Freedom is being leeched, our Winter of Malcontent is coming

Freedom is being leeched, our Winter of Malcontent is coming

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Wednesday 23, September, 2020

WALKING ALONG THE CLIFFTOPS of Pembrokeshire this month has been a wonderful break from the incompetence across these islands. A few days ago the autumn equinox passed by. The nights are now longer than the days and will be until next Spring. It certainly feels that way. 

When I first wrote on Coronavirus in January, when Covid-19 didn’t even have a name, I expected incompetence from Westminster and Holyrood. I never expected government to enjoy it though. Every half-baked petty tyrant you could imagine seems to have awoken with fresh zest during this crisis to take our freedoms away.  

I feel sad for never attending the Freedom Festival, now I am not even allowed to, thanks to my *coughs* Conservative government. It isn’t conservative though is it? It is ugly, paternalist and reactionary. It seems in trying to fight and better the SNP it has come close to turning itself into it.  

The SNP of course is not to be bettered at paternalism. Its politicians love control. You can see it in the stone face of Nicola Sturgeon as she repeats the same dross on the telly every day with tinkering so trivial it escapes the notice of many. You can see it in her eyes, she cannot believe her luck. Narcissists love control. They are insatiable in that regard.  

We are at the point where we cannot visit our families and friends, yet children mix freely at school. A house party of 15 is illegal but we are supposed to go to work or to a restaurant where there are more than 15 people.  

To use a phrase beloved by nationalists, this is a government no one voted for. Moreover when Covid-19 laws were passed (beware any emergency legislation) they were for one reason and one reason only: to prevent total collapse of emergency services – because at that point mortality from all causes would skyrocket without access to ITU, to ventilators, dialysis and intensive blood pressure management.  

That’s it. That was what it was for. 

All the talk of ‘suppressing the virus’, ‘fighting the virus’, ‘eliminating the virus’ – yes, “eliminating” the virus – is delusional havering worthy of King Canute’s worst advisors. This virus will continue to wash over us for years. That is blindingly obvious. Eroding our freedoms, including our right to assemble, is eroding our economy, democracy and solidarity. 

So what gives? Seriously, why is no “unionist” in Holyrood asking this? What gives is our freedom. It is being gambled away in a game of poker against a virus that, without a working vaccine, we cannot possibly win. These puritanical excesses where last seen in Jacobean times. It brought out characters in our literature such as Malavore, a cynical courtier in the seminal work The Malcontent by John Marston. We recognise the character from the Blackadder series. A twisted satire of government incompetence we would recognise today where restrictions on our freedom are like the cure-all leeches he knew and loathed. 

The lockdown in March and April was only for buying time to adapt. We still do not have free face masks for all (if needed), yet isn’t healthcare meant to be free? No vitamin D supplements have been given to those housebound for months. No flu vaccine programme is being pounded out from our TV screens. No one dares mention chloroquine or similar drugs where numerous studies show benefit and trials are in place for using it to prevent Covid-19 in the first place.  

Instead we have army-built hospitals no one uses, so now the army may be drafted in to police us in case we visit a friend! That is martial law and no opposition party has batted an eyelid over it.  

I’m going to state something truly scientific. It’s called the null hypothesis. It means I think none of this Covid-19 strategy will make a blind bit of difference to what happens to our health and it is for scientists and medical colleagues to prove me wrong. That is how all good science starts. It starts conservatively. So does all sound medicine and public health. So too, sound government. We are far from that, further still from sound opposition.  

Just over 40 years ago we suffered the Winter of Discontent. A real conservative stood up and told us something we all knew and longed to hear, that none of this was necessary and none of this was acceptable. Freedom never looked back.

Freedom is just another slogan for many, but it’s core to who we are. In Scotland that word has been appropriated by its enemies. We must fight for it. 

Dr Jonathan Stanley has worked in a variety of frontline NHS positions in the UK since qualifying as a surgeon twelve years ago.

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