A disastrous policy suffers a setback… but the Health Secretary’s half-hearted climbdown is not enough
It is hard to dispassionately document the rise and fall of an abomination without resorting to emotional language. The particular abomination in question is the statute entitled “Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment”, also known as a “Vaccine Mandate”, which HM Government had sought fit to impose on healthcare workers.
Thankfully – and correctly – HM Government has been forced to back down. But this only came about due to brave and principled resistance from numerous doctors, nurses and other NHS staff, and following the support by grassroots campaigns such as Together and NHS100K: people power in action. Fortunately there will also be a chance for thousands of sacked care workers to work again. But it would be naïve to assume that we are yet out of the woods.
We have to assume that the state-sponsored hounding and scapegoating of the unvaccinated will continue. The Health Secretary’s statement in the House of Commons was far from apologetic, and while offering a route to the removal of the legal imperative, he sought to enlist professional organisations in pushing other mechanisms of compulsion, as well as presumptuously declaring there is a ‘professional duty’ to have the covid-19 injection. Throughout this whole farrago, the one thing that HM Government has failed to do is adequately make the case for why this should be. Quite rightly, the lawyers in a recent legal action against the mandates have written a powerful critique of HM Government’s weak climbdown, emphasising the need for a much more definitive pullback.
It is curious to note that HM Government’s hectoring and militant tone predates covid. Then Health Secretary Matt Hancock talked about mandatory vaccination in May and September 2019. His predecessor, Jeremy Hunt, made an extraordinary admission after the Health Secretary’s statement on Monday that he had been “intending to introduce mandatory ‘flu vaccinations” in his last year of office. Hunt went on to ask:
- “My concern is that having marched the NHS to the top of the hill and having won a very important patient safety argument, we are now doing a U-turn. What will happen the next time the Secretary of State wants to introduce an important vaccine, for example for flu, and make it mandatory”?
“Won”? If this is victory, what would a defeat look like?
Other places discuss the lunacy of the mandatory approach: it is tyrannical (and not a “very important patient safety argument”), and totally counter-productive. For covid, it is clear to anyone who is willing to look at the data that vaccinated populations are not doing better than unvaccinated ones. What is more, there are well-known scenarios (e.g. Marek’s Disease) where leaky vaccines can result in much worse outcomes for the vaccinated population, both individually and as a whole. These statements are not ‘anti vaccine’; they are ‘pro vaccine safety’ and are questions that should be asked to ensure vaccination programmes are made as safe and effective as possible. And these questions are nothing if not pertinent, when it turns out that in Israel, the most Pfizered nation on earth, it has been claimed that 80% of serious covid cases are ‘fully vaccinated’ and “the vaccine has no significance regarding severe illness”?
In a recent article, Dr James Bryson discusses in detail how moral judgements are being dressed up as scientific objectivity, despite the science being anything but settled. It is the totally perverse and amoral bastardisation of science.
The fundamental objection to mandated medical intervention is rooted in principle. Consider the following extracts from the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights from 2005:
Article 3: (Human dignity and human rights)
- “Human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms are to be fully respected.
- The interests and welfare of the individual should have priority over the sole interest of science or society”.
Article 5: (Autonomy and individual responsibility)
- “The autonomy of persons to make decisions, while taking responsibility for those decisions and respecting the autonomy of others, is to be respected. For persons who are not capable of exercising autonomy, special measures are to be taken to protect their rights and interests”.
Article 6: (Consent)
- “Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be expressed and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice”.
Article 9: (Privacy and confidentiality)
- “The privacy of the persons concerned and the confidentiality of their personal information should be respected. To the greatest extent possible, such information should not be used or disclosed for purposes other than those for which it was collected or consented to, consistent with international law, in particular international human rights law”.
Does anything more need be said? Anyone who attempts to neutralise the gravity of the points in the above paragraphs by arguing that they are not legally enforceable, is totally and entirely missing the point. Society needs checks and balances to avoid the state ‘going bad’ – modern history refers. In breaking the twisted law of her occupied land, did Miep Gies make the right call when she broke the law? Of course. Are we right to respect conscientious objectors? Of course. Something being law does not make that something inherently right. Morality trumps legal compulsion, much as the Befehlsnotstand is not a defence against participation in atrocities.
Where there is risk to the individual of irreversible and devastating consequences, there can be no place for coercion or mandate. The interests and welfare of the individual ‘should have priority over the sole interest of science or society’. Can it really be a professional duty to take an unproven substance with inadequate safety data, if doing so might ruin your own health or life? Can consent really be free from coercion if declining results in loss of your income?
Forget the ‘second order’ arguments about whether or not it is desirable for everyone to get 2, 4 or 16 Covid jabs. These are important questions, and a debate should be had as to whether or not these medical procedures should be recommended, perhaps dependent on age or other clinical vulnerabilities.
What is very much at stake are higher questions of principle. There are precedents that should not be set. Historical examples of collective delusions resulting in periods of societal failure abound. We think we have learned from these, and teach our children that appropriate checks and balances are in place to ensure they can never happen again. But are they really? How fragile is society?
- Is it right for the state to ride roughshod over almost every single aspect of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights? No.
- Is it right for the state – or in this case, a cabal of leaders who have grabbed control of the levers of power – to compel an individual to undergo a medical procedure that has hugely serious risks attached to it? No.
- Is it right for the state to subversively encourage the coercion of individuals to participate in an experiment that has grossly failed to deliver on its stated objectives, and required the almost-constant moving of goalposts to justify one extraordinary measure after another? No.
In the debate following the Health Secretary’s statement in Parliament, Sir Charles Walker passionately observed that
- “Long before vaccines existed, these people who we cast as pariahs were day in, day out, coming into hospitals and care homes and holding the hands of the dying because their children and grandchildren could not. They were doing that, while most people in this House were sitting on their backsides safely at home. Now, by all means, let us encourage people to get vaccines, but the language used, suggesting that these people who, for whatever reason—they may have needle phobia, like me—have chosen not to get vaccinated are somehow deserving of our bile, is a disgrace. It does not reflect badly on them; it reflects badly on us”.
Well quite. Nothing more need be said.