Column: The Corona Coup
The coronavirus pandemic is redefining the relationship between ordinary people and the state in a way unprecedented in recent times. In some countries the law is changing drastically without so much as a vote.
In the UK, the government passed a far-reaching emergency powers bill that has practically suspended liberty. One ‘libertarian’ MP was close to tears as he spoke on the bill and voiced his deep reluctance to see it turned into law. He then proceeded to vote for the bill.
Others have been less reluctant to go along with the coronavirus power-grab. The Derbyshire Police have finally been given the chance to create their very own banana republic.
The constabulary was at the centre of a scandal in the UK after they used drones to take stalker-style unsolicited footage of hikers in the Peak District and used it to shame them for exercising too far from home.
One woman was arrested and fined 660 pounds for refusing to demystify the police as to the reason she was on board a train to Newcastle. Presumably because she needed to get to Newcastle.
Elsewhere things are more serious. Some leaders are using the pandemic to implement the tinpot dictatorships they have always dreamed of. In Hungary, Viktor Orbán has is ruling by decree in a classic 1930s throwback.
The premier has given himself absolute power for an indefinite period. Spreading ‘false information’ about the pandemic has also become a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
The PM was widely criticised for this move by MEPs, with one accusing him of ‘killing democracy and the rule of law in Hungary’. While hardly anyone is yet immune the coronavirus, Orbán is certainly now immune to criticism.
In Russia, Vladimir Putin has disappeared… state television is now airing old footage of the President who has not been seen in public for some time.
Maybe they should try checking the Siberian tundra where the President is probably now riding a bear shirtless with a knife between his teeth.
But rumours have been quick to circulate that the leader has contracted the virus. This would make sense, as just the other week he was pictured shaking hands (clearly he didn’t get the memo) with a doctor who later tested positive for coronavirus.
The Russian government are launching a mass surveillance app that will see coronavirus patients tracked and monitored. Bizarrely, the Kremlin also has offered humanitarian aid to the US, sending over a plane-load full of medical supplies to that deeply impoverished country.
A return to normalcy now seems like a distant prospect. But while everyone is locked indoors, they should be wary of the state overreaching. Afterall, who can be certain that once this is over things will go back to as they were? We could be filling out forms to leave the house for years to come.