Richard Tice, the leader of Reform UK, asked us for this right of reply to Edward Howard’s comment piece on Saturday.
I WAS disappointed to read Saturday’s TCW article headed ‘Reform chief’s attack on Bridgen is a cowardly own goal’.
Cowardly I am not.
Reform UK was the first anti-lockdown party and was viciously attacked for it. Nothing cowardly about that. Nothing cowardly about my public Brexit stance when I was called racist, Nazi and anti-Semitic.
When I invited Andrew Bridgen on to my TV show before Christmas it was, I believe, one of only two TV interviews he was invited to do in which he could defend his views in face of the Tories’ attack on him. TCW readers may not be aware that I also invited senior oncologist Professor Angus Dalgleish on to my show in the first week of this year, highlighting his concerns about the impact of the booster on dormant cancers that he had just communicated in TCW’s pages. That interview massively increased public awareness of his concerns and his call to halt the vaccine programme.
Anyone in broadcasting today walks the tightrope of free speech – especially on Covid – versus being shut down. It is shocking and wrong that it is so. But if I lose my platform, that option of airing contrary views is lost. Almost no one else at Talk TV has gone further than me on raising the troubling issue of the safety and efficacy of the Covid vaccines and questioning the excess deaths. At GB News it seems that Mark Steyn, who first brought it to the fire, has been ousted.
My position is both rational and pragmatic. I have been calling for an urgent review for many weeks, as per the TCW Editor’s statement which followed the article. I am grateful that this was added. But it also needs pointing out that since I originally commented on Andrew Bridgen, I have made three separate major statements to camera on this issue. Mr Howard conveniently ignored all three.
Reform UK is the only credible party calling for such a review. It has won the endorsement of other politicians and commentators of this approach. Conservative MP Esther McVey has followed my lead in the Commons. I hope it is a game-changer.
The Tories would have been delighted for me to invite Andrew Bridgen to join Reform, then to label Reform UK the ‘anti-vax party’, with Labour joining in the attack. I believe this would have doomed the party. I avoided it.
I do believe in the freedom of choice of people to take the vaccine or not – freedom of bodily autonomy just like free speech. It works both ways. That we deserve informed choice is unarguable.
The jury is still out on the benefits versus the risks, especially for the elderly. Some of the data presented by scientists such as Dr Aseem Malhotra has been countered by experts on the other side. There is clearly a problem, but this has to be looked at independently to maximise credibility. Until that is conducted and there is a comprehensive view one way or another on the vaccine’s benefits versus their risks, is it right to take that freedom of choice from people?
My position and that of Reform UK is rational: I repeat, we have been calling for an urgent independent review of the causes of the excess deaths including the impact of vaccine harms for many weeks. There are plenty of studies by experts on both sides of the debate who all passionately believe that they are right. This all needs comparing independently together with the emerging data in various different areas such as cancers, seizures, thrombosis, myocarditis and the many other adverse events published by the MHRA.
Public opinion also instinctively and understandably wants to trust that the Government got it right on the vaccines. This has to be acknowledged and responded tosensitively.
I am hugely encouraged by the positive response to my stand. We have gained almost three times more new members than have cancelled in the last ten days, with a strong level of continuing donations, and we have progressed in some polls, so many people clearly agree with the Reform position.
Be in no doubt, I am very concerned about the excess deaths and vaccine harms. But to shape influence and change events, one has to be tactical. There are huge vested interests at stake.
Challenging that requires courage, Mr Howard. And that I have.