OPINION: PM's announcement signals move towards a libertarian approach


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Boris Johnson’s speech to the nation setting out how the country will leave lockdown is a shift from a ‘nanny state’ Government to a more libertarian approach.
 
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That is the view of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Associate Professor of Politics, Alistair Jones, who says that it signals a ‘rush to return to normal’ at a time when Britain’s infection rates are still high.
 
“The new messaging, changing ‘stay home’ to ‘stay alert’ deliberately puts the onus on the individual’s responsibility. It suggests that if you get coronavirus then it is your fault for not being careful enough, somehow.
 
“The nanny state has gone. Loosening things now when we are barely plateauing in terms of new infections feels too far, too fast.”
 
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Mr Jones said that this played to Johnson’s natural political instincts which he shares with many in the right of the Conservative Party.
 
He said: “This appeals to Boris’s Libertarian background, which he shares with the likes of Priti Patel and Dominic Raab. They think that people should be free to do whatever they like, while Matt Hancock the Health Secretary is trying to plead for more time and to be more cautious.”
 
However, he said while the PM’s plan to phase in a return to work was a positive, the lack of clarity around who this applied to and how it could work in practice was risky.
 
“There are those who feel the economy is more important than society and I fear that they are holding sway over the Prime Minister now.
 
“However this rush to open up and get back to normal is storing up even more trouble. The second wave is going to be even worse than the first – and if we get an even slightly larger wave, our hospitals will fail.”

Posted on Tuesday 12th May 2020

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