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It’s not just sceptics that need convincing about lockdown – there’s another more dangerous group to worry about

·6-min read

The government is refocusing its lockdown TV messaging, rightly so as we have to reach and convince the sceptical and the anti-vaxxers/anti-lockdown supporters. To do so it’s important to recognise the two groups are quite different.

The sceptics are just like you and me and are easier to reach, but the “antis” are different. Many have deliberately cut themselves off from mainstream media and, even though they would hate to admit it, they are an unforeseen consequence of years of Trump’s fake news mantra.

I am in my mid-70s with a family member of similar age who’s an anti. Her posts on Facebook give an insight into this world. She’s not had a television for a long while and I would describe her as a liberal, having supported the Greenham Common Women and Jeremy Corbyn. So it surprised me when I saw many of the sites she uses for information are American and are big on opinions but short on facts – though they often use the opinions of others as “facts”. Many of these sites are, or are linked to others that are, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-immigrants and staunch believers in Trump’s message of a stolen election. Some UK and Irish sites are also anything but liberal.

Are these sites deliberately exploiting concerns on Covid-19 and frustration with lockdown to attract potential supporters using the concept, “If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas”, and hoping their other agendas will be picked up this way?

I’ve tried discussion with her but we are speaking different languages. In response to my mention of 100,000 deaths I’m told: “If we allow lockdowns to continue we will be slipping into a dangerous fascist state.” And: “I've seen graphs that show that there have not been more deaths this year compared with the previous five years.” This last comment is an example of an absence of facts, just an unsupported statement that can be refuted. But it takes time to gather honest evidence by which time another falsehood is out there.

So where do we go from here? There are those who are knowingly spreading misinformation utilising Trump’s methodology of drowning us in a tsunami of untruths and on the adage “a lie is halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on”. They deliberately overwhelm us, leaving insufficient time and no facts to check out before we are hit by a new one. If we don’t find a way to counter this then all of our lives, including the antis, are at risk.

John Simpson

Ross on Wye

A dangerous path ahead

I feel compelled to add just one thing to the even-handed article from John Rentoul. Readers should take a look – though not necessarily purchase a copy – at the book Britannia Unchained, co-authored by five Conservative MPs, among them Liz Truss, Dominic Raab, Kwasi Kwarteng and Priti Patel.

The ultra free market ideas are there for all to see, page after page. For example: the UK has a bloated state, high taxes and excessive regulation.

I must emphasise that as you go through the book it only gets worse.

I understand that it is easy to spout theories that never see the light of day, but one can clearly visualise the path that these individuals desire this country to take.

Once Boris Johnson is removed – this year, in my opinion – then the next, probably even worse, leader will be pressured by the authors and more than likely start us on a slippery slope towards “Singapore on Thames”.

Robert Boston

Kingshill, Kent

It really is a sin

I was so looking forward to new series It’s a Sin on Channel 4, having been a great fan of Queer as Folk, only to be bitterly disappointed. More than that, feeling a sharp sense of betrayal.

As someone who actually lived the central London gay life, living within walking distance of key gay locales such as the King’s Road in Chelsea and Earl’s Court of course, Russell T Davies quite misses the mark, both in tone and substance. In particular, his portrayal of an Aids ward, more akin to a scene from the Crimean War.

Perhaps I should add I was diagnosed HIV+ in 1985 and given two years to live max, while witnessing the revolting protracted deaths of many sorely missed friends. If readers want a true gauge of the grievous human loss sustained, watch Aids Memorial on YouTube.

Early on in the Covid hell we are all living through, I told friends at least straights get some sense of what we went through.

Tony Tugnutt

Eythorne, Kent

Is he serious?

I had to chuckle on noting that Boris Johnson is set to visit Scotland this week in an “all-out” bid to save the union.

He is expected to use the trip to make a plea, without any sense of irony, for Scots to reject “narrow separatism” and hail the benefits of being in the UK.

Noting that we are some months away from April Fool’s Day, it should be noted that this statement is from a prime minister whose narrow nationalism, driven by his right-wing Tory party, has seen Scotland as part of the UK forced out of a European union of 28 states which comprises the largest single market in the world.

Given his appalling poll ratings in Scotland, I would urge Mr Johnson to become a frequent visitor north of the border.

Alex Orr


Wait-and-see mistake

It appears that the government has waited to see for themselves the trends in Covid cases and mortality and this has consistently delayed the actions it has taken.

Put bluntly I believe this, together with Boris’s wishful thinking, has killed tens of thousands. It will be a while before we know exactly how many.

Ironically I believe the lack of investment in the NHS has saved lives. Boris has only acted when he has seen the NHS couldn’t cope. Had there been twice as many ICU beds there would have been twice as many active cases before he could see for himself the NHS was about to be overwhelmed.

Boris deflecting responsibility by citing the new variant and its increased mortality rate merely confirms he has failed to appreciate that it is his job to understand the numbers and act decisively.

Jon Hawksley


Naked ambition

On Keira Knightly and no sex scenes directed by men, I have long wondered how many would be opposed if the rule was that if the actor is nude, then all those involved behind the scenes were required to be nude also?

Joanna Pallister

Durham City

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