Whatever You Do, Don’t Think of the Children

There follows a guest post by Dr. David McGrogan, a Professor at Northumbria Law School and Daily Sceptic regular. He has just been notified of another round of utterly pointless restrictions on what children and their parents are able to do in the coming weeks and months because of the super-scary moronic omicron variant.

Like most parents across the land, I received a letter from the local council’s Director of Public Health this morning (forwarded by the school in an email) explaining that they have “advised [sic] schools that parents/carers/other visitors are not invited” to nativity plays this year. Not the end of the world in the grand scheme of things, of course – just another depressing example in the long litany of examples of children’s priorities being cast under a bus due to adult panic during the course of this pandemic.

Much more concerning, because of what it said about the mindset of the Director of Public Health in question, was this alarmingly blithe justification for continued restrictions in schools, buried in the body of the letter:

Much as we would all like it to be, the pandemic is not over. Whilst it is clear that the vaccination programme is effective in preventing serious disease and deaths, the vaccine is never going to stop all transmission, and resultant harm, on its own. [Emphasis added]

You couldn’t get a starker admission than this that we long ago moved beyond “flattening the curve” or staving off a dire public health emergency in a once-in-a-lifetime, never-to-repeated year. No: we are now in a different place altogether – one in which we must stop transmission “and resultant harm” for its own sake, forever. For how else are we supposed to interpret this statement? On what grounds will parents ever be allowed back into schools to watch nativity plays (or even properly meet their children’s teachers), if the requirement is for “all transmission and resultant harm” to end? We will never be in that position. So in what circumstance does the Director of Public Health envisage there ever will be a return to normal schooling? Ought this not to be made clear to local parents?

More broadly, this incident raises the question of how it is that something so fundamental – children’s schooling – has ended up beholden to the whim of unelected, largely unaccountable, public officials such as this. The local Director of Public Health in any given local authority cannot be voted out. They are not challenged by probing interviews in prominent media outlets. The means by which they are appointed is entirely opaque. And their policy positions, political backgrounds, and motivations are subject to essentially no public scrutiny. Yet they possess the power, at the sweep of a pen, to disrupt the lives of literally tens of thousands of people within their bailiwicks, with the only possible avenue of challenge being a prohibitively expensive and time-consuming claim for judicial review. This ought to be intolerable in a free society. Yet it is the position in which we find ourselves.

Once again, the Covid pandemic and its response have shone a harsh light on British democracy, and revealed it to be in a dilapidated state indeed.

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