‘There are loads of people who think it isn’t worth going on at the moment. And it’s about time some bloody Secretaries of State understood this! Existing isn’t living for many people!’
Congratulations to Sir Charles Walker MP, for telling it like it is on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme. I’ve rarely heard a politician so righteously angry on that programme, nor yet one who has used a swear word.
And bloody right of him too! Walker may be the last truly decent politician in Britain – the only one prepared fully to acknowledge the scale of the devastation and cruelties being inflicted on the British people by an increasingly dangerous and out of control government.
Walker was responding, in particular, to two egregious statements by government ministers. First, he objected to the one by Health Secretary Matt Hancock exulting in the 10-year prison sentence which will henceforward to apply to anyone who has been on holiday to Portugal (or any other country on the government’s Red List) and lies about it. Second, he objected to one by the equally noisome and low-grade Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warning people not to book summer holidays, even in Britain..
Shapps told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
On the shrinking chance that there is anybody listening to this interview at this stage, and thinking of booking a holiday under the current circumstances … please don’t go ahead and book holidays for something which, at this stage, is illegal to actually go and do, whether it’s here or abroad.
Walker was properly incensed by this. As he told the BBC interviewer Sarah Montague:
The goal posts have not so much been moved as ripped off and carried to another playing field. This is just not acceptable. This is becoming an extended exercise in almost studied and deliberate cruelty for a nation that is increasingly anxious and under pressure.
People need to see their children. They need to see their parents. They need to see the people that they love. They need to have something to look forward to.
We are conducting a massive experiment in creating high levels of anxiety.
Montague pointed out that opinion polls appeared to show most people in favour of lockdown.
I suspect most people are in favour of lockdown as long as it works for them. And that when they do breach it they breach it in a ‘responsible’ way. ‘I’m a very responsible person’, they’ll say. ‘It’s those ruffians down the road that need lockdown.’
So don’t read too much into opinion polls.
Walker then moved onto the subject of vaccines which, he noted, had once been touted by the government as the event that would set everyone free.
We were told that when the vaccine came release would happen. And it now seems that the government either knows something it’s not willing to share with us about vaccines or is just really facing in multiple directions and is determined to muddy the water and sow confusion…
Montague, in characteristic BBC style, tried to trip him up on his suggestion that the government might know something about vaccines that it wanted to keep secret.
Walker wasn’t playing her game:
For crying out loud, we were told, weren’t we, that the vaccines were the route out of this? We had summer holidays last year when we didn’t have the vaccine.
Again, Montague tried to trip him up by making it about him.
She asked: ‘Have you booked a summer holiday?’
Walker refused to engage with such frivolousness.
Now we’ve got vaccines coming out of our ears we’re told not to book a summer holiday, for crying out loud. It does strike me as odd – and if it doesn’t strike you as odd we’re in a completely different place on this!
Montague tried again:
Have you booked a holiday?
It’s not about me. It’s about stressed-out people who need something to look forward to. Yeah? Mental health is important. Loads of anxious people. Loads of them writing to me. OK?
Walker, you could hear, was on the verge of losing his rag completely. (That aggressive ‘Yeah?’ and ‘OK?’ could have left no listener in doubt just how irritated he was, not least with Montague’s loyal upholding of the government’s propaganda narrative).
If it hadn’t been for coronavirus, Walker would probably have remained one of those backbench MPs that no one has ever heard of. Looking at his biography, about the most interesting things about him are that he suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, that he has twice won the Spectator‘s prize parliamentary speech of the year, and that he was once tipped to replace the poison dwarf John Bercow as Speaker of the House.
But the current crisis has been the making of him. His first moment of glory came when he intervened after witnessing police manhandling an elderly woman who was protesting against coronavirus restrictions.
He called the officers’ actions an ‘absolute disgrace.’
Walker, I suspect, is the classic example of a complacent conservative mugged by reality – and transformed into a campaigning radical.
Sure, other MPs have on occasion raised questions about the government’s increasingly unhinged and draconian coronavirus policies. But none has done so with the passion and commitment of Charles Walker. He has understood — as his parliamentary colleagues have inexcusably failed to do — that this is not just another game of positioning, and that Britain has slipped inexorably into tyranny with barely a whimper of resistance from its craven, career-safe MPs. Britain’s democracy is broken and only one MP has really noticed. How disgraceful and depressing is that?
Charles Walker is fast becoming my favourite MP. pic.twitter.com/hCbH8CdiX3
— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) February 11, 2021