Like many, I am delighted that the Government has decided not to impose further Covid restrictions — at least until next year.
This welcome late Christmas present not only means that people in England can enjoy New Year’s Eve, it also means that many restaurants, pubs, theatres and shops will now be saved from closure.
Not everyone is relieved. Instead, arguing furiously for ever-tougher restrictions — even in the face of the demonstrably milder threat from the Omicron variant — are Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford.
TOM HARRIS (pictured): ‘Like many, I am delighted that the Government has decided not to impose further Covid restrictions — at least until next year’
They continue to display breathtaking political opportunism and a shocking refusal to prioritise people’s livelihoods. Their aides indulge in political point scoring, handwringing and fury as well as virtue-signalling, fury, virtue-signalling, and endless handwringing. I’ve had enough of it all.
I am a former Labour MP and was a party member for 34 years. It hurts me to admit this but some Leftists love to boss everyone around.
The Left is fond of restricting individual freedom. This is why lockdowns, as well as the confusing array of rules and guidelines that contradict each other, have been the ideal pretext.
Yes, there is a role for the state in everyday life. But there is a vast and widening gulf between sensible citizens with jobs, businesses and responsibilities, who willingly accept restrictions while longing for the day when they are lifted — and those who constantly demand further curbs, howling with self-righteous fury and predicting disaster when they are loosened.
This Leftist doomspeaker, which includes Corbynista Labour MPs as well as party activists, is able to vent his rage online. But in Scotland and Wales, Sturgeon and Drakeford’s Left-wing governments (respectively SNP and Labour) actually wield the power to act on their urges.
So despite the encouraging data on Omicron, they have once again been trying to make political capital by upending people’s lives more disruptively than Westminster, bringing in draconian new restrictions and decimating livelihoods.
Large public events in Scotland have been cancelled. One-meter social distancing was imposed at pubs, restaurants and gyms. Table service is mandatory everywhere alcohol is sold. Nightclubs are closed and the New Year’s party is effectively cancelled.
Living in Glasgow South is where I was elected Labour MP. I can see the streets surrounding me as bleak and empty for much of these past two years. The second dark midwinter is threatening restaurant and business owners.
This is not because Scotland’s Covid cases are higher than in England — in fact, they are lower — but because of Sturgeon’s relentless virtue-signalling which plays a huge role in all her decisions.
Her impeccable political cynicism ensures she insists on Covid restrictions that are more severe than those imposed by the Prime Minister.
During much of the pandemic, her press conferences were scheduled slightly before Boris Johnson’s, making it seem as if she was acting against Covid with greater urgency. Now she appears to be on the sidelines as her own policies have vindicated the Prime Minister.
Wales’s Labour government, under Drakeford, is similarly cynical. These are the latest absurd rules that Wales has adopted. In a policy decision reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch, Welsh people are currently permitted to go to the pub — but can be fined £60 for going to work.
Like most of the hard Left, Drakeford — a self-professed acolyte of Jeremy Corbyn — is an instinctive authoritarian who clearly enjoys wielding the power to restrict ordinary people’s freedoms.
Why is the Left so obsessed with authoritarianism? The answer lies in their perception of the role of government.
Most on the Left believe the state should play an extensive role in people’s lives. Many are also convinced it should own and run key industries and services — and take a lot of your income in taxes to do so.
The traditional liberals on the other hand believe that government should be as far away as possible to allow individuals to lead their own lives without interference.
This distinction was made crystallized by Covid. While the person’s role has diminished, that of the state has increased.
But history offers ample proof of why this is a dangerous move — and the trend takes no account of individual agency.
As John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, noted this week, the English have in fact been ‘pretty responsible’ in their response to the spread of the Omicron variant, regardless of the lack of restrictions.
Yet on social media in particular, prominent Left-wing voices are furious at the Government’s ‘recklessness’.
This rage is what it comes down to. It is the belief that they are better people, that they care more, and if you don’t subscribe to their view then you are just some ‘evil Tory’.
Famously, Harold Wilson once said: ‘The Labour Party is a moral crusade or it is nothing.’ But that was a dangerously simplistic judgment.
Labour, like any serious political party, should leave the crusading to the Middle Ages and instead dedicate itself to taking practical steps to improve people’s lives.
However, many Leftists believe this dangerously mesianic vision and therefore are better people than those at the centre-right.
They have found the ideal outlet for their goodness through the pandemic. Their alleged ‘fears’ about the impact of loosening restrictions or their noisily expressed anger about people not wearing masks both work to bolster their self-importance.
A person who refuses to demand stricter regulations is uncaring and heartless. Labour claims the Tories care only about money and profits, and the reasons for further restrictions and lockdowns are often based on their negative economic effects.
Who is the victim of job losses and business collapses? The ordinary worker. The Labour Party too often forgets this because its power base is in the public sector — funded, of course, by the taxpayer’s ever-expanding largesse.
Many public sector workers have worked from home, earning full wages for large parts of Covid. It’s hardly surprising that so many of them are in favour of further lockdowns.
Labour Party appears not to realize that the public account isn’t an inexhaustible resource. The public revenues are what keep the services of the public sector running when the economy falls.
The Left must learn to abandon the ludicrous idea that people can’t be trusted to make their own judgments about how to live their lives.
Sturgeon and Drakeford need to give their citizens facts and figures two years ago. Then they can trust them to act sensibly. British people should now be allowed to think for their self.