Peter's Blog

COVID-19 And Democracy

Written by Peter Johnston on .

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has released an important, clear statement on the response of the UK Government to the Coronavirus pandemic. One of the things that has really been bugging me for the past few weeks since it was mentioned in the Covid Report videos is the secrecy surrounding the SAGE group that advises the UK Government. I went online to try to find out who was on the group and all I could find was generic waffle on the government website and no details. Now it has all blown up in the face of the UK Government with the realisation that political advisers, not scientists, have been involved in SAGE. 

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics says:

It is a matter of fundamental democratic accountability. Decisions are being made and are due to be made that go to the very heart of what governments are there to do: to protect the freedom and well-being of their people. But they must do so openly, transparently, and accountably, especially where those decisions impinge on precisely that freedom or aspects of well-being. Democratic governments must be subjected to public debate and challenge. The fact of an emergency or crisis makes things difficult, but is no justification for closing down on public discourse. On the contrary, if we are all at risk, and we are all in it together, we all need to know and all need to have a voice.

Over and over again the UK Government is failing in transparency when that is absolutely vital to helping us understand how we can move on from this national lockdown. Nicola Sturgeon did a better job at trying to explain this, and thus gain the trust of us, during the week. We need far better from Westminster than politics as usual.

The whole statement is well worth a read.