Unreasonably Spiked

Fraser Myers of Spiked magazine lashes out at Andrew Bridgen MP… and HART

There are times when it seems that nothing will ever be the same again. Many of us long to go back to normal life where we can work, play, pay our taxes and observe professional scribes and commentators vociferously debate the arguments du jour.  But when it gets to the stage where even pachyderm enthusiasts are consistently ignoring gigantic herds of elephants stampeding around them, their active cognitive dissonance and Nelsonian ignorance is nothing short of enraging. The injustice meted out on an otherwise unsuspecting populace by the League of Pandemic Preparedness Gentlemen in cahoots with hectoring Zero Covidian fear-mongers – supported along the way by an unholy coterie of associated ill-informed politicians – cannot just be dismissed with a half-hearted admission that ‘mistakes were made’ and a willingness to let the perpetrators off the hook with a light telling-off, if that.

Throughout these dark times – in which the Fourth Estate has utterly failed to hold the executive properly accountable for inexcusable tyrannical actions that resulted in the totally avoidable destruction of so much that we previously held dear – various organs of public opinion have shown flickers of life, only to disappoint time and again.  Cutting to the chase (unfortunately, the list of sorry exhibits is too long to permit any sort of detailed discussion here), the disillusionment felt on reading Deputy Editor of Spiked Fraser Myers’ wretchedly poor attempt at a hatchet job on Andrew Bridgen MP two weeks ago was a low point, akin to noting incoming friendly fire from a position we previously thought was held by units who were on our ‘side’ of the debate.

To recap: Andrew Bridgen MP has incurred the wrath of the establishment by refusing to bow to the ‘vaccine saviour’ narrative, both speaking up on behalf of those harmed by pharmaceutical misadventure and challenging ongoing policy shibboleths. In response, he has had the book thrown at him, was temporarily suspended from Parliament, has been subjected to laughable and easily rebutted ‘fact checks’ and has been thrown out of the Conservative party.  If that wasn’t enough, Spiked – an outfit that is “irreverent where others conform, questioning where others wallow in received wisdom, and radical where others cling to the status quo” – has besmirched its reputation by joining in this demonisation with a pathetic contribution to the unholy chorus.

Myers’ article is rife with misrepresentations and errors of fact, as demonstrated by its ruthless deconstruction by Will Jones in the Daily Sceptic.  We would go further, and say Myers’ piece is a shoddy piece of work that is light on detail and heavy on innuendo, uses ill-defined terms and generalisations, gets various facts out of kilter and eschews making any meaningfully accurate criticisms.

A particular underhand point is Myers’ statement claiming that Bridgen “compared the vaccines to the Holocaust directly” when the tweet actually read “As a consultant cardiologist said to me, the vaccines were the ‘biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust’”. This statement of Bridgen’s was subsequently – and shamefully – leapt upon in Parliament by Matt Hancock to claim that Bridgen was spouting “antisemitic, anti-vax, anti-scientific conspiracy theories” and the Prime Minister joined the pile-on by stating: “It is utterly unacceptable to make linkages and use language like that, and I’m determined that the scourge of antisemitism is eradicated. It has absolutely no place in our society”.

The only one making unacceptable linkages here were Hancock and the Prime Minister, and they would do well to read Douglas Murray’s recent Spectator article on the subject.  It is of note that a group of over 25 Jewish medical scientists, physicians and researchers have also written an open letter to the Prime Minister which includes the following paragraphs:

Aside from the fact that Mr Bridgen was clearly reporting the words of someone else, the word “since” does not in any case imply equivalence to the events of the Holocaust; for that and other reasons the tweet is not antisemitic.

It seems that you and others have seized upon the opportunity to raise the issue of antisemitism in order to limit the free speech of those who raise legitimate concerns about the efficacy and safety of these Covid vaccines and, needless to say, their mandating or coercion, which breached many well-established ethical norms.  

The matter will now escalate as the courts are involved: Bridgen — now incidentally the Reclaim Party’s first MP — is suing Hancock for defamation.

While it should be emphasised that Myers does not use the word antisemitism in his article, he does make the bizarre claim that Bridgen is “exploiting the mass murder of six million Jews”, thus deploying the same distressing smear tactics used by Hancock and the Prime Minister to play the man, not the ball.  Why are they so desperate to discredit Bridgen rather than address the claims he – and others – may have raised? Is it because they cannot? And if they cannot, why is that? Why does the deputy editor of the magazine that emphasises that “at a time when it is fashionable to cancel ‘problematic’ people, to sideline voters when they give the ‘wrong’ answer, and to treat human beings as a drain on the planet, we put the case for human endeavour, the expansion of democracy, and freedom of speech with no ifs or buts” get to treat Bridgen as a singular exception?

Whatever their intention, Spiked should know better than to publish such words.  However, not content with the article, Myers’ editor, Tom Slater, doubled down with this:

It is not entirely clear why Slater considers this a free speech matter? No-one is wishing to censor Myers or his organisation – we defend their right to publish whatever they want – but isn’t the whole point of debate in the public square that underhand and ill-thought-out criticisms and smears get called out for what they are? Given the nature of Slater’s business, it is extraordinary that he cannot see why he’s received such an enraged response – siding with the establishment and making uninformed arguments against someone standing up for victims of state overreach is not exactly going to endear you to a rational audience.

Myers and Bridgen then subsequently appeared on GB News to debate the matter.  Did either of them ‘win’? Bridgen brought detailed facts and arguments to the debate; Myers – perhaps stung by the degree to which his original article had been shredded by those more knowledgeable about the matters he had raised – resorted to ad hominem attacks, repeating multiple times that Bridgen is an “anti-vax conspiracy theorist”. Classy.  Commenting, Toby Young of Daily Sceptic notes that Bridgen “is completely across this argument… he’s immersed himself in it for the past six months or so, he can set out the case for it all being essentially a conspiracy driven by big pharma, big tech, various billionaires” … but then refers to Bridgen as a conspiracy theorist (why, if Myers couldn’t refute Bridgen’s hypotheses?) and then excuses Myers’ poor performance in the debate on the grounds of being less familiar with the arguments. 

What?! “Debater loses debate because he is poor at debating” is one of the lesser-used excuses used in such circumstances. Myers is a professional journalist who has jumped on a bandwagon of smears against an ostracised sitting MP by publishing a nasty article – wrong in numerous facts and making various unsavoury insinuations – on a subject that he knows little about. Knowing your facts is surely journalism 101 if you want to appear credible. 

Chanting ad hominem slurs is a poor substitute for challenging with factual evidence and debating with logic: it comes across as if Myers wants the freedom to dish out playground bully chants, but takes affront at reasoned and evidenced arguments.  If there has been one lesson of the last few years is that titles matter little – just ask former US Surgeon General Jerome Adams who was humiliated by an activist citizen when he tried to publicly ridicule her. 

HART does not believe that Bridgen (or any other individual for that matter) is a messiah.  We still cannot fathom how he – and so many of his colleagues – didn’t challenge the Coronavirus Act 2020 when it was brought to Parliament, stood by while children were incarcerated in their homes and eye-watering costs were incurred. Why did he not speak up before?  However, as we have just outlined in a recent piece on tensions within the freedom movement, we are hugely supportive of anyone who is contrite about previously supporting unconscionable totalitarian policies, and is now willing to fight for freedom, honesty and transparency and against corruption and malevolence.  Bridgen is fighting that fight, and we welcome his new-found outspokenness on behalf of those with no voice.

We exhort outlets such as Spiked not to debase themselves with murky copypasta that one might expect from the gutter press.  The big question is why on earth would Myers wade into this arena – after all, as pointed out by Young, it’s not as if he knows a lot about the topic. It was certainly very odd to see the likes of Baroness Fox and Frank Furedi (both long-time associates of Spiked) attempt to rally round Myers: the former by framing the matter as a free speech issue, the latter – in a case of doublethink that boggles the mind – claiming that Myers “writes a lot of sense”. 

We invited Spiked to disclose when they last received funding from Pfizer (either directly or indirectly) and whether they were in any way ‘encouraged’ to make this intervention and, if so, by whom. While they have pointed out that the only evidence of pharma funding was from 2006 and state that Spiked is “funded by our generous, loyal readers and a bit of advertising”, as far as we can tell — and we are happy to be proven wrong — they have not denied any source of pharma funding since 2006. In his response, Myers makes further errors of fact, throwing his toys out of the pram and drawing attention to leaked private messages procured by an outfit that received over a £1 million of taxpayers’ money as part of efforts to carry out ethically dubious surveillance and censorship on UK citizens. Talk about siding with the establishment: not a good look. Finally, they attack Dr Clare Craig for sharing her evidence-based assessment (based on SAGE and PHE’s own comments) that in the early period after vaccination there was a higher risk of contracting covid, something which has never been shown to be false.

HART is furious about the multitude of harms that were perpetrated and unnecessary costs that have been incurred since 2020, and hugely disappointed by the likes of Spiked for failing to live up to its lofty ideals.  Not only that, they have inexplicably aligned themselves with an official ‘big pharma’-friendly narrative that is riddled with egregious errors, sleights of statistical hand and downright lies that should make any rationally numerate person – at the very least – pause for thought.

But it seems that Spiked – “whose motto is ‘question everything’ – or as the New York Times put it, ‘the often-biting British publication fond of puncturing all manner of ideological balloons’” does not want to go there, and Myers claims that because “anti-vax conspiracy theorists” now “count a British MP among its ranks” that this “tendency” “must be challenged head on”. 

Well, do it properly then with facts, figures and cogent arguments:

It seems Myers – and a coterie of people involved with Spiked magazine – can’t keep up with the speed of TheScience™. This pathetic attempt to bolster a crumbling official narrative by employing smear tactics – previously crudely deployed by those with vested interests in perpetuating a flawed vaccine saviour narrative – will only fuel distrust and serve to hasten a reckoning for those that put pharmaceutical profits ahead of people’s lives.

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