To be fair, it could be worse. We could be in the Southern Hemisphere. We could be in New Zealand, listening to St Jacindra declare ‘Take all non-government information with a grain of salt…dismiss anything else. We will continue to be your single source of truth.’ Or we could be in Australia. You’ve got to feel some sympathy for the Aussies; they’ve had a rotten eighteen months of it. The terrible, devastating bushfires at the end of 2019 were bad enough; and barely had the country had time to recover before it was placed under house-arrest as the government pursued a ‘Zero Covid’ policy that turned the nation into a sealed-off police state – and as things stand, the situation is not getting any better. If cases rise again and one man in his 80s dies with coronavirus symptoms, a whole city can be plunged into fresh lockdown. In fact, even the police state label doesn’t entirely suffice now; perhaps a militarised zone would be a better description, with 300 troops dispatched to the streets of Sydney as five million people who’ve already been confined to quarters for five weeks face extended imprisonment, legally required to wear masks outdoors and unable to venture farther than three miles from their front doors. Who thought Australia would come full circle, eh? Once a penal colony…
We’re not there yet, but who knows? It often feels like the wildest nightmarish scenario one could envisage is not beyond the realms of possibility anymore. After all, democratically-elected governments across the Western world have belatedly realised their totalitarian potential and are having the time of their lives. Not so far from here, Napoleon Macron has pushed through Covid passports as a requirement to enter bars, cafés, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and (probably) brothels; Monsieur President also plans to extend this to shopping centres. It doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to picture certain overnight Francophiles gazing across the Channel with envious eyes and taking notes. ‘It’s a little bit of coaxing and cajoling,’ says the Cabinet’s resident Alpha Male, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, of the French approach to vaccine blackmail – with barely-concealed admiration.
Raab’s Cabinet colleague Michael Gove weighed-in this week with the kind of brazen comment that only those who’ve already gotten away with murder feel confident enough to say in public free from fear of comeback. And it even had a strangely moralistic tone to it. Receiving lectures on morality from a coke-snorting, wife-cheating, back-stabbing, self-serving little creep like Michael Gove is a bit like hiring Ian Brady and Myra Hindley as babysitters – I mean, you just wouldn’t, would you? Yes, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster branded those who have chosen not to submit to the vaccine as ‘selfish’. Sorry, wherever you stand on the vaccination issue, drawing the line at Gove as moral oracle should be a must for anyone with their head screwed on. It’s perhaps testament to his ego and chronic lack of awareness as to how disliked he is that he imagined airing such an opinion would somehow provoke a rush to the nearest vaccination centre rather than having the opposite effect. I’m reminded of the old Bill Hicks routine on celebrities telling the public not to take drugs. Yeah, the First Lady says ‘don’t do it’; what’s the first thing you want to do?
Besides, there’s no real need for ‘Govie’ to intervene; the authoritarian administration he proudly belongs to has effectively introduced Covid/vaccine passports through the back door, anyway, so he should be a happy man. The infamous NHS app has now had a ‘domestic’ section added to it, one that reads ‘You may need to show your NHS Covid Pass at places that have chosen to use the service’. This new addition to the mobile surveillance machine in your pocket enables businesses to use it as a means of finding out if anyone crossing their threshold is double-jabbed or unclean – a voluntary option at the moment, though the threat in the air is of mandatory use come the autumn, when it will be a necessity to gain access to nightclubs and the like. Health Secretary Sajid ‘Double-jabbed’ Javid – fresh from self-isolating, funnily enough – has gushed, ‘As we cautiously reopen society, vaccines will allow you to get back to the things you love and have missed during the pandemic.’ As long as you provide your papers, of course – which means we’re not going back to the things we love and missed during the pandemic.
Dominic Raab has issued the strongest hint yet that passports will be required as of September where certain venues are concerned. Who seriously thinks it will end there, though? In the latest phase of the shameless operation to coerce and bully some of society’s least-vulnerable-to-Covid citizens into being jabbed, Raab also hinted passports may be compulsory in order for students to attend in-person lectures and even reside in halls of residence. Lest we forget, very few students attended any in-person lectures at all last year, yet were still charged the full extortionate whack for receiving online tutorials they could’ve probably found on YouTube for nothing; and many halls of residence were transformed into effective prison camps during the first lockdown. The threat of taking all that away from them hardly serves as a great incentive to get vaccinated. At the same time, however, I’m surprised all students haven’t been jabbed by now, for the most dedicated mask-wearers and seemingly susceptible subjects of Project Fear to my eyes are that very demographic.
When Raab was asked if similar proposals would apply to the workplace, he’d already been pre-empted by the likes of Amazon, whose enlightened and benign treatment of their workforce is world-renowned. They’ll apparently be required to be vaccinated once all their warehouses are fully up and running again. Meanwhile, considering care homes were the major casualties of the Government’s initial botched approach to combating the coronavirus, perhaps it’s not surprising staff in such environments were the first to fall under the mandatory vaccine edict, even if it does feel a bit like locking the door of an empty stable. For months, Ministers have repeatedly emphasised passports for domestic use would not be introduced – and evidence via their screen-grabbed Tweets is a regular fixture of social media at the moment; but they’re led by a serial liar, so any statements of that nature mean jack shit.
If jabs become a compulsory requisite in all workplaces, it will sum up this post-lockdown faux-freedom in a nutshell; after being forced out of the workplace and left with little choice but to do their job from home (regardless of whether this was a conducive environment), many workers now being suddenly ordered back to a set-up they’ve become utterly detached from are informed that this joyous return will also come with a caveat. Yet, it seems one could be jabbed a dozen times a day every day till the end of time and that still wouldn’t prevent the pingdemic disrupting the workforce. The current noticeable gaps on the supermarket shelves uncomfortably reminiscent of the panic-buying phase of Lockdown I are apparently due to the rising number of workers self-isolating courtesy of being pinged into exile from polite society by the Covid NHS app – 600,000 alerts were aimed at users in just one week a fortnight ago.
Anti-vax 5G fruitcakes aside, fear of the vaccine can be viewed as an unforeseen side-effect of the panic propaganda that has been pumped into the collective bloodstream over the last year-and-a-half as much as all the opposite manifestations of illogical paranoia can be. But however ridiculous to opposing camps the other side’s fears may appear, those fears are real to those who feel them – and this is the legacy of the mess we’re in. Terrifying people into compliance and then adding to the myriad divisions that were already in place thanks to the likes of Brexit and Identity Politics may make running countries easier from the perspective of governments; but what all this is doing to a way of life that world wars were fought to preserve is incalculable.
© The Editor