Authoritarian government depends on fear. Ministers need to spread fear to justify what they are doing and achieve compliance. So we have the continual attempt to pretend that everyone is at risk, even if they are under 60 and in good health. We have the dodgy charts deployed last week to persuade us that infections were doubling every week. We have continual threats to lock us down. This kind of behaviour destroys trust. If the government were trusted, it would not need to resort to coercion on the scale that it is doing. People are more likely to comply if the advice makes sense, is presented to them coherently, in calm language, and is supported by evidence which has not been crudely hyped up.
And then there is the biggest issue of all: the fact that breaking the rule is a criminal offence. As the Hampstead incident suggests, some police officers are evidently seizing their chance to indulge in the kind of neurotic, unnecessary behaviour that first reared its head at the start of lockdown.As part of a quest for “stronger enforcement of the rules”, Boris Johnson has proposed local “Covid marshals” who will ensure any miscreants do as they are told. Now, there are to be fines of up to £10,000 for people judged to have breached self-isolation rules, and the police will be checking compliance in the “highest incidence areas” and “high-risk groups”, based on “local intelligence”.
…The legislation allows ministers to authorise no end of drastic moves, from much weaker oversight of government surveillance and sectioning powers under the Mental Health Act to the closure of the UK’s borders. Perhaps the most startling section – which Martha Spurrier, the director of the pressure group Liberty, calls “completely wild” – lays out how the police can be rapidly allowed to detain anyone deemed “potentially infectious”, without an upper time limit.
The former president of the supreme court says parliament “surrendered” its role over emergency laws restricting freedoms amid the coronavirus pandemic, in an intervention expected to embolden MPs threatening a Commons revolt.
- There were two pieces of emergency legislation which came into force in late March:
- the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations;
- the Coronavirus Act.
- The Coronavirus Act has never been lawfully used. It has been continually misapplied.
- The Crown Prosecution Service conducted a review of all charges under the coronavirus laws – both under the regulations and the Coronavirus Act. It found an extremely high percentage of charges made under the coronavirus laws were wrongly brought.
- The law has the power to criminalise people. Breaching guidance should not result in criminal prosecution.
- The rule of law developed to protect the weak and vulnerable from the strong, and to treat people equally. That has been hard fought for. That equal application of the law cannot be dependent on positions of power. The rule of law is also there to prevent the government from acting illegally. The government cannot subject us to restrictions and punishments unless justified by law.
- The laws have come into force with less scrutiny than you would get for a new series on Netflix.
- There’s no justification for ongoing revision of law without it going through parliament. The reason why parliament is so important is it raises checks and balances.
- Laws are really being used as an exercise of power by police, who are not considering the health and safety aspect.
[O]ne thing the Coronavirus pandemic has shown us is that rather than turn away from experts plenty of people appear to ascribe almost supernatural powers to them.
The bottom line is this: if Shipman were killing under the Coronavirus Act, he might have gotten away with even more murders. And if the safeguards held others back from killing their patients, well, they’re not anymore.
“What’s happening, exceptionally, with Covid is that not only do you not have to be an attending doctor to make a statement that someone has died of Covid, you don’t have to discuss it with anybody else, you don’t even have to be medical, you don’t have to have any test positivity – you can even deem a death to be due to Covid if it’s not mentioned on the death certificate and, say, you’re a care home provider and you think it ought to be mentioned.. and few of these cases are being autopsied. So we’re not building up any sort of knowledge about what this disease actually does to the body, or even whether it was present in the body of somebody who was said to have died of Covid. We actually know less about who’s dying of what now, particularly concerning Covid, than at any time in the past. So it really is a complete mess”.