We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
That’s how it felt at the anti-lockdown rally in Hyde Park, London, yesterday, where I was threatened with a fine and arrest for the crime of doing my job. It’s also where I got to see Britain at its best – and worst.
There weren’t many protestors but those who were made me proud to be British. We were a very mixed crowd, very representative of the melting pot that London has become – and definitely considerably less white and middle class than the crowd you’d find at an Extinction Rebellion rally.
I met a black working-class couple who were both bus drivers; several smartly dressed, well-spoken elderly people; an American former US diplomat and former Democrat voter; a very distressed French-sounding girl distraught that she’d been harassed by police simply for remaining in the same area for more than 45 minutes; a woman who had grown up in 70s Czechoslavakia and recognised the symptoms of Communism all too easily. There were anti-vaxxers, yes, and people who felt that all the world’s current ills could be traced back to Bill Gates, yes. But mostly this was a rally about freedom, where everyone present could not quite believe just how easily so many British people had surrendered willingly to the most flagrant assault on liberty in centuries.
This ought not to be a weird, eccentric thing to want to protest.
As former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption puts it in the Times, the lockdown was something Prime Minister Boris Johnson entered “in a blind panic provoked by Professor Neil Ferguson’s ‘reasonable worst case’ of 510,000 deaths.”
But now that the Ferguson study has been so comprehensively discredited and its assumptions proved false, the entire raison d’être of the lockdown has gone. So why is the lockdown continuing?
According to Lord Sumption, it’s as simple — and depressing — as this:
The lockdown is now all about protecting politicians’ backs. They are not wicked men, just timid ones, terrified of being blamed for deaths on their watch. But it is a wicked thing that they are doing.
Do please take time to watch the videos and listen to what the protestors have to say. I think you’ll be impressed not just by their passion but also how articulately they express what should be obvious to everyone: the lockdown just isn’t normal; the freedoms the government has stolen from us without so much as a by-your-leave should never have been surrendered so lightly.
Imagine how absurd it would have felt six months ago if someone had told you: “In May 2020 the police will arrest you if you stand closer than six feet to someone in a park.”
Yet now lots of people take it for granted.
When I say I saw Britain at its worst, I don’t mean the police who were, yes, a bit heavy-handed and definitely operating in sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut territory.
Rather, I mean the useful idiots who had come to the rally not to protest against Boris Johnson’s lockdown policy, but to remonstrate with those of us who disagreed with it.
“No, it’s not a police state,” declared a posh gentleman, even as the police all around us stalked members of the crowd like lions hunting wildebeest, threatening and arresting people for the tiniest of infractions. The lockdown, he insisted, was purely in the public interest.
The right to protest is a long-established British tradition — and never more important than in times as illiberal as these.
Yet some Britons seem happy to surrender our ancient liberties without a shot. Britain’s economy has been ruined, millions of jobs and thousands of businesses have been destroyed, our children are being denied an education, and the populace is now being fed daily propaganda by a mainstream media which has been bought and paid for by the government.
If this isn’t worth risking arrest to protest against, I don’t know what it is.
I salute all those who were there. And I think in the coming weeks and months, as more information emerges about the flimsy scientific basis for the government’s lockdown, the numbers of protestors will only grow and grow.
James Delingpole is the host of the Delingpod podcast. You can support his work here on Patreon.
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