Richard Drax MP has argued that a national lockdown is a mistake, imposing sweeping restrictions on everyone which damages the economy.

Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, also argues that a national lockdown is too blunt an instrument when there are areas like the South West with much lower rates of infection.

Seeing both end of the political spectrum united for once, is surely a powerful argument for a different approach.

In Italy and Germany numbers of new cases remain low with little second wave as yet. Germany uses well-targeted tests e.g. all airport arrivals and all hospital discharges to care homes. Meanwhile, France and Spain have seen strong second waves with new infections up to 16,000 a day, much higher than the UK, yet they have continued with their current system leaving containment measures to local authorities.

Could a better way not be found in the UK too by putting an all-party group in charge and adopting an approach which learns from other countries? Normal life could be allowed to resume, confining extra measures to local decision-making by local authorities wherever the rate of new infections is above a certain threshold. Testing could be more precisely targeted and the much-touted idea of putting many people in a single testing batch, e.g. all the teachers in a school would greatly increase testing capacity.

The UK seems increasingly liable to run everything from the centre, Belarus-style. More local democracy would give us all more freedom.

Stephen Bendle

Beech Road