Steve Baker has returned to his former role of government tormentor-in-chief this week, piling pressure on the government over its use of emergency powers on coronavirus.
Speaking at The Spectator's Alternative Conference, Baker criticised documents from the government's Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) as 'dreadful'. The papers, published earlier this year, proposed a strategy to use fear as a strategy in coronavirus communications: 'A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened...personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.'
In response, Baker said: 'There's this assumption that people can be forced to comply.'
The Tory MP went on to question whether this is the case, in light of research showing that fewer than 20 per cent of the public were following self-isolation restrictions. In the discussion about civil liberties alongside Kirsty Brimelow QC, Damien Gayle and Silkie Carlo, Baker said:
“If you look at the King's College research there's an enormous gap between people's intention to comply and what they actually do. This raises a really dangerous question: if the public are something of an immovable object, is the government really going to keep applying greater degrees of force until it's irresistible? This is not where our society should be headed.
Baker, who supports a move granting MPs a vote on future coronavirus restrictions, also weighed up voluntary compliance.
“I've previously floated that we should move to a voluntary basis [of compliance], but that would be a very serious step as this continues to be a dangerous disease for those vulnerable to it.
The full discussion can be watched here.