Wednesday, 6 October 2021
No Herd, No Immunity
Don't get me wrong. Everyone should be double jabbed, and if I had a shop or a pub then I would not let anyone through the door if I knew that they had refused to be vaccinated. But there is a large role for the State, and then there is a large space in which it has no place.
A little-reported fringe meeting at last week's Labour Party Conference heard Rebecca Long-Bailey, Dawn Butler, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Emily Benn and Shami Chakrabarti make the case that these identity card schemes always hit our people hardest. They are always intended to.
Environmentalists and sexual minorities ought to be all right these days, at least in the latter case if they were prepared to deny the biological sex that struck the rest of us as the very basis of homosexuality and bisexuality. But the poor, the organised working class, ethnic minorities, political dissidents in general, and peace activists in particular, need to be very, very, very afraid.
This is coming down the line, right behind the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act, the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans), and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, and either right behind or right ahead of the Elections Bill. That last also seeks to impose identity cards, as well as barring from public office anyone who had been convicted of harassing a politician. Harassment is a charge to which there is no defence, since it consists in having made the complainant feel harassed. What matters is that she is sufficiently well-connected for the Crown Prosecution Service to take up her case.
Lurking behind all of this is Shamima's Law, which empowers the Home Secretary to revoke the British citizenship of anyone who would merely be eligible for any other nationality, whether or not they held it or wanted it. Shamima Begum, lest we forget, reprehensibly travelled to Syria to join the side that we were and are backing there even though we were and are bombing it in Iraq. Professor David Miller's work on Syria was the real reason why he had to be brought down.
Mark Drakeford has blotted his copybook with vaccine passports, Plaid Cymru has shown that it has not quite forgotten Welsh rural Radicalism and the Nonconformist peace tradition, and Gareth Davies has not abstained by accident, because that is not the kind of thing that happens. The Conservatives have made this possible in Wales as a kind of experiment, like the Poll Tax in Scotland. We have been warned. Now we need to heed the warning.
Having been barely resisted in Parliament, at least by the Official Opposition's frontbench, the Poll Tax was defeated on the streets, bringing down the Prime Minister of the day with it. It was not "Europe". Read the extremely bitter chapter on the Poll Tax in Margaret Thatcher's autobiography. We are unlikely to bring down Boris Johnson, who has no emotional investment in any policy, and no reputational investment now that Brexit is out of the way.
But despite little or nothing from the Official Opposition frontbench, yet against the background of the downlift in Universal Credit, the breaking of the Triple Lock on pensions, increased National Insurance contributions, rampant inflation in general, the huge increase in energy bills in particular, and all the rest of it, it is on the streets that we can and must overthrow the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act, the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans), the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, the Elections Act (if we had not succeeded in keeping that Bill off the Statute Book), Shamima's Law, and vaccine passports.
That would make it possible for Parliament to right the economic wrongs of the age while keeping a check on belligerence abroad, since it would once again be possible to elect a Parliament that would do so. Those who will not take the direct action that is sometimes necessary to defend parliamentary democracy do not really believe in it at all.