THE third lockdown has been branded “malicious” by New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne who was among 16 voting against the new laws.
Despite rising infection and death rates, Sir Desmond told the House of Commons yesterday (Wednesday) the detailed regulations were “pervaded by pettifogging malice” and an assault on livelihoods.
Prime Minster Boris Johnson replied: “Pettifogging, yes. Malicious, no.”
No vote was cast by either Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, nor Sir Chris Chope, MP for Christchurch.
Sir Desmond’s criticism followed an intervention over the new year in which he urged the government to consider “alternative” expertise on the pandemic other than from the official Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
He said statisticians leading in their fields would be able to “arm ministers, with the right questions to ask about the validity of the modelling and the data”.
He also questioned how experts had discovered a more transmissible strain after the government had wavered in following their advice to impose Christmas restrictions.
He said if he were in ministers’ position, he would find “great difficulty in having the wherewithal to identify and ask the right questions to be sure that they were on the money, or 100 miles from it”.
His comments sparked criticism by Liberal Democrat Cllr Jack Davies, from Pennington, who ran against Sir Desmond in the last general election.
He said: “Desmond Swayne has, once again, embarrassed the New Forest with his ramblings in the House of Commons.
“He has abandoned his main responsibility as an MP, which is to protect the people he serves.
“Desmond Swayne’s call for ‘alternative experts’ to SAGE is a desperate attempt to salvage his own credibility after he claimed the pandemic ended in the summer and was proven wrong.
“The depressing thing is, if people like Desmond Swayne had got behind the measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic from the very start, we would be in a much better place with fewer cases and fewer deaths.”
The lockdown vote on Wednesday also featured a plea by Sir Chris that vaccinated older people could be allowed to socialise to celebrate Brexit.
Meanwhile, Dr Lewis called on the government to “sweep away” bureaucratic form-filling to enable retired medics to join the national vaccination effort quicker.
He said it should prioritise “turning the national vaccination effort into an all-out 24/7 operation,” and publish the total number of vacant NHS beds every week and the total number of people vaccinated every day.