THAT INFAMOUS TELEVISION INTERVIEW.
It has just gone two years on from my fleeting appearance on BBC Midlands Today, in which, in my capacity as a local councillor, I warned about the ruinous consequences that lockdowns would have upon our society, our economy, and upon our country’s wider health care. It genuinely saddens me to have been proved mostly right - as even people who were initially dismayed by my stand have since conceded (including more than a few of my Conservative colleagues on Dudley Council). Believe me, no one would have rejoiced more than I had Covid19 never happened, along with the tragic deaths it caused and the panic it stirred.
Of that interview itself, in what would become an all too familiar and frustrating experience for other, more esteemed critics of the Government's CoVid narrative - including many eminent doctors and scientists - it transpired to be a mixture of selective quoting and implicit character assassination. Thus a five minute interview, during which I offered evidence and statistics to support my contention, was eventually edited down to a twenty second news slot that sought to portray me in a less than flattering light (to put it charitably).
For example, when pressed, I omitted to have that week's local CoVid death count to hand - even though we now know those official figures were almost certainly bunkum (as the BBC itself would be forced to concede by the year's end - qualifying its reporting of those daily statistics with the caveat that "not all those deaths will have been of people who died 'of' CoVid"). That edited footage was then immediately followed by a more deferential studio interview with a pro-lockdown doctor, who was permitted to speak at length and without interruption.
It would no exaggeration to say that, following that appearance, I suddenly found myself the most hated man in Dudley - the object, at times, of vile abuse by email and on social media. Indeed, in the days immediately afterwards I would lie in bed at night just waiting for a brick to come through the window. Those dark days were made bearable by the supportive comments of those many people who commended me for the stand I'd taken - for which I thank them.
To be sure, if you believe that being in politics is about more than just saying and doing nice things in order to get elected, still less in pocketing the social and pecuniary rewards that accrue to public office, then sometimes you also have to say and do unpopular things too – and be prepared to face the inevitable ostracism for saying and doing them. For instance, being ejected from the Conservative Group on Dudley Council - and thus, in due course, being stripped of the right to stand as a candidate for the party I'd loyally served for close on forty years (and in what was the second safest Tory ward in the Borough) - has witnessed me forfeiting over £10,000 a year in members' allowances. But then, like I said, some things are more important than the money.
More regrettable still, making that stand cost me valued friendships - including of members of my wider family. Of course, well may they say that it wasn't your opposition to Government policy that put you beyond the pale, Ray; it was your call to openly defy the law. To which I would respectfully point out that while upholding the rule of law is incumbent upon politicians (and especially upon political leaders - though, alas, not always so for leaders of my own party: google 'Andrew Bonar Law and Irish Home Rule' if you doubt me) - it has never been an absolute. There will inevitably be times when, as Martin Luther King pointed out, it is actually one's moral duty to defy manifestly unjust laws.
As such (and overlooking the fact that many of the politicians who passed them were meantime dallying with their mistresses, partying in Downing Street, or downing beer and curries at campaign shindigs), I would hope by now that even the most stolid advocates of those reams of lockdown 'rules' and 'regulations' that we were burdened with will acknowledge that many (if not most) of them were oft times cruel, arbitrary, and laughably absurd; and - as was becoming more obvious with each passing day - not even particularly effective at halting the spread of a highly virulent (but thankfully relatively benign) microscopic airborne pathogen. What has happened in China this last year ought to lay to rest any remaining doubts on that score.
So while I will continue to highlight the folly and duplicity involved in the framing and enforcing of those damaging lockdowns – as well as calling out the policy of jabbing ever younger age cohorts with an experimental vaccine that they don't need (and which I’m convinced risks occasioning long-term harm about which our governments are not being fully upfront) – that fateful decision I made two years ago (as well as the personal repercussions it occasioned) is now history, a chapter in my life that's thankfully closed.
I would only conclude by suggesting that had more people in Britain - and especially more politicians, both locally and nationally - had the courage to speak out and rally to a campaign of peaceful mass civil resistance to those ridiculous measures - then our country would not be in the terrible mess it is today. Nor would people be dying in droves from other preventable and treatable illnesses that were tragically neglected or overlooked amid our obsession with CoVid19.
Alas, we really do reap what we sow - or, in this instance, what we so culpably failed to prevent our governments from sowing in our name.
Ray Burston - Former Conservative Councillor