One of the best speeches in the Public Health debate in the House of Commons yesterday was delivered by Sir Charles Walker, the Conservative MP for Broxbourne. We have published his speech in full below, but please watch him deliver it. It is worth three minutes of your time.
I cannot support this legislation. I cannot support criminalising a parent for seeing their child in the park over the coming months. It is not within my DNA to do that.
Of course I will follow the law and respect the law. We have the argument in the House of Commons; the House divides and one is on the winning side or the losing side. I will be on the losing side, no doubt, but I do not wear the fact that I will support the law with great virtue, because it is easy for me to comply with the law. It is easy for most people in this House to comply with the law. We are comfortably off, we live in nice houses, we have gardens and outdoor spaces, and we have access to family. The same is true of the journalists who fill our TV screens every night with their wisdom and wit about how people should comply with these regulations, and they sneer at those who cannot. But the next three months are going to be really hard for a lot of people—people who do not have my advantages of a monthly salary and a monthly pension payment. They will be worrying about their job, their future, their mental health and their family relationships, because they will miss people terribly. They will be living in small environs that apparently they can leave only to exercise once a day. Sadly, some of those people will break. It will be too much for them. That is when we in this place—and the journalists up there in the Gallery with all their privileges—instead of sneering and dismissing them and calling them “covidiots” should show some compassion and understanding. We should wear our advantages and privileges with great humility.
I do not want to hear from another constituent who is having a good lockdown. I am really pleased that they are, but my voice is for those who are not: for those of my friends, neighbours and constituents who are struggling day in, day out, whose mental health is not in a healthy state, but has deteriorated, and who are wondering how, in the next few months, in the middle of winter, they will cope.
I ask colleagues and people out there who are so fortunate to show some compassion and understanding for those who are not so fortunate.