Certificates and Passports: Lockdown 2
Tim Martin, boss of the pub chain, Wetherspoon, has said vaccine certification (or passport schemes) would be 'the last straw' for struggling pubs. Today the government closes its consultation on certification - and there's a strong chance it's being actively lobbied to roll out a passport "solution" to continue its theme of coercion and control in dealing with Covid.
This government has imposed the most draconian rules on the lives of its citizens since the second world war, on a false premise – that lockdown and restraint of trade would mitigate the effects of a virus.
Certification schemes would continue this false premise and represent continued restraint of trade at a time when we most need economic freedom to stimulate growth.
The government has imposed significant, economically damaging, restraint on trade that is without parallel in our nation’s history since the second world war – without proving the justification for such a hugely damaging policy.
The government has not published a cost/benefit analysis for lockdown and restraint of trade associated with it. It claims to have implemented the lockdowns (and associated restraint of trade) for public health reasons but that is a subjective judgement that has not been adequately scrutinised by democratic processes. Therefore, in seeking consultation responses for an opening up of society (and continued restraint of trade and individual liberty), it assumes that continued restraints are necessary. They are not, in my view. This is also the view of many others.
The SARS-Cov-2 virus is not a novel virus. It’s a SARS virus – one that was identified and has been mutating for close to two decades. It is one of hundreds of coronaviruses – a family of viruses that is responsible for the common cold. The government justified its lockdown policy because it deemed this virus to be so serious that it merited suspending normal life in favour for a policy that has never been tried before – and one that had been ‘templated’ by the totalitarian government of China i.e., lockdown.
This policy response was not justified. The virus, while highly infectious, did not (and does not) represent a significant risk to the vast majority of our population.
Most of the population – the young, and most healthy adults under 70 years of age – survived infection with no symptoms or mild to moderate short-term symptoms. While the elderly, and those with co-morbidities, were more likely to suffer more adverse reactions to virus exposure, this was never sufficient reason to close down so much of our economy and subject the public finances to the strains they have suffered since last March.
This virus deserved a policy response that was appropriate to its severity: e.g., government recommendation for hand-washing, and recommended restriction on movement to those in vulnerable groups.
The government should have increased emergency NHS capacity significantly (as it did with the unused Nightingale hospitals) – without the hugely damaging consequences on the economy and civil society that came about as a result of lockdown.
Certification schemes would merely continue the lie that this virus needs to be tracked and traced and that the vast majority of the population needs to be protected from it.
Like all coronaviruses (and other viruses that cause seasonal respiratory spikes) this one should be treated no differently. As the government itself admits, the virus is constantly mutating, that’s what coronaviruses do. But as a class of viruses, they do not merit this degree of scrutiny or tracking and testing. Moreover, the government will never be able to regulate away (or certify away) current or future viruses.
It needs to make clear that it accepts this. Zero Covid is an oxymoron. Certification schemes are merely the extension of a false narrative: that lockdowns work, that masks are effective, that destroying the economy has good outcomes.
The government, in my view, acted illegally in imposing lockdown. Many businesses and individual livelihoods have been destroyed. The advertising campaigns and machinery of lockdown (built on highly questionable science and public health advice) have caused huge levels of fear in the population – particularly among groups of people more likely to suffer mental health problems.
Moreover, the NHS fixation on just one relatively ineffectual pathogen has resulted in a significant increase in home deaths and excess deaths from non-Covid conditions. It is my view that the damages caused by this government in terms of its lockdown policies are significantly greater even than the grotesque levels of public spending required to support these ill-conceived policies e.g., testing, tracking, furlough.
Certification schemes would make the situation even worse. Certification implies that SARS-Cov-2 has a level of threat or risk materially greater than other pathogens that are freely circulating and that may be circulating in society in future. History tells us that public health response is never going to be adequate to eradicate a freely circulating virus. Other nations/states that have halted lockdowns (or never had them in the first place) do not have materially different outcomes in terms of degree of infection (e.g., Sweden, Texas, Florida).
By definition, certification schemes would be discriminatory – against the unvaccinated, groups less likely to be vaccinated (e.g., BAME communities) and those deeming the policy to be an infringement of civil liberties.
The government’s best approach to mitigating the terrible cost of lockdown is to get out of lockdown, completely, as soon as possible. This means the reintroduction of freedom – not the introduction of certification schemes that continue amplifying the false narrative that SARS-Cov-2 is a fundamental threat to our society.
This government, in its policy response to Covid-19, has introduced policies that have damaged this nation. The levels of damage to our freedoms, our economy, and our way of life are barely calculable. I recognise that the government may be reluctant to admit this because it may mean that members of the government – who are deemed to be most responsible for the biggest public policy mistake in our history - may be held liable.
However, this is not sufficient reason to extend the false premise that’s at the heart of lockdown as a policy response. Certification schemes continue to curtail liberty and freedom to trade. They represent a failed policy, continued.
If national certification schemes are introduced, they will represent the continued folly of the lockdown policy response. The damages to our society will be even greater.
It’s time for this government to recognise that its failed experiment is a failed experiment. It’s time to restore the nation’s freedom and to move on.
No doubt many of the consultation responses will be from companies hoping to make money off the back of regulation. However, individual business owners, many of whom have taken huge risks to build their businesses from scratch, have had their businesses hugely damaged from lockdown. Certification will continue to heap more regulation onto these same businesses. At a time when we must recover – and must rely on our businesses to restore normality – the last thing we need is more tracking and tracing and parodies of freedom.
The government needs to get off the backs of small and medium business. Certification is just the latest iteration of the biggest failure of public policy since the second world war.