The science of political coercion?

An opportunity to hear more about the legal view on how governments can force lockdown despite the economic costs and the impact on jobs and families. Have we been coerced? If so, was coercion justified?

Lord Jonathan Sumption, the outspoken critic of 'lockdown' will be joining Professor Sir Simon Wessely for this Wednesday's Zoom webinar at The Royal Society of Medicine. They will be discussing the journey to Supreme Court, Lord Sumption's immense capacity for knowledge, his books on the Hundred Years War, as well as his views on the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

lockdown was a panic response

No right to force lockdown

In an article for The Daily Mail, which was published back on the 21st June, Lord Sumption said,"Sage appears to have envisaged guidance rather than compulsion. ‘Citizens’, the behavioural scientists advised, ‘should be treated as rational actors, capable of taking decisions for themselves and managing personal risk.’ If this advice had been followed, it would have left almost all the economically active members of the population free to earn their livings and sustain the economy.

Indiscriminate lockdown was a panic response to the now-notorious statistical model produced on March 16 by Professor Neil Ferguson’s team at Imperial College. Panic responses leave little room for reflection. No serious consideration appears to have been given to the potentially catastrophic side effects.

Coercion is not fine

Lord Sumption says that the talk of compulsorily ‘shielding’ (locking up) of the old and vulnerable is a “cruel mockery of basic human values”. He goes on to say, “A society in which the government can confine most of the population without controversy is not one in which civilised people would want to live, regardless of their answers to these questions. Is it worth it?”

“Guidance is fine. Voluntary self-isolation is fine, and strongly advisable for the more vulnerable. Most of them will do it by choice. But coercion is not fine. There is no moral or principled justification for it.”

The political picture provided was always that the government was taking scientific advice via Sage and that all decision making was underpinned by the scientific evidence, facts and data on pandemic. Indeed, this would have certainly appeared to have been the case in regard to the initial Imperial College data that did not account for the full morbidity context.

The talk should therefore be a valuable opportunity to get an understanding of how medicine, law and politics interrelate. As well as how the State can legally have such immediate impact on everyone's liberty, regardless of the cost and fall-out. 

Perhaps one question should be; were those who were considered to be the most vulnerable consulted on the decision that was made primarily for their benefit?

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