It’s time to shout up about the madness of Covid lockdowns – sanity should prevail in 2021

IN early March, in what seems like a different world, I was insistent that any lockdown measures introduced to Great Britain to combat the deadly new coronavirus exported by China must be voluntary.

Having seen the terrifyingly draconian way their deranged communist government had locked up the long-suffering Chinese people, using drones and over-the-top enforcement to combat all social interaction, I wasn’t concerned that such an approach would be adopted here.

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After all, that great libertarian Boris Johnson had just secured a landslide election victory.

There was a clear path to do things differently — responsibly and safely, yes, but without stripping away decades of civil liberties and policing by consent.

Besides, the Government’s own behavioural scientists were convinced that non-mandatory guidance was the only way to get people to comply in the long-term.

Then the first wave struck. The world panicked.

Most major democracies locked down and, like virtually everyone else in the mainstream media and politics, I reluctantly accepted Boris’s decision to go into a temporary lockdown. Sure, it was unprecedented, but those three weeks, I reasoned, would allow the virus to be got under control and — you know the drill by now — stop the NHS being overwhelmed.

 

In hindsight, do I feel like our leaders preyed on the trust of folk like me? Absolutely.

Three weeks soon turned into three months and, at this rate, we will remain essentially locked down a year after Boris’s initial action.

And sadly, the behavioural scientists could not have been more wrong.

In the age of social media, with the entire population locked in their homes, terrified by what state propaganda led them to believe amounted to a new bubonic plague, fear overwhelmed the nation.

That has seen our very way of life overturned, from shuttered offices forcing us to work from our bedrooms, to sex bans causing women in their 30s to fear they will never be able to start a family, to the cruelty of socially distanced funerals.

Lockdowns — a rudimental exercise unfathomable in any Western democracy this time 11 months ago — are in vogue. Sage and the Cabinet are now addicted. Just like a shot of illegal drugs, the high of decreasing case rates from shutting down the country is all too temporary.

The brutal comedown of soaring infections that inevitably follows creates a perpetual cycle that has become a nightmare to live through. But lockdowns are embraced by woke virtue signallers as a way to boast: “We’re giving up our freedom and killing off the economy for the greater good. Come on nice people, join the revolution!”

But as we all know by now, the elites who shout the loudest (yup, I’m looking at you Professor Pantsdown Neil Ferguson and suspended Sly News host Kay Burley) think they are somehow immune.

Our coronavirus response has shown that those making and reporting the decisions that are causing so much damage to our businesses and health don’t trust the very people who they hit the hardest.

Now that trust in the establishment has been so brutally smashed, it’s going to be hard for it to return.

Incorrect warnings of 4,000 deaths a day and overwhelmed NHS wards are largely shrugged off — Chris Whitty, Patrick Vallance and Matt Hancock have cried wolf too often.

Folk are switching off the one-sided BBC News in their droves and are able to look at the statistics and medical information to make informed decisions, taking into account their age, health condition and with whom they spend time.

Nobody wants to “let the virus rip” or put the elderly at risk.

But I genuinely think in years to come, as the economic devastation from this catastrophic year along with the deaths from missed cancer and other potentially lethal diagnoses catches up with us, that these ongoing lockdowns will be viewed as the greatest form of self-harm a first-world country could inflict.

Once decisionmakers wake up to the damage of their policy approach, it is going to be too late, so it’s hard not to be despondent.

ANNOYED I HAVE TO SAY

The bulk of journalists — with a few very honourable exceptions — have largely ignored the collateral damage 12 months of lockdown will wreak, including tens of thousands of deaths.

I feel annoyed that I even have to say it, but I take Covid extremely seriously — the early strain of the virus I had in March has caused some life-changing side-effects.

On a personal level, I have accepted my life will consist of reluctantly staying at home, apart from when I’m at work, for at least three more months at this rate.

It’s unlikely I’ll be allowed to reunite with my beloved mum, dad and sister in New Zealand until 2022, given Jacinda Ardern has put up the barricades.

So it’s going to be very hard to enjoy this Christmas and New Year, but we must all try to keep our heads up.

Use your common sense and don’t be afraid to speak up against madness you encounter.

And when it gets really bad, remember the end of this Covid-19 hell ride is now in sight.

Sanity should prevail in 2021 and lockdowns must be banned for ever.

I'll miss Miss Mix

OH how I love Little Mix.

I conducted their first TV interview, when they were terrified young teens still called Rhythmix and being mentored by Tulisa on The X Factor in 2011.

I gave them their debut award a year later for Now Magazine then saw them blossom into accomplished pop stars with the balls to tell Simon Cowell to get lost.

Nine years on the girlband treadmill is enough to cause deep trauma for any young person, so I completely respect why Jesy Nelson felt she had to quit for the sake of her mental health.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not very sad to see her leave the band, which was so shaped by her uncompromising and vivacious sense of self.

Wootton's week



Bikes are a blight to us all

A PLAGUE of feral cyclists now taunt the streets of our major cities.

Sometimes they’re a mere annoyance, many more times dangerous, and often criminal.

During the shutdown, London has gangs parading in convoys on Boris bikes, yelling abuse, pushing people on footpaths and committing theft.

Think I’m exaggerating? I’ve seen it on a daily basis and been the victim twice in recent months (my phone nicked on both occasions).

I have nothing against cyclists who want to follow the rules of the road and the law.

But most don’t – they cut across the footpath at what seems like 90mph if it suits them and refuse to stop at traffic lights.

I fear the Government’s car-hating philosophy could see our cities soon turned into something like Amsterdam, where it’s a nightmare to walk or drive because of swarms of bikes that are a threatening menace.

Councils must stop their near compulsion to force us all on to two wheels and start thinking about drivers and pedestrians, who make up the vast bulk of the population.

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