As another backbench Tory rebellion is rumoured, will the Government pursue a mandatory vaccine policy?

By William Hallowell | Editor 

A mandatory Covid-19 vaccine requirement for people to live their everyday lives should be out of the question, but there’s an argument to make them optional for businesses.

 

Once again throughout the pandemic, Boris Johnson is threatened by his own side – the backbenchers. The most notable, or at very least the most vocal, has been Sir Charles Walker MP for Broxbourne. He has been outspoken about some of his party’s decisions throughout the course of the last year, previously expressing dismay over some incidents involving questionable handling of some members of the public by the police. His latest speech in the Commons – about a week ago – was about his individual right to protest by carrying a pint of milk around for "a few days", and at the end of it, what he chooses to do with his spoilt milk; his point was that it’s his decision to drink it, and equally his decision to pour it away – there is no doubt that he was referring the policy idea being floated by the Government about whether to introduce a mandatory Covid-19 “vaccine passport”, that members of the public would need to have in order to enjoy life to the full extent as they did prior to the pandemic.

It would be mad to support the idea that everyone must be vaccinated by force of the state in order to enjoy the pub, or go abroad. No government should be able to hold such power over its people. The state, in a liberal democracy in which we live, should serve the people as they are elected to do so; the people should not serve the Government. Whilst it is a moral duty for all who are offered a vaccine to have it, and to not take it would be irresponsible and selfish, it is not a choice that should be afforded to the state.

 

That said, there is a perfectly reasonable argument for the Government being able to introduce a Covid-19 vaccine policy that would make it optional for businesses to set out their own individual policies: for pubs or shops or gyms to say that the public cannot enjoy their services unless they have been vaccinated – as it is just as much the right of a business to bar customers, or refuse sale or service. In fact, specifically when it comes to venues, pubs and bars that sell alcohol, an option for businesses to introduce a “no vaccination, no pint” should be welcomed. People have displayed disgust at this prospect and said that it is discriminatory – but why? If everyone takes it, or at least been offered it, why should businesses, if they do not want to, allow unvaccinated people to use their services?

 

If, for whatever reason, some are so opposed to the idea of being vaccinated, and have been offered it, why is it unreasonable for them to find another bar or shop or gym to use, when realistically, there’s no reason to refuse being vaccinated? It is not as if the unvaccinated will be treated as lepers, or as second-class citizens, because they have made the choice not to be inoculated.

 

As far as party politics goes, it would be unwise for the Prime Minister to pursue a mandatory vaccine policy. There are already cries of “fascism” and “authoritarianism” regarding Johnson’s Government, as a result of their controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that is most likely on its way to receive Royal Assent. Why give Keir Starmer – who has already condemned the vaccine passport idea as “not British” – and the rest of the Government’s opposition the ammunition they need to have further justification to scream “fascist” at a Prime Minister who is fairly liberal and not “conservative” at all?

Feature image credit: UK Prime Minister


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