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5 Jun, 2020 15:10

How’s this for hypocrisy? ‘Lockdown breakers are killers, but it’s OK to break the rules for protests I agree with’

How’s this for hypocrisy? ‘Lockdown breakers are killers, but it’s OK to break the rules for protests I agree with’

There wasn’t too much social distancing on display in London’s Black Lives Matter protests, but for some hardcore lockdown supporters, that didn’t matter as it was all in a good cause.

There’s a lot we still don’t know about the Covid-19 virus, but after this week one thing is very clear. The virus is super-intelligent.

Rather uniquely, it can tell if people are breaking social distancing rules for a “good” cause, or a “bad” one. If it’s a “good” one, such as protesting racism, there’s not much chance of anyone getting infected. Well, at least that’s what we’re supposed to believe.

Compare and contrast the reaction towards recent protests in London. A couple of weeks ago there was a small anti-lockdown protest in the capital. Online vitriol was directed at the protestors. They were putting lives at risk. They were being criminally reckless. Some openly wished they’d be infected by the virus.

But when much larger numbers protested in London this week against racism, lockdown enthusiasts suddenly weren’t so bothered about hitherto all-important social distancing rules. And that includes the police.

“Been social distancing since March. Today I broke it to join the #BlackLivesMatter demo outside Parliament and take a knee with thousands of brave young people calling for Justice,” tweeted the former Labour Minister Barry Gardiner. 

But on Monday, Gardiner (or perhaps it was his twin brother?) was on the radio to say it was too early to loosen the lockdown. “At the moment what we’ve got to do is to eliminate transmission of this virus so that people stop dying,” he said. Got it? On Wednesday, Gardiner was proudly breaking social distancing rules, but 48 hours earlier he wanted lockdown extended. Clearly there was no chance of “transmission of this virus” in London during a large demonstration.

It seems you can only catch Covid-19: (1) at the park; (2) on the beach; (3) at your parents’ or grandparents’ house; (4) at Cheltenham Racecourse; (5) at VE Day celebrations; or (6) at an anti-lockdown protest. You can’t catch it if you’re getting close-up to loads of people for the “right” reason. Going to the beach on a hot sunny day with your family is clearly not a “right reason.” If you do that you’re a “Covidiot” and should be publicly shamed. 

“We need to fix this – ASAP,” tweeted the Tory MP Tobias Ellwood  on Monday, with a photo of a crowded south-coast beach. Yet just 48 hours later, the same Tobias Ellwood MP tweeted a photograph of protestors outside Westminster with the words “Moving to see this powerful and peaceful demonstration of solidarity outside Westminster right now. Scenes like this are happening across the world. Politicians must listen.”

How can you object to people amassing on a beach on public health grounds, but laud them gathering in central London? Surely, if the rules are there to protect people they need to be applied uniformly? Where's the science that tells us that you can infect people on a beach but not standing right next to people on an officially approved mass demonstration?

There’s been no stronger supporter of lockdown in the UK media than Piers Morgan. On 22 April, he wrote an article entitled: “I can understand why Americans are protesting against the lockdown of their liberty - but they’re wrong, the only tyrannical enemy we need to worry about right now is coronavirus.”   

Yet on Thursday he tweeted he was proud of his son for attending the big London anti-racism protest. He said that his son had told him he maintained social distancing as best he could in the large crowd, but added: “Not easy given many others weren’t, but I’m glad he tried.”

It was in a very different tone to what Morgan had tweeted about people  on the beach at Southend on 21 May. “I do hope they all get home in time tonight to clap the NHS heroes who will have to save their lives when the 2nd surge comes thanks to their selfish reckless stupidity,” he said then.

To make it quite clear: No sane, moral person would defend what happened to George Floyd. It was sickening. All decent people oppose racism, in all its manifestations. But that’s not what this is about. It’s the double standards which truly rankle. And the way that breaking the lockdown for a ‘cause’ is deemed more worthy than breaking it to help loved ones. 

The tweeter DSG expressed it best when he wrote: “It’s actually sad isn't it. A nation will sacrifice all measures they aggressively insisted saved people's lives for the sake of a (terrible) event that happened on the other side of the world. But wouldn't sacrifice them for their own families. Modern society is messed up.”

I wonder how many of those out protesting in London had seen their parents, grandparents or other family relatives since the lockdown began? I wonder how many of those willing to break social distancing rules for the sake of a terrible event that happened on the other side of the world would break them to see an elderly relative who is right at this moment dying a slow death, not from Covid-19 but from isolation?

Think of all the senior citizens of all ethnicities who have been locked up in care homes, and indeed their own homes since March. Think how sad and demoralised they must be.

We’ve become a society that is so good at public virtue signalling, but also so good at ignoring the cries for help of those closest to us. And who benefits?  Divide and conquer is an age-old strategy of the power elites, and in the UK of 2020 it seems to be working extremely well.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.