So much of my correspondence begins with a statement that the point of view being expressed, is universally held. “Mr Swayne, everyone I speak to agrees with me…”.
I think the universal truth is really that we tend to mix with people like ourselves, who tend to think like us, and therefore largely agree with us. Either that, or they are just too polite to disagree.
I am no different. Almost everyone I speak to appears to agree with me that our response to Covid19 has been a disastrous overreaction.
It a hard thing to say when so many people have died of the disease, many of whom were relatively young and with no other health problems. Nevertheless for the vast majority of us the experience of catching the disease is mild to imperceptible. Yet our disproportionate response has been to close down our economy with devastating consequences for employment and incomes, with all the health problems -both mental and physical- that will flow from their diminution.
We have prioritised our healthcare system to the enormous disadvantage of anyone suffering from conditions other than Covid19, which will cause much suffering and many deaths.
And we have devastated education by closing schools.
To cap it all, we have sacrificed our liberty to the extent that we are now told whom, when and where me may meet, marry, worship, or whatever. And even what we must wear.
All this might be bearable (though personally I doubt it) given the prospect that it is only to be short-lived. The announcement yesterday however, poured cold water on any such notion. There was a deeply chilling note in the Chief Scientist’s observation that we may have reached the limit of possibilities with respect to easing of restrictions.
We appear to be at the mercy of these scientists. And our only prospect of relief is scientific advance in the form of a vaccine or a cure, neither of which is guaranteed.
Yet the science which has imprisoned us is controversial. There is another point of view and course of action: whilst taking care to protect those who are particularly vulnerable, to allow the natural process of ‘herd immunity’ to build up amongst the rest of us so that the virus has much less opportunity to spread.
I said almost everyone I speak to agrees with me. Well, I’m not stupid: I know they tell me what I want to hear; they email me because they’ve already heard that I agree with them.
Nevertheless, there is clearly a difference of opinion amongst scientists and amongst the public in general.
So, the key question for me as an elected representative -in what is supposed to be a democracy -is this: why is there so little debate in Parliament about the measures that have been forced upon us and the science that justifies them?
On occasions I have found myself as almost a lone voice in opposition to the Government’s chosen course of action.
Most shocking of all, I have never had the opportunity to legislate: I have neither voted for nor against any of the laws that now govern and constrain our social intercourse and which the police have the power to enforce.
The Government simply rules by decree, without argument or challenge in Parliament.
It does so using powers granted to it in the Public Health Act 1984.
I have said it before, but it bears repetition: how prescient George Orwell was in his choice of that year in naming his dystopian novel.