Guest Contributor: Tony Brown. Tony was a political advisor to the EFDD (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy) group within the European parliament and its predecessor the EFD.
It is unfortunate that Covid originated in China. A one-party totalitarian state, the Chinese do not hesitate to clamp-down and deprive their citizens of their freedoms with scarcely a second thought. This provided an example for the rest of the world and, with so many experts forecasting catastrophe, governments in the west with much more rights-based and libertarian traditions did not hesitate to follow suit.
The result is some of the most extreme loss of individual freedom imaginable – all justified by telling us that it was essential, for our own good and therefore entirely justified.
The truth is, however, that many doom-mongering experts have been shown to be massively wrong by a considerable margin. Imperial is the obvious example.
By contrast the experts in one country were prepared to stick their necks out and break with the emerging concensus: Anders Tegnall in Sweden is the hero of the Covid story in so far as it has one.
What Tegnall was prepared to do was to ask the hard questions about whether a cure can be worse than the disease…. we now know he got it right.
The problem for everybody else is that to admit this highlights their own failure and miscalculation. No government likes to admit error – and that includes democratic ones for they fear they will answer at the ballot box.
Thus, no government is finding this harder to admit that the UK’s… it simply appears not to know how to return to normality.
Normality is never simply a return to a previous status-quo. The world has always moved on. In particular we will see things like more home-working which would not otherwise have occurred. Rather, ending the crisis means restoring our lost freedoms: we must reclaim: freedom of movement, so an end to quarantine and travel restrictions; freedom of association so no more lockdowns, enforced closures and ‘house arrest’; and freedom of assembly so entertainment and sport can reopen with audiences and there are no limits on numbers for both public and private events. Interestingly the mass public protests and civil disobediance by Extinction Rebellion and BLM seem not to have caused the covid spikes with which we were threatened!
In fact, the route by which the UK government can restore our stolen ‘freedoms’ is very simple and straight-forward.
It involves a switch of policy focus and strategy from what is irrelevant in practice to what matters in the real world. What matters in reality are hospitalisation, serious illness and death. Even if the covid infection rate were 100%, if there are no serious consequences, it does not matter – exactly the way we treat the common cold or (with slight provisos) annual flu.
The government needs to refocus on hospitalisation and death. Certainly, if these do begin to rise significantly, there probably is no alternative but to keep restrictions in place. But, if they don’t, then a rapid removal of restrictions is the common sense way forward.
All the evidence so far is that the up-tick in cases is not being matched by an equivalent rise in hospitalisation and death. And, unless it is, there is absolutely no justification for the Government to continue to treat us as the Chinese government treats its people.