This week, in the absence of Stephen Bush and Anoosh Chakelian, Steve Baker, the former chair of the European Research Group and influential Tory backbencher, joins Patrick Maguire and Ailbhe Rea on the New Statesman subscribers’ podcast to discuss his views on the coronavirus lockdown.
Baker drew some criticism from defenders of a more hardline social distancing approach when he described some of the police enforcement of the lockdown as “absurd, dystopian and totalitarian”.
During the parliamentary vote for the emergency lockdown measures, a visibly shaken Baker spoke in favour despite his strong commitment to individual liberties. “This has been a huge experiment in state authoritarianism, but a necessary one”, he tells Patrick and Ailbhe. After six weeks, however, he advocates a relaxation.
“The lockdown continuing has human costs,” he says. “We can’t afford to lost a third of our economy in a quarter, and have the worst recession in 300 years, and just pay for it by printing money. It’s a disaster… It would be the death of our society to do that.”