Jodie Simpson: Letter To My MP

This is an article by Jodie Simpson, based on a letter she wrote to her MP.

I would like to register my objection, in the strongest terms, to the continuing lockdown.

Before I go on, let’s just take a moment to think about the meaning of the word ‘lockdown’. It seems to have originated in prisons, and describes the confining of prisoners to their cells in the wake of riots. Due to a near-worldwide lockdown, literally billions of people have been effectively treated like criminals by their governments – and this includes the Conservative government, of which you are a member.

How did this situation come about in a supposedly free country?

An article I read recently in the Spectator poses the question: what if Covid 19 had originated in Sweden? What would the world look like now? I suspect it would look very different. As it is, however, governments across the world watched as an oppressive totalitarian regime with a shocking record of human rights abuses put its citizens under house arrest,  and apparently thought to themselves: “I’ll have a slice of that pie”.

Panicked by the story gradually building in Wuhan and then by the horrific scenes in Bergamo, politicians understandably didn’t want the same thing repeated on their home patch and in a rapid domino effect, lockdown spread across the virus’s European epicentre.

The British public tried its damnedest to do the right thing. No one wanted to see the NHS overwhelmed and people dying at home, denied medical care. The normally busy streets around my home fell, almost overnight, almost eerily silent – and without the need for the excessively stringent methods which were adopted elsewhere.

It seems the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

To my horror, but not to everyone else’s, three weeks on from the original lockdown, which was explicitly presented to the public as being put in place to ‘flatten the curve’, the lockdown was extended. This despite the NHS clearly not being overwhelmed, the Nightingale hospitals being barely used, and 40,000 empty beds across the country. The not-so-subtle mission creep has continued apace and we now find ourselves in week twelve of this farce. The goal posts have not only moved, Matt Hancock has uprooted them and gleefully run off with them to plant them in the next door field.

The ghastly Matt Hancock, who, seeing one too many folks out of doors enjoying the early April sunshine, threatened to take away our right to exercise at all. The ludicrousness of forcing people to stay indoors and away from the sunlight which could only benefit their physical and mental health, when all the evidence was clear from the get-go that the chance of catching the virus out of doors was so small as to be virtually impossible. The constant banging on about ‘exercise’ (purely functional, of course – whatever you do don’t look like you’re enjoying it), and the laughably ironic posturing during Mental Health Awareness Week was beyond satire. Currently Hancock’s busy making yet more plans to ruin people’s lives by doing spot checks on them when ‘Test and Trace’ comes in. I bet he throws great parties.

The pattern of the severity of cases has always been clear: mainly age-related, with issues around specific vulnerabilities. The risk to most people was negligible. As early as March Patrick Vallance was stating that he suspected the fatality rate to be below 1%, and increasing evidence is pointing to a true rate of less than 0.5%. In which case, a policy which encouraged vulnerable groups to stay out of circulation, whilst scrupulously working within hospitals and care homes to prevent infection running riot was the clear way forward, and more than a challenge in itself.

So why did the government abandon its initial herd immunity strategy and force a lockdown?

Three things:

1. Spinelessness. Understandably, no one wants to be in government when a new and highly visible virus is out there killing people. It doesn’t look good. As is so often the case, the need to look as though you’re doing something trumped the need to do the right thing. Thanks to a hysterical and politically-biased media and the hashtags ‘Tory genocide’ and ‘Boris the Butcher’ trending on Twitter, your cowardly government caved and gave the public what it demanded: lockdown. Just a quick reminder – Piers Morgan does not have a democratic mandate, but you handed it to him on a plate. The profoundly incompetent Neil Ferguson, whose career reads like a Top Ten of Worst Predictions Ever came up with his figure of 550,000 and the government panicked. At the time of writing the worldwide death toll still falls far short of his predicted death toll for the UK.

2. Incompetence. The consistent impression of the government over the last two months has been that of an organisation flailing around, haplessly shutting a myriad of stable doors long after the horse had bolted, whilst endlessly spewing out vacuous inanities, with Boris Johnson increasingly sounding like Young Mr Grace in Are You Being Served? – ‘You’ve all done very well!’ – while in parallel to this Downing St belches out obnoxiously authoritarian messages like ‘KEEP YOUR DISTANCE’ and ‘FOLLOW THE RULES’.

3. Self-interest. It was a win-win for the Tories really. Make it look like you’re ‘Doing Something’, whilst putting the NHS front and centre of the initial campaign. That’ll help get all those Red Wall voters onside when 2024 rolls around. Cynical, but hey, it’s only 68 million lives you’re playing with, right?

Three weeks in and faced with a public the majority of whom were either a) frightened out of their wits, or b) assuming the mantle of the virtuous, meekly accepting their personal sacrifice for the good of others and doing everything in their power to avoid becoming carriers of a disease (the apparent severity of which had been ramped up to the proportions of a biblical plague), the government realised they’d created a huge and unforeseen problem. Their manipulation of people had been a much greater success than expected, and the people didn’t want to go back to work, and they didn’t want to go back to school. Oops.

To have made mistakes is understandable. To have refused to admit to those mistakes when the information changed is depressingly predictable. To double down on destructive and authoritarian policies, because it was easier than speaking the truth and attempting to undo the damage, is bordering on psychotic.

From the very beginning of the lockdown the police relished the opportunity for some down time. Forget all the usual crimes, everyone was at home anyway. At least burglary figures were down… not that that would have made a huge difference to their workload. Instead, a chance for some easy policing: bellowing at beach-goers through loud hailers, issuing instructions on what items the public were allowed to buy, moving on people brave enough to ignore the plastic tape and sit on a park bench, harassing and publicly-shaming lone dog walkers with drones. It’s been a joy to watch them grow into this new role, don’t you think? Give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a Scotland Yard. On the plus side, there’ll probably be a rush of new applicants after this, not least because with every uniform comes a free invisible force field which protects the wearer from any virus which offenders may be carrying.

If the police haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory, neither have town councils. The serried ranks of taped-up park benches, taped-up rocks and fallen logs, the closing of parks and outdoor spaces, many of which were created in Victorian times in order to improve the health of the population, a population which lived with the threat of diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox and polio. Their ghosts must be laughing at us now.

And so we move on to the joys of social distancing. Those ‘baby steps’ have granted us more freedoms, whilst threatening us with increased fines if we make the stupid mistake of thinking we’re allowed to live as common sense, rather than government guidance, dictates. The ludicrous two-metre rule being maintained, at yet more cost to countless businesses that need to get going NOW, not ‘when they’ve completely rearranged the entire business to cater to a stupid rule on an arbitrary measurement’. Apparently it’s being kept because anything smaller would be confusing to the general public, in which case, might I suggest the new slogan: ‘2 metres cos ur 2 stupid’. It would be more honest than tweeting disingenuous crap about how ‘We’re helping businesses’. Really? Don’t make me laugh. Once again, you’re destroying lives and livelihoods with this ridiculous rule – and you know it. At a time when infection numbers are plummeting so fast that it’s putting the search for a vaccine into jeopardy, this really is a case of ‘health and safety gone mad’.

And that’s before we come to the schools. Here you have a real problem. Half the nation’s parents are too frightened to send their children to school. The other half (I hope) is looking at the measures about to be inflicted on the younger generation and deciding that their kids will return to school if and when the New Normal is replaced by just plain bloody Normal. Then there’s the children who most need to be in school, but are probably on course for missing a full six months of education and socialisation; so much for ‘levelling up’.

The non-Covid death toll – deaths already caused by, or which will soon come about as a direct result of the lockdown – is starting to come to light: the heart attacks, the missed treatments, the missed diagnoses. It seems that the only deaths that have mattered for too long are Covid 19 deaths. Recently the Telegraph ran a story about a spike in serious attempted suicides by the elderly – the very demographic this abomination was put in place to protect! The deaths indirectly caused by the lockdown due to the economy tanking could go on for years.

Obviously, it’s not just the Tories. The Opposition have been abysmal throughout. Witness the enthusiasm with which the devolved nations have extended their lockdowns. The only dissenting voices are those claiming that the lockdown wasn’t imposed soon enough, for long enough, or brutally enough. But it was the Tories that have brought this upon the nation – and as such they need to take full responsibility.

Of course, it could be worse. We could be in Spain, where children were not allowed out of their homes for six weeks – after which the rule was relaxed to an hour outside a day – those lucky kids, eh? Or Cyprus, where permission to leave one’s home had to be approved by text message, and curfews were enforced. In those countries not known for their glowing records in promoting civil liberties, the situation has been far worse. And those nice New Zealanders. I assume they’re pretty pleased with their low death toll so far – whether they remain so happy, once the full implications dawn on them of having a police force with powers to enter any premises without a warrant, remains to be seen.

This collective crime against humanity, and the damage inflicted upon the people of this planet by multiple governments, will take years to repair – and that’s just economically. The developing world will be crippled by the economic meltdown of Western economies and the worldwide death toll caused by lockdown will increase even more. We may never regain the ground lost when it comes to basic human rights, not least because the public’s expectations around what constitutes a basic human right has now effectively changed.

Please don’t respond with a generic, identikit, mealy-mouthed response. I’d prefer it if you didn’t waste my time or insult my intelligence.

Stand up and be counted.  Do something to help put an end to this. Do it now.

Jodie Simpson: Letter To My MP