Coronavirus Bill: the greatest loss of liberty in our history - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15078404
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, on the alarming authoritarianism of the government’s new powers.

The Coronavirus Bill, having sailed through the House of Commons, is expected to become law today. The Bill gives the government and the authorities unprecedented new powers, unheard of in a democracy during peacetime. Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, has warned that these powers are unreasonably draconian, and could be here to stay long after the threat of the virus has dissipated. spiked caught up with Carlo to find out more.


spiked: What’s wrong with the Coronavirus Bill?

Silkie Carlo: This is a 329-page bill conferring extraordinary powers to the executive, which is being rushed through parliament in just three days. This is completely unprecedented. It leaves us with the greatest loss of liberty that we have probably ever had in this country on the back of one piece of legislation in peacetime.


The duration of the powers is one of the first things that stands out. The bill was drafted to allow its powers to last for two years – an extremely long period of time for such extreme emergency powers. Big Brother Watch ran a campaign over the weekend saying two years is too long and thousands of people emailed their MPs. The government has conceded an amendment which allows for a review after six months. But the way this has been phrased means that, essentially, the government can come back in six months and say that the powers need to continue. It would require parliament to vote against the government to try to get rid of the bill. Obviously, the numbers in parliament are really stacked against that at the moment.

If we are honest with ourselves, these powers are going to be here to stay. The virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Crisis follows crisis. The slippery slope might be an overused term, but it is very, very difficult to reverse the handing over of such extraordinary powers.

The other concerning thing is that we already have structures in place to deal with emergencies, namely the Civil Contingencies Act. Under the Civil Contingencies Act, government can lay regulations which have to be reviewed within seven days, but they can last for up to 30 days. And that is an appropriate mechanism for measures like arbitrary detention powers or any powers which you would never normally find acceptable in a democracy.

But that Act hasn’t been used. As Matt Hancock said repeatedly yesterday in the house, there is no plan to use that Act. This Coronavirus Bill actually comes from an earlier draft of an influenza pandemic bill and so this is not simply a product of making do in the circumstances. Obviously, everyone in parliament and everyone in government is faced with extraordinary circumstances. But the approach they have chosen is really worrying.


I was relieved to see lots of MPs in parliament raising questions, including Conservative backbenchers, asking why the Civil Contingencies Act hadn’t been used.
And the response given by the government was, I’m afraid, simply not true. Jacob Rees-Mogg said the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t qualify as an emergency under the Contingencies Act because it has been known about for too long. But that is just not the case. David Davis asked the Speaker’s Counsel, which gives legal advice to the Commons, whether that was actually the case. And the Speaker’s Counsel said unequivocally that the powers under the Civil Contingencies Act – which was written by the Counsel – are absolutely appropriate for the current emergency. I think that the Speaker’s Counsel note is going to be a very significant document in the months and years to come, unfortunately.

spiked: What powers does the bill have?


Carlo: The standout thing in the Coronavirus Bill is its detention powers. The bill confers arbitrary detention powers to the police, immigration officers and public-health officials. They can detain and isolate ‘potentially’ infectious people. Potentially infectious people can be literally anyone. As we have seen from the government reports, up to 80 per cent of the public could be infected with coronavirus eventually, many of whom will be asymptomatic. There is no explanation as to how the authorities will determine whether someone is potentially infected. For all intents and purposes, it allows for arbitrary and indefinite detention. Any member of the public, including children, could be forcibly detained, isolated, quarantined in an as yet unidentified location. It also enables authorities to forcibly take biological samples from people for testing.

I don’t want to suggest that the powers will be used in as apocalyptic a way as the phrasing would permit. But of course, it would still be the height of naivety to hand these powers to the authorities, especially in a time of crisis in which people are acting rapidly and reactively. In a democracy, you do not normally give those kinds of extraordinary powers without the bare minimum of safeguards or at least explanations.


Another major power in the bill is around dispersal. Under the Coronavirus Bill, authorities can shut down events, gatherings, premises, and not only force people to leave and go into isolation facilities, but they will also have the power to make people stay in a place.

There is also an extension of detention powers under the Mental Health Act. So people can now be sectioned on the advice of a single doctor rather than two doctors, as is currently the case. This is at a time when the population is under undue psychological pressure. Other parts of the bill allow social-care standards to be drastically relaxed, so we will see people suffering more.


One of the worrying differences between the Coronavirus Bill and the emergency powers under the Civil Contingencies Act is that there is no exemption for political gatherings or political assemblies. When we are talking about a massive expansion of ministerial powers for two years, and a huge step-change to our politics, that is really worrying. It would not be difficult to amend the bill to have an exemption for industrial action and strikes, as exists in the Civil Contingencies Act, because obviously this is where there is the most obvious potential for abuses of power. We as a public must, should we need to, be able to say, in several months’ time, that the government has got it wrong, that we want a different approach, that the coronavirus measures aren’t right or they are not being used in the right way. Our fundamental ability to express that could be taken away.

spiked: What concerns do you have in relation to surveillance in this bill?

Carlo: I was quite surprised to see the relaxation of surveillance safeguards. Essentially the bill does two things. First, it allows for the appointment of temporary judicial commissioners. Judicial commissioners are typically retired judges who oversee surveillance warrants. Secondly, it extends the time limit that they have to review urgent warrants.

This may seem quite academic, but we need to be extremely cautious about this. Urgent warrants, on the one hand, are incredibly important for protecting national security. And of course, you need to have a provision for urgent warrants. But because the way that they are drafted currently is relatively lax, they are open to abuse. And given the enormity of the surveillance powers that we have in the Investigatory Powers Act already, we are talking about the potential for population-level surveillance of devices, tracking, interception, all kinds of powers. The bill will lower the safeguards to using those powers.

The potential for abuse is extreme. In countries like China, Iran, Israel and Russia, authorities are already tracking individuals’ phones to make sure that they comply with quarantines. This is something that’s particularly relevant to us in the UK now that we are basically on lockdown. We are allowed out once per day, and only for specific purposes. There are questions about how that’s going to be enforced, and I hope it is going to be in a proportionate way. But we have seen phone tracking used in other countries as part of that. The extraordinary thing about this is, in the UK, we wouldn’t even know about it if the government was doing this because our surveillance powers are so extreme – they are completely covert and completely secret. If someone working at a telco like O2 or another network were to disclose that they were tracking us, that person could go to prison for a year.

spiked: Is there a threat to liberty more generally during the coronavirus emergency?

Carlo: Of course, measures need to be taken to make sure that people are safe and we have to defer to experts about that. And I really hope that the decision to lock down the country has been made on the basis of expert advice, and not because of the clamour to ‘do more’ by the Twitterati and whoever else. Those people have themselves gone out to parks and taken photos of other people in parks and have said things like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe these plebs aren’t all at home!’. This is a really difficult time for everyone. People need to go out, to get fresh air, to go for a walk, to walk their dogs and to get exercise. And I do think there has been a worrying level of panic about people doing these basic necessary things in a relatively safe way (though I appreciate that it hasn’t always been the case). The dangerous thing about aimless calls to ‘do more’ is that if government caves into those kinds of pressures – when they are unevidenced and aimless and driven by a general sense of panic – then we are going to end up in a really dangerous place.

The unique thing about this crisis is that it requires the public’s cooperation. State power alone will not get us through it. It demands behavioural change from all of us. And I have been really surprised to see the amount of behavioural change there has been already. It is weird to see central London empty like a ghost town. People are wearing masks, scarves over their faces and gloves. People are working from home and have completely changed their pattern of life. I think the British public has been extraordinarily cooperative and resilient in dealing with this. And I hope that we continue to be during this lockdown.

Three weeks is going to be a long time, we are all going to really feel it. And I just hope that we don’t find ourselves having to do things like filling out a form to leave the house, as is happening in other parts of Europe. That would be incredibly depressing.
https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/03/2 ... r-history/

#15078412
Unfortunately this is the biggest crisis since WW2. The UK government has appropriately acknowledged this. But I agree it should be 6-months. I think the government is acting on the medical advice there will possibly be a second wave outbreak. But the legislation should be six months and then extention review, the 2 years mandatory is overdoing it.
#15078416
colliric wrote:Unfortunately this is the biggest crisis since WW2. The UK government has appropriately acknowledged this. But I agree it should be 6-months. I think the government is acting on the medical advice there will possibly be a second wave outbreak. But the legislation should be six months and then extention review, the 2 years mandatory is overdoing it.


Six months "sounds" palatable but we really need more than that.
#15078417
colliric wrote:Unfortunately this is the biggest crisis since WW2.


no it's not. The 57 asian flu killed between 1-2 million and the 68 hong kong flu killed between 1.5-4 million.
#15078419
Donna wrote:Six months "sounds" palatable but we really need more than that.


Donna wants permanent flulags.
#15078426
Sivad wrote:no it's not. The 57 asian flu killed between 1-2 million and the 68 hong kong flu killed between 1.5-4 million.


The current outbreak is being fought with modern medical technology. It is the second outbreak of a strain of the SARS virus. The concern is this virus could overwhelm the Medical community globally in a similar manner to those pandemics. That has not happened because of the "overreaction" and improved medical technology. I otherwise agree with your original post on the legislation.
#15078428
colliric wrote: That has not happened because of the "overreaction"


It hasn't happened because this corona bug just isn't that virulent. The real mortality rate is almost certainly <.7% and it doesn't kill young healthy people the way the flu can. The overreaction hasn't been all that effective in stopping the spread, there are at least 7-10 unreported cases for every confirmed case, so it's not so much a crisis as it is a retarded fucking farce. Everything is a retarded fucking farce in this world. Remember the russiagate hysteria? Remember the fake chemical weapons attacks? Remember weapons of mass destruction? Climate change alarmism? All retarded fucking farces. And that's just a few, I could list dozens and dozens just from the last 50 years.
#15078429
Remember the 2009 Swine flu hysteria? How did that one turn out? Oh yeah, that's right, it was a big phony bullshit hoax:

A Wisconsin study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September 2010, reported that findings showed that the 2009 H1N1 flu was no more severe than the seasonal flu. "The risk of most serious complications was not elevated in adults or children", the study's authors wrote. "Children were disproportionately affected by 2009 H1N1 infection, but the perceived severity of symptoms and risk of serious outcomes were not increased." Children infected in the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic were no more likely to be hospitalized with complications or get pneumonia than those who catch seasonal strains. About 1.5% of children with the H1N1 swine flu strain were hospitalized within 30 days, compared with 3.7% of those sick with a seasonal strain of H1N1 and 3.1% with an H3N2 virus.

Accusations of conflict of interest Edit
In January 2010, Wolfgang Wodarg, a German deputy who trained as a physician and now chairs the health committee at the Council of Europe, claimed major firms had organized a "campaign of panic" to put pressure on the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a "false pandemic" to sell vaccines. Wodarg said the WHO's "false pandemic" flu campaign is "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century." He said that the "false pandemic" campaign began in May 2009 in Mexico City, when a hundred or so "normal" reported influenza cases were declared to be the beginning of a threatening new pandemic, although he said there was little scientific evidence for it. Nevertheless, he argued that the WHO, "in cooperation with some big pharmaceutical companies and their scientists, re-defined pandemics," removing the statement that "an enormous amount of people have contracted the illness or died" from its existing definition and replacing it by stating simply that there has to be a virus, spreading beyond borders and to which people have no immunity.[107]

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_fl ... f_interest
#15078431
The Swine Flu was a hoax? Stop talking out of your ass.

I'll remember to tell my Irish friend about that, since he spent 43 days in a coma due to the Swine Flu. You can tell the 18,036 people who died what a hoax it was, too. :knife:
#15078440
When hysteria is rife, we might try some history. In 1997 we were told that bird flu could kill millions worldwide. Thankfully, it did not. In 1999 European Union scientists warned that BSE “could kill 500,000 people”. In total, 177 Britons died of vCJD. The first Sars outbreak of 2003 was reported by as having “a 25% chance of killings tens of millions” and being “worse than Aids”. In 2006, another bout of bird flu was declared “the first pandemic of the 21st century”, the scares in 2003, 2004 and 2005 having failed to meet their body counts.

Then, in 2009, pigs replaced birds. The BBC announced that swine flu “could really explode”. The chief medical officer, Liam Donaldson, declared that “65,000 could die”. He spent £560m on a Tamiflu and Relenza stockpile, which soon deteriorated. The Council of Europe’s health committee chairman described the hyping of the 2009 pandemic as “one of the great medical scandals of the century”.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... flu-panics
#15078442
They are not hyping this pandemic. :roll: You comparing them is just as erroneous as you comparing most things. All based in ignorance and cherry-picking.

As for your stupid claim....

What Fauci ACTUALLY Said.

Fauci says it’s still too early to determine U.S. death rates from coronavirus outbreak
“If you look at the cases that have come to the attention of the medical authorities, in China, and you just do the math — the math is about 2%. If you look at certain age groups, certain risk groups, the fatality is much higher.”

“You know as well as anybody that the mortality for seasonal flu is .1%,” he added. “So even if it goes down to 1%, it’s still 10 times more fatal.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/04/fauci-s ... virus.html

So, you're making shit up to suit your narrative.
#15078443
Sivad wrote:It hasn't happened because this corona bug just isn't that virulent. The real mortality rate is almost certainly <.7% and it doesn't kill young healthy people the way the flu can.


Maybe Sivad would sing a different song if he would be in the cohort in danger ?
Condemning his parents and grandparents is apparently par for the course but facing a slow agonising death for himself ? :eek: :roll:
#15078450
Sivad wrote:When hysteria is rife, we might try some history. In 1997 we were told that bird flu could kill millions worldwide. Thankfully, it did not. In 1999 European Union scientists warned that BSE “could kill 500,000 people”. In total, 177 Britons died of vCJD. The first Sars outbreak of 2003 was reported by as having “a 25% chance of killings tens of millions” and being “worse than Aids”. In 2006, another bout of bird flu was declared “the first pandemic of the 21st century”, the scares in 2003, 2004 and 2005 having failed to meet their body counts.


Avian influenza is a very serious pandemic threat. It is panzootic in poultry and continues to cross species barriers to infect humans. For now it has a low basic reproduction number, but that could change, especially as outbreaks are becoming more frequent. As recently as February an aggressive strain of H5N1 was found in Hunan Province, not far from Wuhan.
#15078455
Godstud wrote:As for your stupid claim....

What Fauci ACTUALLY Said.


So, you're making shit up to suit your narrative.


Here's Fauci testifying under oath to congress saying that it's 1%:


And here's an article he just co-authored in the New England Journal of Medicine saying it's likely less than 1%:

Covid-19 — Navigating the Uncharted

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., H. Clifford Lane, M.D., and Robert R. Redfield, M.D.

March 26, 2020
N Engl J Med 2020

If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2002387
#15078460
If you watch the Face the Nation interview he did two weeks ago he says the mortality rate is probably just under 1%.

What is the mortality rate of the new coronavirus?
It is probably about or a bit less than 1%. Much higher figures have been flying about, but the UK’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, is one of those who believes it will prove to be 1% or lower. The World Health Organization’s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, talked of 3.4%, but his figure was calculated by dividing the number of deaths by the number of officially confirmed cases. We know there are many more mild cases that do not get to hospital and are not being counted, which would bring the mortality rate significantly down.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... e-covid-19

#15078461
Again, because you seem a bit addle-minded.

EXPLAIN ITALY.

Also, please note that very few people have actually fully recovered from the virus.

You seem to be only interesting in downplaying the pandemic, and are cherry-picking and mis-characterizing at every opportunity, to spin your narrative.
Last edited by Godstud on 26 Mar 2020 08:27, edited 1 time in total.
#15078462
Donna wrote:Avian influenza is a very serious pandemic threat. It is panzootic in poultry and continues to cross species barriers to infect humans. For now it has a low basic reproduction number, but that could change, especially as outbreaks are becoming more frequent. As recently as February an aggressive strain of H5N1 was found in Hunan Province, not far from Wuhan.


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