Norms of Liberal Democracy Being Subverted by Fear, Warns Lockdown Sceptic Former Supreme Court Judge

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - NOVEMBER 15: Police officers monitor compliance with the lockdown in Innsbruck's old town during the first day of a nationwide lockdown for people not yet vaccinated against the novel coronavirus on November 15, 2021 in Innsbruck, Austria. Starting today unvaccinated people may only leave their homes for …
Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images

Former British Supreme Court judge Lord Jonathan Sumption has warned that “Europe’s new wave of Covid authoritarianism” has exposed how easily society can be subverted by panic and fear.

Lord Sumption made the remarks on the day Austria went into full lockdown, after the European country had declared a legal mandate for all residents to be vaccinated from February 1st or face fines or potentially, prison. Austria has become the first Western country, and one of the first in the world, to make vaccination against the Chinese virus mandatory.

The judge, who served on the British Supreme Court from 2012 to 2018 and previously warned that Britain could be heading towards becoming a “police state”, had reflected in an opinion article published in The Telegraph how various countries in mainland Europe were “giving way to panic” and that “the unvaccinated are being excluded from an ever-wider range of basic rights.”

“Austria has criminalised them. Italy has stopped them doing their jobs. The Dutch police have fired on anti-lockdown demonstrators, seriously injuring some of them. We are witnessing the ultimate folly of frightened politicians who cannot accept that they are impotent in the face of some natural phenomena,” Sumption wrote.

This weekend saw protests across Europe including an estimated 38,000 to 40,000 who marched on Vienna, with other demonstrations being sparked across Italy and in The Netherlands against those countries’ various restrictions, with reports at the time that two protesters in Rotterdam may have been shot by police firing off warning shots during a riot.

After his country had announced the imposition of mandatory vaccines, Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer claimed that there were increasing signs of “radicalisation” amongst anti-lockdown protesters.

Lord Sumption also warned that the persistent employment of allegedly temporary lockdowns — which he argues appear not to be working in “countries on their fifth wave of the pandemic and their third or fourth lockdown” — means that such restrictions “are in danger of being forced on people as permanent changes to their way of life”.

The former judge warned that this indicates there are “no limits” to what can be imposed on others and that “the absence of moral scruple in pursuit of what is thought to be a public good, is the first symptom of totalitarianism. The reduction of human beings to mere instruments of state policy is the next.”

“The way is wide open to despotism and unending social discord,” Sumption wrote, concluding: “The rest of us should look on and note how easily liberal democracy can be subverted by fear.”

Germany is also under pressure internally, including from some politicians, to consider following Austria’s lead and demanding compulsory vaccination of its people.

Germany Health Minister Jens Spahn told citizens on Monday to get vaccinated, because “pretty much everyone” by the end of Winter will have been vaccinated, had the virus and recovered, “or died”, he claimed.

On Sunday, Britain’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid ruled out Austria-style compulsory vaccination in the UK, saying: “It is up to Austria, other countries, to decide what they need to do. We are fortunate that in this country, although we have vaccine hesitancy, it is a lot lower than we are seeing in other places.”

According to figures quoted by Lord Sumption, Britain is only four points ahead (68 per cent) of Austria’s vaccine rate (64 per cent), with the latter imposing the mandate despite being well above the European average (57 per cent).

Britons have had promised from ministers before during the coronavirus pandemic, including that the country would never introduce domestic vaccine passports, despite them now being a possibility under a Plan B response should hospitals see an increase in Chinese virus cases this winter.

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