Lockdowns don’t work

Laura Dodsworth follows and photographs the guerrilla anti-lockdown campaign projected across London landmarks

Artillery Row

“Lockdowns don’t work” was emblazoned on the Houses of Parliament last night, in an act of determined and hopeful defiance by campaigning group Recovery.

Recovery is a band of doctors, NHS staff, leaders in epidemiology, mental health experts, business leaders, sports stars, performers and celebrities. This broad coalition wants an end to panic-driven policies and calls for politicians to stick to rational and balanced responses to Covid-19.

Recovery founder Jon Dobinson had noticed my narrative photographic projects in response to lockdown on The Critic and other publications and asked if I would photograph their bold campaign on 1st November. My work often focuses on illuminating the untold story and finding light in the darkness – photography itself is drawing with light – so I followed the projection crew around London, capturing the guerrilla campaign and the entranced observers’ reactions. On the Embankment I snapped a couple recording the ‘Lockdowns don’t work” slogan as they muttered, “No, they don’t!”

The timing couldn’t have been better, as the government announced a new lockdown the same day. As Dobinson put it, “In the darkness of another lockdown, we will light the way to Recovery, for hope and for balance. The news of another shutdown, needed because all the others didn’t work, has plunged millions into despair tonight. MPs must know that lockdowns have completely failed to control the virus, just as the world’s leading experts in epidemics and viral diseases predicted. We call on MPs to abandon the failed lockdown approach and back our Five Reasonable Demands to ensure a more humane, balanced and fair way out of this mess.”

Concerned that some polls are being designed to produce binary and misleading results, Recovery commissioned a robust survey which found that 71% of people are now more concerned about the consequences of lockdown than they are about catching the virus. Mental health, the suspension of cancer screening, job prospects and the impact on children are real worries for the UK population. This does not surprise anyone who has conversations in the real world, away from Twitter echo chambers.

Never before has a government quarantined the healthy, told people they cannot work, prevented grandparents seeing grandchildren, and interfered with every intimate human rite. Many, including Recovery, believe the cure is worse than the disease.

We are in dark days when ministers and civil servants present misleading statistics and doom-mongering models to terrify a nation into compliance. Every act of resistance is a light in the dark.

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