LETTERS—Keir Starmer blaming the wrong people for Covid-19 spread

socialistworker.co.uk
6 min read
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In an appearance on TV's Good Morning Britain last week Keir Starmer voiced his support for emergency legislation to deal with anti-vaxxer campaigns.
In an appearance on ITV's Good Morning Britain last week Keir Starmer voiced his support for emergency legislation to deal with anti-vaxxer campaigns.

This could mean jail time for those spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine.

Without doubt, anti-vaccine myths are dangerous. But Starmer's suggestion of criminalising these campaigns only risks fuelling them further.

Beyond the significant free speech implications, this idea is simply bad policy.

Conspiracy theorists, particularly those in the social media era, will process information in light of what they already believe to be true.

Threatening criminal punishment will not stop the spread of misinformation. It will only fuel anti-vaxxers' beliefs that they have uncovered a hidden truth which the powers-that-be are desperate to keep quiet.

If Starmer was serious about the rise of dangerous conspiracy campaigns he should highlight how social media algorithms—particularly Facebook's—encourage the spread of misinformation.

Instead he suggests criminalising gullibility—policy that would be entirely self-defeating.

There is also little to suggest at this point that anti-vax campaigns are impacting the rollout of the vaccine.

The real obstacle preventing rapid and widespread vaccination is not a lack of willing participants, it is the continued criminal incompetence of the Tory government.

The Tories are vaccinating at a rate too slow to keep pace with rising infections.

They have shunned potential vaccinating partners and have failed to guarantee coverage for care home residents.

And the 12-week wait for a second dose has sparked concerns.

The government backed itself into a corner with its Covid-19 non-strategy. It has made vaccination the only viable way out of the pandemic and the only way to prevent more rampant death.

Now the Tories are at risk of failing to deliver on the vaccine.

But where does the leader of the opposition place the blame?

People who spend too much time on…
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