By Niall McCrae
An eccentric, wild-haired old bloke in a baggy cardigan addresses a small gathering with a megaphone, to the bemusement of passers-by. ‘No vax and trax, no 5G’. No this, no that – what was he wittering on about? Police officers eventually stepped in and the weird cult disappeared. Back to the ‘new normal’ in the deserted streets of Glastonbury!
It was in this Somerset town, on 25th April, when Piers Corbyn emerged as an unlikely leader of the freedom movement. Before this small but significant event, any criticism of the government’s draconian lockdown was confined to the internet – not in mainstream media but a few outspoken tribunes on Twitter (who were savagely mocked and denounced for their troubles). Corbyn, the veteran long-range weather forecaster and climate change sceptic, became a Messianic figure to a subdued minority of the populace, railing against Covid-1984 and the global technocratic agenda. From about 40 souls in Glastonbury to tens of thousands at Trafalgar Square, we have come a long way.
As we attend rallies today, let us acknowledge the courage of the few men and women who stood up to tyranny from the outset. Outnumbered by police and readily targeted, they braved intimidation, fines and arrest. With fellow activists, Corbyn took his megaphone to various thoroughfares in London, such as outside Brixton underground station. These protests, which drew little public support or media attention, were ignored by the authorities. However, when Corbyn and about 20 others gathered on the embankment opposite the Houses of Parliament on 9th May, the police swooped heavy-handedly.
On 16th May about a hundred people went to Speakers Corner for the first attempt at a mass protest, but they were met by a similar number of police. Several were arrested for illegal assembly, including Corbyn. The media, following the official narrative, portrayed those attending as cranks and conspiracy theorists, and on social media many people opined that these reckless germ-spreaders should be deprived of NHS treatment, an ICU bed or ventilator.
While large demonstrations were held in Germany and in some cities in the USA, the British authorities appeared to have suppressed opposition to the Covid regime. However, in June, the Black Lives Matter movement, after a brutal police killing in Minneapolis, held rallies in cities throughout the UK. These protests were allowed (and to some extent encouraged by politicians), and the ‘softly-softly’ policing raised complaints of double standards.
Lockdown was eased in early summer but many normal social and recreational activities remained curtailed, and protests against the Covid regime spread around the country. The crowds in Hull, Brighton, Bournemouth, Sheffield, Glasgow, Truro, Edinburgh and other cities were head-countable, but cumulatively they contributed to the national cause. Campaigning groups StandUpX and Save our Rights maintained a momentum, leading to the first really big demonstration in London.
On 29th August a crowd of over twenty thousand assembled at Trafalgar Square, where they heard from nurses Kate Shemirani and Kevin Corbett, microbiologist Dolores Cahill, Piers Corbyn and that controversial siren of the New World Order, David Icke. On the previous evening the government had passed legislation imposing a £10000 fine on anyone organising illegal assembly, and Corbyn, arrested after the event, was the first activist to receive this harsh penalty. .
Two further large rallies at Trafalgar Square were held on successive Saturdays in September. Tension in the movement led to a group of health practitioners and scientists organising their own event. Some feared that giving a platform to David Icke and claiming Covid-19 as a hoax were detrimental to publicity. On 19th September an ‘educational event’ was organised by Fiona Hine and presented by Kate Shemirani. This was permitted after a risk assessment, but on the premise that social distancing guidelines were not being followed, police made numerous attempts to stop the rally. These forays were resisted by the crowd, and most of the speakers were heard, but eventually riot police dispersed everyone from the square. Hine and Shemirani avoided a fine by leaving early, but they were arrested four days later while protesting outside the Houses of Parliament. Both were held for over 24 hours and their homes were searched and computers confiscated.
On 26th September the biggest rally yet was organised by Save our Rights, marking six months since the Coronavirus Act was passed. About 25000 attended. Again use of the venue was approved, on condition of a risk assessment. The organisers emphasised a peaceful gathering, and silence was observed in honour of a Metropolitan Police sergeant who was shot dead two days earlier. Towards the end of the rally, soon after David Icke spoke, riot police stormed in, striking protestors with batons. The crowd marched to Hyde Park, where Heiko Schõning, a German doctor who had been interrupted by the police incursion at Trafalgar Square, attempted to speak. For unknown reason police broke through the crowd and arrested him. After being held for 22 hours at Wandsworth Police Station he was released without charge.
As static events were likely to be obstructed, in October protestors changed to holding marches through central London. Attended by several thousand, these passed without the violent police intervention of previous rallies. Meanwhile demonstrations across the country were growing in size, with over a thousand at Birmingham on 31st October . When a second lockdown was imposed on 5th November for a period of four weeks, public gatherings (more than two people) were banned. However, this did not stop the protests. Hundreds marched through Liverpool on 7th November, and on the following day over two thousand attended a rally in Manchester.
Organisers continue to be given £10000 fines, as was Paul Boys at the Manchester event. Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain of Greater Manchester Police stated: –
‘Ahead of Sunday, officers attempted to engage with the person organising this gathering – warning him of the likely consequences and advising, for his and everyone else’s sake, to abandon his plans. However, he decided to ignore this advice and pressed ahead with a reckless and completely irresponsible course of action. He has been left with a significant financial penalty as a result.’
Yet these fines, of dubious validity in law due to their lack of proportionality and breach of basic rights, are not enough to quash the rebellion. This weekend there will be marches in Liverpool and Wolverhampton, and on the 28th another meeting of the masses in London. As they say at rallies, choose your side!
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