Peter Hitchens: the Covid censors are moving on to Ukraine
The journalist warns that the Government is extending its surveillance
Peter Hitchens was one of this country’s most ardent and vocal critics of the Government’s lockdown policies during the Covid pandemic. On Twitter, his Mail on Sunday column and in various interviews (including UnHerd), he relentlessly questioned No10’s decision to implement lockdowns, which he argued would do little to prevent the spread of the virus.
What he did not expect, however, was to feature in the Government’s very own weekly ‘anti-disinformation report’ from as early as June 2020. According to a new report by Big Brother Watch, the journalist and author was one of several figures to have been surveilled by the Government over his anti-lockdown opinions.
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In conjunction with the 77th Brigade, “a combined Regular and Army Reserve unit” in which solders were asked to carry out “non-lethal psychological warfare”, Hitchens was marked out for sharing articles that criticised the Government’s approach to handling the virus. He remains unsure as to whether he was shadow-banned or censored.
“The Government is looking at what journalists are doing,” Hitchens told UnHerd‘s Freddie Sayers, “it’s a form of very soft censorship.” More than that, “it’s a complete outrage against the principles of freedom of speech in a free society, and one which we should be very worried about.”
It was only thanks to a whistleblower from the 77th Brigade that this information came to light. “He didn’t think he joined the army to do the sort of thing he’d been asked to do [online surveillance of British civilians],” said Hitchens. “It really isn’t the job of government to decide what views should get more exposure, is it?”
Speech monitored by these bodies was not restricted to coronavirus-related talking points: also under attack were journalists’ criticism of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, MPs’ doubts about NATO, and now Ukraine. Here Hitchens sees clear parallels from being called a “Covid-denier” to a Putin apologist. “If you raise the question ‘Is the policy of pursuing a long war against Russia by sending more weapons mistaken?’ you’re accused of being in favour of a Russian victory”.
In the context of foreign wars, Hitchens views the existence of such government units as reasonable. “In modern warfare, there is a lot of information warfare, and any country which doesn’t have defences against that is being very foolish,” he says. “So I wouldn’t be against the existence of such a unit, if it were actually working on the disruption of the combatting of disinformation by the country’s enemies or potential enemies.” However “if it turns to internal monitoring, that’s a whole different matter.”
Indeed, the basic liberties of freedom of speech, thought, press and assembly should not be “negotiable”. But, Hitchens fears, they are now “more and more under threat”.
What’s more of a threat to ‘democracy’: 1. politicians sewing doubt as to the legitimacy of elections and trying to manipulate the counting of votes, or 2. politicians using the corporate media, social media, the military and psychological warfare tactics to manipulate public opinion to support their agendas and thus ultimately re-elect said politicians for the most part? Serious question. Number 1 may seem the greater threat, but while we were all obsessing over it, number 2 came to pass with barely a fuss. Perhaps either way, we can all agree we are up to our necks in number 1 and number 2.
For extra irony, the ones doing number two now had no problem doing number one when it was politically convenient.
”What’s more of a threat to ‘democracy’: 1. politicians sewing doubt as to the legitimacy of elections”
Badly written question as you neglect to say Which Politicians – as in the 2020 election was stolen by the Democrats and their Donor Class – Thus the MAGA Politicians sewing doubt on the legitimacy of the corrupt election is the opposite of a threat to democracy, it is trying to save democracy.
Number 2 is the greater evil by far. Stealing an election by cheating is criminal and basically a coup, but violated paper and electronic ballots, not the mind of the people – BUT to do the second way – where the propaganda is put out by the government and their ‘Owners’, is to corrupt the minds of the citizens. This is inexcusable. It is analogous to injecting some Poison into their bodies wile telling them it is medicine and for their good – it is violating the sanctity of the Citizen’s Person. Violating their mind by having them believe lies intentionally told, and truth intentionally censored. Same as to violate their body by filling it with poison and say it is medicine..
That the Democrats did all Three is the wild part.
IOW, the only truth is on TikTok.
Reading the Telegraph is wild now days. Every article on Ukraine has the most incredible BTL Posting – they are not only rabidly for this war, but want every Russian killed – they are insane – it is personal BTL there. They call the Russians Orcs and long for them die horribly and in huge numbers.
It is like the worst and most extreme sort of political hate – it is like WWI levels of hate against Bosch – just as Peter described above – How the Government had whipped up such Hate for the actual Germans as people that WWI could not be stopped in 1917. And how the leaders were ready to stop and have an armistice – but the hate they had so efficiently taught their people meant they could not stop the war – the people demanded it kept on to extract retribution – so WWI went through 1918, and ALL THE EVILS still today are from that – are what caused the Russian Revolution, WWII, and most of the other ills in the world still!
They created this superhuman hate intentionally to get them to fight – and then could not put it back in the bottle, and so the world was formed to evil for the next 100 years from that hate.
This is EXACTLT what Biden and Boris have done. They used the Social Media and MSM, and their own twisted power, and $100,000,000,000 to corrupt everyone – from Oligarchs, mercinaries, and elections – to create this HATE for Russia – that now they cannot stop it. Now it is a Pandora’s box of evil they opened – and cannot shut, and a great many millions will die in the famine this is creating, and in the coming global Depression they have sown..
Wicked War!, it was a regional conflict used for alternative purposes by the Globalists – and will destroy Ukraine – much of Russia, much of the Globe – much of Europe also will be wrecked – it is WWIII and was done by this intentional engineering of hate……and the wages of this hate will be very bad to pay, and will be paid by the innocents.
Why did Biden and Boris invade Russia on 24 Feb??
At least we can all agree that this was–and is–madness…
It’s that use of reduction of scope – that the clock started a year ago and that russian aggression was therefore without comprehension – that is exactly the dumbed down propaganda. Its not that Russia is in some way good, its that we aren’t good either and the Ukrainian administration isn’t either. You’re making a jigsaw with only a selected few of the pieces.
Your febrile and over-capitalised writing style is redolent of a semi-literate undergrad with anxiety issues. Not even worthy of a response, tbh.
At least he got “sown” right.
Doesn’t that count for something?
And yet, here you are. SMH, tbh.
Times just the same. As in 1917, the media is partly responsible.
It’s impossible to post sceptical or pro Russian comments in the DT – you get selectively blocked, once you are noticed. This would explain why there is such a concentrated, uninformed stream of hatred and bias. The truth is ‘out there’ and can be found, at least, if you know where to look. Oh and yes, it’s nice to see ‘sown’ spelled correctly.
What a load of Russian agitprop garbagio.
Agreed – the Telegraph has now finally gone from objective journalism to advocacy journalism. It was the last one still reporting events to some extent objectively in the UK media imho, and their coverage of Ukraine is truly sickening – blatant propaganda, opinion donation.
Number one is the lesser of two threats because it comes from easily identifiable perpetrators such as Trump. Number two, secret state surveillance with subsequent cancellation is the most dangerous of the two. We now see the knee-capping effects of such “Trusted News Initiatives” in all our media: the official position on any topic is the only position that is offered, and that by talking heads from government or power brokers.
What scares me is that this cancellation of alternative views leaves citizens in the dark and vulnerable to still more governmental distortion about the causes, effects and options for any govt. initiative. Both Iraq and Ukraine come to mind. But Covid cancellations and lockdowns are the poster boy for this phenomenon.
Hitchens is right: it’s truly frightening.
Look how much they smeared the Nazis in WW2.
With what? Peanut butter?
Sorry, but the way “sewing” has been used here conjures up visions of old maids deployed by the deep state to darned good effect.
It’s “sowing”, as in “sowing doubt” or “as you sow, so shall you reap”.
Probably because we’ve been well and truly stitched up.
My fault. Too late to edit. At least everyone had a good laugh at my expense.
Appeasers do seem to be out in full force here.
Great interview, thank you.
RE: “If you raise the question ‘Is the policy of pursuing a long war against Russia by sending more weapons mistaken?’ you’re accused of being in favour of a Russian victory”.
So what’s wrong with that. If it’s ok to raise the question about providing Russia with weapons, surely it’s also “free speech” to call the person raising the question an appeaser or even “being in favour of a Russian victory”, just as the person being accused of being an appeaser can then respond to the charge. That isn’t censorship, or denial of freedom of speech. It’s called having a serious political argument. And I haven’t heard of anyone opposing helping Ukraine being censored.
“The Government is looking at what journalists are doing,” Hitchens told UnHerd‘s Freddie Sayers…
No shit, Sherlock.
If 77th brigade were doing this it should be made to come out of the Pandemic Public Inquiry. We need to know who suggested/instructed this action. Unacceptable in peacetime as PH contends and we need accountability.
I’d also want to know what role more malign foreign entities were trying to play with misinformation too. One has to strongly suspect CCP and FBS had considerable interest in sowing doubt, confusion etc. That is a form of cyberwarfare and we’d expect that tackled. It’s not aided though by being distracted onto a British journalist.
Hitchens makes a living at being an articulate, thought provoking contrarian, and we need those. But it doesn’t mean if he talks twaddle he shouldn’t be subject to criticism and his contentions ridiculed. He has to differentiate between allegedly being cancelled and legit criticism. Given he’s got a regular outlet in the Mail he’s hardly in danger of being cancelled so a little less ‘woe is me’ wouldn’t go amiss. This is not a guy lacking for outlets for his views.
The ugly nature of power is it’s tendency for post hoc rationalisation. A predetermined conclusion that justifies itself after taking everything. I know we don’t like to think of those who champion “liberalism” that way, but unfortunately in recent years it’s proven itself unworthy (at least in many people’s eyes). So the cynicism of the people and the duplicity of those in power grows.
Unless politicians are willing to sacrifice a little domestic “security” then we’re in for a very dark future in my opinion.
Peter’s stance on The Ukraine is ultimately cynical too. How would he feel if Britain were invaded in such a way. I just hope people don’t idolise this man as a sign of the times because such cynicism leads nowhere. Even if the war in the Ukraine is just an American proxy war it’s just moral cowardice to carve it up.
I understand the need for framing geopolitics in a certain way in yet we should just be mindful of those we ostracise domestically or else we will come to regret the consequences.
Mr. Hitchens made it clear that the case would be different if we were invaded – then we would wish there to be censorship. However Ukraine has nothing to do with our security and is not a country that we should have been supporting. As has been reported (WorldService – Inquiry – 8.06 on Thursday 26th January)), the corruption that was rife before the conflict has continued with the creaming off of the odd million or two from the billions sent in aid.
The UK citizen is suffering from the continuation of this war and, I believe, that we should be at the forefront of Westminster’s decision-making..
Yes, people like you claimed in 1930s that Czechoslovakia had nothing to do with Britain security, till they saw German bombers over London and needed Polish and Czech pilots to save their bacon…
Rather typical Post-Modernist drivel.
“Not only do they disagree with me–but they know the Real Truth, (that I am right) and thus KNOW that they are lying–for their own EVIL PURPOSES.”
The alternative is that the govt, the MSM and the majority of citizens in most western nations actually consider Russia an existential threat. Attempting to gain a monopoly on the world’s food and energy supplies through a savage invasion might be seen as a little…predatory.
I know, it’s not nearly as exciting as cosplaying as The Defenders of Truth for the Universe.
But sometimes one just has to take off the lycra suit and live in the real world.
Indeed – everyone needs to take off their respective Lycra suit and live in the real world.
I would venture there is a fair bit more naive Lycra cosplay pushing for war than against.
Hutchins was only “under surveillance” if you consider a clippings service to be a form of surveillance.
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