It is a pleasure to be able to contribute to this debate. In doing so, I thank again everybody in North East Derbyshire for everything that they are doing. In the most difficult period of our lives, what our constituents have done, are doing and will continue to do is incredible. We will get through this together, and I thank them for everything.
Today, I want to focus on the last mile in front of us and a very vexing part of the public debate around that. It is hard to believe that only a year ago today the World Health Organisation confirmed the existence of a coronavirus in China. That year has felt like 10. The virus has turned our lives upside down repeatedly and yet, ragged, weary and older, we persist.
Even as the light draws nearer, with the vaccinations, we still have much work to do. Even with hundreds of thousands of jabs going in arms on a daily basis, suppression at this last stage remains vital. Yet every day, I am contacted by residents who remain unsure about the strategy that we are pursuing and who rightly challenge and question. They are absolutely right to do so.
Most accept the position once we discuss it.
A small number remain unsure; they want to be supportive of the Government’s actions, but they are buffeted by the continual suggestions—particularly on social media—that the virus is some kind of collective mirage. Given the siren voices on those media, I can see why the alternative view is so alluring. They suggest easy choices, benign realities and soft landings—that we are in a casedemic; that the pandemic was over in the summer. It would be fantastic if that were true, yet it is not.
This tiny, unrepresentative group, basking on past glories or extended CVs, continues to argue against reality. For a time, I thought they were valuable voices of scepticism in the debate; then, that they were just wrong. Now, I am not sure I can accord them that benign intent.