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Our freedoms are under a sustained assault

By Philip Davies MP

Our freedoms are under a sustained assault at the moment. Not a week goes by it seems without some further curtailment to our precious liberty.

Even putting COVID regulations aside, the whole “Government knows best” approach to life seems to now be an ever-present feature of all governments and we have even seen Conservative governments doing things that Labour governments had not. One example is the legislation that is going through Parliament at the moment which will lead to a ban on daytime TV and online advertising for what the Government describes as “less healthy food or drink products”.  

The Government also intends to prohibit the displaying of food considered to be high in fat, salt and sugar in prominent locations in some stores - such as at checkouts or aisle ends - and stop shops offering ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ types of deals. 

The “less healthy” foods they are targeting not only include items that you might think the health zealots would have their eye on but also yoghurts, sandwiches and cereals. As I always say, it is not even food that is unhealthy in its own right - it is an individual’s overall diet and exercise regime that ultimately matter.

Surely we should be free to choose what we want to eat without any interference and parents should decide what is best for their children. That certainly used to be Conservative philosophy and not this nanny state approach.  

Members of The Freedom Association thankfully still believe in limited government because that is one of the ways to best protect our freedoms. Big governments want to interfere all the time and big governments have a habit of growing and growing - because of their very nature - into mega governments, getting involved with more and more aspects of our lives. To make matters worse they then make us pay for all this with higher taxes – further reducing our freedom to spend our own money as we see fit.

Yet not only is this current government health strategy one that is anti-freedom, it is anti-business and also anti-consumer as people could end up paying more for their food. 

The potential economic damage that these plans will cause to the food and drink sector is estimated by some to be in excess of £3 billion. After many businesses have been forced to shut or trade at limited capacity for months on end since March 2020, these plans add insult to injury for business owners.  

Inevitably the group of consumers that could be hit hardest by the new measures will be those on low incomes - who spend a greater proportion of their incomes on food and drink than average - as an assessment made by the Government itself has accepted.

The Government is also issuing various diktats which restrict individual freedom with either little or no evidence that such policies even work.

That is certainly the case here as there is not much evidence that they will actually achieve anything – except add another nail in the coffin of freedom. By the Government’s own admission what they are proposing is not likely to make much of a difference. For example, the evidence note behind the banning of daytime advertising on the so-called “less healthy” foods says that the effect would be to reduce the calorie intake of children by 2.09 calories a day. Yes – just over 2 calories a day – the equivalent of about half a carrot a week! 

The Government has said that they are concerned about children who are already obese having 500 calories a day more than they should so how on earth is 2 calories less going to make any difference? I really do despair at this justification for taking away people’s right to choose for themselves without interference.

As is often the case, there can also be unintended consequences of this kind of action. One example here is that without the money generated from advertising revenue, it will be more difficult for businesses to invest in reformulating to create healthier products. This would obviously be counter-productive to the Government’s intended strategy. 

Also, all products which have the misfortune to be labelled “less healthy” will be subject to the same restrictions despite the fact that clearly some products labelled that way will naturally be better for you than others.

Another issue is mission creep. The more we give in to the health zealots, and allow the heavy-handed arm of government more control over our lives, the more freedoms they will seek to take away from us. They will not stop – just as they have never stopped in the past. The more you give, the more they want. The army inside government is also self-fulfilling – the more people there are tasked with public health the more proposals you will have to change the law to give us even less control over our lives because they obviously know best.

I, for one, am more than fed up with all these bossy, interfering, anti-freedom policies and their unintended consequences. 

As Margaret Thatcher said, we want limited government “in which the State is servant not master, custodian not collaborator, umpire not player”.

I obviously believe that freedom is worth fighting for wherever it is being eroded and I will do my best in Parliament to oppose these measures whenever they rear their ugly head. 

The Freedom Association is needed as much now as ever to, amongst other things, counter the anti-freedom march of the health zealots and to make the case for individual liberty and consumer choice.

Philip Davies is the Conservative MP for Shipley. He serves on the Management Committee and Council of The Freedom Association.

Andrew Allison in conversation with Philip Davies MP - Lockdown restrictions must end

Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns for The Freedom Association, chatted to Philip Davies MP. Philip is the Conservative MP for Shipley and serves on The Freedom Association's Council and Management Committee. They talked about the damaging lockdown restrictions and how the Government should end them, not only for the sake of the economy, but for people's health and wellbeing in general.

To watch the podcast on YouTube, click here

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WATCH Lockdowns: the case against

The Rt. Hon Esther McVey MP and Philip Davies MP argue the case against lockdowns. They are damaging, not only to the economy, but to the overall health and well-being of the country. This was a Freedom Association webinar which took place on Tuesday 8th December 2020. It was chaired by David Nuttall, a former MP for Bury North.

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Hard-won basic freedoms are at serious risk for many years to come

The following is a guest post by Philip Davies MP. Philip is the Conservative MP for Shipley, and is a member of The Freedom Association's Council and Management Committee.

If anyone had said a year ago that in Britain, in 2020, it would apparently be “normal” to be told we could not meet up with family and friends in our own homes when we liked in the numbers we liked, that shops, businesses and sporting venues would be ordered to close by the Government, that there would be a curfew imposed on restaurants and bars (assuming that they were even allowed to open in the first place), that we would all be wearing face coverings unless we carried an exemption card and that, for breaching these rules being enforced by state sponsored snitches, we would be breaking the law - you would have thought they had completely and utterly lost the plot. 

Being asked as an MP to support measures before Parliament which dictate that “No person may leave or be outside of the place where they are living without reasonable excuse” goes way beyond any of my wildest nightmares of possibility for the state of freedom in this country.

Yet this is exactly what has happened. 

I have been shocked at how easily people have had their freedoms taken away from them. Some people may not have considered it to be such a big deal at the beginning – even just thought it to be a very temporary inconvenience – but it is now as plain as day the extent to which some of our most basic freedoms have been usurped. Once we entered this unfortunate state, the question was always going to be how on Earth we were ever going to get out of it given the Government’s reasons for getting us into it in the first place.  

People have been scared witless by all the coverage and talk of COVID-19. I do not blame them for being very concerned. We have had a Tweedle-glum and Tweedle-never-glee constantly on hand to point out all the worst-case scenarios. Then there has been the reciting of all the death statistics without much in the way of context followed by the scary projections about hospitals being unable to cope. All this despite the figures increasingly being disputed and the actual position in hospitals not being necessarily unusual especially when, in previous years, we have also seen tens of thousands of excess winter deaths – not least from flu and pneumonia.

I also have huge concerns about the actual real level of excess deaths caused solely by COVID-19. There is the question as to whether or not someone would have actually sadly died from something else instead. In addition, I believe that there have been occasions when a death has been counted as a COVID-19 death when, in fact, the person actually died of another cause. This is over and above the already revised-down figures that were produced after it was revealed that the official numbers being broadcast daily on news channels and in briefings earlier this year had included everyone who died of anything at all as a COVID-19 death if they had ever tested positive for the virus at any time previously.

If the real picture were known, I imagine we would conclude that the risks are actually less still but, even using the official figures for now, these facts are what should be informing people’s own choices – not the nanny-knows-best approach of the Government.

During a virtual meeting I had with Professor Whitty, he confirmed that the overall mortality rate from COVID-19 is thought to be between 0.4 and 1%.  Probably 0.7%. Possibly even less. Of those over 80, the chances of dying are 1 in 10, and, of course, other conditions being present are a major factor. As all the figures show, the chances of dying at younger ages is very, very low indeed. 

We are constantly being told that people who have COVID-19 - but do not know they have it - could be infecting vulnerable people without realising.  This “kill your granny” argument seems to be the trump card of those keen to have us all under some degree of effective house arrest.  Of course nobody wants to kill their granny, or anyone else for that matter, but these things need to be a matter of individual choice.

I believe it should be up to my 77-year-old Mum to decide whether she wants to meet up with her grandchildren – bearing in mind any potential risk involved. I know that she, and many other people in even more at-risk categories, are very clear that they should be able to make their own decisions. In most cases, spending time with their families is definitely worth any risk as far as they are concerned – as not doing so is unthinkable. 

On the other hand, those who take a different view of the virus and want to be more cautious should be equally free to do so. If people do not want to mix socially, do not want to stay in a restaurant past a certain time or choose to isolate themselves completely for whatever reason at all then that should be entirely a matter for them. People should be free to do as little or as much as they want - it is their life.

In fact, a Government’s missive to those in the very vulnerable category regarding the changes to the ongoing restrictions over Christmas, says:

“Forming a Christmas bubble is a personal choice and should be balanced against the increased risk of infection.”

Why can’t this approach apply across the board?  Freedom (albeit still very restricted here) should not just be for Christmas.

Those who want to shield themselves should be able to do so with support and help from others if needed and those who do not should be able to resume normal life now.

The sight of the sons being told they could not comfort their grieving mother at their own father’s funeral a little while ago just sums up how inhumane the current approach is. The fact that the official at the funeral thought it was the right thing to do shows how far we are moving away from the land of hope and glory to the land of fear and misery.

Talking of all this being inhumane, where are all the usual human rights agitators? The very ones who are always so keen to support the right to family life for murderers and terrorists. Where are they fighting for the right to family life for the millions of law-abiding people in this country who simply want to meet up with their families but are being told that they will be breaking the law if they do?

It is the British spirit not the Official spirit that should be leading the way in these difficult times.

We need to get back to a situation where the scientists are there to advise, not decide. If the scientists ran the country with the sole mission of eliminating avoidable deaths and stopping the NHS being over-run (as they seem to be wholly focusing on with COVID-19) they would surely ban everything we enjoyed that wasn’t risk-free – tobacco, alcohol and cars for starters, not to mention foods deemed at any time not to be perfectly healthy. We would all be mandated to be immunised against anything and everything, prevented from taking part in all sports that have an element of risk and stopped from travelling to other countries that might not be as safe as Britain. The list of prohibitions would be endless and the freedom to live our lives as we want would be replaced by endless Government diktats.

That would be unthinkable.

Winston Churchill had it right when he said:

“Scientists should be on tap, but not on top.”

Yet these scientists and the whole sheer panic that has been cultivated over COVID-19 seems to have somehow managed to persuade people that they should be prepared to be locked up in their own homes to await further instructions on their life from the Government. Whether you agreed with the first lockdown, or the massive restrictions we have had to endure, or not, does not really matter now – we are where we are. In effect, it is like starting again each day. Whilst we may now hopefully have a vaccine that is apparently mainly effective to gradually offer people, the virus is still here and what happens if we get a new coronavirus – COVID-21 or COVID-22 and so on? We certainly cannot carry on effectively shutting down the country every time something like this happens.

I believe people were prepared to give the Government the benefit of the doubt at the beginning. However, they are not stupid, and the longer this has gone on the more they have come to oppose and question what they are being told to do.  

They are also waking up to the fact that the Government’s random rules restricting our most basic of freedoms are not even based on the science we’ve all been told they were following in some cases – for example when it comes to the number of people who can meet up, the arbitrary curfews, the loss of the right to run one business compared to another and the bizarre application of different restrictions based on huge areas and not on local facts. There is literally no basis at all for some of these decisions it seems and many just do not make any sense. People are getting increasingly fed up with all these erratic edicts and of being told what they can and cannot do every day.

As Margaret Thatcher said:

“….the state must be the servant of the people and not the master. There must be no drift into paternalism. Paternalism is the enemy of freedom and responsibility. Although it adopts a smiling, human face it is like all kinds of interventionist government….”

We must learn the lessons of this year - and fast. We cannot keep preventing people – by law – from living their lives as they see fit. Otherwise we will just be carrying on with this failing approach which will undoubtedly ruin the overall health and wealth of our great country and put our cherished, hard-won basic freedoms at serious risk for many, many years to come. 


WATCH Philip Davies MP and the Rt. Hon Esther McVey MP argue the case against lockdowns in a Freedom Association webinar held on Tuesday 8th December. To watch it, click on the image below. 

We cannot go through more months of this misery. The human and economic costs are too great. The cure is worse than the disease.

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns

In the East Riding of Yorkshire, where I live, we entered the lockdown on 5th November in Tier 2. We will leave the lockdown next week in Tier 3. This is despite falling rates of infections which were happening before the Government decided to lockdown down the country for a second time. If you try and look for logic in the Government’s decision making process, you won’t find it. 

I can travel from my home to Stratford-upon-Avon, over 150 miles away, and never leave a Tier 3 area. I can drive from my home to Lancaster, a journey of 140 miles, and also never leave a Tier 3 area. Millions of people are affected by decisions which resemble the Partition of India. 

The Government is effectively killing the hospitality industry. Pubs and restaurants in Tier 3 areas which rely on the pre-Christmas trade to get them through the rest of the year will have been closed since 5th November. Many will never reopen again. 

Those pubs which do not serve food in Tier 2 areas are banned from opening. Many of those will never reopen again. But even those pubs which do serve food are not going to see a rush of customers through their doors. If you live in a Tier 2 area you cannot have a meal and a drink with anyone outside your household bubble. Ministers appear to be so out of touch that they don’t realise that people want to meet friends and family outside their bubbles. It’s what makes life worth living, especially at Christmas. And pubs and restaurants have done everything they can to make their premises Covid safe. Pubs and restaurants are safe places to meet - much safer than people meeting in homes, yet they are being beaten across the head with the bluntest of instruments. 

Conservative MP for Shipley and Freedom Association Management Committee Member, Philip Davies, told the Telegraph and Argus, his local newspaper, that being in Tier 3 is “desperate for the local economy, particularly for the hospitality industry, it is absolutely catastrophic.” He went on to say that his “heart goes out to the businesses and the people working for them. It’s desperate for them. This will absolutely be the final straw for many of them. It is an absolute scandal. It is not going to be a happy Christmas for all those businesses that have been destroyed and for the people losing their jobs.”

I have said this before and I will say it again: the Government has to rethink its strategy. Protect the vulnerable if they want to shield, but they shouldn’t be forced to do so. Loneliness is a killer and many older people have had very little social interaction for the past eight months. But younger people need social interaction, too. The number of people suffering from depression is skyrocketing. 

When the economy tanks, human misery follows. Businesses close, millions of people face unemployment, and hundreds of thousands of people may lose their home. The economy puts a roof over your head, puts food on the table, and clothes you and your children. We cannot go through more months of this misery. The human and economic costs are too great. The cure is worse than the disease. 



COMMENT: Ministers are blind to the appalling human costs of lockdown

Writing for the Conservatives Global website, Andrew Allison commented that ministers are blind to the human cost of its lockdown measures.

"There were many great speeches opposing the new lockdown in the House of Commons on 4th November, but there were three which collectively summed up my reasons for opposing the Government’s latest restrictions. They were from Philip Davies, Huw Merriman, and Bob Neill – all Conservative MPs. 

"But before I start, I want to tell you a story. When MPs started to debate the new lockdown, I was having lunch with my wife at a lovely French restaurant in Beverley. Our wonderful and attentive waiter gave us an insight on what it is like to run a restaurant when the Government is constantly changing the rules."

Click HERE to read the article in full. 

A home truth to Remoaner MPs from Philip Davies

Remoaner MPs - those who willingly handed over power to Brussels without the bat of an eyelid - were told a home truth by Freedom Association Council member, Philip Davies MP, last week. Watch the video to find out more. 


Philip Davies MP sends a message to Remoaners in Parliament

Watch Freedom Association Council member Philip Davies give a message to Remoaners in Parliament in the form of a question to the Prime Minister. 

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Freedom Association Council Member, Philip Davies MP, questions the Prime Minister about sharia courts

Official_portrait_of_Philip_Davies_crop_2.jpgAt Prime Minister's Questions today, Freedom Association Council member Phillip Davies MP asked Theresa May the following question:

"Last year, I attended a meeting in the House of Lords organised by the wonderful Cross-Bench peer and human rights campaigner Baroness Cox, at which three very brave women told us their harrowing tales of how they had been treated and discriminated against by sharia councils. It is amazing how noisy feminists in this place are so quiet about this issue, given that women are being discriminated against so blatantly in this country. Is it not time that this alternative, discriminatory form of justice was no longer tolerated in this country?"

Read more


The Sun has reported today that a cross-party group of MPs held a meeting with James Harding, Head of BBC News, earlier this week to discuss the corporation's anti-Brexit bias. Amongst those MPs attending were Kate Hoey, Philip Davies, and Ian Paisley Jr. 

I looked at BBC bias in this post last week, so it is welcome news that some MPs have voiced their concern in a private meeting. It is shocking that BBC Radio 4 listeners are two and a half times more likely to hear a pro-EU speaker than an anti-EU one. 

The BBC has issued a statement following the meeting, saying: 

“BBC News listens to and reflects all points of view and remains committed to covering developments in a fair and impartial manner.”

In other words, no change.