August 3rd 2021
I am wholly supportive of the concept of vaccine passports. I am aware that many on the libertarian right of the Conservative Party, including those who were philosophically opposed to Lockdown as an `infringement of personal liberty`, find the idea of having to produce evidence of vaccination as a requirement of entry into certain premises or a particular employment, as `identity cards by the back door` and a` denial of human rights`. I do not share that view.
We hear a great deal about `rights` and a great deal less about responsibilities these days. I know of no suggestion that anyone, other than those working in the NHS and care sectors, will be required to have a vaccination that they choose to refuse but it seems to me that others also have the `right` to know that those with whom they are sharing a football ground or a nightclub or even a shop or a restaurant have taken advantage of the best available protection against Covid 19.
When I aired this view recently on a national radio station it was picked up and plagiarised out of context by a tabloid newspaper and as a result I received `hate mails. About eleven of them to be precise. Setting aside the `if you stop me watching football I will kill you` kind of communication I was compared by one to `The kind of Nazi that forces people to have vaccinations that they do not want`. I may be wrong but I was not aware that the victims of the vilest forms of Dr. Mengele`s Nazi experiments were given any choice in the matter but that apart in modern Britain every person has the right to choose not to be vaccinated.
What they do not have a `right` to do is then impose the effects of their decision upon others, who may not wish to share their company.
Those who choose to smoke are not permitted, by law, to do so in most public places and in restaurants and pubs. Nothing so draconian is proposed for those who refuse vaccination against Covid 19 and I can find no vestige of coercion in the idea that if a person chooses not to be vaccinated then there are certain other things that they will also have to forego. It is entirely a question of personal choice and the consequences that flow from that exercise of personal judgement.
Nobody `has` to go to a football match, or a cinema, or a nightclub but if you do want to go then you have to buy a ticket and you have not got a ticket then you cannot gain entry. That is not a `right`. It is a requirement of the establishment. So think of the `Vaccine Passport` as part of the admission ticket, get vaccinated, protect yourself and others and enjoy all of the benefits to society that that brings.
I have two caveats: First, clearly there are those who for reasons of clinical vulnerability cannot receive vaccinations and an exemption has to be made for those relatively few people. Second, a vaccine passport, if such a device is to be introduced, should be recognised internationally as well as domestically and must not be allowed to morph into an ID card on a long term basis.
There is a case that can be made for a voluntary ID card as a facilitating document and indeed a long time ago I was a member of a Home Affairs Select Committee that made just such a recommendation but that is a separate issue. A vaccine passport has to be a short-term measure designed to address a specific need arising from the pandemic and that is all. An ID card of any kind is something that should properly be debated and scrutinised and supported by both Houses of Parliament before it sees the light of statutory day. But with those two provisos I am personally comfortable with the idea that we should give to an overwhelmingly vaccinated majority the `right` to enjoy the best physical security that they can be offered.