British MP calls lockdowns ‘extended exercise in almost … deliberate cruelty’
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LONDON, England, February 23, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – U.K. Conservative MP Sir Charles Walker derided the government for its continued lockdown, calling it “an extended exercise in almost studied and deliberate cruelty.”
Walker, once the chairman of the anti-lockdown 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers, made his comments following government guidance not to book summer holidays. The government argued it cannot guarantee that restrictions will be lifted by the time summer comes.
“It is just not acceptable behavior,” Walker lamented on the BBC’s Radio 4 program. “People need to see their children, they need to see their parents, the people that they love, they need to have something to look forward to.”
“[We] are conducting a massive experiment in creating high levels of anxiety in a population and it’s just not acceptable.”
Walker, speaking on February 10, pointed out that the government planned to give an address to the nation about its strategy to ease restrictions on February 22, in what it calls its “roadmap out” of lockdown. He said that if the government were already planning to reveal its intentions, “why on earth are we getting interventions … from the secretary of state for transport about booking holidays” not two weeks before they make an announcement?
“We were told that when the vaccine came, release would happen. And it now seems that the government even knows something that it’s not willing to share with us about the vaccines or just really is facing in multiple directions and is determined to muddy the waters and sow confusion and high levels of upset and concern in what is already a very stressed out population.”
Presenter Sarah Montague asked Walker if he “seriously” thinks that “one reason [for advising not to book holidays] is that they’re trying to hide something about the vaccines?”
Walker responded, saying “for crying out loud, we were told, weren’t we, that vaccines were the route out of this.”
“We had summer holidays last year when we didn’t have a vaccine, now we’ve got vaccines coming out of our ears we’re told, ‘Don’t book a summer holiday.’”
“It does strike me as odd,” he added.
Montague pressed Walker to reveal if his consternation had arisen from having his own holiday plans quashed. Walker flatly denied that he was concerned for himself, but that, in truth, he was concerned about the psychological impact of prolonged lockdowns on the populace at large.
“It’s about stressed out people who need something to look forward to, yeah? Mental health is important. Loads of anxious people out there, loads of them writing to me. Loads of people who are thinking whether it’s even worth going on at the moment. It’s about time some bloody secretaries of state understood this!” he answered. “Existing isn’t living for many people.”
Concluding their discussion, Montague proposed that Walker would like to see “a very clear roadmap that ensures this lockdown ends and does not return.”
“That’s absolutely what I want,” he said, “and I want the prime minister … to get a grip of his cabinet ministers and just remind them that actually after a year of virtual lockdown, what people need is some hope, optimism, and something to look forward to. Families, hugging your children, is really, really important.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed his four-stage “roadmap out” of lockdown yesterday. The stages cautiously relax restrictions from March 8, with the first stage allowing children back into schools and public parks being reopened, also permitting one-to-one meetings, but no more.
The second stage sees so-called “non-essential” shops reopening, like hairdressers and clothing stores, as well as public buildings reopening from April 12. Restrictions continue, for instance on staying six feet apart from other people and on how many people can meet at any given time until June 21, when all restrictions in England will have been eradicated, if the government stays the course.
All stages of the proposed easing of restrictions are caveated with the posted date of each stage considered the “earliest possible date” for lifting impositions. Doubts that the projected timetable will be honored can be attributed to the “four conditions of lockdown easing.”
The conditions are: The vaccine rollout goes “to plan;” evidence must emerge that demonstrates vaccines reduce deaths and lighten the burden on hospitals; infection rates do not overwhelm hospitals; and new variants must not alter current risk assessments.
Compounding fears of a slower path out of lockdown, Health Secretary Matthew Hancock told Sky News “We want to be able to hit those milestones, but we will be vigilant and watch what's happening to make sure it’s safe to make each move.”
“The prime minister set out the four tests we will apply before announcing each move can go ahead,” Hancock said. “Of course we want to make the moves at the dates that are set out. But it’s on all of us to make sure we can by continuing to follow the rules between now and then as the vaccine rollout continues.”