Sunday, November 8, 2020

Politicians - A Special Kind of Stupid?

This particular chiringuito unimpressed with the Covid-19 threat.

On 15 March 2020, a lockdown was imposed on El Real Thing (and lots of others to be fair) by the Spanish authorities and since then - 240 days and counting - we have existed in various stages of restricted liberty between Spain and the UK whilst politicians in both countries (and across the globe to be fair) bid to out-do each other in The "How-Much-Can-We-Get-Away-With-Restricting-Personal-Freedoms" Stakes. In Murcia, the Regional Government very recently determined that customers in bars and restaurants had to wear masks at all times, removing them only to take mouthfuls of food and/or sips of drinks and replacing the masks immediately after each mouthful/sip. I mean, you've got to be a special kind of stupid to think that is a sensible idea. Remember, it's all for your own good. Yeah, well the East German authorities said similar when they built the Berlin Wall didn't they. Needless to say, all bars and restaurants in Murcia closed 
few days later. 

It doesn't matter what your views may be on the potency or otherwise of this Covid-19 pandemic, the respective current lockdowns in Spain and the UK are undemocratic, imposed without proper debate and justified by fantasy interpretations and projections. Throughout the last 240 days the lockdown restrictions in Spain are generally recognised to have been far stricter and infinitely better adhered to than those in the UK - yet neither have worked. Whilst in Sweden they didn't lock down the people and trash the economy, instead they asked everyone to observe some common sense rules on cleanliness and distancing and ten months down the line they are certainly no worse off than Spain or the UK or indeed the rest of Europe. No one here is doubting the potential for severe consequence of anyone unlucky enough to go down with Covid-19, but we know enough about it now to know that it isn't going to wipe out the human race and it is, in fact, a new and unwelcome respiratory illness acting in the way that respiratory illnesses do in tending to unleash its greatest damage on the old and medically vulnerable, particularly during the winter season so congratulations to all politicians in suppressing the spread of the illness over the summer and into the winter.

So, if the restrictions aren't working, why the continued fixation with "locking down" (imprisoning?) the population? At the outset of all this, nobody really knew what we were up against (with the possible exception of the Chinese - Mind the Fridge Door and all that) so we accepted that extraordinary times demanded extraordinary measures. But now, nine months down the line and with nine months worth of data, we need the politicians to do what they are supposed to do and that is to make sensible decisions. "Follow the science" was fair enough when we only had the one set of scientists and their advice to rely on. But now, with nine months of data and plenty of other scientists saying different (see Great Barrington Declaration ) it is the politicians who need to make the judgment calls weighing up the risks presented by Covid-19 versus the risks and costs of the proposed "cure". That is why we elect politicians and not doctors in the first place. Ask the doctors how to reduce the numbers of road traffic accidents and they would probably recommend banning cars. 

Prediction: The politicians (certainly in the UK) know that they have got it wrong. As with all respiratory illnesses, Covid-19 will wreak more havoc in the winter months so we can expect numbers of cases and deaths to rise. The politicians will continue with the undemocratic imposition of restrictions into the Spring and then, with seasonality playing its part in reducing these numbers, they will announce the measures to have been a success, thus justifying all that has gone before. But; 

The more people begin to look at, study and assess the data now available the more they will realise that the politicians have not been honest with us. Civil liberties, the basic rights and freedoms granted to peoples fortunate enough to live in democracies have been trashed. Freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom from arbitary arrest, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of religious worship. These rights and freedoms form the basis of a democratic society yet every single one of the freedoms listed have been denied us, to varying extents and at various stages, during the last 240 days. But what the hell has any of this to do with a blog ostensibly about enjoying life as an expat in Spain? Well, Mrs C and I are unanimous on this. If you are not prepared to stand up for and defend your basic rights and freedoms then don't be surprised when the "new normal" (we really hate that phrase) means that you can't simply set off to Spain (or anywhere else for that matter) without wearing a mask, without having taken a Covid test, without having downloaded the government's Covid App and without having a certificate of innoculation. Don't be surprised if you can't even afford to set off to Spain (or anywhere else) because your job/ business/ livelihood is lost amongst the myriad casualties of the Covid-inspired destruction of the economy. Don't be surprised if you can't book a flight, budget-price or otherwise, to Spain (or anywhere else) because the airlines have gone out of business. Don't be surprised that the "cure" turned out to be much more expensive, much more damaging and completely disproportionate to the problem.

Last week in the UK, 32 government backbench MP's voted against the lockdown and another 21 abstained. Even Theresa May (Mrs C has always quite liked her but she goes down in my book as the worst Prime Minister ever) accused Boris Johnson of choosing data to fit his Covid-19 policies when it should be the other way round. Boris has (perhaps unconsciously deliberately) backed himself into a 2nd December corner, this being the date that the current UK lockdown expires and when further restrictions will require more Parliamentary debate and division. Between now and then, increasing numbers of MP's are demanding greater rigour in the data, to include impact assessment and cost to the economy of further lockdown - and so should we. If we the people are expected, however temporarily, to waive our basic rights and freedoms then the very least we should expect is that we do so in the knowledge that government policy is based on robust data, reliable testing and proportionality. If we here at El Real Thing want to get back to enjoying Spain as before and travel bloggers around the world want to get back to travel blogging around the world as before, then standing meekly by whilst politicians do what they want without challenge is not an option. Wanderlust will become Wonderlust as in "I wonder what it was like before Covid". Long Haul will be the description for the time it takes to fill in all the paperwork required just to leave your front door and Half Board/ Full Board will become Half Bored/ Full Bored being likely descriptions of your state of mind whilst stuck at home when you might otherwise have been travelling. Okay, I may be prone to exaggeration but do not let yourself be kettled into a "new normal" if you were quite happy with the previous one. Our rights and freedoms are being stress tested courtesy of the trojan horse that is Covid-19, a respiratory illness which data shows has already passed from pandemic stage to endemic. We don't want to catch it, but we won't lock ourselves away from the world in an effort to avoid it. And we don't need or want politicians locking us away "for our own good", not without very good, properly argued reason and debate. 

Politicians are there to represent and serve the people, not the other way round. Demand something better than stupid.  

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