So here’s the thing: either the lockdown restrictions are vital to safeguard the nation during a perilous time where many thousands of lives are at stake, or they are a frivolous overreaction by a clueless government and we should all just rip off our masks and get back to work.
If it is the latter, then Starmer should be whipping his MPs to vote down the Government’s latest lockdown proposals. He should have Piers Corbyn over for tea, and be joining in the protest marches.
But if it is the former – and the nation is truly in danger unless we follow SAGE advice – then Starmer is a despicable psychopath who is willing to gamble with our very lives ‘to give Boris a bloody nose’.
It is one or the other.
Starmer certainly does not believe the lockdowns are unnecessary. What he believes is that they will be … unpopular. That is why he is abstaining – so he can appear to have clean hands and dodge the understandable frustration and resentment of a public, fatigued by it all. But more than that, he is hoping that without cross-party support, Boris Johnson will lose the vote and appear to lose the confidence of his party. This will boost, he thinks, his own chances in the polls. He is quite literally willing to risk the voting down of a policy he knows is the better course of action for political gain.
Not even Donald Trump was this cynical and this reckless.
The de facto suspension of civil liberties that a lockdown entails is a serious business. It demands a great sacrifice from the public for the greater good. The public is understandably frustrated and inconvenienced. Lives and livelihoods are put on hold. Mental health is tested. And indeed, lives are lost and the survivors bereaved. What we, the public, need at this time is comfort and confidence. Instead, along with the media – tabloid, broadsheet, and broadcast alike – opposition politicians have spread nothing but panic, confusion and upset. Their criticism has not been constructive, nor have they offered many alternatives.
In fact, there appears to be a marriage of strange bedfellows: the Right and The Daily Mail are attempting to unseat Boris Johnson for the benefit of some “traditional” Tory who they imagine will drag the party back to its ‘roots’, and on the Left and The Guardian, who are attempting to unseat Boris Johnson with fake scandals and bogus outrage. In between this we sit, at our work-from-home desks and our Zoom-based social lives, punch-drunk with all the vacuous shouting and posturing by people who seek to lead us, but who appear to have little regard for us.
With this latest move, Keir Starmer trumps even the Daily Mail in a shameful move to capitalise from this woeful situation.
And more than a virus, that’s the really sickening part.