How refreshing to return from Party Conference which was held in a state of near normality. The only element which was not completely normal was that there were less people. That I think was due to the fact potential attendees were worried it would in the end be cancelled or that vaccine passports would be demanded in some form. This in a nutshell shows how we cannot allow our society to be closed down again as it creates nervousness and business, society and people cannot thrive in that environment.
Having been campaigning against lockdowns and vaccine passports I organised and chaired a fringe meeting entitled 'Are Vaccine Passports Conservative?' as part of the Liberty Zone. I have to say we had fantastic presentations from 4 brilliant speakers. It's only a pity the Party decided not to list us in their handbook, although I think that provoked interest in itself. Our speakers had a panoply of expertise. Sir Graham Brady outlined to us how the original vote in Parliament was to allow the Government to bring in their draconian measures for 2 years. We would still have 6 months to go having not had another vote. This was reduced to being reviewed every 6 months. As Sir Graham states, 'do we want to live in a society where the state tells us when we can or can't see our children, parents and friends?' Unbelievably we have lived through our Government refusing us permission to leave our own country; when we were children it was only the USSR and Cuba that had those sorts of controls. Laura Dodsworth, the author of 'A State of Fear' outlined how we have been persuaded and manipulated by Government Behavioural Scientists. The government thought at the beginning that lockdown compliance would be much lower than it actually was, after all as Sir Patrick Vallance said about Coronavirus on the 13th March 2020, 'the vast majority of people get a mild illness' and yet within 10 days the fear levels were being ramped up which has had an extreme effect on some people who may fear getting back to normality for a long time.
Professor Carl Heneghan, who is Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University talked to us about how the NHS needs to be better prepared and look at its organisation. He noted that Boxing day 2020, his A&E where he works as a GP was much quieter than usual on a Boxing day, but those that were there were in a state of panic. He also noted that Germany has 3x the number of ICU beds we have and has more beds for lower grade community care. Alan Miller the Co-founder of the Night Time Industries Association spoke about how important nightlife and hospitality is to regeneration, industries such as fashion and the cohesiveness of society. All these speakers with their different takes were outlining how damaging it is to close down society and introduce restrictions as we have done 3 times. They are likely to cause more long-term harm than solve the immediate problem. After all 50% of all mental illness starts by the age of 14 so think what these lockdowns with the school closures have been doing to our children and what issues are being stored up.
What came back loud and clear from the audience was that the Government has scored a blinder with the vaccines in both backing the Oxford vaccine but also buying large quantities of the others. However the audience firmly felt it should be up to individuals whether they wish to have the vaccine or not. That does not mean we are anti-vax only that we do not agree with Government mandated medical interventions, whether overt or covert. The Conservative principle is individual responsibility which is a good one. We should adopt it for vaccines. We have always rejected living in a country where 'show us your papers' is accepted. It has to be wrong that youngsters are being manipulated into having vaccines that we do not fully know the long-term effect of as yet for an illness that 99.9% of them would brush off. Introducing vaccine passports would divide people, friends, and groups. This does not help levelling up and in fact hits certain sections of society far harder.
Being at Conference allows you to have a proper exchange of ideas, see old friends, meet new people, so I hope that people having attended will realise that we cannot lock down again and that we need to be very wary of any continuing restrictions. The renewal of the Coronavirus Act will be coming before Parliament before the end of October. I hope MPs will think very carefully before voting for it.