First posted by the Epoch Times
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, speaking to NTD’s “British Thought Leaders” programme. (NTD)
July 11, 2023
Governments around the world “crossed the line” when they imposed “unprecedented” lockdown measures on their populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior Conservative MP has said.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative backbench MPs, was an early objector to the “unprecedented removal of people’s liberties that took place in the COVID-19 response.”
Speaking to NTD’s “British Thought Leaders” programme, he said he had “no doubt” that he was doing the right thing when he started raising objections to the policy, which enjoyed cross-party support.
He said: “I had no doubt that I was doing the right thing, both in terms of the practical consequences—the fact that lockdowns were going to do more harm than good—but also the very important moral case.
“I think governments around the world—with some honourable exceptions, Sweden being the most notable—crossed the line, where they moved away from being the servants of the people in their countries to giving them detailed instruction on how they should live their lives, whether they’re allowed to see their own families, whether they were allowed to start a new relationship. This is unprecedented.”
Sir Graham said he “cut Boris Johnson some slack in the immediate response,” because “we didn’t know very much about the nature of the virus.”
But a few weeks in, he said, “we were starting to get a better picture.”
“We knew that the level of infection in the UK was falling before the lockdown started, for instance, which ought to be giving some signals there might be slightly different ways in which we could deal with the problem.
“It was also obvious from very early on that continuing with that series of lockdowns and opening up and lockdown again, and then different restrictions, was going to cause massive problems.
“I think the problems that we face today are almost all either the consequence of or were made much worse by the response to COVID-19.”
The repeated lockdowns incurred “enormous” damage, Mr. Graham said, citing the mounting crisis in public finances, long waiting lists in the NHS, and the “massive problems in mental health, especially among young people.”
Lack of Parliamentary Scrutiny
Sir Graham said the draconian lockdown measures were unprecedented in human history.
“Historically, quarantine has been used when there’s been a pandemic in the past. But it’s always been in quarantine of people who were ill, or who are reasonably believed to be infected. We’ve never tried to quarantine a whole population before.”
“All of the evidence is piling up to show that we did the wrong thing,” he said, adding, “We’d need to learn some lessons, not just about the efficacy of lockdowns, but also about the way in which policy is made and attitudes to scrutiny of policy.”
During the summer of 2020, Sir Graham said, he became active in objecting to the fact that the British government was implementing restrictions without either debate or votes in the House of Commons.
“For fully six months, the British government proceeded with those restrictions by ministerial diktat in a way which was entirely unacceptable, and it should never have even occurred to ministers to do that.”
Sir Graham said it was “important” that MPs made their case against lockdown, adding that Parliament “deterred the government from further restrictions being introduced in December 2021.”
“When these restrictions weren’t imposed, nothing went wrong,” he said.
“I think we rather proved our point that we could have had a lighter touch, right the way through. We could have been trusting people to make their own decisions and take their own responsibility for their own safety and the safety of those around them, and not incurred the enormous economic health and mental health damage.”
‘Taken For a Ride’
Sir Graham said “a lot of people now realise that they were taken for a ride” during the pandemic.
He said it was “fascinating” to hear chief medical officer Chris Whitty’s testimony to the COVID-19 Inquiry in June, “when he said that scientists would not have come up with the idea of lockdown—it was politicians who asked them to.”
The senior Conservative questioned the government’s repeated assertion that it was “following the science” in its COVID-19 measures.
“Throughout, we were being told we’re just following something called ‘the science.’ Well, we knew at the time there is no such thing as ‘the science.’
“Science needs to be challenged, and there are always other scientists with other views.
“There were some very eminent scientists at the time who were asking important questions. And they were being shut up and excluded, sometimes by the scientific establishment, sometimes by elements of the media that were forgetting their traditional duty to ask the difficult questions and to expose policymaking where it’s not based on evidence and sound reasoning.”
He said that much of the pandemic measures were “unevidenced,” adding, “The people in No. 10 Downing Street, who were not always following the restrictions themselves, were doing so because they knew perfectly well there was no evidence behind most of those restrictions.”
“The irony of this is that if Boris Johnson hadn’t pursued that extreme lockdown policy, then the events that took place in Downing Street that became known as ‘Partygate’ would never have been an issue, and no doubt his premiership will be continuing now.”
Sir Graham said he hopes the government would have “a little bit more humility” if and when the country were to face another pandemic in the future.