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Dear Boris...

As questions are being asked about the validity of the science behind Covid-19 and the appropriateness of the lockdown in the UK, Andy Martin and Kevan James pose their own queries for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government and ask; is liberty itself now under serious threat, both in the United Kingdom and in all those other countries that have, up until now, been free from undue interference by the state.

Andy Martin asks questions of the Prime Minister and gives his view:

Throughout the Coronavirus crisis, I have struggled to really understand what you have done and more crucially why you have done it. In my perception, you have:

  • Made many people scared to venture far outside, and even more scared to interact with anyone outside their immediate household;

  • Put almost overwhelming strain on many relationships with families, loved ones and friends;

  • Turned neighbour against neighbour by encouraging them to 'tell tales';

  • Created an environment in which police have come close to overstepping the mark by threatening to inspect the content of shopping bags and question our freedom to leave our homes;

  • Encouraged many across the nation to sit at home and rely on government handouts in the face of a virus that will have very little or no effect on the vast majority who lead normal, healthy lives;

  • Caused anguish and misery for millions who have lost their jobs and will struggle to find alternative work in the face of a significant oncoming recession;

  • Put the health of many in the nation at risk through the cancellation of treatments for life-threatening conditions such as cancer, deferral of medical appointments and consultations, and the postponement of vital operations;

  • Diminished the self-belief and perceived value of millions of hard-working individuals who want to contribute but aren’t allowed to because their places of work are shut down, while bombarding those same people with messages about how wonderful our key workers are;

  • Hyped and highlighted risk, encouraging negativity, while failing to fully promote positive developments and messaging;

  • Put hard science ahead of the emotional well-being of the nation – no doubt the science is well-founded but fails to address the adverse side effects and knock-on consequences the restrictions have entailed;

  • Redacted, restricted and concealed some of the detail that has diminished the ability of those of us who really want to understand this crisis from doing so;

  • Challenged the very freedoms to which the citizens of this country have a right to expect: to be able to freely go outside, to travel, to socialise, and to live their lives the way they see fit;

  • Made many forms of recreation practically illegal;

  • Severely damaged the viability of major industries this country that many of its workers rely on for their livelihood including travel, tourism, leisure and hospitality – while failing to offer meaningful long-term restitution;

  • Put at risk the income streams that vital organisations such as charities and welfare groups rely on to provide their essential services and support;

  • Brought the economy to its knees and kick-started what may turn out to be the greatest recession / depression in history;

  • Set England against Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through disparity in regulation and response.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt Covid-19 is a challenge; I applaud the efforts made to protect the truly vulnerable and reduce its impact through measures such as considered social distancing and personal hygiene. And I get it – there was a need to ensure the NHS was not overloaded, which it never was.

But I can’t understand why shopping for clothes entails any more risk than shopping for plants, or newspapers, or food. I cannot understand why I am allowed to stand two meters from someone while I queue at the till in a corner shop, but not at a bar. I cannot understand why I can go into a restaurant to pick up a takeaway but not sit at a table (socially distanced of course). I cannot understand why you have implemented restrictions that almost catastrophically inhibit the activities of so many small enterprises, the very businesses you have encouraged in the past.

More than anything though, I cannot understand why those of us who want to continue life as normal in the face of this challenge are not allowed to do so, albeit while permitting anyone to stay home if they do not want to venture out. This nation has always valued freedom above socialism-style restrictions. Is then the risk not ours to assess for ourselves – is this not part of being a responsible citizen – is it not what living in a free society is all about?

Was it all worth it? No doubt you will say yes, and you will claim that the alternative would have been even worse. My biggest fear now is not the virus, but the future viability and health of the nation which has so badly been ignored over the last two months.

So I say no, it wasn’t worth it.

© Andy Martin 2020

Kevan James and his view:

I agree with all of Andy’s questions and the point he makes but at least can attempt to answer some of them; not on behalf of the Prime Minister however (only he can do that) but on my own behalf.

Firstly, and perhaps of great importance, one of the criticisms of Boris Johnson from some quarters is that the lockdown wasn’t imposed sooner, as it was in other countries. Yet the PM is on record as a defender of the rights Andy mentions, hence his reluctance to tread the same path. Like all members of the government, and for that matter most politicians, the PM needs sound and reliable advice from those who either are or who purport to be, experts in their field. This includes medical science and in particular those who know something about viruses generally and coronaviruses especially.

This advice has been shown at best to be fundamentally flawed, at worst to be plain wrong to the point of being obliged to ask; was it deliberately wrong and if not, then those providing it have some serious questions to answer.

One also must ask, if the PM and his government are so personally liable for it all, what would have been different had Labour won the last general election. The answer is not a thing except that the lockdown would have been imposed far quicker, would not be easing, and would be very unlikely to anytime soon, if ever. Labour’s very foundations are built on control and while this has not been terribly prevalent in Labour governments of the past – at least not until 1997 – the party’s present form would give unbridled flamboyance to restricting the lives of UK citizens. The coronavirus crisis would have provided Labour with the perfect opportunity to turn the UK from a free country into a dictatorship from which possibly only armed revolution and even civil war would release it.