Richard Drax and COVID-19

Dire metrics

Yesterday, just into the new year, 1041 deaths from Covid-19 were recorded in the United Kingdom. These victims of Covid-19 had died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.

The daily number of news cases hit a new high of 62,322.

3,587 people were admitted to hospitals in England known to be suffering from Covid-19 – the highest number recorded so far since the start of the pandemic. (1)

The respected Health Services Journal today, January 7, reported that a leaked National Health Service England briefing reveals that London will be overwhelmed by the virus in a fortnight. (2)

The Guardian reported today (3) that half of the residents of a care home in East Sussex had died of Covid-19 over Christmas. More than a third of the staff had also tested positive. Residents had died either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Care home tragedy

Adam Hutchinson, the Managing Director of the company running the care home said “it was an awful Christmas and terrible for the staff. It is just unstoppable. We are sitting ducks”.

His anguish about the Pandemic is palpable.

The naysayers to lockdown

Yet Richard Drax, Conservative MP for South Dorset, together with Sir Desmond Swayne, Conservative MP for the New Forest and Sir Robert Syms, Conservative MP for Poole, voted against the Lockdown measures passed yesterday in the Commons, passed by 524 votes to 16.

Swayne, who has been featured on Channel 4 News expressing his opposition to Lockdowns, described them as a “complete failure”, whilst Syms said that the measures were “a blank cheque for three months for Public Health England to do what they wish”.

Swayne condemned the Government for being “completely in a thrall” to a “lobby” in favour of Lockdowns – he spoke of the economy suffering “disastrous” consequences as a result of Lockdown restrictions, and of firms being “saddled with debt”. (4)

Richard Drax’s Covid-19 record

There is no report of anything Richard Drax may have said yesterday in the Commons. Yet last year he made his views about Lockdowns clear to his fellow MPs in the Commons on a number of occasions.

On the 15th of October 2020, Richard Drax asserted that the Government’s policy was “to continue shutting down our country’s economy to a greater or lesser extent, destroying the lives and livelihood of millions of people until a vaccine is found”.

He added “(that) may never happen, and even if it does, there is no guarantee that it will work”. (5)

Spending spree

On the third of November 2020, Richard Drax spoke of the costs of furlough and welfare. He spoke of a “spending spree” and of the hurt done to the private sector by lockdowns. The costs of the Pandemic should not be met by taxing companies, entrepreneurs, small businesses and the self-employed.

Great Barrington Declaration – “we must accept a certain number of deaths”.

Richard Drax said that he was a signatory to the Great Barrington Declaration, (6) and that “sadly, we must expect a certain number of deaths”.

The Declaration, initiated by the American Institute for Economic Research, a free market think tank in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, one which denies the seriousness of Climate Change, (7) has been very largely discredited by informed opinion. (8)

He said that services in the NHS should have been expanded – which is heartening – yet he also implied deliberate obfuscation on the part of official sources so far as the “numbers of deaths caused by lockdown” were concerned.

He reaffirmed his belief towards the end of his speech that lock downs were “destructive, divisive and (did) … not work”. He questioned the “direction of travel of the Government” which he again said “clearly … (was) not working”. (9)

“(We) must learn to live with it”.

Richard Drax spoke about the Covid-19 Winter Plan on the 23rd of November 2020 and on Covid-19 issues on the first of December 2020.

On the latter occasion, after making a reference to Churchill’s wartime speeches, he said that “the good people of this country … have been force fed an hourly depressant that has left them compliant and mute”. He spoke of how “we are watched, warned, fined and arrested” as a result of the imposition of Lockdown restrictions.

He spoke of how lockdowns caused infection rates to fall, and that they rose again when lockdowns were relaxed. We knew “this virus well – well enough to learn to live with it”.

He said, “We are being lured into tiers like a child to the dentist with a promise of better times to come”.

Until the vaccines coming on stream were proven to work, “we must simply stop digging a hole that we find hard to get out of”. (10)

What will a future historian say?

It is true that Richard Drax has spoken in favour of the NHS having more services, in support of daily testing of someone “if they have been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive” (11) and in favour of test and trace and has welcomed vaccines (12) – yet his opposition to lockdowns remains a point of concern.

His concerns about individual freedoms being imposed upon, about the costs of furlough (“spending spree”) and his belief that a “certain number of deaths” have to be accepted will surely be hard to accept on the part of those who have lost loved ones, and whose lives are now at risk.

The United Kingdom has spent more money on fighting Covid-19 than many other countries to markedly less effect. The metrics are dire. There are accusations of incompetence, corruption, and cronyism.

Covid-19 is shining a harsh light upon all aspects of our troubled and increasingly unequal nation.

Future historians will look hard at how our politicians and representatives faced up to this terrible challenge.

Richard Drax, along with his 11 fellow Conservative, and 4 Democratic Unionist colleagues, will surely merit more than a foot note.



(1) The Guardian, Wednesday January 6 2021

(2) Health Services Journal, AM Edition, Thursday January 7 202



(5) Citation, House of Commons Debates, 15 October 2020, c546

(6) The Declaration advocates focused protection against Covid-19 of those most at risk and seeks to avoid or minimise the use of lock downs.

(7) For example, one of its papers is entitled “Brazilians Should Keep Slashing Their Rainforests”, and another “What Greta Thunberg Forgets About Climate Change”.

(8) For example, the expert reaction set out concisely by the Science Media

(9) Citation, House of Commons Debates, 3 November 2020, c71WH

(10) Citation, House of Commons Debates, 1 December 2020, c257

(11) Citation, House of Commons Debates, 23 November 23 2020, c615

(12) Citation, House of Commons Debates, 23 November 23 2020, c615