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Shame on ‘freedom-loving’ conservatives and their media bullies


MANY of those refusing the offer of a Covid vaccination have also been principled opponents of the UK’s ludicrously disproportionate lockdowns, who would have much preferred to take their chances while living freely.  

Yet it is these honourable people, who neither ask nor expect government to protect them from the virus, who during the past week have been accused of jeopardising the return to normality scheduled for June 21. 

It is for everyone to judge whether the danger to themselves from the nasty-but-rarely-fatal virus is a greater or lesser risk than being injected with a still experimental vaccine approved only for emergency use. These individual decisions should be free from state coercion and not affect anyone’s personal freedoms. 

Worryingly, however, instead of the Government being interrogated over its expedient hyping of the threat posed by the so-called Indian variant, it is those who reject the jab who are being demonised.  

For example, Sean O’Grady, associate editor of the Independent, graciously acknowledges that those declining the dose are ‘human beings … entitled to do what we will or won’t with our own bodies’; nonetheless he delivers this discriminatory diatribe: ‘If we don’t want this Covid crisis to last for ever, we need some new simple, guidelines: No jab, no job; no jab, no access to NHS healthcare; no jab, no state education for your kids. No jab, no access to pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, stadiums. No jab, no entry to the UK, and much else.’ 

We might expect such invective from the intolerant Left, which loves state coercion and frowns upon self-determination. But more disturbingly, the scapegoating has been enthusiastically endorsed by voices from the Right whom one hoped would value personal autonomy. 

The opinions of Andrew Lloyd Webber would normally be as inconsequential as his godawful musicals (attending Cats was one of the longest evenings of my life); however, Lord Lloyd-Webber’s nonsensical assertion that vaccine refusal is as reckless as driving whilst drunk set the tone for much of what was to follow. 

Normally LBC presenter Iain Dale epitomises bland, middle-of-the road conservatism; his personal manifesto even has the emollient title Why Can’t We All Just Get Along.  

But this week it was no more Mr Nice Guy: ‘The fact that some people still refuse to get the vaccine … you need your head examined … there is no reason not to get it … you are a selfish individual. You are putting your friends, your family at risk.’ 

Dale accuses the non-vaccinated of ‘jeopardising the June 21 date by which we hope the lockdown is fully lifted’ and already is pointing the finger of blame: ‘If that is jeopardised, it is only because we are trying to protect people who have not had the vaccine.’  

No, Iain. Apart from the fact that no one refusing the vaccine is seeking alternative protection, if next month our freedoms are not restored in full, it will be because our pusillanimous Premier and his craven Cabinet have again taken fright. 

A much spikier conservative supporter is broadcaster and Express columnist Carole Malone. Appearing on Wednesday’s Jeremy Vine Show, the host asked her whether someone afraid of taking the vaccine should be ‘denied freedoms’, to which Carole went crackers: ‘He should be … I’m talking about going to venues, I’m talking about going to the cinema, I’m talking about sitting next to people in restaurants … he could infect other people … how selfish of him not to do this.’ 

Such intolerance is terrifying. Also during the past week, the Evening Standard carried an opinion piece by Nimco Ali. Ms Ali is not only a generously-rewarded government adviser, she is – coincidentally – reportedly the best friend of Carrie Symonds and godmother to young Wilfred. 

According to Ms Ali, ‘Carrie has great taste’ – a reference to Symonds’s discernment in décor, rather than her choice of partner (and Prime Minister).  

The woman who has the ear of the First Fiancée, and possibly of the PM, is someone who this week complained: ‘I have zero tolerance for the stupidity of those who refuse to get the Covid vaccine.’ 

Even closer to government is Sarah Vine. In her weekly column, the Mail’s incumbent ‘Wednesday Witch’ unwisely boasted of being ‘totally on the side of Lord (Andrew) Lloyd-Webber when he says refusing the jab is no better than drink-driving’ and derogates the decliners as ‘weapons-grade stupid’. 

What is idiotic is to decry the right to bodily autonomy and accuse unvaccinated individuals of being vectors of disease whilst invoking our super-spreading health service: ‘It’s an act of supreme selfishness and irresponsibility. Not least because it won’t be the vaccine refuseniks who are left to clear up the mess, but the NHS.’ 

Peace be upon it. Vine describes Covid-19 thus: ‘A killer virus that has paralysed the world, brought the economy to its knees, cost millions of people their lives and livelihoods (and) driven us all half round the bend with fear and grief.’  

No, Sarah: it was the disproportional response of our government which paralysed the country, brought the UK economy to its knees, etc. 

Regardless of whether opting out of vaccination is right or wrong, it is a personal choice. Instead of insulting individuals for making an entirely legitimate decision, and grossly overstating the threat they pose, the woman married to Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove should look closer to home; in fact, no further than the other side of the marital bed. 

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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