Restore Scotland has at its heart the value of “The defence of Individual Liberties”. We could understand individual liberties as Civil Rights: the rights (and subsequent responsibilities) inalienable to an individual as they exist within a community. The defence of these is fundamental to the modern liberal democratic tradition. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that a society ceases to be a functioning democracy when these rights are removed.
We now no longer live in a liberal democracy. Scotland is not a free country.
Since March 2020, we the people of Scotland have had many of our liberties suspended. Some would justifiably argue (I would not be one of them) that this was a reasonable measure when faced with a virus that we knew very little about. Nearly eighteen months later (and much, much more data and experience), our government should not be pretending that the removal of citizens’ rights is the best defence against this virus.
Only recently, the Scottish Government chose to allow us to “move beyond COVID Level 0”. Level 0 being something like ‘as close to normality as is possible in a pandemic’. The mainstream media, as usual, was full of gushing praise for the First Minister and her “cautious” handling of the pandemic; while remaining conspicuously silent on the continuing drop in positive PCR test results over two weeks after Boris Johnston scrapped almost all of England’s COVID restrictions in one fell swoop.
With seemingly eternal forbearance, the people of Scotland awaited the pronouncement from the First Minister on which of our rights and freedoms she would graciously return to us… And the highlights?
- People, including children as young as twelve, will still have to wear masks in indoors public spaces
- All teachers and high school pupils still need to wear masks and social distance
- People should still work from home and not in the office
- Hospitality venues still need to collect customers’ personal data when they enter the premises
- The probable imminent roll-out of a digital vaccine passport system and the inevitable medical apartheid that this will usher in
Ok, there are some positives that I have glibly skipped over: nightclubs can open (for the first time since March 2020 and notwithstanding mask requirements, which in themselves are a nonsense); number limits on social gatherings are to be scrapped and outdoor social distancing is to be abolished.
How generous of the First Minister to allow us virus-transmitters to reobtain some of those rights, which up until eighteen months ago we at least took for granted and at most regarded as fundamentally inseparable from our identity as citizens of a free country.
These restrictions were initially introduced under the guise of a proportionate response to the pandemic. Where is that proportionality now? Most of the country has opted to be vaccinated; coronavirus deaths are at an all-time low; immunity is at an all-time high; and, perhaps most of all, the economic and social consequences of these prolonged restrictions are bringing irreparable harm to the lives of so many people. These are no longer proportionate restrictions (if they ever were) on our rights and liberties – they are increasingly tyrannical with each passing day.
Scotland is not alone in this. The rest of the UK is no better. In fact, the majority of the western world, and a large chunk of the rest, is just as bad or worse! Someone somewhere needs to take a lead – why not us?
If any of this rings true with you; if you, like me, feel that something should be done, then I encourage you to be the change you want to see in the world! Perhaps you could take a second look at the reality of COVID and our government’s response to it. Next you could graciously and patiently begin to talk to friends and family about your experiences through this period, remembering that they will be filled with fear and concern after eighteen months of non-stop media bombardment. You should definitely write to your elected representatives with your concerns. Some people have chosen not to wear a face masks in public places – although this is still illegal in Scotland and as such I would never advocate that you do this, ask yourself ‘is this still a morally or scientifically justifiable measure?’ There are regular gatherings and public demonstrations against the ongoing measures in most big towns and cities around the country – although you’ll never read about them in the mainstream media (dissent needs to be played down) perhaps you could consider attending these and making your voice heard.
And of course, you should join and lend your whole-hearted support to Restore Scotland, which will always have at its core the Defence of Individual Liberties.