A second lockdown risks being a dangerously Orwellian move and counterproductive to the freedoms envisaged by the ‘British Dream’.
The first lockdown, with good cause, aimed to reduce the infection rate of this horrendous disease. We had a limited testing capability, little knowledge of the causes and implications of the virus, and a fear of the unknown.
The United Kingdom is known around the world for her provisions of individual freedom, liberty and mutual respect. A second lockdown risks breaching all of these.
The reasons used for the initial lockdown made sense, but those reasons do not carry any weight now. Our testing capability is the best in Europe, we have months’ worth of research on the disease and people are naturally social distancing. Not to mention that the promising vaccine’s not too far away!
And that’s without even considering the economic impact…
In August, we recorded the highest national borrowing levels since records began. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is rising rapidly and businesses are scared. Is this how we want to live? It’s worth remembering here that the money the Government spends is our money. We will pay this back in increased taxes and/or austerity. Having spent the last couple of years listening to Labour/SNP MPs claim that austerity wasn’t necessary, I don’t know if I could hack many more years of the same…
Right now, the Government has stretched out the redundancies that a vast swathe of individuals are going to face. The furlough scheme, and now the Jobs Support Scheme, are delaying the inevitable, while simultaneously increasing the potential impact on our paycheques. The economy is staring at a massive reshuffle – working from home has become mainstream. Of course, this doesn’t bother the white-collared workers and their companies – with no need for sky-scraper offices, costs fall heavily. But it’s about those who rely on office workers: the baristas, reception staff and delivery drivers (to name but a few)
Recalling the 80s (or, if you’re as young as me, watching YouTube videos about it), the economy was forced to rebalance itself and move away from production to more services-based. People had to retrain and find new professions. The invisible hand of the free market came in and found us a balance in all its wisdom.
The same needs to happen now; we need to adapt as a country to allow that same invisible hand to do its work again. It is not tenable to force the way we work to stay the same; as we have learnt time and time again, government intervention should be the last resource used.