‘Vaccine passports’ control lives, not the virus

As a boy growing up in the Soviet Union, I remember the drill. Show your papers, refrain from criticising the government, and you will pass unnoticed. Careers and livelihoods were ruined for not fully accepting this coercive and controlling system.

Today these immoral practices continue in some parts of the world, notably China and North Korea. The implementation of a ‘social credit’ framework is in full swing, whereby one’s access to travel, public buildings and even bank accounts is conditional on their praise of the government and conformity to its demands. This may include prescribed medical interventions, prescribed political beliefs or prescribed religion. It is George Orwell’s 1984 dystopia in action.

Back in the Soviet Union, or in ‘modern’ China, the hierarchy was king. The supreme leader essentially becomes a dictator, cushioned by selected rather than elected officials. He gives commands, approved under the veil of democracy, which are promptly acted out by the powerless masses. Constraints on personal freedom are made with laughable excuses, such as a ‘threat to the nation’, ‘health disaster’ or ‘national emergency’, never to be granted again. I hope this does not remind you too much of Britain, Europe and by extension the West over the last twelve months.

Yet, if so-called ‘vaccine passports’ are approved, we can only expect to see an intensification of the same control and coercion witnessed recently on our shores. The UK’s Coronavirus Act, with its onerous social distancing diktats and limits on business and personal contact, has been extended to October, despite lockdown officially ending in June. Masks and similar measures are set to continue potentially for years, according to the SAGE oracles advising the Government. The danger we face, as free people and a free nation, is to forget what freedom looks like. It is urgent that we do not become acclimatised to the current state of affairs, as we would begin to accept any measure to have our freedom back.

Freedom is an inherent part of being human. This is not the freedom to do whatever we like, as many of our actions can harm others, but the freedom to do good. The freedom to work, meet family and friends, attend religious, social or political gatherings, conduct business, travel, or spend time in the beauty of nature and play sports: these are not gifts bestowed by the Government, but intrinsic goods.

We have seen over the last year that despite our innate freedom to live, meet and work, despite the data and all the harms of lockdown, governments around the world have been reluctant to let go of their newfound powers. Ironically-termed ‘freedom passes’ would give them an unparalleled capability to increase, rather than release, those powers. Once the technology has been created, used and accepted in society, there is little to stop even Western governments, cajoled by a power-hungry Big Tech, adding other features to this technology, resembling a ‘social credit’ system where our passports not only denote citizenship, but citizens’ different levels of freedom within their own country.

Some people are concerned about taking the proposed vaccines for Covid-19. They may have ethical, religious, or political objections but it is troubling that the government is considering coercing them to compromise their conscience. Practically speaking, many will not be able to take them for months, or even for years in other countries, and it will be a headache to police the system when society faces countless bigger problems.

We are also faced by certain groups posing questions: if lockdowns, masks and social distancing measures work, then why mandate vaccines? If vaccines work, then why continue with all the above? If the virus is as deadly as we thought last year, why not implement the ‘passport’ rollout immediately? Why not add other threatening illnesses to the ‘passport’? Some of these questions can be answered easily – others less so.

Safe and effective vaccines are the best way out of the economic and health mess even as other methods – like boosting Vitamin D – can have a positive impact. However, to penalise those who refuse to take the vaccine is unjust and discriminatory.

If our freedom to visit our relatives, open our businesses or participate in our communities is determined by a Government-issued licence called a ‘freedom pass’, is this not just a mockery of true freedom? The ‘health credit’ system being rapidly developed across the world must be a line in the sand for all conservatives, a Rubicon for our leaders, and we must do everything in our power to stop them crossing it.

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