If we don’t rediscover our libertarian spirit, the next pandemic will crush us – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: March 25, 2021 at 2:44 am

History matters because it tells us that there will be another pandemic at some point and, due to certain features of the way we live now, this is more likely than it was a few decades ago. There are lessons to be learnt, and learnt fast, yet already we are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. We are fixating on an inquiry that will be extremely costly and achieve little rather than focusing on what the last 12 months tells us about our society, our governance, and the alarming degree to which fear trumps freedom.

During the pandemic the government has exercised coercive powers over its citizens on a scale never before seen in modern-day Britain. And it has done so without opposition, not least from the Opposition, which has done little more than blithely suggest measures should have been tougher or brought in sooner. But it is the publics response that has handed government the legitimacy it needed to pursue a path of state authoritarianism.

93% supported the first national lockdown. Three in ten English people wanted the government to go further with the second. 46% supported the roadmap when it was announced on 22nd February, with 25% thinking the timeline was too rapid. When presented with a binary choice between freedom and safety the British public chose option three: more repression. Disregarding personal liberty when the risk is uncertain, immediate and absolute is defensible. Allowing government to "wrap its arms" around us while trampling on our freedom when that threat has manifestly been downgraded is not.

Professor Neil Ferguson told The Times in December that, in the chaos of February and March 2020, SAGE never thought the UK government couldnt get away with imposing Chinas lockdown policy. Then Italy did it, and soon thereafter we were all prisoners in our own homes. Will policymakers be so hesitant in shutting down social interaction in response to the next crisis? I doubt it.

Further, over the course of this pandemic the government has been engaged in a liberty-crushing side-hustle. No modern-day vice hasnt come under the microscope, scapegoated for its possible role in transmission or the severity of our symptoms. Alcohol, obesity, smoking, vaping. At the end of this month, the governments gambling consultation will draw to a close, and you can bet further legislation will be on the cards. Councils are introducing nil-caps for entertainment venues. Its an exhaustive, one-way ratchet, coming at a time when politicians are already stampeding on the fundamental principles that underpin our democracy.

It will be incumbent on us all to ensure the nation is unlocked as soon as it is safe to do so and there is a strong case for bringing the roadmap forward. But it is equally important that we become a freer society than we were pre-pandemic, not a more paternalistic one. Doing so will require that we all rediscover our libertarian spirit starting with the Prime Minister.

Follow this link:
If we don't rediscover our libertarian spirit, the next pandemic will crush us - Telegraph.co.uk

Related Post