If I had told you in early 2020 that the Government would soon ban you from seeing your children or grandchildren, you would have answered me with very simple advice. Namely, go lie down in a dark room.
But in the days that followed, we accepted this grim decree on the grounds that it was an emergency – a brief three-week emergency we were told.
Later that year, when the once freedom-loving Boris Johnson discovered his inner Cromwell and effectively abolished Christmas, many people were so exhausted from the viral panic that they accepted it as the new normal.
Today we are in the best part of two years of emergency measures causing untold damage to the fabric of our society.
This is a dangerous situation, especially since many of us have been intimidated into accepting them.
Even with new concrete evidence that the Omicron variant won’t cause the devastation initially predicted, there are very real fears that if this year’s Christmas has been pardoned, the New Years could be canceled instead.
It doesn’t have to happen. Enough is enough.
Even with new concrete evidence that the Omicron variant won’t cause the devastation initially predicted, there are very real fears that if this year’s Christmas has been pardoned, the New Years could be canceled instead. It doesn’t have to happen. Enough is enough
There must be no further unnecessary restrictions this week, whether the PM sees fit to recall Parliament for an emergency session or if he simply resorts to more “guidance.”
We must get rid of the panicked group thinking that is gripping the nation – and our political masters.
As the great thinker Charles Mackay observed nearly two centuries ago, men go mad in herds.
Unfortunately, as Mackay noted in his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, they only come to their senses “slowly, one by one.”
This was when the printing press and the penny post were the main engines of mass communication.
Imagine what he would have done if the broadcast media and Twitter were spreading fear-mongering messages in our living rooms and on our smartphone screens 24 hours a day.
How much faster could the human herd be terrorized? And that’s what turned out.
How much slower will the return of sanity and calm reasoning be amid the electronic haze of confusing data and “daily Covid deaths”?
The context is too rare. Weekly figures released just a fortnight ago show a total of 661 deaths from Covid in England and Wales, for example.
The Chancellor had no choice last week but to add another billion pounds in aid to the 400 billion pounds already spent on Covid measures. But a billion here and a billion there soon add up to real money. Pictured: an empty House of Fraser on Bond Street, London
It is a sad image. But why is Covid the only reported cause of death when 11,269 people died from other things in the same week?
Why aren’t our national broadcasters discussing this larger context? Why do they not contribute to a more rational discourse, including the balance of the risks incurred?
Why is there so little talk of the immense social damage being done if Covid is allowed to become the sole mover of politics?
They should be ashamed of their blind and fear-mongering coverage.
Of course, I don’t blame the audience for this group thinking – or for being utterly confused, as diktat is traded for advice at the drop of a hat and advice for diktat.
Just a few days ago, the self-isolation period for positive cases was reduced from ten to seven days.
It wasn’t that long ago that Dr Susan Hopkins of the Health Security Agency told us that Omicron was the greatest threat in the pandemic to date.
Still, just days ago, she spoke of the “first signs of cautious optimism” as data proved – as expected – that the variant is, in fact, less virulent.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen the mandatory isolation of people “suspected” of having contact with an Omicron case introduced and then replaced by a much more benign testing regime.
How many millions of days of work or school have been lost over the past two years due to an isolation regime now recognized as having been longer than necessary?
Constant and confusing rule changes could have been designed to get people used to waiting for instructions from our “best” in Whitehall.
Constant and confusing rule changes could have been designed to get people used to waiting for instructions from our “best” in Whitehall. Pictured: Soho, once packed in London, has fallen into a Christmas slumber for 2021
This has been the fate of families and businesses across the country as Christmas approaches.
Did you take the plunge and buy a goose or a turkey, or did you think it was a good idea to wait and see if the celebration is for 12 or just for two?
Have you booked your train tickets or kept a note from No 10?
What if you run a restaurant that has had a forced closure for six of the past 12 months?
What if you were counting on an exceptional Christmas to balance the books? You’ve hired additional staff and ordered inventory, only to find that most of your reservations have been canceled.
It’s a disaster.
What sane bank manager would grant credit to a business that is turned on or off with the snap of a minister’s fingers?
Confused messages and a revolving door of restrictions are killing a hotel industry that employs three million people.
And canceled parties hit the barber and the clothing store almost as surely as they smash the pub or restaurant.
The loss of demand ricochets off the supply chain – and adds to the dreaded economic woes to come.
The Chancellor had no choice last week but to add another billion pounds in aid to the 400 billion pounds already spent on Covid measures. But a billion here and a billion there soon add up to real money.
And even more subsidies will be needed to prevent the collapse of airlines that had recovered two-thirds of their normal activity, only to see a wave of cancellations as passengers decide not to take the risk.
There must be no further unnecessary restrictions this week, whether the PM sees fit to recall Parliament for an emergency session or if he simply resorts to more ‘guidance’
The great 18th-century liberty advocate, Thomas Paine, in an essay titled Common Sense, urged American settlers to consider whether they would be better off making their own decisions for their New World rather than waiting for a Remote colonial government in London makes laws and regulations.
“A long habit of not thinking anything bad gives him a superficial appearance of being right, and at first raises a formidable outcry in defense of the custom,” he wrote.
Well, after almost two years of Covid, the damage is done.
It is now our “custom” to take orders, to wait for someone to tell us what we are “allowed” to do.
We tolerate a government telling us if and where we can work. They tell us who we can see.
Even “smooching” under the mistletoe fell under government directives.
This could have been acceptable at the start of the emergency phase of a new virus.
But now that’s not the case. So now we have to take back control of our own lives. We need the government to rediscover the British values of freedom and respect.
The socialist regime in Wales and the nationalists in Scotland have usefully reminded us that imposing even stricter restrictions than those in England has failed to make any difference.
We must learn the lesson. The Swedes, who have never locked up their people and have done well with their children by keeping schools open throughout, had pretty much the same results we have had here in terms of infection.
And, in comparative terms at least, their economy has thrived.
It is always concerning to hear leaks of Cabinet confidences, as we did last week, when it was reported that ministers were lining up to oppose new pre-Christmas restrictions.
But if these reports are true, it suggests that senior government officials are now “coming to their senses, slowly, one by one.”
And that would be the best Christmas present of all.