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DAVID BLUNKETT: Democracy has been our foundation for centuries, but I'm afraid it is at risk due to Covid


When two senior police officers were confused about the current lockdown rules last week, I was not surprised.

The different regulations and levels across the country are confusing and change from area to area from day to day.

And if high-ranking police officers are unclear, so must the public.

Confusion is of course a very serious problem when it comes to life. However, this is by no means the only concern.

I sense something worse. Given the differing views of the government and the people on how Britain can get out of this crisis, I fear that we are seeing the beginning of the gradual breakdown of democracy even in our country.

A man walks past a placard when the coronavirus disease broke out in Manchester earlier this week

The breakdown of a political system that has supported this country for centuries.

As the public mood grows more restless and impatient, the values ​​that normally act as the glue of the nation are losing their power to hold us together.

We are seeing evidence of a growing revolt against the coronavirus lockdowns. Many people think that the rules don't work and are ready to defy the law if necessary to see their loved ones. They believe it is time to "get Britain back to normal".

As The Mail reported on Sunday today, millions are now more concerned about not being able to pay their bills than about losing a family member to coronavirus. It is very sad indeed.

Without consensus, democracy becomes fragile.

It was the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke, who witnessed the overthrow of King James II in 1688 and the development of modern English parliamentary democracy, who said: "All power rests on the consent of the governed."

We are witnessing a growing revolt against coronavirus lockdowns, writes Lord David Blunkett

We are witnessing a growing revolt against coronavirus lockdowns, writes Lord David Blunkett

In other words, democracy depends on consent. Good government is based on law, not violence.

And in today's context, that means the British people are on their side with their government's coronavirus policy.

But I don't think this can be guaranteed. With each passing day, many of us believe that official politics are not only confused but also arbitrary and pointless.

I'm incorporating the recent Tier 3 bans in Manchester and my hometown of Sheffield into much of that.

There is a lack of government leadership.

I can understand why perfectly sane, law-abiding people speak openly about defying the lockdown rules.

We can have no doubt that, as distinguished ex Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption wrote on these pages last week, large numbers of people will continue to meet friends and family behind closed doors, whatever Health Secretary Matt Hancock dictates .

People supposed to be in quarantine keep going to work – often because they have to to pay rent or put food on the table.

There was reluctance to sign up for the Test and Trace system – which is understandable when you consider that public trust was damaged last weekend when people discovered that the government had passed data from the app to the police to check if people have been asked to self-isolate.

In addition, the 24-hour turnaround rate for the test had dropped to 15 percent.

Often times, where laws are obeyed, it is done with bad grace. Face masks are worn at half mast. The rules for household bubbles are expanded to include individual preferences. The anger among the traders who can see their lives and livelihoods collapse is palpable.

But also the anger of those determined to follow the Spirit and the Letter of the Law, people who – often for very good reasons – feel compelled to do what they are told and stay home whenever possible .

They are angry that neighbors are ignoring restrictions and many have made it their business to snoop and complain to the police.

Another sign of this collapse of bourgeois values ​​are the reports that the Covid crisis has led to a booming black economy, as cash-in-hand transactions are carried out – and this in turn means wholesale fraud on the treasury.

Not to mention the industrial-scale fraud committed by criminals using emergency corporate loans and the vacation program.

Meanwhile, a serious debate about finding a way through this crisis has gotten into a mudfight. Reputable academics clash with other specialists who dare not agree.

Is it any wonder that so many of us are concerned about the health of our democracy?

With each passing day, many of us believe that official politics are not only confused, but also arbitrary and pointless. I'm incorporating the recent Tier 3 bans in Manchester and my hometown of Sheffield (pictured) into much of that

With each passing day, many of us believe that official politics are not only confused, but also arbitrary and pointless. I'm incorporating the recent Tier 3 bans in Manchester and my hometown of Sheffield (pictured) into much of that

How did we get into such a dangerous situation?

The first answer is messed up. Government policies have been confusing – and therefore people are confused.

For example, in the Peak District National Park, hikers heading towards Sheffield can move from almost total freedom to the tyranny of a Tier 3 lockdown in just a few steps.

We are faced with a similarly strange patchwork of competing regulations across the country.

Over the summer, we were categorically told that there was no evidence that face masks were protecting us. Now we are told that they are essential in shops and public transport.

"Eat Out to Help Out" was then banned to save lives.

More from David Blunkett Former Home Secretary for Labor Sunday …

And even in areas where infections plateau or drop, there's no end in sight.

At the heart of the government's failure is a refusal to seek much broader advice, accept its mistakes, and empower those at the local level to use the new treatments available.

The Nightingale Centers should now be open and not on standby.

Test and Trace should be withdrawn from Serco and other central providers and operated on site. Clear, uncomplicated numbers should be provided so that people can assess their own personal risk and act accordingly.

Above all, we need some messages of hope. People are desperate for good news and there is much to be had.

We know so much more about Covid-19 than we did six months ago.

It is clear that the virus is a significant problem for a small minority of people and that we increasingly know who needs protection.

There can be no real togetherness without good news. But even now, the prime minister and his advisers seem intent on continuing to use the fear factor.

We need honesty, clarity and bravery from our government. We need real leadership.

Without it we cannot look forward to anything except growing confusion, deepening misery and a loss of confidence in our very precious system of democracy.

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