Written by Sidney Pycroft
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, seen above, is proposing covid vaccine passports as a way of safely returning to normalcy.
Not so long ago those warning that the government were planning domestic passports were branded conspiracy theorists, and yet here we are now. In January it was discovered that behind all the denials the government had been secretly funding eight potential schemes. Then in February we were told they may be required for overseas travel. Then Dominic Raab floated the idea that they would be used for shopping and hospitality. Matt Hancock then denied that domestic passports were to be a thing.
But, as always, never trust a politician, banker, journalist, or an estate agent. We don’t usually. But we have been so lazy this last year in actually questioning anything our MPs have done, and now we are facing the looming threat of domestic passports. We are being toyed with, treating our freedom as a game, as something to wrenched from us and drip fed back only to then be told we would need a passport to enter a shop. And now even the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has told the Cabinet Office the plans may constitute ‘unlawful discrimination’.
Liberty flew the nest last year so it will not be coming back. Surely it should be unsettling that a one-year limit on the passports was a ‘compromise’ according to Boris Johnson, indicating that he had hoped to make it the new normal for good. Never trust a temporary government programme to be temporary, just see income tax and VAT as examples of that lie.
Apparently, the domestic passports are unlikely to be ready pre- June 21st, so what is even the point or logic there except for control and power? Post June 21st just about everyone hopes that the government will finally allow people to live their lives, but to hold this at ransom with the perpetual suspension of liberty indefinitely via other means feels like abuse. It is just a power grab, and if it were the Tories in opposition, they wouldn’t be letting Labour claim this power for themselves. Do they even realise that this power when in the hands of another party could be used against their own interests, or are they blinded by their recent short-term polling boost?
There is a threefold reason why the government is ploughing ahead with domestic passports. First, as Neil Ferguson put it clearly in an interview with The Times, that pre-2020 he, scientists, and politicians didn’t think they could “get away with” such a suspension of normal life for any circumstances, but once Italy followed China’s lead “we realised we could” he said. The mirage of the ‘liberal-democratic west’ being liberal or democratic at heart was shattered and we have let the government do as they like; this is just the next step in the accruing of power.
Second, Johnson is a slave to popularity, all he wants is national admiration and the opinion polls govern him. With opinion polls showing 58 percent of people supporting domestic passports during the vaccine rollout and 72 percent afterwards, and with the latter option polling at 79 percent among Conservative voters, it is no surprise he feels like he needs to initiate them. But in context Conservative voters tend to be older and it will be the young most adversely affected by domestic passports and, for a much longer time, it would be another case of the young sacrificing fundamentals of their life and future for no discernible benefit. Additionally, a culture of fear has ruled this last year, which should be abolished from 21st June, but fear is useful in directing the public so domestic passports are a tool to keep this anxiety at the front of everyone’s mind. Which is just plain cruel. Furthermore, polls are there to shape not report opinion so never trust those either.
Third, it is just a matter of principle losing to power. The Liberal Democrats have miraculously discovered the meaning of their name and taken a stand against domestic passports and other such measures. Labour have been flip-flopping on the idea but erring to opposition. If Labour, the Lib Dems, and Tory rebels coordinated they could finally defeat the government after a year of non-existent opposition. Tony Blair tried and failed to create state IDs during his years in Number 10 so it is no surprise that he is the primary backer of domestic passports, which should tell anyone that this is about power not Covid.
What this last point does is explain why they would even be considered for implementation after 21 June, because it has morphed into something else. Why after a year of such crushing of liberty and life would anyone desire more of this in another form? Turns out the people of this world desire security, in this case a state dedicated to biosecurity, rather than life. It is something which is upsetting to anyone who leans libertarian, but not at all surprising as it is not as if libertarians have ever won a single argument in politics and seen it not be corrupted, ever.
Domestic passports have no purpose, not least after 21st June, other than a gruesome power grab. And it appears it will be less of a grab and more of a willful transfer of our freedom to our state overlords. The concept has already shattered the illusion the west is truly liberal in any form, it will entrench the abolition of liberty, and normalise a society of fear and snitching which has been so destructive this last year. But the government has no brakes, so domestic passports roll ever closer.
Photo source - Flickr (Number 10)