I have had a difficult time making my mind up how to vote this evening on the latest measures to combat Covid-19 (instructions on face masks; a requirement for a vaccine if you work in the NHS; a requirement to show a negative test or proof you are vaccinated to go to a big venue).
I've decided to support the Government, despite some big misgivings. I accept that the proposed measures may have some effect in slowing the spread of the Omicron variant, which official modelling suggests could overwhelm the NHS (despite the billions of pounds pumped into the NHS in recent years, and months of warnings about a winter spike in demand).
The paradox is that the measures are mild in terms of the fight against Covid-19, but significant in terms of the signal they send about the society we are becoming.
They are mild because we are not closing anything or restricting ordinary socialising; we are not introducing compulsory vaccination; and we are not introducing 'vaccine passes', but simply a requirement to show a negative test or proof of vaccination to enter large venues.
Limited as these measures are, however, they could well be harbingers of something much worse, as we see in other places (such as New York, where vaccination is compulsory if you want a job or any social activities; or Austria, where it is compulsory full stop, with fines and internment if you disobey).
I am profoundly concerned about the direction of travel for Western society in the age of tech, when science can so easily be used to control and coerce populations. The response to the threats and opportunities of the modern age must not be mass surveillance, restrictions on free association, and the segregation or punishment of people who decline medical interventions offered by the state.
I don't believe that is where anyone in Government wants to go. I spoke to the Health Secretary last night and the Prime Minister this morning. Both stressed that these deliberately limited measures are intended to prevent another mandatory lockdown; that there will never be compulsory vaccination for any citizen, or vaccination as a condition of employment for anyone except health and care workers; and that there will never be vaccine passports, as opposed to the 'Covid passports' that include a Lateral Flow Test. On this basis - thus far and no further - I am happy to support the measures this evening.
Danny Kruger MP