Wise people are urging caution. Our ministers are responding with reckless indifference to the people of this country.

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It is rare that the difference between politics and the scientific method is so starkly seen as it is this weekend.

I read a great deal about coronavirus because of its impact on the economy. Those whose scientific opinion on this issue has been shown to be persistently reliable are speaking as if with one voice today. They are saying that this is the moment to assume Omicron is a serious threat to human health and to behave as if that is a known fact.

The available evidence combined with previous experience and the known behaviour pattern of mutations in viruses all suggests that this is the only reasonable assumption to make right now. The consequence is that they advise compulsory masks; social distancing; working from home; placing conditions, including on ventilation, on school and university opening; and restrictions on public gatherings. This is what is appropriately called the precautionary principle in use.

Government politicians are taking a very different view. They have already been recklessly indifferent to those coming in from South Africa, who are being allowed to move into the UK unchecked and untraced. Masks are only being required from Tuesday. Johnson could not even bring himself to say that in his press conference. And mask wearing is only required in decidedly limited circumstances. Apparently we can get Covid on trains and in supermarkets but not pubs, schools and workplaces. Sajid Javid was quite explicit today that people should not work at home. The message is ‘wait and see for three weeks until we have some firm data’. By then, as bitter experience has proven, it will be too late if action is required.

So let me just say it. The precautionary principle means that sometimes we can be too careful. I acknowledge the fact. In this case the choice is between being too careful for three weeks and savings maybe tens of thousands of lives that might be directly or indirectly via NHS incapacity lost to this virus, or being reckless and see the situation get much worse as a result, with an outside chance that this might have been a storm in a teacup. I go with precaution.

The reason we have and use precautionary principles - daily, throughout our lives and right across society - is that we value life and choose to take steps to protect lives, including those lives that might never need protection because we cannot identify in advance those who might be at risk. To use a simple analogy, we all use safety belts knowing that the vast majority of us will, thankfully, never be saved by one.

The government is choosing not to use a precautionary principle this weekend. We are instead all being used as the crash dummies in the equivalent of seat belt testing. And if it is then found that we need protective measures taking them will be much harder because the virus grows exponentially, with massive hazard arising as a result.

The opposite of the precautionary principle is not ‘let’s see how things go’, because we have ample evidence to know that they might go very badly in this case. We have learned that over the last two years. That opposite can only, instead, be described as recklessness.

Once more in the face of the desire to save the commercial feast of Christmas recklessness is to be pursued at the potential cost of tens of thousands of lives in the New Year.

If we had never seen this happen before such reckless indifference  might be supportable by some. But we have seen this before. We know what can happen. And we know it can be prevented. In that case that reckless indifference becomes culpable.

That is where we are. We have seen that our politicians are indifferent to and are willing to politicise deaths in the English Channel that they could work to prevent. They are as obviously indifferent to deaths in the population at large. People do not matter if re-election by a minority in a fraudulent voting system can happen so that corporate profits for friends might be perpetuated.

Wise people urge precaution. Our ministers pursue corporatism at cost to the people of this country. This is the modern fascist state at work.