Writing in The Telegraph today, Sir Rocco Forte, the chairman of the Rocco Forte Hotel Group, compared lockdown Britain to The old Soviet Union and accused UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock of enjoying himself.
Forte travelled to Russia in the mid-eighties as the guest of a state controlled travel group. He writes:
I was allocated an interpreter who policed where I went, and it was made very clear that I would not be allowed to stray off the beaten track. Moscow was dead – no shops, restaurants or bars were open. The streets were largely empty and any people on them had a miserable expression on their faces.
Russians were subject to tight controls by the state. They were not allowed to leave the country, and had to take great care about who they consorted with and met. There was a Parliament but it had no power and justice was arbitrarily dispensed. It was a communist dictatorship.
We can only travel within our own country with special dispensation and are liable to be stopped by the police if we break the rules. We are not allowed to travel abroad. If we return from an overseas trip we can be compelled to stay in a Government-appointed hotel at our own expense and policed to ensure we stay in our rooms.
There are 33 countries to which this applies at present, but these can arbitrarily be added to at any time based on criteria decided upon by the Health Secretary which we are not party to.
We are told we will not be allowed to go on holiday in our own country this summer, let alone go abroad. All shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres are shut. We are not allowed to see our families or our friends. Parliament is toothless and we have Government by decree.
Of Health Secretary Matt Hancock Forte says:
We now have a chief commissar called Matt Hancock, who appears to be enjoying the importance he has accorded himself. He is busy laying down the law as no Minister of Health has ever done before him; he is even straying into the competences of other departments by dictating things such as sentencing policy.
Forte goes on to call for a new Public Health Act, to prevent future UK governments acting similarly. The act would compel ministers, in the event of a real public health emergency, to clearly demonstrate the benefits and the harms of any proposed restrictions on our liberties. It’s a brilliantly written and compelling article by Sir Rocco Forte in today’s Telegraph. He concludes it by saying:
Government propaganda justifying all of this has been worthy of a totalitarian state and has cowed the population into accepting interference with our basic liberties that would never have been tolerated in this country before….
It is time to end the creeping authoritarianism, return to normal democratic processes and have the Government held to account.
Amen to that.