Sunday Column: Another National Lockdown must be avoided at all costs.

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

By Derek W Gardiner

On Tuesday the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson delivered what was to be the final daily briefing, marking one hopes the end of one of the darkest eras in our history. It seems like a lifetime ago when the PM delivered his first briefing on 3rd March, then the advice was to wash your hands and sing two rounds of happy birthday, other than that just go about your business as usual. As the situation deteriorated over the next three weeks then new advice became necessary such as advising the elderly and vulnerable to shield for 12 weeks, ordering pubs and restaurants to close and introducing the Cornavirsus jobs retention scheme also known as the Furlough scheme. Until finally on the 23rd March, despite widespread voluntary social distancing and apparently under threats from his own cabinet as well as the French President Emmanuel Macron, the Prime Minister gave a televised address introducing a nationwide lockdown, promising a review every three weeks.

However, all of this came with a massive price tag and last week the UK's national debt exceeded total GDP for the first time since 1963. When asked why the government made no changes to the lockdown after the initial three weeks Dominic Raab, standing in for the Prime Minister at the time, said that it was to avoid a second peak followed by a second lockdown which would be far more damaging to the economy than the first. However, despite all this both the Prime Minister and Scottish First Minister, who chose not to ease lockdown until three weeks after the rest of the UK, have said they are prepared to reimpose restrictions despite knowing how damaging it will be.

There are several reasons why this would be both unnecessary and irresponsible; the first is quite simply we can't afford it, we have already gone into a record amount of debt and voluntarily suppressed economic growth, an insane strategy which has already caused over 600,000 job loses. If it were to happen again, businesses will face so much uncertainty that it would be impossible for them to plan and this will make the unemployment crises far worse, the second is that a growing number of cases does not always lead to a growing number of deaths. Many more people admitted to hospital with coronavirus are surviving than at the peak in April, some epidemiologists are saying that this is because the virus has mutated into a less aggressive strain to allow it to co-exist with the human host. And finally, second outbreaks seem to be localised such as in Germany where a few towns were affected by a recent outbreak in a meat processing plant or in Beijing where only a small part of the city went back into lockdown after an outbreak at a food market. If another lockdown is deemed necessary then it should only be localised.

It's time to bring back national service

Scenes this week have been chaotic with the police being attacked and injuries sustained at illegal gatherings. Today's young people seem to be turning into a lost generation, with poor employment prospects, especially now due to coronavirus, little chance of getting on the housing ladder and a lack of personal discipline.

There is also a lack of patriotism among young Britons without proper education on this country, it's history, culture and what it stands for then it's no wonder why many millennials are queuing up to denounce the country and its institutions as racist.

Bringing in a form of national patriotic service will have many benefits for Britain's young people. First, it will instil that sense of respect for our police forces and emergency services, give young people a chance to serve their country whether that be in a military capacity, volunteering for the health service or something else that is useful to the country, it will create a sense of purpose and belonging to this nation, instead of working for private profit, most of which they will never see, they will be working to better themselves and the rest of the country.

Secondly, valuable life skills can be learned through national service whether that be working to a time frame, developing personal discipline and routine, learning communication skills and good manners or commitment to completing a task or project. These are all skills that are valuable to employers and will help young people get on in life.

Every young person should be given the chance to succeed and national service will go a long way to achieving that goal.

Advertisers cannot be allowed to dictate acceptable opinions.

This week many corporations who advertise with Facebook such as Ben and Jerrys and coca-cola

have removed their advertising from Facebook because the platform currently allows too much freedom of speech and needs to do more to remove "hate speech" and "disinformation"

This may be in response to campaigns by the hard left to attack those who advertise with platforms who publish content they disagree with. Whether that be not wanting to de-fund the police, pointing out that illegal immigrants are being allowed to enter this country during a pandemic or arguing that all of Britain and the Western World's institutions are not racist.

Mark Zuckerburg and other social media leaders must stand up to this intimidation. There are plenty of organisations who would advertise with Facebook regardless. If we allow the boundaries of acceptable opinion to be dictated by mega-corporations then we are entering very dangerous territory indeed.