SORUK is primarily focused on legislative and Human Rights issues. We encourage you to refine your common understanding of the problems, identify actions, build resources, publicise the cause and engage with others both within this group and elsewhere to action.
This year, a whole raft of legislation has been brought in, in the name of Coronavirus. These sweeping powers granted have infringed upon human rights and have often been brought in with no parliamentary scrutiny.
We do not live in a democracy nor do we have a voice. We will not accept this any more and are going to fight to change the system to a radical new and real democracy.
IMPACT ON REAL LIVES
The impact of the lockdown measures and legislative changes that have occurred under the guise of the Coronavirus Act 2020 have had a devastating affect on people’s lives.
Regardless of the science behind vaccine development, it would still be against our Human Rights to mandate it. We are monitoring developments closely for any potential mandates that may be brought into place.
MEDIA BIAS & CENSORSHIP
Our mainstream media does not report in a balanced and unbiased manner. We believe that all media and social channels should be free of censorship, reporting truth without selective interpretation and predetermined narratives.
Many shops across the UK has gone cashless, leaving some people at a disadvantage. These measures have the potential to remove our rights to privacy as well as the freedom and many benefits that using cash brings.
The original lockdown was brought in under a statutory instrument called The Health Protection Regulations 2020, which was brought in under the Public Health Act 1984. A statutory instrument is a piece of legislation that is made on the back of an already existing piece of legislation. This is signed off by one person and is often used for small edits, such as changing wording of things to clarify legislation. They’re not often they’re used to make large pieces of legislation. It’s believed in the first instance that making the Health Protection Regulations 2020 from the Public Health Act 1984 is deemed ultra vires. This means beyond the reach of powers. If it was found to be ultra vires, it would mean that statutory instrument, in and of itself, was illegal and therefore, the legislation. The lockdown on the 23rd of March was not founded in law. This is being challenged in the courts by Simon Dolan, who has brought a judicial review that was originally heard in July. It was refused. An appeal is in and it will be heard on 29th of October.
This statutory instrument called for a wide range of powers, including the lockdowns, however it didn’t include other things like a mandate to close schools. These are in fact just suggestions, according to the government. Deeming them just suggestions means that they absolve themselves of responsibility for any harms caused by the actions taken.
Just days after lockdown began, they brought in the Coronavirus Bill 2020 to the Houses of Parliament. This is a 324 page document which was given just one day of debate in the house. This is not long enough to debate a bill of that length, there was no vote on this and it was passed without a vote, due to having no objections. The only amendment was that instead of it standing for two years straight away, it would have a six monthly review. This piece of legislation includes a whole raft of measures that take away protections for those such as children in care homes and people who have mental health issues. This is a huge problem and none of this was even acknowledged, debated or challenged by the house, due to the lack of time that they had to process it. That is the only benefit we could identify from this act was the furlough scheme.
The act was also unnecessary because the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 that is already in place. This gives parliament similar powers, but only on a 30-day time limit before it had to be redebated in the house. This would have given more time for parliamentary scrutiny of the measures taken and the impact they were having upon the people.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 reached its’ six month review on 26th September and therefore, as per section 98, the motion was heard in the house as to whether to keep it or not. A number of amendments were suggested, including ones such as to remove section 21 from the act. However, a lot of them didn’t gain traction. One suggested amendment that did gain traction was Graham Brady’s amendment, that was proposed to say that statutory instruments were no longer to be used as a means of passing laws that had wide sweeping effects. However, the Speaker of the House, decided to refuse this amendment to even be heard, because he was scared that it might challenge parliamentary authority. Therefore he just slapped the government on the wrist and said ‘try a bit harder’… In response, Matt Hancock has said that he will ‘try a bit harder’.
Under the Coronavirus Act 2020 and under the Health Protection Regulations 2020, they have brought in more and more statutory instruments; over 230 statutory instruments have been brought in. Again, statutory instruments passed by just one single person. The majority of them are being passed under Matt Hancock, and some some by Rishi Sunak, Priti Patel and Gavin Williamson. These are often coming in and being drafted a few hours before they are brought into effect. For example, the ‘Rule of Six’ was announced on a Monday, and to come into effect on the following Monday, but was only released drafted at 11:45pm on the Sunday night. This is completely unacceptable, as statutory instruments do not have consideration of the house and these are hugely wide sweeping pieces of legislation that have had devastating effects upon many members of the public. This is not how democracy works.
We’ve really got to challenge the Coronavirus legislation in every manner we can, and be grateful to the 24 MPs that voted against renewing the coronavirus act and support Simon Dolan’s judicial review in October.
To understand where the problems lie with our government, first we need to look at how it is structured and how it currently works;
Our government is elected into place by first-past-the-post voting once every five years. This usually results in one party having the majority of seats. From this one party they have a leader who is elected by members of that one particular party. The leader is not democratically elected by the whole country. And then there’s one leader, once the party wins, who gets to choose who will be sitting in the Secretary of State, such as the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Education, Health, and so on. These are not necessarily people who are qualified for those positions but merely those that have a working relationship with the current leader of the party. From then on, that party has the majority control over how things go. This means that when votes come to the house, the party with the most people is more likely to get its go their way because their party will vote with them. This leads us to ask, if the party will vote with them, are they voting for the party, or are they voting for the people?
The party whips their members – they are told how they ought to vote on any given vote. It’s rare that they’re given a free pass to do as they wish, however sometimes it does happen. This raises the question of how this can be deemed as a democracy? A member of the House could have 100 people write in and say they want an MP to vote in one direction, however If their party whips the other way, they are more likely to follow the whip than the people. This is a huge concern because that means that our voice is not being heard and is not being represented. This is where party politics falls down. Each individual is also protected and not held accountable. In many areas and for many people, they’ll vote for a particular party rather than the individual MP. So, even if your MP isn’t somebody that you appreciate and approve of, if they’re in the right party people will still often vote for them. Overall, we’re consequently not getting the best representatives for our voice, we’re not getting heard, because the politic party politics overrules it, and we are not getting any sort of input into who our Secretaries of State are.
Once we have that one first-past-the-post vote every five years, that is essentially where our voice ends (there’s also plenty of issues with first-past-the-post, as well).
How do we change this?
First of all we will propose that we get rid of party politics and MPs, because both are outdated and obsolete. There was an element where they were necessary ‘back in the day’ before communication took on its’ leaps and bounds. Now, in the day of modern technology, they’re unnecessary as a source of information. They no longer serve the purpose of representing the people.
What we propose is something completely different. We would propose that Secretaries as States are voted directly into their roles. This would mean that people would apply to a Secretary of State role, such as Secretary of State for Health, on the basis of their own personal qualifications. This could be that they’re a consultant, or they have had experience working in care homes, in hospitals or some other criteria that would lend itself to the job. They would then present their own Manifesto, for which they would then be personally responsible for. If during their term this wasn’t adhered to, then it would be very easy for them to do their job and be held accountable, because they wouldn’t be protected by party politics.
We would also decentralise as much of the governance as possible, giving local control to local areas so that people would be able to get involved and have a say. We would have mechanisms in place to challenge any laws that are passed that people do not agree with and where people can make suggestions for future governance. These would be given due consideration.
Further than that, we recognise that we need to go further than just political governance. We need to reform the banking system, the taxation system, the health care system and the education system.
One of the things to change is to bring politics into the national curriculum so that people really get to grips and understand what is going on, know how to get involved and are keen to get involved, because it’s part of their life as they grow up.
Another issue with our current government is that they can be corrupt and controlled by corporations. This change happened when corporations started earning more money than the government did in taxes. Money is power. That has seeped in to our current political system, and it’s something that needs to be taken care of, which is where we propose to do it with the aforementioned new voting system.
IMPACT ON REAL LIVES
The impacts on real life has been vast and unimaginable. It has disproportionately affected those who are already vulnerable, such as the youth, those living in poverty, the disabled, those with mental health issues and the elderly.
The action of keeping children and teenagers off school for six months will be having hugely detrimental effects on children’s emotional and physical well being, as well as having impacts upon their social development and educational attainment. It has also increased the gap between the disadvantaged youth, increased the incidence of mental health issues in the year – there is a huge rise in cases of children experiencing abuse – with calls to Child Line increasing dramatically, and suicide rates rocketing up. It is absolutely unacceptable. These are lives that had huge growth potential before them – many of them have been decimated and some have ended.
People Living in Poverty
Those living in poverty have seen seriously negative effects. People that were already living in poverty have reported experiencing whole days, if not a string of days, where they’ve not been able to eat a single thing (including children). Not only are the ones that are already living in poverty suffering even more; many more people are being pushed below the poverty line and as furlough ends, this is set to increase more.
Living in poverty has an increased rate of mental health issues, obesity, cancer and generally decreases your mortality. It has a huge wide range of socio-economic and physical impacts that go beyond material aspects.
Disabled & Mental Health
Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by many of the legislations introduced, particularly with respect to the mandated masks as it is disabled people that are exempt from wearing masks. As a consequence, many have experienced an increase in disability hate crime. This, in part, has been encouraged by people like Cressida Dick—the leader of the Metropolitan Police—who said that they people should be shamed if they do not wear a mask. This has caused disabled people to feel like they cannot go out, for fear of abuse.
Many disabled people were told they had to self-isolate and shield for a long period of time. This had a knock on effect on their mental and physical health, due to numerous routine appointments being cancelled. They are physically suffering the effects of missed appointments, as well as mentally, as they are not getting the care they need. This action was brought in under the Coronavirus Act.
Further to this, many are experiencing stress, trauma and anxiety from everything that has been going on this year. This is due to the unpredictability, uncertainty, lack of clarity from the government, financial pressures etc. It’s taking it’s toll, even on the strongest of people, let alone the most vulnerable.
The Elderly have been confined to their rooms and been kept away from their friends and family. This is massively negative because living in a care home is hard enough for elderly people, especially if they have illnesses such as dementia. It can be very distressing them for them to have their routine taken away and to not be able to see their friends and family – especially when they won’t necessarily understand what’s going on. For the ones that do understand, many of them have said, “What’s the point in surviving Covid, because this life isn’t worth living.”. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that many elderly people have deteriorated during this, as well as not receiving the care they need because GP appointments have been cancelled. So, if they contract anything else other than Covid, they’re not getting receiving adequate care and attention.
The impact of all of this is mean to continue for many years in mental health and health appointments delayed, increasing risk to life (cancer referrals have gone down by 75%). The government has released an Impact Assessment Report and they’re predicting that there will be at least 12,000 deaths every year, for the next five years, as a direct consequence of lockdown. This would therefore take the amount of deaths from lockdown to above the amount of deaths from Covid. Any measures that were taken, we were told were to save lives and were taken in good faith. This has not been the case – the premise was flawed and instead, many lives have been deeply affected by the measures put in place.
The Covid vaccination is being rushed through safety testing. This is of serious concern because many side effects of vaccinations don’t present themselves immediately. These can take a number of years to show, which is why regular vaccines are safety tested for usually between 5-10 years. Further to this, Coronaviruses are notoriously difficult to vaccinate against, which is why the flu vaccine has a low success rate.
The last vaccine that was rushed through safety testing was the swine flu vaccine back in 2009. This was incidentally for another type of Coronavirus; the H1N1 swine flu. It was given out to many children, where a lot of these children went on to develop debilitating narcolepsy. This had not been documented in the trials but came to light as a direct consequence of the vaccine, resulting in just last year (2019) the government paying out £60million in compensation from taxpayers money. This came from the government and taxpayers money because all vaccine company manufacturers are indemnified by the government, so that they don’t have to pay compensation. There has been a lot of talk for this specific about the Covid vaccination, but this is actually the case for all vaccinations. Therefore when anything goes wrong and compensation is awarded, it comes from a government fund paid for by our taxpayers money.
There is a lot of concern that the Covid vaccination will be mandated, however under the scope of the current legislation, that isn’t possible. They would have to bring in new legislation to mandate the vaccine. This would hopefully have debate of the house, however that can not be guaranteed. They could potentially try to bring it in under a statutory instrument, which would be gravely concerning because all medical procedures ought not to be mandated. For someone to have a medical procedure, they need to consent. To be able to fully consent, they need to have the full facts of any potential matter, including details of the risks and any potential side effects. This evidently can not be given, because they are not aware of what the potential side effects are, having not given this full safety testing.
In addition, under current legislation vaccinations given need to be free from coercion and the consent needs to be freely given. This can not be done if 1, it’s mandated, and 2, if it’s a case that people are told they can not do things like go on holiday, go to school etc. This brings into question a huge amount of ethical issues. If we can mandate one medical procedure, what others can be mandated? It’s a very slippery slope and on these grounds, we must oppose any mandated medical procedure, because otherwise we lose bodily autonomy (which is already being pulled into question by the fact that masks and tests have been mandated in some places).
We will be monitoring the situation very carefully, and will be ready to take action if at any point this is mandated.
MEDIA BIAS & CENSORSHIP
The media have been very influential throughout the Covid scenario. Mainstream media is how we predominantly get information from parliament to the people. However, what is not clear is when articles are actually opinion or speculation, rather than fact or government legislation. This has caused a lot of confusion, upset and a lot of fear. They have also ramped up the fear intentionally. They have pumped the death numbers out constantly and have given little cause for celebration, even when things have been more positive. Now that the death numbers are much lower, this isn’t being reported on and isn’t touted as a positive. There has been a large focus on the negative in this whole scenario.
We believe that media reporting should be fair, unbiased, impartial and based on facts. It should be considerate of what is in the best interests of the public. However, we know that the SPI-B report. SPI-B – being part of the sage committee – said that the government would use the media to increase compliance to lockdown measures. This was done, in part, by ramping up people’s perceived level of personal threat. The government actually instructed the media to make it seem scarier than it was, to increase compliance with the regulations.
We are concerned about how much power the media currently hold, as we do not believe the current media mainstream media is on our side. If tomorrow the media would turn around say that actually all coronavirus legislation was obsolete and unnecessary, then most people would change their mind. These people are not in any sort of democratic process, yet they hold more power than the actual government. This is highly concerning – especially as they are about profits, rather than about the people. The more sensational the headline, the more clicks they will get, therefore the more profit they will get. It’s irrespective of the impact that their articles will have on the mental health of the readers reading it. We therefore encourage all to seek out independent journalists, independent news reports and diversify from just the mainstream media narrative.
MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON.
We will be providing more information soon to help develop understanding of the issues we face. In the meantime, our group members have shared some fantastic resources and information on our Facebook Group page which you can find below.