Let us be clear from the start: the case, the whole case, and nothing but the case for the introduction covid vaccine passports rests on a single premise: that covid vaccination reduces the risk of onward transmission of covid–19 by vaccinated individuals. That is the alpha and the omega in the Empire of the Covid Passport Tsar. If folk, be they vaccinated or unvaccinated, are as likely the catch covid from a vaccinated individual as they to catch it from an unvaccinated individual, then there is no case for covid vaccine passport. The Covid Passport Tsar has no clothes, and more importantly, he has no evidence, and stands revealed as the model tyrant from Albert Camus’ 1950s observation: ‘Le bien-être du peuple en particulier a toujours été l’alibi des tyrans, et il offre de plus l’avantage de donner bonne conscience aux domestiques de la tyrannie‘ (The well-being of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it offers the additional advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience).
In Germany, in the 1930s, you had to wear a yellow star, if the state deemed you unclean. In Britain, in 2021, a number of leading universities have pretty much done the same thing. The University of Bath’s Student Union, among others taking similar action, has issued coloured wristbands to students indicating covid vaccination status. Those deemed clean will get fast track entry to Freshers’ Week events, while the unclean will have to make alternative arrangements, and suffer segregation at entry, or even be refused entry at all. That a bunch of likely Trotskyite zombies posing as student union officials should dream up a controlling and coercive scheme comes as no surprise; of far greater surprise and concern is the fact — if a student union spokesperson is to be believed — that the “fast-track wristband has been the overwhelmingly popular choice with our students”. It’s a wonder that spokesperson didn’t add that “model individuals will be commended in accordance with regulations, and extensive publicity will be conducted through the news media to create a trustworthy and glorious student opinion atmosphere”. To which Dr No can only add: this time, the turkeys really have voted for Christmas.
The vexed question of domestic covid immunity passports remains in the balance. The general tone and drift of the government is that they are going to happen. Yesterday’s ID card munching journalist is today’s prime minister, ordering passport trials to go ahead. A recent Roadmap Review published by the government noted that covid immunity passports are ‘likely to become a feature of our lives until the threat from the pandemic recedes’, and that they ‘could have an important role to play…as a temporary measure’. At the same time, retailers and the hospitality sector have recoiled against the idea, even though the majority of their customers want them. Rather late in the day, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has come out with a mealy mouthed ‘can have a role, but important to strike the right balance’ type statement that merely adds more mud to the already turbid waters. A while back, the Royal Society produced a similar sitting on the fence report. On twitter, covid immunity passport nuts queue up to post ‘TBH, I don’t really want to eat in the same places as anti vaccine loons’ and ‘the only people refusing [vaccines] are idiots, if two-tier society means less idiots around me I’m fine with that’. Truly, we are already a nation divided — and about to be ruled.
“Model individuals will be commended in accordance with regulations, and extensive publicity will be conducted through the news media to create a trustworthy and glorious public opinion atmosphere.”State Council of the People’s Republic of China (2014)Heartening as it is to hear some political opposition to covid passports, even if some of the opponents are a mixed bag of chancers and free-loaders, it still seems — assuming the polls are right — the majority of the Britons favour the introduction of covid passports for a wide range of broadly defined social activities. Expressed opposition, on the other hand, is low, never more than one in four of those polled. If the public gets what it wants, which seems likely, given the Tories’ penchant for policy that pushes on open doors, then Franklin’s ‘Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety’ will have finally achieved in full its true modern meaning.
Watching the first spell-binding episode of Adam Curtis’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head, Dr No was repeatedly struck by the revelation that modern humans are giant biped ants. We live in colonies, ruled over preposterous queens — Jiang Qing, Mao’s fourth wife, and key player in the China’s Cultural Revolution, got a lot of air time in the first episode — and organise ourselves by the division of labour. We have workers (the likes of Dr No, and most of you), soldiers (our NHS frontline heroes) and drones (politicians and the mainstream media). Colonies readily attack other colonies, be it the maskers attacking the anti-maskers, or the lockdown fanatics attacking the lockdown sceptics. Like ants, we swarm, and frankly, the only discernable difference that Dr No could make out between a swarm of ants and a swarm of humans is that the ants know exactly where they are going, while the humans don’t have a clue.