Former UK Conservative Party leader condemns COVID-19 measures

Former UK Conservative Party leader condemns COVID-19 measures

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a prominent figure in British politics, spoke to Newsweek International on the criticism of the uncertain science surrounding the coronavirus and the UK government’s handling of the pandemic.

Smith spent 28 years in Britain's parliament serving as Conservative Party leader and Brexit campaigner.

"There is no government in the free world that hasn't been challenged by this and hasn't had to make decisions which people disagree about," Smith said about the UK government's handling of COVID-19.

"If there is a country that has perfectly handled it, I'd like to know which one it is." The politician scolded the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which advises Boris Johnson and his administration, for what he thinks is lack of balance and perspective.

"When you are in a group like that [SAGE] you begin to suffer from groupthink. You almost go to the lowest denominator because you don't want to be the one that stands out and says 'well, I don't agree, we should be doing something completely different' because no one will ever remember the person who said do more but they will remember the person that said do less if there is a problem."

The former Conservative party leader also criticised much of the modelling used to predict the spread of COVID-19, models on which government policies were based, stating that none of the models were absolute.

"We've grown up over the last decade or so believing that science is an absolute, people say listen to the scientists because they know,” Smith continued, "But what we're learning from all of this is that they know no more than economists do. There are different scientists [with] very different views and a very different sense of what these figures tell us and our problem, therefore, is we need to get a sense of that wider balance, how you deal with what the balancing counterpoints are in all of this. I don't think that's happening in SAGE right now."

When asked about how the UK accounts for its high death toll and being the worst affected economy of any G7 country, Smith responded:

"There's no two countries that gather it [the data] in the same way so we have to be slightly careful," he said.

"In Germany, as I understand it, unless it's absolutely specific on your death certificate that it was COVID that killed you, you don't go down as a COVID death. One of the problems in places like the UK is, if you've had COVID and you die within the same period, then you're down as a COVID death. You might have died of a heart attack or cancer, but if you have had COVID, then you're in the COVID figures and I think our problem is we need to figure out who exactly died of COVID."