Absurd new Covid rules that prove the Left just love to boss everyone else around: As Scotland and Wales shut down New Year, ex-Labour MP TOM HARRIS laments an urge to control that’s destroying livelihoods
Like many, I am delighted that the Government has decided not to impose further Covid restrictions — at least until next year.
This welcome late Kersfees present not only means that people in England can enjoy New Year’s Eve, it also means that many restaurants, kroeë, theatres and shops will now be saved from closure.
But not everyone shares my relief. In plaas daarvan, arguing furiously for ever-tougher restrictions — even in the face of the demonstrably milder threat from the Omicron variant — are Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford.
TOM HARRIS (op die foto): 'Soos baie, I am delighted that the Government has decided not to impose further Covid restrictions — at least until next year’
They continue to display breathtaking political opportunism and a shocking refusal to prioritise people’s livelihoods. Intussen, their allies indulge in endless handwringing, fury, virtue-signalling and political point-scoring. I’ve had enough of it all.
As a former Labour MP who was a member of the party for 34 jare, it pains me to say this, but parts of the Left love bossing everyone else around.
Restricting personal freedom is the itch the Left loves to scratch whenever it can. Lockdowns and the baffling array of contradictory rules and guidelines have provided the perfect pretext for this.
Ja, the state has a role to play in life. But there is a vast and widening gulf between sensible citizens with jobs, businesses and responsibilities, who willingly accept restrictions while longing for the day when they are lifted — and those who constantly demand further curbs, howling with self-righteous fury and predicting disaster when they are loosened.
In Engeland, these Leftist doom-mongers, including Corbynista Labour MPs, party activists and a ragbag of socialists, vent their spleen online and in some cases in the broadcast media. But in Scotland and Wales, Sturgeon and Drakeford’s Left-wing governments (respectively SNP and Labour) actually wield the power to act on their urges.
So despite the encouraging data on Omicron, they have once again been trying to make political capital by upending people’s lives more disruptively than Westminster, bringing in draconian new restrictions and decimating livelihoods.
In Skotland, large public events have been cancelled, one-metre social distancing has been imposed in pubs, restaurante, gimnasiums, theatres and museums, and table service is now mandated anywhere alcohol is served. Nightclubs are closed and the New Year’s party is effectively cancelled.
I live in Glasgow South, in the constituency I represented for Labour. The streets around me are gloomy and empty as they have been for so much of the past two years. Restaurant and business-owners are facing a second bleak midwinter.
This is not because Scotland’s Covid cases are higher than in England — in fact, they are lower — but because of Sturgeon’s relentless virtue-signalling which plays a huge role in all her decisions.
With impeccable political cynicism, she always insists on imposing tougher Covid restrictions than the Prime Minister is prepared to inflict.
During much of the pandemic, her press conferences were scheduled slightly before Boris Johnson’s, making it seem as if she was acting against Covid with greater urgency. Nou, in contrast, she is on the back foot as the Prime Minister appears to have been vindicated by his own policy decisions.
Wales’s Labour government, under Drakeford, is similarly cynical. The latest rules in Wales are truly absurd. In a policy decision reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch, Welsh people are currently permitted to go to the pub — but can be fined £60 for going to work.
Like most of the hard Left, Drakeford — a self-professed acolyte of Jeremy Corbyn — is an instinctive authoritarian who clearly enjoys wielding the power to restrict ordinary people’s freedoms.
So why does the Left have this sinister authoritarian urge? Part of the answer rests in how they see the role of the state.
Most on the Left believe the state should play an extensive role in people’s lives. Many are also convinced it should own and run key industries and services — and take a lot of your income in taxes to do so.
Traditional liberals, in contrast, believe that the state should step back wherever possible and allow people to live their lives as much as possible without intrusion.
Covid has crystallised this distinction. The role of the individual has been shrunk, the role of the state expanded.
But history offers ample proof of why this is a dangerous move — and the trend takes no account of individual agency.
As John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, noted this week, the English have in fact been ‘pretty responsible’ in their response to the spread of the Omicron variant, regardless of the lack of restrictions.
Yet on social media in particular, prominent Left-wing voices are furious at the Government’s ‘recklessness’.
And what precisely sparks this rage? It is the belief that they are better people, that they care more, and if you don’t subscribe to their view then you are just some ‘evil Tory’.
Bekend, Harold Wilson once said: ‘The Labour Party is a moral crusade or it is nothing.’ But that was a dangerously simplistic judgment.
Arbeid, like any serious political party, should leave the crusading to the Middle Ages and instead dedicate itself to taking practical steps to improve people’s lives.
But many on the Left believe in this dangerously messianic vision, and that they are thus better people than those on the centre-right.
The pandemic has given them the perfect outlet to demonstrate this goodness. Their alleged ‘fears’ about the impact of loosening restrictions or their noisily expressed anger about people not wearing masks both work to bolster their self-importance.
Anyone who fails to demand tougher rules is, in contrast, heartless and uncaring. And because the arguments against further lockdowns and restrictions often rest on the grievous effects on the economy, Labour claims that the Tories only care about profits and money.
But who suffers when businesses collapse and jobs are lost? Ordinary workers. The Labour Party too often forgets this because its power base is in the public sector — funded, natuurlik, by the taxpayer’s ever-expanding largesse.
Aside from the heroic NHS staff, many public sector employees have worked at home on full pay for much of Covid. It’s hardly surprising that so many of them are in favour of further lockdowns.
The Labour Party seems to have forgotten that the public accounts are not some bottomless resource. In plaas daarvan, when the economy declines, so do the tax revenues that keep public services going.
The Left must learn to abandon the ludicrous idea that people can’t be trusted to make their own judgments about how to live their lives.
Two years into this pandemic, Sturgeon and Drakeford should be giving their citizens the facts and figures, and then trusting them to behave sensibly. It is now time British people were allowed to think for themselves.