Opinions, politics, and COVID-19 lockdown

Please note: The current Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic is fast moving, and reactions to it seem to update not just day-by-day but minute-by-minute. Obviously, this site was not designed to bring you the very latest developments in a ‘breaking news’ story such as this. Instead, this site will continue to include news and opinions relating to major events, policy changes, and so on.

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I feel that there is a need to put my cards on the table, politically speaking. Yes, I am an impartial journalist, who happens to have MS, who is willing to talk to all and give everyone a right to air their own views. But when expressing my opinion on any topic of political nature, it may be important for you to know that I regard myself as being on the centre-left of the left-right political scale.

You could describe me as a liberal or, maybe, a social democrat. I am not, however, a democratic socialist nor, indeed, a socialist of any kind.

Being on the centre-left, I favour promoting equal opportunity, believing that complete equality is not possible. Instead, I feel that equal opportunity is the best we can hope to achieve.

In general, centre-left groups support:

  • A mixed economy consisting of both publicly owned or subsidized programmes of education, universal healthcare, childcare and related social services for all citizens.
  • Social security, to help counteract the effects of poverty and insure the general public against loss of income because of illness, unemployment or retirement.
  • Regulation of private enterprise to ensure labour rights, such as supporting worker access to trade unions, workers’ participation, consumer protection and fair market competition.
  • Progressive taxation to include tax breaks and subsidies for those under the poverty level.
  • Value-added tax, or a wealth tax, to fund government expenditure.

In the UK, the country of my birth, I am at home in the Liberal Democratic party. This calls for constitutional reform, including a move from the first-past-the-post voting system to proportional representation. Emphasising stronger protections for civil liberties, the party promotes socially liberal approaches to issues like LGBT rights, drug liberalisation, education policy, and criminal justice. It favours a market-based economy supplemented with social welfare spending. The party is internationalist and pro-European.

Liberty, equality and …

As a liberal, I subscribe to a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law. I support free market, free trade, limited government, individual rights (including civil rights and human rights), capitalism, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.

In the USA, I suppose that would put me in the Democratic camp. But as I am not a US voter, that hardly matters.

So, why have I said all that? Why have I bared my political soul?

Well, for two reasons really. The first is that, here, I quite often tackle subjects such as benefits for the disabled and, in doing so, am openly critical of governments. Secondly, I have just accepted a role as columnist with The Locus, an international news platform. My columns, due to start next week, will contain my forthright comments about life and events in the world.

I hope that my views will be popular and seen to be both rational and common sense. Of course, some people will have different points of view. I accept that, their opposing comments are welcome. After all, a chance to discuss and debate our differences freely is what free speech, and the freedom of the press, is all about.

Now something to keep you thinking

Today, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown, continues in most countries throughout the world. But not all countries have the same restrictions and not all are enforced to the same degree. Then attention is now beginning to turn to relaxing certain elements.

Spanish army helps enforce lockdown.

Spain has been labelled by the country’s press as having the most draconian lockdown in the world. Perhaps so, as restrictions include the closure of parks, open spaces, and beaches. Only essential travel to very few places is allowed and, of these, driving to a supermarket is limited to one person per car. Jogging, cycling, or going for a walk are all banned. Walking a dog is ok, within 50 metres of your home but you must maintain two metres (12.5 feet) social distancing.

Enforcement is strict. Police are on the streets with fixed and mobile checkpoints and, in some areas, they are reinforced by troops.

Since restrictions were announced on March 13, here in Spain lockdown has passed the 40-day mark. And the government has just approved another extension to May 10.

boris johnson

Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, is recovering from COVID-19.

In the UK, where prime minister Boris Johnson is recovering from COVID-19, lockdown does allow daily exercise with parks remaining open for that purpose. Sunbathing in parks is not allowed and social distancing must be maintained. Police are active in enforcing but, so far, I don’t know of any troop involvement in enforcement activities.

Restrictions were first announced on March 23, so lockdown has reached a month with another two weeks approved so far.

And in the land of the free

By comparison, those living in the US have had it easy. Lockdown there is a state issue, not a federal one. As such, California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order on March 19. It still allowed daily exercise and police enforcement seems a little inconsistent. Governor Newsom, though, is firm that restrictions must continue.

Anti-lockdown protesters in California.

Although they have, like the UK, just passed a month, some Californians are protesting publicly about their loss of human rights. They are demanding an end to restrictions as the economic effect will, they say, be worse than the number of deaths caused.

To paraphrase one protester, she wants to live her life as she wants. If she dies, she dies, it’s her life, we all die.

I will be returning to this last topic, of these protests, in my first opinion column in The Locus. Be sure to look out for it, next week, by clicking here.

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Spelling

Please note that being born in the UK, all my posts, are written using British English spelling.

For example:

Centre                              not center (except in names, Centers of Disease Control)                  Colour                              not color                                                                                                                      Diarrhoea                       not diarrhea                                                                                                  Haematology                not hematology                                                                                Haematopoietic          not hematopoietic

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Ian is not a doctor, so cannot and does not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely his own unless otherwise stated.

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