GB News anchor Neil Oliver talks about COVID-19 lockdowns and UK vaccine policy
NEIL OLIVER: For me, it’s about freedom. For me, without freedom, nothing makes sense. So remove all the numbers, all the statistics, all the patterns and predictions, all the promises and threats; all steel hand in velvet glove coercion. Take away all of that. For me, it all comes down to something simple.
I declare that I am a free man.
I was born 54 years ago in one part of the world, a relatively small part of the world, where I was taught that my freedom had been won by men and women who had fought and died to achieve it. I was born just 22 years after WWII, into a world still full of those men and women who fought for my freedom and lived to tell the tale.
And what a story it was. It had started with the sudden appearance of a force bent toward tyranny. Of course, the sudden appearance was an optical illusion. In truth, that force had been building and making plans for years before she was ready to pull the trigger. It is worth remembering that this force believed that it was prepared to make the world a better place, a glorious place.
When that force began to move, it seemed like nothing could stop it. And at the beginning of the fight to avoid the victory of that tyranny, it was a minority – a minority outgunned and yelled at by their fellow citizens – who feared that deals could be made with the tyranny, who stood up and shouted no . The English writer Mervyn Peake said, “Living is miracle enough.”
It’s a good line and I’ve been quoting it for years, but now I see that just living isn’t enough, far from it. A caged bird is alive but without the freedom to fly in the boundless sky, it is denied everything a bird does in the first place. Being alive is not enough. The important thing is to live in freedom. A bird is such a fragile creature. It’s really just about movement. Take away the movement of a bird and it’s a handful of feathers and air.
Freedom is not negotiable. Either you are free or you are not.
Freedom is not even secure. Those who have been imprisoned are often terrified of freedom. All those choices, all our personal responsibility. That’s why ex-cons often reoffend, so they can go back to bars where they feel safest, out of harm’s way.
I have three children. They are almost growing. All teenagers. Often, I think I would like to have them close to me forever, where I can prevent them from doing stupid things, dangerous things. If he kept them in the house, no stranger would hurt them, but that would not be life. Not for them and not even for me. I would be their jailer and they would be my caged birds.
As it happens, this past year and a half has allowed me to see what happens to children who are kept safe at home. It’s not good, it’s not good at all, so if I didn’t know before, now I know I have to let them go into a world that is full of all kinds of things, including danger.
Here’s the thing, if your freedom means you could get COVID, so be it. If my freedom means you could catch COVID from me, so be it. Honestly, that’s what I see. For the sake of freedom, yours and mine together, I will happily risk COVID.
That is an opportunity. One among many that I am willing to take and happily. Life is not safe, freedom is not safe. For the sake of freedom, yours and mine together, both freedoms being of equal value, I will happily risk much more.
It is summer now, the time to remember the Battle of Britain. The part of the story that moves me the most has Churchill in Oxbridge in the operations room of Group # 11, charged with defending London and the South East. The sky above them is full of fighter jets and bombers. Churchill asks Air Vice Marshall Keith Park about the reserves, how many planes and pilots he has in reserve, ready to take the place of those already committed. “All the planes and men that we have are in the air right now,” Park said. “There is no reservation.”
Those Spitfires and Hurricanes were piloted by men and also by children who hadn’t gotten out of school much. They risked everything for freedom. Mine and yours. One last measure of devotion.
I can’t be sure, but I don’t think they fought and died so that the government could seize that freedom like a deck of cards, dealing them one by one to those deemed worthy. I believe they fought for the unconditional freedom of every man, woman and child. That is what I think.
I’ve been reading about people calling other people who have not chosen to get vaccinated, “plague rats.” I have read about people calling for plague rats to be detained and locked out of sight.
Now another Battle of Britain is being fought. It is being fought by a minority, outgunned and screaming, by those who would accept the freedom granted by parliamentarians on the condition that they do what they are told. That is not freedom, it is tyranny. And I, for my part, will not live under that yoke.
As I have done all my life, I salute a few. Hope to see you on the other side.