PETER HITCHENS: Protest against our new State of Fear is banned


We have ceased to be a parliamentary democracy. There was no military putsch. Nobody passed an Enabling Act allowing rule by decree. 

But the House of Lords and the House of Commons are now the Dead Parrot Parliament.

They are dead because they do nothing to hold the Government to account. 

The most shocking instance of this so far was the £10,000 fine imposed on the eccentric weather forecaster Piers Corbyn (brother of Jeremy) for his part in organising a protest in London

The most shocking instance of this so far was the £10,000 fine imposed on the eccentric weather forecaster Piers Corbyn (brother of Jeremy) for his part in organising a protest in London

They are parrots because, when asked, they obediently confirm decrees Downing Street put into effect, sometimes weeks before. 

We used to jeer that the so-called parliaments of Communist and Fascist states were mere rubber stamps. Well, we cannot jeer now.

The most shocking instance of this so far was the £10,000 fine imposed on the eccentric weather forecaster Piers Corbyn (brother of Jeremy) for his part in organising a protest in London.

That protest has, in my view, been wrongly portrayed as a mass of weirdos and conspiracy theorists. 

No doubt such people, and worse, were there. But many went to it out of a feeling their liberties are fast disappearing under a strange new regime based on fear and panic.

We have ceased to be a parliamentary democracy. There was no military putsch. Nobody passed an Enabling Act allowing rule by decree. But the House of Lords and the House of Commons are now the Dead Parrot Parliament

We have ceased to be a parliamentary democracy. There was no military putsch. Nobody passed an Enabling Act allowing rule by decree. But the House of Lords and the House of Commons are now the Dead Parrot Parliament

The keen-eyed lawyer Matthew Scott, an experienced barrister, is among many neutral observers greatly disturbed by what is happening. You may not like Mr Corbyn, and I have my problems with him, too. 

But he is in a fine and ancient tradition of troublemakers who have endured derision for standing up for what they think is right, so helping to keep us all free. They did not care if they were liked.

But what Mr Scott says is deeply worrying. The regulation used to fine Mr Corbyn – 5b of the Coronavirus Act – ‘was hastily made law the day before the demonstration was held. 

It was introduced under an emergency procedure and was neither debated nor given even the most cursory scrutiny by any parliamentary process.

‘It permits the most junior Community Support Officer in the country to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice to the suspected organiser of a political event, demanding £10,000 to avoid prosecution and consequent financial ruin.

That protest has, in my view, been wrongly portrayed as a mass of weirdos and conspiracy theorists

That protest has, in my view, been wrongly portrayed as a mass of weirdos and conspiracy theorists

‘Given its timing, even if it was not introduced with the purpose of targeting the organisers of a political protest against Government policy, it very much has that appearance.’

So a hugely important law, greatly shrinking the freedom of every Englishman, was made on Friday and used, in my view rather selectively, on Sunday. No Green Paper. No White Paper. 

No First and Second Readings. No Committee Stage. No revision by the Upper House. No wait for Royal Assent. Just wham, thump, down goes the rubber stamp, and you must pay up!

Challenge this in the courts and you could end up with an unlimited fine and, ultimately, prison. 

But there was not even the pretence of a trial, which in my view is a blatant breach of the Bill of Rights of 1689. 

The police just grabbed Mr Corbyn, Belarus-style, and held him for hours before presenting him with an enormous bill.

Yet months of mostly Left-wing protest by Black Lives Matter, or against politically incorrect statues, went by with hardly a whisper of action. For it is one of the features of our new State of Fear that it acts with ferocity against anyone who suggests the fear is misplaced. 

If you refuse to be afraid of a not-very-severe outbreak of disease which is largely over, you’ll have to be afraid of the heavy hand of the law.

The regulation used to fine Mr Corbyn – 5b of the Coronavirus Act – ‘was hastily made law the day before the demonstration was held. Protesters are seen above at the rally

The regulation used to fine Mr Corbyn – 5b of the Coronavirus Act – ‘was hastily made law the day before the demonstration was held. Protesters are seen above at the rally

In my view this would not be much better if Parliament had agreed to it. But it did not. As far back as June, the respected Hansard Society warned that the great majority of Covid-related laws had been passed using a ‘negative’ procedure. 

This means Ministers are effectively issuing decrees. These become law unless Parliament actually finds the courage to vote them down within 40 days.

Where will this end? I cannot say but I think it unwise to wait and see.

In the Australian state of Victoria, whose laws are very much the same as ours, we may view the future. The people of Melbourne are now under a strict curfew and may only leave their homes for a short period each day, following a very small number of Covid deaths.

Last week, a pregnant woman, Zoe Lee-Buhler, living in the nearby town of Miners Rest, was handcuffed in front of her children, after masked police bearing a search warrant burst into her home. Her alleged offence was ‘incitement’ – that is to say supporting a planned anti-lockdown protest on a Facebook posting.

You want this sort of thing here? Then do nothing. If you don’t like it, write to your MPs, asking them what exactly it is they do for their generous salaries and benefits. 

If Ministers can make laws without them, why should we pay them? Keep writing till you get an answer.

Joss is right – there is no evidence over ADHD

Every so often, a public figure says something intelligent about the made-up non-disease ADHD.

On the basis of a vague and unscientific ‘diagnosis’ of this supposed ailment, quite small children are given powerful drugs similar to amphetamines, which would be illegal for adults to buy.

Anyone who attacks this will be hosed down with abuse, but please don’t bother trying this on me, as I am used to it, have researched the whole matter to the bitter end, and don’t care what rude things you say about me.

But I feel a bit for the singer Joss Stone, who last week had a go at the over-medication of our society. ‘Kids will run round and break things and kick things, so they [parents] take their kids to the doctor and they’ll say “Oh well, he’s got ADHD”. It’s a lot of b*******.’

A supposed ‘expert’ is usually called in at this point to denounce the erring celebrity. And so it was. And journalists opined: ‘Medical professionals say ADHD is a neurological disorder.’ Well, they may say that if they wish. But actually it isn’t.

On November 18, 1998, the American National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a ‘consensus conference’ on ADHD to discuss this very issue.

They concluded: ‘We do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate ADHD is due to a brain malfunction.’ That is pretty clear and no hard experimental evidence has come in since to alter that, as far as I know.

But the really weird bit is that, although originals of that 1998 document, or references to it, can still be found in various places, these key words have vanished from the NIH’s own database.

I have spent some time trying to get an explanation of this from the NIH but I have not been able to get one. Could anyone have an interest in those inconvenient words being hard to find? I couldn’t possibly comment.

How strange it is to watch the new Cormoran Strike series, Lethal White, starring the delightful Holliday Grainger

How strange it is to watch the new Cormoran Strike series, Lethal White, starring the delightful Holliday Grainger

A perfect marriage of talent and truth 

How strange it is to watch the new Cormoran Strike series, Lethal White, starring the delightful Holliday Grainger. 

The plot is all right and the major characters captivating, but the real thrill is the way it portrays a sane world in which people don’t treat each other as toxic threats. 

They even get married in churches and have large receptions, without anti-social distancing and lots of yellow tape.

I predict there’ll soon be a market for nostalgic pre-Covid dramas, showing humans living in a lost civilisation we foolishly threw away and to which we cannot now ever return.

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