitably took their toll. Without a legal observer, arrestee and legal support structure in place for these actions, turning up on them was a risk a growing number of people were understandably reluctant to take. There was a call for pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and ‘non-essential’ shops to open up in defiance of the lockdown on Saturday, January 30. That didn’t get the take up those calling for it were hoping for. That’s probably down to the threatened £10,000 fines which for many businesses already on the edge would have finished them off.

The problem we face in kicking back against what lockdown has done and is doing to us is the level of division and polarisation that has developed over the course of the crisis. It’s worth having a look at how those divisions cleave in order to get some clues on where to look for signs of resistance. Firstly, there are those who religiously follow the ‘science’ and every pronouncement from the likes of Matt Hancock, Chris Whitty and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) as if it was the holy gospel never to be questioned. These people are lost to us and to be brutally honest, it’s not worth the mental anguish of even trying to engage with them. Secondly, there are those who want to get back to what we used to see as normality and see the only way of doing that is knuckling down to complying with whatever the government and their advisors require of us, even if they have their doubts about the justification for what they’re being asked to do. That approach might have had some merits back in March/April of 2020 but carrying on with it now is the equivalent of banging your head against a brick wall in the hope it will cure your headache!

Lastly, there those of us sceptics kicking against lockdowns/tiered restrictions and what they have, are and will continue to do to us. Those speaking out against lockdowns and the ‘science’ used to justify them come from a diverse range of backgrounds with an equally diverse range of ways of looking at and analysing the situation. On the one hand, we have Architects For Social Housing who have consistently been producing well researched and referenced pieces arguing against lockdowns and tiered restrictions from the spring of 2020 onwards. On the other hand, we have the likes of David Icke who are a liability we can well do without! I realise that it’s impossible to police any movement, particularly one that has gathered up a lot of people who have never been politically active before. Somehow, we’ve got to find a way of distancing ourselves from the unintentional wreckers and saboteurs.

I’ll be honest and admit that these pieces on lockdowns and the tiered restrictions are just subjective snapshots in time. In the middle of a crisis, it’s difficult to be able to write an objective overview of what’s going on. There’s a lot more that needs to be written about how this crisis is being leveraged to concentrate wealth in fewer hands while the vast majority of us become poorer. That is a theme I’ll be returning in the next month or so as the manifestations of this become harder to ignore. As ever, constructive criticism and comradely debate are always welcome, abuse and trolling are definitely not!

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