- Sidney Pycroft
Freedom is indivisible: delaying ‘freedom day’ was wrong and dangerous
Written by Sidney Pycroft
Above: Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirms on June 14th that the planned full easing of covid restrictions on June 21st will not take place, but be delayed for four weeks.
After 15 months of lockdown and yo-yoing restrictions where the fundamentals of human life were suspended without consultation, we seem no closer to normality’s return. Mark Harper, the COVID Recovery Group’s chair in Parliament has even made public government work on autumn and winter restrictions and shared memos suggesting the unlocking on July 19th is unlikely to happen. Susan Hopkins, deputy director of Public Health England’s national infection service, even said there would be a winter lockdown if they felt like it, which is plainly ludicrous.
When will people realise that underneath the public health security scares and inconsistent restrictions are incompetent and power-hungry politicians and scientific advisors. If politics is a question of power, then you can untie this messy situation. One where almost two-thirds of the country has had at least one jab compared to none last summer, yet this summer is markedly less free than then. Now all adults can book vaccine appointments, which they said were the path to normal, so it seems that was another lie.
Originally the delta (or Indian) ‘variant’ was cited as the reason for the delay, then after the Commons had voted for another month of limbo it was admitted the decision was made on out-of-date data, using the usual statistical magic and graph layouts to cover this up. It gets worse though. Matt Hancock knew of the new data days before the decision and purposefully hid it from Boris Johnson to force an extension. That is plain evil and he should be fired immediately, notwithstanding the myriad of sleaze and incompetence around him too.
The November lockdown was also announced based upon shoddy graphs and statistics which failed to hold up to scrutiny at the time, so this is nothing new. The out-of-date data on vaccine effectiveness, uptake and hospitalisation is also not new, this happened with the creation of the roadmap when SPI-M greatly underestimated effectiveness, so why are there no consequences for this manipulation and incompetence?
The current delay is based, yet again, on more flawed Imperial College/SAGE models, the ones which kickstarted global lockdowns after China and Italy. They estimate some 200,000 people would die by next June in their worst-case scenario, with the correct data this worst-case is only around 27,000, much higher than any likely scenario, especially factoring in that their best-case vaccine efficacy was out by 5%.
Incompetence and Hancock’s manipulation can only explain so much. Dr Susan Hopkins told MPs that PHE vaccine figures had been known to the government from Friday, before their rushed Sunday decision. That this data was sat on by Hancock and not shared with any others, at least to our current knowledge, is symptomatic of a rot at the heart of government and PHE. It is likely why Johnson seemed to be having a difficult time justifying the delay in his announcement and kept making errors such as saying 29th not 19th and company not country. Yet they grasp at more straws straight after by saying a Pfizer shortage ‘could derail’ July 19th, it is beyond a farce now.
“Three weeks to flatten the curve” and protect the NHS, that was the mantra, yet despite the scary graphs and tables produced it was never once overwhelmed to collapse, so with all those at risk of dying vaccinated and COVID deaths negligible there is no justification – unless the government’s scientific advisors have become overnight anti-vaxxers. The continued management of our lives has got to stop, freedom is not something that can be divided or suspended.
When we do wrest our lives and liberty back from our micro-managing, incompetent, and lying leaders I am concerned that they will forever be tainted with the precedent that they can be ripped away whenever so long as someone’s model ‘justifies’ it. With fears restrictions will continue into spring, even as America and Europe re-open, we have created a world of fear and loathing of our fellow humans. It is a scar that may never heal.
Our Prime Minister is unassailable, to use Steve Baker’s term, as he commands unrivaled power that even Blair would be jealous of. With an opposition firmly in his pocket and only about 60 MPs rebelling on the delay vote, Johnson has an effective majority of about 300. If this does not scare you, it should.
Where do we go from here? Freedom must come soon, fully, and without further delays, however large or small. This would mean the end to all legal restrictions and non-legal guidance. What is usually forgotten about is self-isolation. This must also end, as telling people under the age of 18 or those who have had at least some of the vaccine to isolate is ludicrous and self-defeating. This must also not become a pseudo-vaccine passport where only those with the full dosage have liberty.
Am I optimistic? No. The psychological, physical, and economic scars are too deep and ingrained in the fabric of law and culture to ever heal fully. Never again must a government be allowed to treat its citizens docile, obedient servants. Many of 2020-21’s interventions have caused way more lasting damage than they prevented, or shifted the burden onto younger generations to suffer in the future. The security theatre of the last two years was as much nonsensical as it was cover for the deep rot of ineptness and corruption in the Conservative government.
Unless something miraculous occurs soon to banish the toolkit of public health security lockdowns and restrictions we may be staring into a future where normal is no more than where future governments can impose them again with impunity.
Photo source - Flickr (Number 10)