We’re publishing an original essay today by Dr. Gary Sidley, a retired clinical psychologist with over 30 years’ experience working for the NHS, asking why the left are more enthusiastic about lockdowns than the right. Contributors to this site have been puzzling away at this for some time and Dr. Sidley’s essay will take it place in the section headed “The Left-Wing Case Against Lockdowns” on the right-hand menu. Here is an extract:
A political dimension shaping attitudes towards the Government’s response to Covid might help explain an intriguing observation I made in the spring of 2020, and one that continues to baffle me: that the large majority of my left-wing, socialist friends immediately embraced and supported unprecedented restrictions that were always going to disproportionately disadvantage the less affluent people within our communities. Twenty months on, and despite accumulating evidence that impositions such as lockdowns and masks are ineffective and hugely damaging, their views seem resistant to change. What are likely to be the key reasons why most Labour Party supporters have backed the Government’s draconian Covid restrictions? Although I do not claim to have the definitive answers to this question, my intention is to share ideas that will stimulate the ongoing debate.
It was clear from the outset that lockdowns, and other unprecedented measures, would hurt poor people considerably more than the affluent, and it was therefore reasonable to expect that those on the left of the political spectrum would push back hard against these restrictions. Dire predictions were evident early in the pandemic. In April 2020, a pre-print paper in the Lancet forecast that the restrictions would have a “devastating” impact on the third-world, significantly contributing to the deaths of more than one million children under five years-old in low-to-middle income countries. Around the same time, the UN International Labour Organisation expressed concern that “half the people in the global workforce risk losing their jobs”. Subsequently, these grim prophecies were substantiated, with lockdowns evoking carnage in both Africa and India, despite their populations being much younger than those in the Western world and therefore at far less risk from the virus.
While the parliamentary Labour Party repeatedly backed the Government’s imposition of draconian Covid measures, typically urging earlier and harder restrictions, the working-class demographic they claim to represent were suffering disproportionately. Whereas many white-collar, professional employees happily Zoomed from home, those in relatively low-paid occupations (such as delivery drivers, supermarket workers and care-home assistants) continued their essential work in the real world. Many other people, particularly the young and lowly paid in the leisure and retail industries, lost their jobs; by winter 2020, an additional 600,000 people in the U.K. had fallen into poverty as a result of lockdown.
Worth reading in full.