Guest piece from Tony Brown, former political advisor to the EFDD group in the European Parliament.
Better than most, libertarians understand multiple objectives. If you are libertarian, you pretty much always have at least two objectives. The first is whatever you wish to achieve but the second is the extension of freedom and choice: liberty.
This makes libertarians better equipped than most to understand that Covid involves – and must involve – non-Covid objectives and decisions. If you focus ONLY on Covid, then the economy rapidly spins into decline and non-Covid conditions and premature deaths rapidly spiral upwards as cancer tests do not take place, people become reluctant to ‘trouble the Health Service’ with other conditions, not to mention fears of catching Covid whilst going to hospital for something else.
My very substantial criticism of government the world over (Sweden arguably excepted) is that they are now obsessed with Covid and not seeing the bigger picture. Johnson and Hancock – backed by their ‘biased, partial advisors’ including Whitty, Imperial and Sage – simply do not seem to get that their cycle of lockdown, partial relaxation, uptick, back to restriction is ignoring three inevitable consequences:
1. the ever-greater economic damage of this ‘stop/go’ cycle;
2. the non-Covid health effects which increase non-Covid premature or excess deaths, and;
3. that Covid seems to be progressively less virulant as the ratio of deaths and hospitalisation to cases declines – and though we cannot be absolutely sure yet, probably very substantially.
Think of all those unused nightingale beds waiting for an epidemic which never happens. (Incidentally, if you understand natural selection, this loss of virulence is exactly what you would expect to happen.)
This is a massive opportunity for the Libertarian Party.
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are ‘me-too’. They attack the government for inefficiency but they would neither do anything different, nor is there any reason to suppose that they would be more efficient if they were in power. I have even less belief in Labour’s Jon Ashworth MP than I do in the egregious Hancock.
So, the Libertarian Party should be the voice of a different approach,…
– different advisors: Oxford not Imperial, Heneghan not Whitty, restructuring if not abolishing SAGE and, if he will accept it, the appointment of Anders Tegnell (he does not need to be in the UK in a world of teleconferencing)
– removal of prohibitions and greater reliance on people’s common sense to take the advice they are given, especially the more vulnerable
– concentration on rates of hospitalisation and death from multiple conditions so that, for example, cancer gets its fair share of resources.
– make economic impact an additional key indicator
– all backed by the information and education programme to put Covid and its consequences in context and to allow the public better to understand the real risks of different approaches to their chances of a happy, prosperous, healthy future.
I do not for one moment expect Johnson, Hancock and co to listen but we can show how misguided and muddle-headed they are, the consequences of their irrationality and, most importantly, that there is an alternative – and better – way.