We cannot let these authoritarian coronavirus measures become the new normal

Ever more sweeping changes are coming. Legislation will shortly be rushed through Parliament massively increasing powers of law enforcement, potentially moving to suspend freedom of association, and even drafting the army into facilitating everyday life.

While some have been clamouring for this action for weeks and all understand its temporary nature, there is a danger that Government could pocket some of the powers behind any more totalitarian moves to use another time. This cannot be allowed to happen.

As the chancellor was keen to point out in his budget statement last week, this crisis will not last forever. The country will get through it. Once we do, it’s imperative to ensure the Government’s response to the experience has not left open any new authoritarian avenues.

It is now the duty of those who believe in small government and free people to ensure any new measures are not only seen as statutorily temporary, but culturally anomalous.

National crises are turning points in pivoting government power against individuals. Events like wars and pandemics allow the state to take command of an economy and restrict individual freedom to almost unimaginable degrees. This happens not only through legislation, but through a societal shift in what are seen to be the accepted frontiers of the state.

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