Waking to the hectorings of Iain Duncan Smith on the Today programme last week didn’t get my Christmas off to a good start.

Yet another hard-right Tory arguing against measures to control the spread of the Omicron variant. What did cheer me was the reply from Professor Rupert Pearse, an expert in the field of intensive care and leader of the world-renowned Critical Care and Perioperative Medicine Research Group based at Queen Mary University, London. 

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Pearse was quick to dismiss Duncan Smith’s rant: "They always ask for the evidence, the data, but when they have the data they always seem to be on the same side of the argument. Their position never seems to shift. Ask yourself why that is?"

I have and I’ll tell you at the end. But first, let’s consider why Duncan Smith’s  position doesn’t shift.

I guess he’d answer, as he did that morning, that we don’t know the ‘potency’ of the variant - whatever that means - and that the data are flawed because the health advisors ‘only model for worst case scenarios’ and so we don’t have enough evidence. Come off it.

The evidence is staring us in the face. Hundreds more hospital admissions in London in a week. Cases doubling across the UK every few days. As Professor Pearse pointed out, it’s beginning to look a lot like two years ago. Healthcare experts on the SAGE and independent SAGE committees all agree that measures are needed now if the NHS is not going to be overwhelmed again.

Then came the oft-repeated concerns for the economy; the harm that will be caused by additional public health measures.

If we don’t take preventative action now to protect people, warned Pearse, the economy will crash as it did before, forcing the government to empty the public coffers again and restart printing money. What the Tories always fail to understand is that a healthy economy needs a healthy population.

The National Wales: Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan SmithFormer Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith

Finally came Duncan Smith’s unflinching belief that vaccination and anti-viral drugs will save the day if only we put our faith in big pharma and private healthcare. And vaccines have, without doubt, saved millions of lives in rich countries in the global North. Tough luck if you’re from the South, though.

Of course, Duncan Smith would say that because he’s already hitching a ride on the Covid gravy train, thanks to his lobbying. He chaired the Task Force on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform which recommended in May 2021 that alcohol-free hand sanitiser be formally recognised for use in the UK.

Months later Duncan Smith took a job as an advisor for Byotrol, where he’d previously been a director, which now supplies the NHS with guess what? Nearly all its supplies of alcohol-free hand sanitiser. Byotrol recently reported a 600 per cent rise in pre-tax profits following ‘exceptional demand’ for its products. Duncan Smith trousers £25,000 a year in return for services rendered. He also gets a £20,000 a year bung from Tunstall Health Group, another Covid winner.

Greed. That’s why the Tory position never shifts. The evidence is beyond dispute.

Nadolig llawen i chi gyd.

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