Niki is not the first person I have known personally to die from Covid. I have also had a good friend die due to the withdrawal of NHS treatment he could normally expect to have received, with the consequence his life was shortened considerably.
I don’t consider myself a cynic, because I am optimistic about the human condition and the good in people to help one another irrespective of whether or not they are familiar or have differences. I am, however, a natural sceptic, for I do like to question and test what I am being told or am expected to believe when it clashes with my personal experience or fact-based evidence.
I also tend towards cock-up theories rather than conspiracies, as the former present the simplicity of being far more likely. Without even trying things organised by humans can and will go wrong. People are fallible and therefore even the best designed conspiracies are destined to fail. The more complex an event, the more people involved, the greater the chances of a cock-up happening.
I write to you today therefore as someone who is not a denier of Covid, does not see a conspiracy of Big Pharma looking to control us through a monopoly supply of vaccines, nor do I fear billionaires stroking a white cat are seeking to take over the world. Yes, I can see the geopolitical threat to China’s dominance of the world (just as others might consider the West to be a threat to their way of life) but I would think it more likely that if Covid-19 originated in a laboratory in Wuhan it escaped by accident rather than being released as some cunning plan to damage the economies of the very people that buy Chinese goods.
I place that context before you because I remain convinced that both the UK and Scottish governments are now making serious errors by enforcing a series of rolling lockdowns that they show no signs of knowing how to end.
It is a mistake to believe Covid can be eliminated. Remember the joy before Christmas of hearing that there was a vaccine that offered some hope and had won approval? We now have three such vaccines that have gained certification being administered to varying degrees of efficiency across the UK. Our optimism has been dashed however after being have been told there are new strains of Covid that will require the country to become quarantined to travellers from South America and Portugal and that consequently lockdowns shall require to be enforced more stringently.
Yet only last week I found that Dr Eran Bendavid and Professor John Ioaniddis, amongst the most respected experts in their field of epidemiology, have recently published a peer-reviewed study out of Stanford university showing the great claims being made for the necessity of lockdowns are not justified.
It was not that long ago that Nicola Sturgeon was promoting a government paper seeking to find a route to relaxing her Scottish lockdown by encouraging those least vulnerable to Covid back to work. The economy could open up again and, just as important, the NHS could begin to help those suffering from other life-threatening conditions. That thinking now seems a long, long time ago. Indeed all the talk by those in government who are meant to be planning for our health suggests lockdowns under various different guises will carry on through the summer until at least the autumn.
I for one think this is not only a disproportionate response it is absurd. We are creating a scenario where the NHS will face a tsunami of health problems being stored up from the lack of treatment of other serious illnesses; while people will eventually be released from furlough into unemployment and businesses will have closed or shall expire and be unable to offer jobs; where the lack of economic activity will deny the tax revenues necessary to find a recovery plan for our public services – and where our children will have been deprived of the schooling and social interaction that will best allow them to build rewarding lives for them and their families.
Then there are the looming mental health issues that will definitely account for suicides at an horrific scale.
In an effort to make such restrictions gain support the fear stories about the inability of the NHS to cope are surfacing when we know the manner we run our NHS means it has never been able to handle winter illnesses at the best of times, never mind when a pandemic coincides with such seasonal pressures on beds or procedures.
More sinister are the social media attacks on ordinary citizens who established InformScotland.uk to review official data so we can establish the truth; or similar slights on parents like those who founded UsforThem.co.uk to campaign for schools to reopen; or attempts to smear Michelle Ballantyne MSP who has had the audacity to question what is being done in our name.
Lockdowns do not work and neither does censorship of those opposing them. Freedom will ultimately persist, but it shouldn’t be that hard to defend it.
Brian Monteith is a former member of the Scottish and European Parliaments.