The title of this blog comes from a quip made by Sir Iain Duncan Smith – a prominent backbench critic of the current Covid strategy – and I could not resist using it, as I think it sums up how a lot of us feel.
I am as wearied by this pandemic as anybody. A lot of residents have been contacting me and tagging me in Facebook posts about this evening’s vote on the new tiering system.
It should be noted, of course, that I am NOT a Member of Parliament and do not, therefore, have a vote. Our local MP, John Baron, has set out his stance. He will be supporting the Government in the lobbies tonight. I fully support his decision, notwithstanding the sympathies I have with Sir Iain and others who have been critical.
As I set out last month, when Essex County Council took the decision to move us voluntarily into Tier 2, I am not convinced about what the right thing to do is. I am in awe of those who are! With all the conflicting opinions, it feels almost impossible to indulge in any kind of certainty. There does not seem to be any real scientific consensus but that does not surprise me much. I have always felt that with scientists, as with economists, if you put five of them in a room, you’ll get five different opinions. And that’s before you dive into the ocean of conspiracy theories and ill-informed bluster on social media.
I understand the concern many people have an hugely sympathise with those who feel the Covid restrictions are too severe and, in too many cases, seem inconsistent and illogical. Nowhere is this less true than in the case of our hard-pressed hospitality sector. I know, from having spoken to John, that he too is very alive to these concerns.
Nonetheless, the most recent data shows that the infection rate per 100,000 in Essex is still too high, particularly here in our borough. The reality of the Tier System is that those areas in Tier 3 were the only ones who were really going to see numbers reduce. Those of us in Tier 2 have largely seen our infection rates stabilise, while infection rates in Tier 1 have tended to rise.
I do not want to see these restrictions but the bottom line is, with our hospitals nearing capacity on Covid wards, I am forced to agree that it would simply be irresponsible not to support the regulations. I don’t have a better plan but, if someone comes up with one between now and the time this one is reviewed on 16th December, I’ll happily listen to it!
In the meantime, spare a thought for people like John and his colleagues on the Government benches, who are taking a tough decision and are at least ‘owning it’ with their electorate instead of cravenly abstaining like ‘Captain Hindsight’ and his Labour MPs. I am astonished that the Opposition will abstain. It is a cowardly abdication of their responsibility. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it last night. Agree or disagree with the Government’s strategy but, for goodness’ sake, at least take a view.