Tag Archives: covid passports

Covid and authoritarianism: were we wrong-footed over Covid passports?

I’m hearing genuine concern about the increasing authoritarianism of the Johnson government and more complicated concerns about civil liberties and Covid regulations — particularly around the idea of Covid passports. But these are profoundly different. Joining them together is a bad idea, and plays into the government’s hands.

Creeping authoritarianism

The Tories thought nothing of illegally proroguing parliament. They responded to losing in the Supreme Court with a threat to stop “leftie lawyers” challenging the government. Proposals for compulsory voter identification and redrawing constituency boundaries are likely to help them at the next election, and they are alarmingly-happy to use “Henry VIII powers” to sideline parliament in facing the legislative consequences of Brexit. And it’s probably best not to mention the recent Conservative Party conference.

These are problems, and we should be concerned. But they are not about Covid.

A friend who travels frequently between the UK and Belgium makes a sharp contrast. In Belgium the messaging around Covid has been “this is what the doctors advise…” In the UK it’s been “obey the government and you will be fine” (even when the government ignores the advice of SAGE). Praise of obedience sounds horribly authoritarian.

But obeying the government isn’t about Covid.

People accept authoritarianism if it makes them feel safer. A government that stirs up people’s anxieties, ducks responsibility and presents itself as the answer has a way to hang on to power.

The medical piece

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 54 Comments

“Creeping authoritarianism” – Liberal Democrats condemn government’s plan for Covid passports


Embed from Getty Images

Over the weekend, Liberal Democrat MPs have been very busy condemning the government’s plans for Covid passports.
The BBC quoted Ed Davey as accusing the government of “creeping autoritarianism” over the plans, adding:

As we start to get this virus properly under control we should start getting our freedoms back. Vaccine passports – essentially Covid ID cards – take us in the other direction.

Yesterday evening, Ed tweeted:

Posted in News | 70 Comments
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