Public Health

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:35 pm on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Richard Drax Richard Drax Conservative, South Dorset 6:35 pm, 1st December 2020

I am delighted to be called in this debate. By chance, I am currently reading an excellent book on Churchill called “Churchill: Walking with Destiny” by Andrew Roberts, and I am absolutely gripped. Mr Roberts recounts how listening to the great man’s speeches on the radio in occupied countries during the war was punishable by death,

“yet still people listened, because he could provide that one thing that these tortured populations needed more than anything else: hope”— hope, optimism, courage and a will to stand up and take on the odds.

It grieves me to say that for many months the good people of this country, whether they live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, have been force fed an hourly depressant that has left them compliant and mute. Outside the home, we are watched, warned, fined and arrested, and not just by the police, who, to be fair, are applying the law. Do not get me wrong: our political jailers are well-intended, but as is so often the case the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Ministers browbeaten by statistics, an apprehensive NHS and an acquiescent Europe feel obliged to tag along.

As we end this second lockdown, it is not surprising that the infection rate has dropped. It did last time, and then it rose again. No doubt, our five-day Christmas reprieve will see another spike. We know this virus well—well enough to learn to live with it. Under pressure from MPs, the Government have chosen to soften their stance with future votes and sunset clauses. Although they are welcome, I cannot vote to see more of my hard-pressed constituents move from independence to universal credit and all the other appalling consequences that befall those who lose not just their businesses and jobs but their pride. We are being lured into tiers like a child to the dentist with a promise of better things to come.

Of course, I welcome the news that we might soon have not one but three vaccines to combat the virus, but until one or all three are proven to work, we must simply stop digging a hole that we will find it hard to get out of. There is no loss of face or honour, or shame in having a rethink. While we pontificate in here, the country drowns under wave after wave of economic ruin, sadness and desperation. It shocks me how easy this dark mantle has alighted on our shoulders. There should be choices, but not the state’s. Hon. Members should ask themselves this question: has our proud island ever surrendered to the grim reaper before? The answer is no.