Retired Supreme Court Justice Brands Lockdowns ‘Useless’, ‘Immoral’

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Lord Sumption, who served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom until 2018, has branded lockdowns “useless” and a “profoundly immoral” imposition on the young.

Jonathan Philip Chadwick Sumption, who still serves on the Supplementary Panel of Britain’s top court, suggested that Boris Johnson’s government has “adopted a succession of on-off lockdowns or semi-lockdowns” because “a permanent lockdown would have been politically impossible, socially intolerable and economically terminal” in an article published by the Telegraph.

“We are forever being told not to blow it now by throwing away our past efforts. Truth is, our past efforts have been useless,” he claimed.

The 72-year-old jurist suggested that successive waves of national lockdowns, tiered regional lockdowns, and so on have only reduced infections by “shifting them into a later period” and “That is why we are where we are now.”

The prospect of mass vaccination in the near future, Sumption continued, has emboldened politicians to consider pushing for something approaching indefinite lockdown until the country is effectively immunised — but likened the risks of such an approach to “big-stakes poker”, given how hard it is to know how long it would take to work, or even if it would work at all, given questions around vaccine “refuseniks” and how protective vaccines will prove to be over time.

The judge also questioned the moral and practical basis for lockdown, claiming that neither “savage lockdowns, as in Spain, which put the army on the streets to stop people going out, even for exercise” nor “purely advisory regimes, like Sweden’s” have actually worked.

“Logically, there are only two possible explanations for its failure,” Sumption suggested.

“One is that the virus is more potent than governments. It may be that even the minimum of human interaction is enough to defeat the policy. In London, infections actually went up in the second lockdown,” he claimed.

“The other is that, whatever we do, the basic instincts of humanity, which is fundamentally sociable, will reassert themselves… A policy that only works by suppressing our humanity is unlikely to work at all. Life is risky. A policy that seeks to eliminate risk ends up trying to eliminate life. We have to re-examine the whole concept that governments can simply turn social existence on and off at will, treating us as passive instruments of state policy.”

Sumption also stressed the impact of lockdown and other anti-coronavirus measures on the young, inisiting that “Saddling the upcoming generation with crushing personal debt and higher taxes to pay the cost of a few months or years of life for some of my generation is worse than oppressive” and “profoundly immoral”.

Lord Sumption advanced similar arguments against lockdown in November, lambasting the “Jacobins” of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which guides government policy on the pandemic, and the “control freaks” of the Department of Health, led by Matt Hancock.

Some lockdown advocates and organisations have questioned the premises of Sumption’s arguments, with researchers at Imperial College London insisting they do save lives in June and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggesting that, while they “impose short-term costs” economically, “by bringing infections under control, lockdowns may… pave the way to a faster economic recovery as people feel more comfortable about resuming normal activities.”

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