It was, I admit, gratifying to see a recent report in the Mail refer pejoratively to “lockdown lovers” and “Covid-restriction enthusiasts”. It was one of the first times I can recall that mainstream media have used such dismissive terms of those once confusingly labelled Covid “doves”. (Why is it dove-like to forcibly close schools and businesses and incarcerate people in their homes? I was glad to see a recent article in the Atlantic get it the right way round.)
It’s not, of course, constructive to use such dismissive labels of one’s ideological opponents. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t nice to think there might be a time coming soon when it’s the fans of restrictions who will have to defend themselves against such dismissive epithets rather than us, who have opposed lockdowns throughout.
It’s all part of a recent narrative shift in the U.K. that has seen leading Government figures like Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak and Grant Shapps actively distance themselves from the restrictions they and their colleagues imposed, claiming either that they were actually opposed to them at the time or they wouldn’t do it again.
It’s been welcome, too, to see the lack of any pushback against this from politicians keen to defend lockdowns or burnish their pro-restriction credentials. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer notably did not try to make any political capital out of it by taking against the sceptical position, and it was left to out-going Prime Minister Boris Johnson to offer any kind of defence of what his Government did.