You may have questioned the veracity of government pandemic interventions: it might have been masks, the rule of six or the 10 o’clock curfew; it may have been the modelling that finally tipped you over the edge. But without dissenters to the Government’s pandemic policies, it would have taken much longer to exit lockdowns, and if China is anything to go by, we might not yet have re-emerged.
With the publication of Matt Hancock’s diaries, we’re discovering the true extent of the Government’s suppression strategies and those behind them.
In July 2020, we wrote in the Spectator about whether face masks help. The article was motivated by the rollout of mask mandates at the end of the month. We expressed the uncertainty in the evidence-base and the setting of policy based on “opinions, radical views and political influence”.
This article went largely unchallenged. However, this all changed in November 2020, when we further published on the only European community trial of masks and the update of our Cochrane Review that found no significant effect for facemask wearers.
The Danish trial done during the pandemic joined 16 other trials carried out over the years at times of variable respiratory agents’ circulation in showing no significant effect, either if compared to not wearing masks at all or wearing other types of face coverings, irrespective of setting.
Despite hundreds of positive comments, the article got censored by Facebook. It led to a vitriolic campaign of denigration with sundry personal attacks, personal losses of posts, complaint procedures to our institutions, smear campaigns and the setting up of websites backed by ministers to attack dissenting academics and journalists.
But we now learn from Isabel Oakeshott’s piece that the attacks were partly orchestrated by Hancock, who harnessed the full power of the state to silence ‘dissenters’.
As far as Hancock was concerned, anyone who fundamentally disagreed with his approach was mad and dangerous and needed to be shut down.
These were the actions of the Right Honourable Minister, the Health Secretary. Make of that what you will, but actions considered acceptable in a communist state were now mainstream and, as it seems, acceptable at the heart of Government.
According to Oakeshott’s piece, the origins of mask mandates in the community were Dominic Cummings’s obsession with masks and a desire to please Ms. Sturgeon. However, the most important figures “Hancock, Whitty and Johnson knew full well that non-medical masks do very little to prevent transmission of the virus”. You could readily translate this to the fact that there was no high quality evidence to support mandates, as we pointed out in July 2020.