I’m not a COVID sceptic, but there must be no more free passes for this incompetent government

I’m not a COVID-sceptic. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I am willing to accept that the government needs powers to fight the virus. But it’s time to face up to the fact that the opposition has given Boris Johnson more than enough room. There should be no more free passes to restrict our day-to-day freedoms while his band of incompetents are in charge. As much as nearly everybody I know accepts collective action and the need to build consensus, we must also strongly oppose more unchecked powers.

The record is pretty clear and it has led to thousands of unnecessary deaths. Failures on locking down at the right time, preparing the NHS, testing, tracing, and protecting care homes. They’ve ignored scientists, handed out contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds to their mates, appointed other pals to run key services, introduced baffling rules seemingly on a whim and dropped them just as randomly. The empty Nightingale Hospitals. The list goes on and on.

This morning we hear that at the stroke of a pen ministers are to impose huge fines on people who disobey the rules. We are also warned that further restrictions on our lives are coming and like naughty children we are told that it’s our fault the government has failed.

The renewal of the government’s emergency powers legislation is due for debate over the coming days. Labour seems desperate to back the Conservatives. The easy choice for Liberal Democrats would be to keep our heads down, while muttering something about science and the NHS.

But I want to see us call for parliamentary scrutiny of new COVID-19 restrictions at every opportunity. The time to give this hopeless government the benefit of the doubt on COVID-19 has ended. If Matt Hancock wants to fine us £10,000, let him make the case for that to MPs. If Boris Johnson wants us to stop seeing our friends and families in groups of more than six, let him put his reasoning before parliament and tell us exactly what the scientists are saying. If we are to be ‘locked down’ again for a fortnight or more, our elected representatives should be given the chance to ask for the case to be put before them in parliament. So far, a group of backbench Conservatives seem to be asking tough questions. I’d like to see us doing the same – but from a liberal perspective.

And before I’m accused in the comments of being a ‘libertarian’, I have to tell you that I’m not coming at this from the position of a tin-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist or pinstripe suited MP from the Home Counties. The positions of the libertarian right and conspiracy theorist left are baffling to me. Toby Young, Piers Corbyn and the random proclamations of various online groups leave me reaching for the sick bucket.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not also sick of the lack of effective scrutiny of the government’s approach to COVID restrictions. In March it was correct that consensus was found. We needed to ensure the country was united in our efforts. But that approach has failed us, because the people we trusted to lead our country have failed.

Now is the time to change the approach. People are frustrated. They’re demanding opposition. Liberals must provide it.

And who knows? If there’s effective opposition and decent scrutiny of COVID policy, we might even end up with a set of rules that are logical, easy to understand and save the lives of vulnerable people. That’s something liberals should certainly be fighting for.

* Max Wilkinson is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Cheltenham. He was the candidate at the 2019 general election and is a cabinet member on Cheltenham Borough Council.

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46 Comments

  • Well said Max. This bungling incompetent (Mal)Administration must be held to account and our MPs must lead in this .
    The draconian regulations introduced to deal with the Pandemic may still be needed but they should be coming back to Parliament for extension every month and any regulations imposed by ministers approved.

  • Agreed. We’re liberals: we should be questioning and challenging every restriction of our civil liberties to make sure they’re justified; we don’t need to blithely accept everything in the name of controlling the spread of a virus.

  • There is so much truth in this post, it is frustrating that so much incompetence from this government is going unchallenged from all sides. We need policies and common sense decisions that the majority of the UK can get behind to enable us all to withstand the present crisis which is affecting people of all ages.

  • Very well put. The only thing I would change is “People are frustrated. They’re demanding improvement. Liberals must provide it.”

  • John Marriott 21st Sep '20 - 11:16am

    @David Evans
    Yes, the people might be frustrated, and so am I with all those ‘people’ using the civil liberties tropes to defy the current regulations! We have produced a generation or two of social media junkies and conspiracy theorists we have encouraged to ‘do their own thing’ in the name of freedom. The reports from the North West, where one of my sons and his family live and where my five year old granddaughter has just been told to isolate for two weeks after hardly two weeks back at school, illustrate the result of a type of ‘herd mentality’, which reckons that it has done its bit and so can now party, rather than the ‘herd immunity’ that Justice Sumption and his other libertarian outriders are advocating.

    Ok, blame the government; but who voted them in? Blame the Chinese for unleashing COVID on a world whose economic dependence on them and whose desire to ‘enjoy life’ at the expense of our environment and natural world, regardless of the damage this almost hedonistic search is causing to millions of lives around the world is there for all to see. But who is insisting on paying the lowest price for goods and services or so as to afford that holiday to the sun or other exotic places?

    Why not, instead, blame the opposition parties in Westminster for their pathetic collective performance last year? Why not blame those billionaires, who carry on raking in the dosh and who, like Rupert Murdoch or James Dyson, move their business around the world to where they can get the best deal? Or people like Mark Zuckerberg, who creat a monster over which they refuse to exercise any meaningful control? You probably know the rest.

    I’ll end this rant, as I often do, with a song. I’ve used this one before and it starts off with “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself”. So, the next time you look in the mirror…..

  • There is no time for procrastination. What would have done differently? Ideally locked down earlier and relaxed later? Hard decisions have to be made and made fast.

  • Excellent piece Max and very well put. As mentioned the only people who seem to be holding this Government to account for their incompetence are a few back benchers.

    Keir Starmer’s interview on Sunday was woeful I think the Prime Minister needs to do more than just apologise.

    It may may be that some of the measures to restrict our civil liberties are necessary but let’s at least scrutinise them and have a proper debate and not just give the Government carte blanche to do what it likes when it likes.

  • Peter Martin 21st Sep '20 - 12:15pm

    “The positions of the libertarian right and conspiracy theorist left are baffling to me.”

    No need to feel too bad about it. It’s a weakness of Lib Dems, generally, to understand what they are up against. For a start, it’s the non libertarian right who are more of a problem to you. UKIP’s libertarian right leadership was a hindrance in allowing UKIP to break through in working class areas. So be thankful they exist.

    The British are, in the majority, and irrespective of party allegiance, patriotic, socially conservative and economically pragmatic. Labour’s problems aren’t anything to do with conspiracy theories. Somehow Labour has to present a set of policies which is acceptable enough to win in both Hampstead and Hartlepool. The Tory problem is how to reconcile the differing class interests of their Red Wall voters and their more affluent voters in the leafy suburbs.

    Lib Dems are never going to win by being “baffled”. You might want to look up Matthew Goodwin who has been trying to make sense of all this for a number of years,

  • richard underhill.,. 21st Sep '20 - 12:38pm

    Max Wilkinson | Mon 21st September 2020 – 9:15 am
    “I’m not a COVID-sceptic. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I am willing to accept that the government needs powers to fight the virus”
    The government’s action today, 21/9/2020, is to have a presentation from the Chief Scientific Officer and the Chief Medical Officer for England because statements from politicians are not accepted by people without an expensive education. Disrespect for “experts” was prevalent on the record about the EU, so this U-turn is much needed, but it is NOT enough.
    Good communication is needed, especially wherever there is an imminent election. These conclusions have been accepted by the First Minister in Scotland, currently speaking, with Scottish experts to follow very soon and with similar conclusions.
    There has been no English reference to Northern Ireland, although previously there was, previously, reference to the small size of its economy. The SNP leader has just said that, if necessary, England, Scotland and Wales should move together WITHOUT agreement from Northern Ireland.
    Equivalent information from Wales is being broadcast across the UK. There is a change in the lockdowns in Wales.

  • richard underhill.,. 21st Sep '20 - 12:39pm

    Wales is taking questions from press and media starting with ITV.

  • All I am asking is what would we have done differently, and more importantly saying that this is no time for any form of procrastination or nice Liberal instincts. There is a job to be done and done fast. I know from my work experience the problems that peoples presents attitudes are creating and they are getting worse. Close the pubs and send the students home.

  • richard underhill 21st Sep '20 - 12:48pm

    The message that politicians are not being followed is something which could be made to personal contacts in the USA, which does not have an overtly socialist party, although some would respect the overtly green message from Prince Charles.

  • The measures failed to do anything except wreck the country. Governments cannot control the microscopic world by passing laws and being freed from the burden of parliamentary scrutiny. The reason the virus is back is because it never went away in the first place. It’s a failed experiment based on an unworkable idea. It’s the strategy, not the people imposing it. It would fail whoever was in power. That’s what parliament needs to recognise and why our representatives should question the wisdom of handing too much power over to ministers.

  • With the Covid infection rate soaring, increases in hospitalisations and the dire warnings from scientists the LibDems want their ‘Westminster army’ to instigate virtual debates, etc. The media, including the BBC, are well aware of the ‘Sweetheart deals’, the failure of Test/Trace, the incompetence of this government, etc.; they choose not to report it in detail..This country is in the nearest thing to ‘all out war’ since 1945 and backing those Tory MPs who want every decision voted on will do this party a disservice…

    The whole sorry saga has been exacerbated by the very delays that this party proposes to introduce…Starmer has offered to support all government measures that are science driven but that has not stopped him, week after week, eviscerated Johnson at PMQs a one sided contest that, again, is missing from the media….

    As for…”Now is the time to change the approach. People are frustrated. They’re demanding opposition. Liberals must provide it.” I’ve seen equal frustration on both sides; those who want less restrictions and those who want more. What will this party offer; change the ‘rule of six’ to a five or a seven? More or fewer local lockdowns; a national lockdown…

    Just this morning Whitty and Valance admitted that the conflicting demands of medical/education/commercial are intertwined and a difficult choice..

  • Michael Sammon 21st Sep '20 - 4:09pm

    Absolutely spot on Max. Please let’s not allow this to happen again. These lockdown powers are no solution. They just bought the government time to come up with a solution. We have had enough freedom curbed, it’s time for some balance and more consideration to the mental health affects of more heavy restrictions that go way beyond the very sensible use of social distancing and mask wearing.

  • When I read the article I thought “at last a bit of opposition”. It’s unfortunate the author isn’t an MP.

    I am amazed that the Lib Dem’s haven’t found anything at all in the Coronavirus regulations to object to given their track record of standing up for civil liberties.

    For one thing there is the fact that the government used the Public Health Act rather than the Civil Contingencies Act, when the latter would have meant more parliamentary scrutiny.

    Lady Hale has now spoken out as well see the Guardian.

  • Re: Theakes “more importantly saying that this is no time for any form of procrastination or nice Liberal instincts”

    It’s always the time for Liberal instincts.

  • Marco,
    When someone is attacking you with a axe in a blind rage there is no time for “nice Liberal instincts”. Three twenty somethings in Home and Bargains this afternoon. No masks. “Are you exempt from wearing masks I ask?”, one maybe, two possibly, but three! They looked at me as I if I was from the planet Zog, perhaps I do resemble such a creature, stuttered, clearly they were not. I called an employee over who said “Mask or leave”. They were offered masks by the shop and then put them on. My experience over the past three months is that these individuals must be challenged, so they are embarrassed in front of others. As I say no procrastination.

  • George Thomas 21st Sep '20 - 5:42pm

    “We’re following the science” was a comforting message originally but should it have been? Science monitors, measures and finally reacts so while that is the correct thing to do when coming out of a pandemic at the start it is perhaps a move to limit responsibility/share it around each nation’s health minister’s if things go wrong – a problem shared is both an opportunity to criticise and a defence at election time. Any bold action taken, see clearing hospitals and pushing patients into care homes, became almost instantly the wrong thing to do and perhaps a sign that the cabinet lacked the talent to make correct choice or feared leaning too much on any experience in Europe (too soon after Brexit) and China (too ideologically different to more libertarian UK).

    Where are we now? In the main, the only people still concerned with this are people who are at risk themselves, know someone who is or is/knows someone who has had a bad experience…or public figures who daren’t risk public backlash. Where are we going? We’re likely to be heading into the most difficult 6 months and, for the majority, the earlier sense that this is a team game has gone. I’m not sure if more opposition is the answer but this government’s speciality of muddled messaging and bad choices can only repeat past mistakes.

  • @ Marco “I am amazed that the Lib Dem’s haven’t found anything at all in the Coronavirus regulations to object to given their track record of standing up for civil liberties”.

    Has it ever occurred to you that passing on a virus grossly undermines the civil liberties of whoever is on the receiving end ?

    You really mustn’t confuse civil liberties with self indulgent licence, and maybe you should take a bit of time out to catch up on Mill’s Harm principle.

  • David Raw
    People have been passing on viruses for centuries. The argument is actually about such terrible self indulgences as letting the government decide who you can meet you can meet friends and relatives in your own home whether you are ill or not, when you can get a haircut and various other completely unproven exercises in believing that governments can control viruses by passing unproven arbitrary laws. All the countries that tried this failed experiment still have cases. It has all been for nothing. A political fad based on a theoretical model that does not work in practice because people are not theoretical models and nor are viruses.

  • @ Glenn “People have been passing on viruses for centuries”.

    If that’s a reply to, “Has it ever occurred to you that passing on a virus grossly undermines the civil liberties of whoever is on the receiving end”, then change your anonymous name to The not so Artful Dodger.

    I suppose next time you’re on a train if someone sneezes all over you you’ll take it as an expression of their civil rights and as a friendly gesture.

  • @Glenn

    “People have been passing on viruses for centuries.”

    There is a vast difference to passing on a cough / cold to a potentially deadly virus for which their is currently no cure or vaccine.

    Yes Flu can be deadly to some, but we currently have flu vaccines available that provide a level of cover for most people who are vulnerable even if it is not 100% effective.

    Knowingly being HIV + or having aids and passing it on to a an unknowing partner carried a criminal conviction and prision.
    Why should covid be any different if you knowingly carry the virus and refuse to self-isolate and end up infecting someone who is susceptible to the disease with deadly consequences?

    We all have a right to walk this earth and enjoy life in as a safest way as possible, it is not liberal to lock up the old and vulnerable so the “healthy” can go about as usual as though nothing is wrong to the detriment of those who are vulnerable to this awful virus

  • 5:15pm wasn’t me I assume it was Theakes?

    I am aware of Mills harm principle. Taking away liberty is a question of proportionality and I would argue that some of the Coronavirus restrictions were ineffective and arbitrary and did not make people any safer.

    For example it was unnecessary to people were banned from leaving their house without “good excuse“. There has been an increase in the over policing of BAME communities and a reduction in rights to receive social care, all facilitated by the Coronavirus legislation.

    Where Mills harm principle is more applicable is that the rules have actually caused harm, as isolating people and preventing them from doing the things that make life worth living negatively impacts their mental health and life expectancy. Civil liberties are important because in a crisis situation they limit a governments ability to harm one group of people under the guise of protecting another group of people.

    It is not the case that given a threat to public health or security we need to dispense with every liberty or accept every government dictat. An analogy is counter- terrorism legislation which in theory is designed to save lives but which in practice Liberals have often opposed because the proposals are disproportionate and would have unintended consequences for example Tony Blair’s 90 day detention policy.

  • Matt
    There isn’t. Parliament can’t make viruses illegal. The current one is in the same family as colds and flu. The effort is doomed to fail whether you like it or not.
    David Raw
    I’d react the same way I always did. How dare you. But my personal feelings of disgust and fears should not grind society to a halt. l m not that important and nor is anyone else. Emoting and plotting scenarios means zero.
    Neither of either of your points prove that the measures are a success or ever will be.

  • @Glenn

    Virus are not illegal, however, it is illegal to knowingly transmit “certain” viruses if you know you are infectious which can prove deadly to others, if you did not make them aware you were infectious as in the case with HIV, Section 20 of offences against the persons act 1861

    Covid should be no different, If you know you are infectious and you refuse to isolate thus putting others and potentially vulnerable citizens at risk, then it should be a criminal offence.
    No amount of your libertarian babble is going to convince me otherwise

  • Re: transmission of HIV – This law is actually quite controversial and it has been argued that criminalising transmission can add to the misunderstanding and stigma around HIV, discourage people from being tested and that prosecutions are disproportionately against vulnerable women and sex workers.

    The legal issues around blame and causation are complicated and there have only been a small number of prosecutions for the offence. There is a lack of evidence that the threat of prosecution actually does anything to reduce transmission.

  • Yousuf Farah 22nd Sep '20 - 1:27am

    Very true. The Conservatives are no longer conservative, and Labour are no longer socialist, we just have to make sure that we are and remain Liberals.

  • Matt
    I’m not trying to convince you. I’m stating my opinion. Just like you are stating your opinion. Nothing you say will convince me I’m wrong. I don’t think not wanting to throw millions of people out of work, or letting cancers go unscreened, and not wanting to see governments given power over family life is libertarian. I think you are driven by personal fear and blind support for control whether it works or not.

  • Peter Watson 22nd Sep '20 - 8:40am

    Coronavirus has made me think that the biggest challenge to liberalism is not nationalism, socialism, intolerance, etc., but the realisation that so many of our fellow citizens are selfish idiots who, if given the freedom and information to make their own choices, won’t make good ones! Or who won’t make the choices we approve of, but that’s a different can of worms!

    (For the avoidance of doubt, the mod-unfriendly phrase above is not directed at anybody in this thread: I’m thinking about the sort of selfish behaviour we read about or see for ourselves so often. And it’s not limited to coronavirus: bags of dog poo in beauty spots is the hot button that makes me come over all illiberal! The debate about balancing freedoms at the moment is very important and more nuanced than just authoritarians vs. libertarians, and neither side should be simply trying to shut down the other.)

  • John Marriott 22nd Sep '20 - 9:34am

    @Peter Watson
    “So many of our fellow citizens are selfish idiots”. Have you only just figured that one out? Why do you think that the Tories keep getting so many votes and why does Labour still promise to spend, spend, spend? I’m afraid that, for many people, “Blood, sweat and tears” disappeared long before Winston stubbed out his last cigar (Fact check – judging from the examples surviving, he would appear to have let them smoulder out; but that doesn’t have the same impact).

  • jayne Mansfield 22nd Sep '20 - 10:18am

    The most important human right is the right to life.

    When asked what one would do differently, I m afraid that my basic response would be,’ I wouldn’t start from here’.

    I am not being facetious. The NHS and Local Authorities were in no fit state to deal with a pandemic. And yet, Our Directors of Public Health, Local Authorities and local NHS were in a far better position to determine how to deal with the pandemic when it did hit these shores.

    Instead, the government put together a committee of largely academic epidemiologists whose models are only as good as the assumptions and information that form their basis. Regional Directors of Public Health are well versed in preventing the spread of infection. so that it does not seed and spread in ever increasing geographical areas.

    Instead, we had table thumping , ‘Churchillian’ Johnson, aided and abetted by the media and people who should know better, promoting the ludicrous idea that we are in a war, the virus being the enemy. Great PR if one wants to cover incompetence as patriotism.

    Public Health directors know the importance of isolate, test and trace , the importance of isolating contacts. Well funded Local authorities are best placed to know who are the most vulnerable in their regions and which protective measures should be targeted at them. Local NHS personnel know the dangers of sending the elderly to care homes untested.

    Instead we have constant panic measures from a government that under the leadership of Johnson initially decided that the freedom to attend football matches, horse racing venues etc. was more important than stemming the spread of the virus. There is still no logic to so many of their belated attempts to stem the spread of the virus resulting from their logically inconsistent measures. The population do not need an education to degree level to see these logical inconsistencies, which is why I believe so many of the population are now treating them with contempt.

    Peter Watson,
    Your first paragraph hits home. But one must ask whether it is a certain concept of liberalism by some that has caused the selfish behaviour you speak of. Chicken and egg.

  • I would hope that libertarians – left and right – are welcome in the Lib Dems. Where else can they go?

    I accept that some restrictions of civil liberties are necessary at the moment. Indeed, sensible minor restrictions – e.g. face masks – hopefully prevent more draconian measures, such as school closures and curfews. But someone, ideally us, needs to be constantly sceptical and critical, ensuring the govt doesn’t get away with ill-conceived, authoritarian acts that may prove difficult to reverse in future. Especially a govt like this which hasn’t frightening lack of respect for the law and Parliament.

  • John Marriott 23rd Sep '20 - 7:49am

    @Peter Watson
    Welcome to the land of the twitching curtain! Seriously though, nothing surprises me about humanity. On the other hand, perhaps it’s just me being a killjoy. As for corporal punishment, perhaps it’s a case of “if you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em”😇😈

  • jayne mansield 23rd Sep '20 - 7:36pm

    @ Glen,
    It is my view that Johnson and his ministers have been criminally incompetent as far as stemming the spread of the virus.

    I would like to pick you up on two points that you have made. One cannot compare Covid 19 with a cold or flu.

    In your response to David Raw 08.06. you seem to believe that the restricting choice about meeting friends and families in homes whether one is ill or not should be personal choice. Surely it has not passed your attention that one can be infected with covid, capable of passing it on and feel absolutely well. Or indeed, that one is infectious before the development of symptoms , if one does indeed go on to develop them.

    You are correct, the virus will not go away, although it may mutate. Although I believe that the government response has been a farrago of lazy laissez faire and reactive panic measures that do indeed seem to defy any logical explanation, it does not alter the fact that there has been and continues to be a need for appropriate and logical rules to buy time for scientists to study the virus and embark upon the development of an effective test trace and contact system and a vaccine. ( The humane and civilised method of developing herd immunity is via a vaccination programme, the decision on whether that should be selective or universal to be decided when the science is available, not survival of the fittest).

    As far as infections in family homes are concerned, when lockdown was relaxed, people mingled more in the community bringing the virus back into the family home, where there is extended contact, leading to a rise in infections of amongst extended family.

    Many people in front line jobs, health workers, centre workers, bus drivers etc, lost their lives in the most horrible way imaginable during this pandemic without their loved ones at their sides. Grief stricken families were unable to attend funerals, I am so proud of how so many people of this country have shown altruistic concern for others. But there are those who are selfish and self -centred making choices that are based the informed choice not to care about anyone but themselves, which makes some rules necessary, ones that make sense and are not contradictory.

  • jayne Mansfield 23rd Sep '20 - 8:46pm

    @ expats,
    I hope you and Mrs expats are safe and well.

    I think you might find the latest Yougov poll on the level of support for new lockdown measures interesting., especially the breakdown according to political affiliation.

  • Innocent Bystander 23rd Sep '20 - 9:11pm

    Jayne,
    All you say is true but the current response is far and away beyond the level of harm.
    I’m neither covid denier nor conspiracy theorist just sensible and measured.
    We are in the bizarre situation of declaring thousands of daily “cases”, virtually all with minor symptoms or none at all. Why? These people are perfectly well.
    Of course those with no symptoms can pass on the disease to others but that’s the case for tonsillitis, hepatitis, laryngitis, meningitis, diarrhoea, gonorrhea plus a million others, all just as horrible, many fatal to the vulnerable and most already at levels way beyond the mortality of covid, at this moment.
    But we aren’t in hysterics over them. People go to the doctor’s and get treated.
    There are 1,469 patients in hospital with covid. That’s out of about 170,000 beds though.
    What is this madness?
    It’s a disease entirely under control and has had no impact on excess mortality since May 28th according to the ONS weekly statistics.
    But the ” Sultans of Doom” are off their heads with power and they will not step back and let life return to normal.

  • Jayne Mansfield
    I was pointing out it, like colds and flus, is a corona virus. That’s the family of viruses it is in and they’ve been around for millions of years. They survive because they reproduce in millions and are very resilient.
    As for the rest of it. I thing the whole thing has been a pointless exercise in pseudo anthropology, a colossal waste of time and a society wrecking political fad doomed to failure. You can’t control the microscopic world by telling people off and making unrealistic demands of them. This kind of thing reminds me tin pot regimes that keep insisting that the problem is the people failing to follow the manifesto rather the manifesto being ridiculous. That is where I stand. I’m not arguing. I’m making a statement. But whatever!

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Sep '20 - 11:18pm

    @Innocent Bystander
    “We are in the bizarre situation of declaring thousands of daily “cases”, virtually all with minor symptoms or none at all. Why? These people are perfectly well.”

    They may be ‘perfectly well’ thenselves – trouble is they all have the potential to make someone else exceedingly ill, maybe dying, maybe suffering severe symptoms for many months, maybe with long term side effects.

    At present from https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/healthcare it appears that there are over 1300 Covid patients in hospital – but France, some weeks ahead of us, appears to have at least 4 times as many – https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus/carte-et-donnees

    If more and more people who are picking up this virus and not suffering much themselves keep passing it on to more vulnerable people it will only get a lot worse.

  • Innocent Bystander 24th Sep '20 - 8:19am

    Mr Radical,
    But I covered that time worn point. Of course well people can pass on covid, but not only covid but also many other, long accepted threats which are much worse.
    There is no justification for this completely off the scale covid response.
    In week 37 11,145 of us died.
    Of these, 110 had covid mentioned on the certificate as cause of death. Meanwhile, about 1,200 died of influenza or pneumonia which we have lived with for ever without any fear at all.
    Yes, you are at risk from catching covid but you are, and have always been, at much greater danger from other common illnesses with which we have long come to accept.

  • richard underhill 24th Sep '20 - 11:09am


    we must also strongly oppose more unchecked powers.”
    Yes, therefore elect more MPs, even one can be effective, as at Orpington, Eastbourne and Ribble Valley.

    BBC NEWS yesterday 23/9/2020 featured a man who did not vote in the USA and depicted what would have happened if others had agreed with him: A LANDSLIDE!! across all but two states (please remember that presidential elections are indirect, through a committee which never meets these days). In the UK this is the policy of the Monster Raving Looney Party, as detailed in the memoirs of their former leader, who also commented on the Ribble Valley bye-election (Tories voting Liberal Democrat),

  • jayne Mansfield 24th Sep '20 - 2:00pm

    @Glenn
    You use the term control. Indeed one can’t control the microscopic world by telling people off and making unrealistic demands of them. However in the face of a droplet borne virus over which we have no established means of control or treatment, the only weapon in our armoury at the moment is behaviour change which limits its spread and continuity.

    If you are interested in anthropology, Anthropology Today offers free online papers by anthropologists offering interesting global insights. ‘An Anthropology of the COVID- 19 Pandemic.’

    As someone who has worked with indigenous peoples during my lifetime, I have always found anthropology from my first introduction to the work of Margaret Mead to current anthropological contributions that seek to understand our complex biological and social world, enlightening.

    Covid 19 does make impossible demands on some people , usually the world’s poor who cannot take avoiding action to protect themselves or others, but for many of us that is not a valid excuse.

  • Jayne Mansfield
    I think we’ve let panic wreck the country and destroy liberty. I don’t believe we should be quarantining the healthy or that governments should tell people how many wedding guest or funeral attendees they can have. I believe that it is completely wrong that to expect millions of people to give up their social lives, careers, and other activities to fight a virus that even those advocating this pointless path we have taken openly say will barely effect them.
    I think we should give vulnerable people free PPE and the means to isolate themselves if and only if they so choose. I don’t just think things need some tweaking. I think all of it is politically and socially wrong from start to finish. I support none of it. I abide by the rules, but I think they are catastrophically bad rules. That is where I stand. You can think what you like of me.

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