On Saturday, Boris Johnson told Santa Claus he wasn’t welcome in London and surrounding areas. Not only that. He ordered every man, woman and child in, what he calls, Tier 4 to stay home and not visit their families over Christmas. If this wasn’t bad, oppressive and intrusive enough, he threatened these families with fines and arrests if they broke these new and sudden rules. Leaving or entering London after midnight that day was criminalised to the point where even the mainstream media compared the packed train stations across the city to war time evacuation. This time, however, they were not escaping explosions and destruction, not even from the mutated virus, but from the tyranny of their own leader.
Many people would use the word incompetence instead of tyranny, but I do not see Boris Johnson as incompetent. At the moment of writing #BorisFailedBritain is trending on Twitter, but I do not believe he failed Britain, at least not in the way he is being accused of. He has failed and he has failed us dramatically by destroying our lives with continuous lockdowns and other restrictions designed to make us pretend COVID19 is our only weakness and the only thing we should worry about. Truth is, we are not Supermen and COVID19 is not our Kryptonite. There are other things that can and have killed us over the course of this year, and some, like cancer, growing depression and unemployment will claim more victims in the coming months and years and the blood of these men, women and children will be on Johnson’s hands, as well as on the hands of everyone who pushed for more lockdowns and other restrictions that came with them. I don’t even think Boris is a tyrant or a dictator. I think the majority of the public are so scared and incapable of making their own decisions that they need not simple guidance, but a clear list of rules to follow. If the majority are scared of that one thing – the virus – then they will hold him responsible for the handling of this virus. He then gets to pull the lever, like in the trolley dilemma, and in hopes of saving a few elderly people from dying of COVID19 and the NHS from being overwhelmed, he chooses to let the trolley run over cancer patients, anxious and depressed people, obese people, unborn children, business owners and economy as a whole. He pulls the lever because he knows people will not blame him even if in the end more lives will be lost. By then, however, it can be attributed to something else. So, he may not be a tyrant as we know it, or he may not have always been one, but that doesn’t mean that with a little help of the public he can’t become one.
His response reminds me that of every major corporation when facing a possible backlash or boycott. When corporations fail to accommodate or acknowledge an identity group it almost always leads to outrage of activists. Companies want our money, they want to survive, so they choose to avoid bad reputation and put rainbows on their displays. This strategy works because it pleases the minority who would otherwise loudly voice their outrage. So, it’s best to keep them quiet by appearing virtuous and inclusive. Those who accuse them of “bending the knee” to wokeness will be called bigots and no corporation wants to be associated with bigotry. And this is what The Prime Minister has done. He pleased those who are likely to make the loudest noise of disapproval. Fear of COVID19, in this case, is the wokeness he has to please. The anger and desperation of people like me is the bigotry he can deal with by force and nobody will feel sorry or voice their outrage in our name.
Christmas saving lockdown that ended in Tiers
“The only way to save this Christmas”, government officials said back in October, “is to introduce a four-week national lockdown”. And so, on the 5th November, we closed our businesses, cancelled our plans and worked from home if we could. Some businesses, however, did not close their doors. Before the November lockdown was announced, some parts of England had already been hit with major restrictions when they were put in Tier 3. All non-essential businesses in Tier 3 were ordered to close until further notice. This gave rise to resistance of gym owners in Liverpool, the city where the Tier 3 restrictions were in place in October.
Nick Whitcombe, one of the gym owners in Liverpool, became the face and the voice of the resistance. His gym remained open despite daily visits from the police who were delighted to fine him and the members of his gym. Nick, along with other local gym owners, campaigned to make gyms essential for mental health reasons. His mission was science and evidence based. The government data clearly showed that gyms were “part of the solution, not the problem”, which later became the slogan of the campaign. His argument to, not only allow gyms to stay open, but to make them essential, was based on the low infection rate in the gyms and huge mental health benefits of physical activity. This, he believed, could not be neglected especially in the dark, cold and depressing winter months, when many people, especially women, may not feel safe to workout outside.
The Liverpool gyms were visited by the police multiple times a day threatening their owners and members with fines and arrests. Soon after, the rest of the country faced the same fate as the North. A four-week national lockdown to save Christmas was announced. This time many gyms across the country showed solidarity with the cause and refused to bend the knee to the lockdown rules. Gainz Fitness and Strength in Bedford and Zone Gym in London were among the many who vowed to defy the lockdown rules. They were soon joined by other business owners who simply had had enough. Restaurants, beauty salons, tattoo shops and local gift shops were just a few that made themselves heard on social media and made it to the news. Police visited all of them, fined and arrested when they refused to shut.
Beauty salon owners, who put their foot down, played a big role in the movement, but it was all about the gyms. This issue became a worldwide story and Nick Whitcombe was interviewed by media and invited on London Real TV. Over six hundred sixteen thousand people signed the petition to prevent gyms from closing again. This number simply could not be ignored by the government. Supplement company, Grenade, joined the campaign and many other fitness-oriented names and brands soon followed. Many remained quiet until getting called out or boycotted by fitness enthusiasts. Gymshark, for example, remained largely silent about the importance of gyms despite having no problem whatsoever getting involved with other political issues in the recent months. They even changed their Twitter handle to Homeshark during the first lockdown to support the #StayHome cause and later joining the activists in posting black squares on their Instagram to support Black Lives Matter. It took weeks of #makegymsEssential campaign for the CEO of Gymshark to express his support for the gym industry, but in my opinion it was just to avoid backlash, especially since black Friday was just around the corner and Gymshark needed to sell as many skinny tracksuits and leggings as possible.
What happened after the lockdown surprised everyone. Boris Johnson introduced a new and redefined Tier system. Tier 3 remained the highest level of alert with the toughest restrictions, but this time gyms and beauty salons were allowed to stay open. Pubs and restaurants were delt the worst hand. Another thing people noticed was that most of England left the November lockdown worse off than they entered it. Millions of people came back to more restrictions than they had in October. Many joked that this was just another lockdown disguised as Tier System.
It was, however, a small victory for gyms. and it meant that people like me, who work in fitness, finally had some sort of certainty in their lives. Athletes could finally set their long-term goals and adhere to their fitness regime to get to them. It was a small victory because gyms were still not made essential, which meant that in case of another national lockdown, we’d be back to square one. It was, on the other hand, a huge victory for all of us and I will explain why.
To obey or to disobey?
In one of my previous posts The Dark Side of The Greater Good – Deserts of Mars (wordpress.com), I addressed the communist regime that swept through Poland and Eastern Europe for four and a half decades. Russia, after defeating The Nazis in World War 2, deceived Poles into accepting communism as their saviour. The next forty years were filled with misery and foreign oppression disguised as the greater good. The disguise came in slogans like “collective good”, “equality” and “we’re in this together”. Of course, these exact words might not have been used, but it was just a cover up for the lies, deception and war crimes committed by the Soviets. It took rebellion and resistance to end this in the late 1980s. The Communist cloud was removed and for the first time in over forty years forecast for Poland looked brighter than ever before. Maybe the Soviet Union would have collapsed regardless of Polish rebellion, but maybe not. It took resistance to release Poland from the power-hungry claws of the Soviets, who used the war as the crisis and Nazis as the threat. Together they formed the excuse to invade Poland without tanks and bombers, without actually invading them.
Today, COVID19 is the threat and the pandemic is the crisis and lockdowns disguised as solution are like the Soviets disguised as the saviours. Russians agreement with Poland was based on a lie. First they murdered twenty-one thousand Polish prisoners of war and kept this crime hidden for nearly fifty years. The officers and other prisoners they shot were, if released, a potential threat and an obstacle to absolute control. Today, the government is willingly sentencing thousands of people to die of cancer and suicide, only to offer solution to the pandemic.
Today, nobody gets shot in the back of their head for refusing to believe COVID19 is a genuine threat that justifies continuous lockdowns and assaults on our liberties. As we have seen, however, the most prominent voices out there are the target of censorship online and police brutality on the streets. The police keep a close eye on those with large enough following on Instagram and whenever an anti-lockdown protest is organised, those are the people who are always the victims of arrests. The police tactics here are so transparent – find the leaders and make an example out of them. Piers Corbyn has been arrested at every protest he attended. Andreas Michili or @g00nbag on Instagram, the owner of Zone Gym in London, is another person who has been targeted by the police at two anti-lockdown protests. They deliberately searched for him in the crowd of thousands of protesters. Ellie Grey or @officialelliegrey on Instagram is another anti-lockdown activist with sixty thousand followers. She too has had bounty on her head for spreading information about the upcoming protest.
Why them? In my opinion it is as clear as day. The authorities hope their arrest will discourage their audience from attending the next protest. If I got arrested at a protest, I’d share it with my couple of hundred followers. It would most likely reach up to 25% of them and it would not make a huge impact. The police know that arresting someone who they know has thousands of followers, is like arresting all of them at once. With every arrest, more people get discouraged from attending the next protest. What other possible reason could there be? If all protesters are breaking the same rules, then should it matter who gets arrested? As long as the constables don’t come back empty handed, right?
I have recently read “On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder who, apart from believing Donald Trump is a dictator (if this were true, the book, as well as all other Trump criticism, would never see the light of day), made some good points and observations. “Protests”, he says in one of the chapters, “can be organized through social media, but nothing is real that does not end on the streets”. He continues, “If tyrants feel no consequences for their actions in the three-dimensional world, nothing will change”. It doesn’t, however, require a tyrant for protests to be needed. Whenever a group of people have witnessed or experienced injustice, oppression or inequality they almost always brought about a positive change through protests or some sort of resistance or strike. You can’t talk about gay rights, women’s rights, end of slavery, racial equality or even animal rights, and not mention that they were all achieved through protests and even riots. These activists took to the streets to question the status quo. They took a stance for what they believed in and spoke against injustice they either experienced first-hand or witnessed all around them. This is the driving force behind every protest – it is a group of people who believe they are being oppressed and they don’t see any other way but to gather and make their voice heard.
Today, many people believe our freedoms are under attack and lockdowns and intrusive rules take away our rights to be human and our access to prosperity. These people question the status quo. They believe lockdowns are unjustified and politicians enforcing them corrupt or incompetent. These people are not convinced by the pandemic argument. The government created rules banning protests because of the pandemic and for many people this is good enough. The protesters, however, some of whom are business owners who have lost everything, fathers who have not seen their children because of lockdowns, young people whose education has been interrupted and people who have lost their job, gather precisely to protest those rules that assault freedom of assembly, freedom to make a living and live with dignity. If you don’t support the protesters, you can’t quote the rules they are protesting to stop them from protesting. It would be like telling women to not demand the right to vote because they don’t have the right to vote. You may not agree with their cause, but their right to stand up for what they believe in is your right to do the same when you believe you have no other choice. I should also mention that not a single protest resulted in a spike in cases or COVID19 deaths. If you believe in freedom, in rights, in progress, in power, in corruption, then you must also believe in the right of the people to defend themselves against bad politicians and their policies.
What happened after November stay at home order then? Boris Johnson released us from our chains only to tie our hands and feet. In other words, the Tiers returned, only this time harsher and with more restrictions. Many areas went into lockdown from Tier 1 and finished it with Tier 2 or 3. Watford, where I live, was considered lucky to start December in Tier 2, only to move into Tier 3 – highest level of alert – a couple of weeks later. So far lockdown worked perfectly, didn’t it? Then, after Johnson put us all through a lockdown to save Christmas and after he promised Christmas would be saved and after he put us into Tier 3, he announced, just days later, that London and surrounding areas would go into an emergency Tier 4, of which we had never heard of before, of course. But I’ll talk about that later.
First, what changed and why in Tier 3 since October? This time, gyms and beauty salons were allowed to open across all Tiers 1 – 3. This is before the introduction of Tier 4. Before lockdown, Tier 3 meant gyms and hairdressers had to shut. Now, this was no longer the case. The government responded to over six hundred thousand signatures and rebellious gym owners. They still hadn’t recognised gyms as essential businesses, which meant that in case of yet another national lockdown, they would be told to shut again, but it was a start. Why did the government have a change of heart? I have a theory.
I believe that the government knew that fines for gyms and other businesses were unenforceable and arrests were unlawful. They knew that men like Nick Whitcombe or Andreas Michili would continue to disobey the orders. They knew that any successful resistance would expose their weakness and empower people. The resistance didn’t just come in form of protests and disobedience of business owners. It evolved into educating people about their rights and how to handle themselves in the event of an arrest or what to do when being fined or how to legally refuse to shut their business. People learned about their human rights and the laws that protect those rights from the state and that no other human, no matter what authority they have, should have the power to suspend those rights. So, the government, knowing they would eventually lose (either because of mass disobedience or loss of public support due to inability to enforce coronavirus rules), decided to “allow” people to do what they were going to do anyway. Gyms were allowed to stay open because many of them would stay open anyway. Nick Whitcombe’s campaign had by then gained a worldwide attention, hundreds of thousands of people signed the petition to save gyms so the government had no choice but to bend the knee to our demands. This is my opinion anyway. According to the experts, for example, supermarkets are the places that produce the most cases and gyms, restaurants and pubs are at the very bottom of the list, resulting in next to no cases per hundred thousand visits.
In Tier 3, however, pubs and restaurants had to shut. This meant that restaurants in Hertfordshire, for example, reopened their doors on the 2nd December, fully equipped in PPE, cleaning and sanitising stations, social distancing measures in place, reduced capacity (all of which cost money, effort and job losses), had to close again on the 16th December, as per Tier 3 rules which allowed take away only. The difference between the restaurant or pub owners and gym owners is that the former, in good faith, closed their doors in November, while the latter disobeyed and made it known to thousands of people on social media. This resulted in a win for the gyms and a loss for pubs and bars who, previously could stay open in Tier 3 provided their customers ordered a “substantial meal” with their drink, now had to shut.
As we entered Tier 3 on the 16th, people like me, fitness instructors or personal trainers still had a job to go to. Pub workers went into pretty much another lockdown just two weeks after the taste of freedom and a hope for a normal Christmas was returned to them. The promise that was given to them in November was broken. For now, however, we still had Christmas to look forward to. Then, out of nowhere, came Tier 4. I should mention here that a COVID19 test centre emerged in Watford, just on my way to work. Coincidentally that led to more cases which led to Tier 3 and then 4. No article I’ve seen mentions any deaths or even hospitalizations, only cases. My wife gave birth almost four weeks ago and the midwives, as nice as they all were, told her she “had to” have a COVID19 test before giving birth. Her test was negative, but I can imagine a lot of people’s tests came back positive even if they themselves had never felt better and could be in the hospital for a completely different reason. My sister, who gave birth on Christmas Eve, in Luton, was also forced to have the test. Tier 4 arrived to save us, in other words, from cases.
2 + 2 = 5
The announcement by the Prime Minister on the 19th was a breaking point for thousands, if not millions, of people. Everyone, including those who hadn’t previously expressed their views on coronavirus lockdowns, had something to say now. I had made my opinion known long ago. By the third week of the first lockdown, I’d already sensed something was not right about it. Police issued warnings that they’d be looking in people’s bags to see if they were buying essentials. They’d patrol parks and tape off benches and outdoor gyms. They made it criminal to sit alone in the field or take your dog for a walk in the middle of nowhere. Where I come from, this is known as the early sings of a democratic country turning into a police state. A police state voted in by fear and compliance.
When Johnson finished his announcement, which resulted in pretty much another lockdown in London and surrounding areas, the lockdown disguised as just another Tier, the whole hell broke loose. People were outraged and had every right to be. One particular group of people believed they knew who stole Christmas. Only now it wasn’t just about Christmas. For millions of people, it meant at least two more weeks of not working and not seeing family. Typical human response is to find someone to blame. I guess I have done it myself by holding those who blindly obey and never questions the orders they are given responsible. But one person, who I know personally made a statement that I believe represents the views of a growing number of people. He blamed the rule breakers for Tier 4.
“To all those who broke the rules, didn’t wear masks, and I know some of you personally, this one [Tier 4] is on you!”, said one of my friends on his Instagram. I don’t blame him for being angry. I applaud him in a way. He’s been, until now, quiet about lockdowns, but they affected him significantly. He has lost most of his clients and considered just getting a normal job for the guaranteed income. He has the right to feel angry and I am glad that he does. But I think he should aim his anger and outrage at the government and not that one occasional person without a mask he sees in the cereal isle in Tesco. Truth is, I’ve been out in the shopping centre twice in between September and October and both times I was the only person without a facemask. Most people, for one reason or another, follow the rules, so Tier 4 can hardly be blamed on that one guy here and there.
I sensed desperation in his words, which just like anger, is alright to feel. I believe he speaks for a lot of people, so it is not just about him. These people don’t seem to be too concerned with saving lives, they just want their lives back and believe the only way to do that is by pleasing the government with total obedience. He added in his post that in New Zealand, people just did what they were told and now live a normal life. He attributes that to strict lockdown and people following the rules, but I would say geography played its part too. Chances are, there is, on average, a lot less flights going in and out of New Zealand than there is in the UK. Truth is, there is always more factors at play, and simply saying “lockdown did it” is dishonest. It’s also interesting how people love to mention places where lockdown “worked”, like New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia, but fail to mention Sweden which achieved similar results without lockdown. They fail to mention countries that imposed strict lockdowns and changed absolutely nothing. Peru, for example has had the world’s toughest lockdown and still one of the worst death tolls in the world. Spain, France and Italy have also had tough lockdowns and have achieved almost nothing. In short, lockdown is a lottery – it may work this time, it may not and whatever the result, there are always other factors at play. For example, Peru might have a really poor healthcare system, which is why their deaths have gone through the roof. I don’t know if that’s the case, but it could be. People love to discredit Swedish approach by talking about their population density i.e., why lack of lockdown wasn’t the “real” reason for their success, but when they talk about countries where lockdown “did work” they forget to look into other factors that played a role or made the lockdown possible in the first place.
So, no, locking down too late is not the problem and locking down early or at all is not a solution. Even World Health Organisation urges the world leaders to not rely on economy destroying lockdowns. My friend blames the restrictions on the rule breakers. He thinks the only path to freedom is through obedience. He has accepted that most of the rules make no sense and that government has control over his life, but his only choice is to comply and hope this will end soon. I don’t blame him. He, and others like him, is a person who has sacrificed and lost a lot this year and is desperate to blame someone or something for why this keeps happening. I sympathise with him, but I do not think giving up our freedoms should be the only way to get them back one day. People he represents would go to a park, beach or a Christmas market to enjoy themselves and pretend everything is normal, only to then complain about other people being there too and call them selfish, irresponsible and lacking common sense. These people will follow some rules, bend and ignore others if they think they don’t apply to them only to then shame those who don’t follow rules they follow. It’s the mindset that says, “I wash and sanitise my hands, so I will have a workout with my friend, but if I see others enjoy aspects of their lives they aren’t willing to give up, I’ll assume they are dangerous and irresponsible granny killers”.
It takes resistance to stop tyranny, but it only takes compliance to allow it to exist and take over every aspect of our lives. We have seen politicians and media suggest what we should and should not be allowed to do in the privacy of our own homes and how we should and should not interact with out loved ones. Some even go as far as claiming they have the power to “ban sex” between partners who don’t live together. We have also seen that business owners can successfully stand their ground and win the right to remain open without harassment.
Those brave men and women who didn’t close their doors, who have been fined and have spent a night in jail showed that the only way to get back to normal is through resistance. Allowing the government to play lockdown lottery with our lives only encourages them to continue doing so. We have to show them we suffer, and we are angry, otherwise they will never know and will never change. Other businesses, both big and small, should now do the same and show our leaders that they too are essential. You and me should also make the government aware that COVID19 is not the only threat and there are long term side effects of lockdown that we will all have to live with long after those who put us through it, have resigned or retired.
It is time to stop pretending, like the media want you to, that two plus two equals five, and that lockdowns are and have always been the only way to fight a virus, or that herd immunity is just a “theory” and can only be achieved through (mandatory) vaccines. Even WHO have recently changed the definition of Herd Immunity from exposing people to a virus to protecting people from a virus. I don’t know about you, but I know that if you always lift the same weight, you will never get stronger and if you never expose your body to germs or viruses, your body will never build defence mechanism against them also known as immune system. The media just approvingly repeat the slogans, like “Christmas IS cancelled this year” without hesitation convincing viewers that it is normal and that there is nothing strange about politicians thinking they have the power to cancel a religious celebration and that they have always had this power. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia. Time to resist or this will never end, and lockdowns will claim more victims than COVID19 could ever dream of. The age range will also be a lot wider as we will die and suffer of unemployment leading to crime and suicide, cancer, poverty, loneliness and more in the coming months and years. Time to realise that we are in a toxic relationship with the government and the “rule breakers” aren’t to blame for this, it is the compliance of the masses.
When Big Brother hits you again, don’t pretend he didn’t mean it, fight back or he will do it again.