Is the tide turning in favour of those campaigning for freedom from lockdowns? For some weeks World Wide rallies against lockdowns had been planned for Saturday 20th March. Effectively the first anniversary of a year of lockdowns.
The idea originated on the continent after the success of re-opening protests in countries such as Italy, Poland and others. It was felt more countries could join in and it would make a real impression if as many as possible could take part together on a specific day. The theme of “The Great Re-opening” and its variations had a lot of support across many social media platforms.
In the UK the intention was to have rallies in a number of cities at the same time. This ambition was not fully realised but there have been gatherings in many towns and cities, especially Manchester, Newcastle and London. A great reopening of shops planned for Edinburgh was cancelled at the last minute, but a rally still went ahead.
The government has been accused of using a range of tactics to reduce attendance at the rallies, especially the London one. The Metropolitan Police issued a number of media and online warnings against people attending. Numerous attempts were made to infiltrate anti-lockdown social media columns with the intention of causing disunity, doubts about the organisation of the events, whether they were going to be cancelled, and much more.
It is claimed that the government employed disinformation tactics through the use of civilian and military intelligence services plus PR agencies. It is a credit to the organisations involved with the rally in London in particular, that it went well, with a peaceful procession to the heart of London from at least two different starting points. These were deliberately not revealed until early afternoon, to make Police disruption more difficult.
There were 50,000 plus people spread over a 2 and a half mile route, and these figures were many times more than a BBC earlier claim about the numbers. Over in Hyde Park Corner, Piers Corbyn, a candidate for London Mayor under the “Let London Live “ banner, accused the BBC of collective manslaughter, in their blanket support of the government’s lockdown policies. He also maintained the opposition had been worse, with calling for stricter lockdowns. Lawrence Fox, the actor, also joined the rally.
One of the organisations involved, “Save Our Rights,” was very pleased with the turnouts, which were achieved with virtually no media pre-publicity. One organiser, Vince Dunmall, said that it was not just the regular protesters who came out, but thousands of others. This is the way forward, people have had enough, he added.
His colleague, Louise Creffield, said that the success had shown that people have the power, that they are not asleep, and that the numbers were too great for the police to handle. She also said that the people were standing up against the renewal of the Coronavirus Act, the Courts and the new Police and Crime Bills, due to have further debates this coming week. She said that there was meaningless democracy in the country because it had been replaced by a dictatorship, and that real democracy had to be restored. People, she said, were standing up for their rights.
The vast majority of those protesting were not wearing face masks and expressed their sense of freedom at not being muzzled. It could be said that after many weeks of many in retreat, this has been the first victory for those who are campaigning for freedom from all lockdown restrictions.
This is significant because there had been the feeling that the government could get away with whatever it wanted: Back and forth on lockdowns, mass covid-19 testing and mass vaccinations without any logic, and basically riding roughshod over people’s rights and liberties, and behaving in an un British authoritarian manner.
There is the feeling that all that will change. The upwards of 400 local and national ‘freedom from lockdown’ organisations across the UK will take heart from what happened on Saturday and will feel the tide has turned. In fact this would have happened much earlier if the “freedom fighters” had the financial resources. The “National Alliance For Freedom from Lockdowns,” the umbrella group which strives for better co-ordination between all the campaigning organisations, believes the lack of money is the major factor which has slowed up the campaign to restore freedoms.
The small number of professional banners, leaflets and other basic resources has really hindered the whole campaign. Hopefully this will improve. At present the freedom campaigners are like a poorly equipped division against many full equipped and fully financed government ones. Anyone who has been involved with a referendum or political election campaign will know that good financing and resourcing mean a much better chance of success.
The resources issue was the major reason why the great reopening of shops aspect of the campaign could not proceed, as the support mechanism and structure is simply not there for those who would want to be involved. The positive, though, was that the rallies were successful, especially the London one. Those wanting freedom feel they are a “people’s army,” of all ages, backgrounds, creeds, races and religions, and believe strongly that the “sword of truth” is on their side.
It is well known that thousands more people held back from attending the rallies today, for many reasons, but primarily because of fear of fines and arrests by the government. There were some 33 arrests sadly (for doing nothing except peacefully protest) but overall there was not the scale of problems with the London police which there have been with protests with lower numbers. It was felt that it was more difficult for the police to exercise their usual tactics against anti-lockdown protesters, which are to pick out people who are easy to snatch. Those in the rally tended to link arms when such a threat appeared. This success will mean many thousands more people will have the courage to go out on the streets and demand their freedoms back.
For some time those campaigning to end lockdowns have been seeking to carry out protests which were more logical and targeted at achieving specific objectives. More of this sensible protesting, aimed at putting the government and its backers on the defensive at last, is likely to take place. On Saturday 20th March the UK campaign played their part in making the “World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy” a successful event in many nations’ cities. These included Australia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Austria and others. After all, no country in the world has any electoral mandate to bring in lockdown restrictions. If we believe in democracy such measures should be subject to democratic mandate, such as a referendum, before being imposed.
Photo by steven.eason