Tuesday 12 January 2021


by Richey Edwards

I've put my name to this article for reasons that will become clear.

Tory minister Kit Malthouse has demanded that all supermarkets enforce face coverings and bar entry to anyone who refuses.  Yes, you read that correctly - a so-called 'conservative' minister has asked supermarkets to bar citizens from access to food.  As if this shocking government couldn't stoop any lower, but sadly its ability to shock is now wearing thin.

Malthouse was responding to news that Morrisons (and now Sainsburys) are to take this precise and very disturbing action regarding face coverings.

Now I'm no expert and have never claimed to be, but I am a strong believer in people practicing commonsense and raising legitimate questions when they are being told things that make little to no sense.  Remember that face coverings were not mandatory during the spring outbreak of coronavirus and were only brought in after virus levels came down.  Therefore, they did not contribute to the downfall of the virus as we went into the summer months.  That's the first key point.

Secondly, face coverings have not prevented the current outbreak.  These are facts.

This is not to say that face masks are completely useless, because there will always be idiots around who are coughing and sneezing virus particles into the air when they should be at home self-isolating or, at the very least, coughing into their sleeves.  Having said that, in the ten months of this pandemic how many people have you seen going around literally coughing in people's faces?

As someone who chooses not to wear a face covering I am still very respectful of others who are still nervous about the virus.  I keep my distance and never in a million years would I cough or sneeze - or speak, shout or sing for that matter - anywhere near someone's face or in their personal space.

I was in the post office last year and a fellow non-masker actually gave up her place in the queue to go outside and cough.  Yet the face mask zealots would have you believe that people like us are entirely selfish and ignorant scum.  A comment on our Facebook page a few months ago actually referred to non-maskers as 'murderers' and said we 'should be locked up'.  Why hold back?  Why not take the next step and have us shot against the wall?

It remains ever puzzling to me that such sentiment is being shared by people who would otherwise see themselves as 'conservatives'.

This is one of the problem areas where masks are concerned.  If our so-called libertarian Prime Minister had resisted the clamour for greater restrictions then real conservatives may have been more co-operative.  For instance, I may have opted to wear a face mask on public transport if the choice was mine, but the government decided to make that choice for me.  Sorry, but that is not the conservative or libertarian way.  The moment that the word 'mandatory' was deployed the government lost my support.

One of the last polls we conducted before Facebook removed them
suggested a big divide in opinion

Ironically, as an asthmatic I am both fortunate and potentially cursed.  It was my asthma combined with a bombardment of scaremongering 24/7 news stories that made me extremely nervous during the first lockdown.  Those that have followed us throughout the pandemic will know that we wholeheartedly threw our support behind the government at a time when not much was known about the virus.  However, we have both since come to the realisation that all is not as it seems and this is borne out in an array of statistics from the NHS and Office for National Statistics (statistics that are conveniently not presented by politicians or broadcasters).

My asthma may increase my coronavirus mortality beyond 1 per cent, but that says it all, really.  Fear of this virus does not equate with the mortality rate.  It is not and has never been the plague.

Asthma may give me a technical exemption from wearing a face covering, but I would choose not to wear a muzzle regardless.  To me they are a symbol of state oppression and a hideous reminder of the fear that has transfixed so many people.  In my mind that is the reason we are told to wear them - to maintain the fear.  People who live in fear are easier to control.

In what other circumstances would we as a 'freedom-loving people' (to quote Boris, himself) accept such draconian measures and not only that, but endorse and even call for even more totalitarianism?  How many arguments have been had about wearing face coverings?  You've probably seen several violent incidents filmed and put on social media.  In each and every one the incident is sparked by a mask wearer confronting the non-mask wearer.

Now Karl feels slightly differently about masks, which is why I put my name to this.  I would describe his attitude as 'reluctant, but compliant'.  My partner, who as a medical professional is used to wearing face masks anyway, does so in the supermarket without issue.

There will be many people who will laugh out loud if I catch this virus and become sick.  That is, assuming that I haven't already had it, bearing in mind that even the government admits that this devastating virus doesn't affect a third of those who catch it.  However, this vindictive desire to inflict pain and suffering on people for merely espousing a different point of view is, again, not the conservative way.  In any case, as someone who works from home and goes to the supermarket maybe once a week I am very unlikely to catch it as a result of not wearing a face mask.

This article has been a long time coming, but talk of tightening the rules around face masks was the final straw.  I hasten to add that this doesn't mean we will now start pumping out anti-mask material, as this would not necessarily represent our combined view.  This is my one piece on face coverings, assuming that they will one day be consigned to history.

I hope that you will respect my right to an opinion and to have the courage of my convictions, regardless of whether or not you think I'm right.  That is, after all, the free society we as conservatives (small and big 'c') once aspired to.

Face covering exemption cards (print for your own use)

Foldable card

PS. remember you don't have to wear these around your neck like some people do.  I never wear mine, but carry it in my pocket.  I have yet to be asked to produce it - in fact I have rarely been asked about a face mask at all, except in the pub.  That may change next time I go to Morrisons, but for me the wearing of a card is no better than having to wear a mask, and just as sinister.  In fact it reminds me of the badges of shame that Jews, homosexuals and political prisoners wore in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.