Maajid Nawaz questions disparity in Government lockdown criteria

4 October 2020, 14:26

By Seán Hickey

Amid confusion around the criteria on imposing local lockdowns, Maajid Nawaz demanded clarity from Government on how they make these decisions.

Maajid Nawaz began by hitting out at meetings hosted by the Health Secretary. Dubbed gold meetings, decisions on what areas are put under local lockdown are made here. Maajid insisted the criteria for imposing restrictions are unclear.

"There is no 'gold' standard in the 'gold' meetings to decide how many cases per 100,000 trigger extra restrictions."

Noting that less affluent areas have tended to go into lockdown whereas more affluent areas have avoided lockdown - despite having more cases per 100,000, Maajid argued "the criteria through which these decisions are being made are opaque."

"We have absolutely no data nor any criteria to understand why it is that Andy Preston's area with 60 per 100,000 cases goes into lockdown whereas Rishi Sunak's area...doesn't go into lockdown yet has more cases."

The Chancellor's constituency has avoided local lockdown, despite having higher case rates than some locked down areas
The Chancellor's constituency has avoided local lockdown, despite having higher case rates than some locked down areas. Picture: PA

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Maajid told listeners there is no point in speculation on the matter, but insisted the best thing Government can do in this situation is introduce more "transparency and accountability," which he has called on for some time.

Maajid called on the authorities to share the criteria they're using to make these decisions. Without evidence, "it appears to us as though you're politicising these decisions," he argued.

"You've got areas that are very wealthy in which you're elected where you want to perhaps keep your voters happy."

"Give us the transparent criteria you're using to decide why," Maajid said, "why Middlesbrough with 73 cases goes into lockdown whereas Rishi's seat...has the same number of cases but doesn't go into lockdown."

He then corrected himself to share that the situation is in fact more questionable. "Middlesbrough has 60 cases, Mr Sunak's seat has 73."