Six questions for Conservative leadership candidates

RECOVERY is keen to see the two contenders for the leadership of the Conservative Party, and hence the position of Prime Minister, give clear explanations on where they stand on the issues of lockdowns and restrictions as a policy for pandemic response. We have therefore drafted these questions as guidance to help any Conservative Party members attending hustings who have the opportunity to ask either or both candidates what their positions are. Naturally they are only a guide and can be altered to suit what supporters wish to ascertain. 

(1) Looking at the appalling impact of fear and isolation on mental health and school closures on education, we can see the damage caused by Covid restrictions extended far beyond lockdowns. Do you accept Lockdowns were a mistake and have created larger problems compared to any limited gains they provided?

(2) With the NHS already in crisis through a massive lockdown backlog and calls for further restrictions a certainty this autumn, will you commit to a rigorous and transparent cost-benefit assessment of any proposed restriction before decisions are made?

(3) The Covid Inquiry has in effect junked its own terms of reference from the Government to reconstitute itself as a series of mini-Inquiries, writing its own brief for each in a way which will mean it focuses for years solely on the case for restrictions. If elected, will you revisit the Inquiry and ensure it follows a balanced approach so that costs and benefits of restrictions are assessed concurrently, as they should be?

(4) In March 2020, Ofcom sent instructions to broadcasters telling them they could not allow criticism of Government Covid restrictions without facing statutory sanction, ensuring key criticisms of restrictions were rarely heard. We can now see in hindsight much of the censored criticism to be both accurate and important. This guidance has never been officially rescinded and now the Online Harms Bill proposes to give broadcasters additional powers to also restrict online debate should a pandemic occur again. Would you instruct Ofcom to rescind this guidance and institute an independent review into whether Ofcom adequately performed its statutory duty of upholding free speech during the covid years of 2020-22? 

(5) Overall, do you believe the Government did too much or too little in terms of restrictions during 2020-22? 

(6) Many MPs and Peers raised concerns about how Pandemic response decisions were taken over the past two years.  Will you commit to ensuring the need for diverse opinions and having cost-benefit analyses rather than relying on a narrow field of specialists who are not asked to consider the wider impact of what they are proposing?

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