I became sceptical about the lockdown policy imposed by the government early on and soon began to oppose it outright. I come from the socialist left and the response of many of my fellow socialists was that I had now become a Tory boy. The basis of this calumny is that I somehow supported the real intended Tory policy that was envisioned at the beginning of the pandemic. Briefly that, as Boris Johnson put it, we would “take it on the chin” until we reached herd immunity. Subsequently the Tory government then reversed their plan and accepted more sober scientific advice in favour of lockdown.
This is the founding myth of the lockdown and has be thoroughly debunked by The Critic [i] magazine. Before the 16 March 2020 all key scientific advisors to the government held by traditional notions of pandemic response. The science was very clear: there shall be no lockdowns for flu-like viruses. The last time they were tried was for Ebola in 2014 and an evaluation showed that they did not help (targeted quarantines did help). Substantial literature existed in the past to refute the idea of indiscriminate lockdowns, also because they infringe human rights. The lockdown was a panic response as similar measures spread like a genuine plague across Europe and the world. It was purely political decision.
I denounced lockdown last April and put up with the usual hysterical reaction including that I was obviously mentally ill. I was surprised that a lot of the bile came from people who I once considered comrades and friends.
I was portrayed as somebody who had gone over to the right and was happy with the euthanasia of the old as collateral damage from a herd immunity policy. Or siding with the bosses because I thought teachers should go back to work while the EIS were threatening strike action unless schools were proven “safe”.
The lockdown has undoubtedly been politicised but, at root, this is not a left and right issue. Although a lot of criticism of the lockdown policy has emanated from what is characterised as the libertarian right there are many from the left who are also critical of the policy. For instance Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at Oxford, has impeccable left wing credentials but is a vocal critic of lockdown. There are other voices on the left who are beginning to speak up and organise.
Sadly, what is considered to be the working class movement (a broad term including the trade unions, Labour Party and smaller left wing parties) has largely been missing in action during the pandemic. They tend to swallow the official pandemic narrative. Or worse, like the leadership of the Labour opposition in both the UK and Scottish parliaments they are amongst the most zealous advocates of lockdown. Lockdown sooner, harder and longer they cry! Some of the most left-wing political activists have become pushers of the utopian fantasy of Zero Covid. An absurdity given the virus is now endemic across the land.
Despite our isolation a fightback on the left has begun. We have launched the Left Lockdown Sceptics[iii] website and have been overwhelmed by the response. Take this for example:
“I find your observations a breath of fresh air because I am a lifelong socialist and have been feeling quite isolated in recent times. The more I read and research the more I’m convinced that this media narrative is big pharma driven, unfortunately, most socialists I know are totally on board with it. We need the left to unite and oppose this unscientific, profit-driven, nonsense.” -Stuart
Stuart speaks for thousands on the left who have been deserted by the leadership of their organisations in the stampede to support the lockdown lunacy. In our view lockdowns represent the biggest attack on the working class in living memory.
Socialists have a proud tradition of supporting the advance of science and believe in the scientific method. The current lockdown policy is the opposite of scientific. It is an unprecedented experiment that has more in common with voodoo than established science.
Our main aim is to unite working class people and socialists opposed to the lockdown and actively campaign to end this despicable social evil by any means necessary.
We will also campaign to unite all those who support fighting the lockdown across the political spectrum even where we differ with them on other issues.
Unity is Strength!
Bruce Wallace January 2021