RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: So much for getting out of jail…we are on parole

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: So much for getting out of jail… we are on parole and wearing electronic ankle tags

Mass vaccination was supposed to be our get-out-of-jail-free card. We should be so lucky.

Despite the fact that Britain’s rapid inoculation programme has been a spectacular success, the Government is taking no chances.

The parole board is having second thoughts. We’re not so much getting out of jail free as being released on licence, wearing an electronic ankle tag.

We’re also going to have to check in regularly with our probation officers. Every single one of us is being urged to take two self-administered Covid tests every week.

Even a dodgy ‘false positive’ will put us straight back in the slammer. Tens of thousands will have to remain under house arrest until they can show they’re not carrying the virus.

To extend the criminal justice analogy, we’re all considered guilty unless we can prove our innocence.

Mass vaccination was supposed to be our get-out-of-jail-free card but we should be so lucky.

So much for ‘Cry Freedom!’.

As for We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday, forget it. Most of Europe will be out of bounds for the foreseeable.

Everybody back to Durdle Door! Don’t forget your parachute.

Ministers have spent too much time watching Countdown during lockdown and have come up with an exciting new word.

Give me a vowel, Rachel. And a consonant. That’s an ‘A’ and an ‘S’. Now give me a letter which could be a vowel or a consonant. ‘Y’. Brilliant!

Time’s up. I’ve got a 12-letter word: Asymptomatic. Over to you, Gyles Brandreth. ‘Asymptomatic means that even if you haven’t got Covid-19, you might still be carrying it and could infect others. Can’t be too careful.’

What it means in practice is yet another excuse to prolong the agony and to prevent life getting back to anything approaching the old normal.

The notion that even those with no obvious symptoms are spreading the virus like Typhoid Mary is being wheeled out as justification for keeping the economy in a stranglehold.

Yet even if there are tens of thousands of asymptomatic super-spreaders wandering among us like the zombies in Shaun Of The Dead, so what?

If we’ve had the jab, we’ll be fine. And as of yesterday, around half the population had been vaccinated. More than 31 million have had the first dose, and five million have already received the second.

Of those who are as yet unvaccinated, the overwhelming majority are under 40 and thus at virtually zero risk of contracting a fatal Covid infection.

Talk about One Step Up, Two Steps Back.

There’s absolutely no reason why the shackles couldn’t be cast off today. Apart from one.

Ministers are scared of their own shadows. As I’ve been telling you for months, they are only concerned with covering their own backsides.

They’re terrified that a couple of years down the line a superannuated Lord Justice Leveson character will conclude, after a ruinously expensive public inquiry, that 30,000 people — make up any figure you like — died unnecessarily because they failed to lockdown quickly enough/kept the pubs open/blah, blah, blah.

Every single one of us is being urged to take two self-administered Covid tests every week

The politicians would rather take the flak for being too cautious, than for not being cautious enough. So, for now, better safe than sorry is the order of the day.

It’s how we’ve ended with the ridiculous restrictions on freedom which persist to this day — and in some respects are getting worse, despite the positive spin on the so-called ‘easing’ of lockdown.

Even after the over-hyped ‘liberation’ announced by Boris last night, we are still less free than we were last summer, when an effective vaccination was still a twinkle in an Oxford scientist’s eye.

Remember when the Prime Minister boasted that the vaccine was ‘the cavalry’ charging over the hill to relieve the Covid siege?

Some hope. We’re still stuck in Rorke’s Drift, even though the cavalry rode to our rescue weeks ago. Major-General Johnson is reluctant to let us leave the fort just in case the Zulus regroup and mount another offensive.

While cowardice remains the motivating factor, there’s no guarantee that the end is in sight on June 21, despite what Boris claims.

If ministers were confident that the all-clear was going to be sounded in the summer, why would they have gone to such extraordinary arm-twisting lengths to force through legislation extending emergency sanctions until September?

Who would bet against the Two Ronnies of Doom — flanking Boris like jailers again last night — demanding another lockdown any time soon? If past form is anything to go by, the PM would inevitably cave in to ‘the science’.

Over the weekend, there was a crass attempt by the now Carrie-dominated Downing Street machine and a tame hack from one of the Sunday papers to persuade us that, contrary to all the evidence, Boris hadn’t lost his bottle after contracting Covid this time last year.

There was, we’re told, a brief wobble when he was about 30 seconds from being plugged into a ventilator, but the Great Man soon recovered his innate libertarian instincts. You could have fooled me. If anything the ‘safety first’ agenda is even stricter now than it was last summer.

OK, so Dishi Rishi was allowed his Money For Nothing And Your Chips For Free scheme in August. But when that went the shape of the pear, he was put back in his box.

Cabinet and Cobra meetings are now dominated by health alarmists. Dishi has been sidelined and pro-enterprise former business minister Alok Sharma has been shunted off to run a climate change summit.

Nobody who matters in Government is advancing the case for a speedy reopening of the economy, of getting Britain back to work any time soon.

We’re still stuck in Rorke’s Drift, even though the cavalry rode to our rescue weeks ago

Yesterday’s ‘easing’ of restrictions was little more than an overly-bureaucratic, nit-picking catalogue of hyper-cautious, toe-in-the-water baby steps back to some semblence of normality.

Still, what did you expect? Right at the start of this nightmare, I warned you about the ‘experts’ who were now running the show.

Covid-19 is their World Cup, their Six Nations, their Ashes, their Wimbledon, all rolled into one. The Two Ronnies, Professor Legover and all the other unelected, unaccountable ‘independent’ Government advisers have wallowed in the past 12 months like pigs in wossname.

They’re living the dream and they’re not giving it up in a hurry. Imagine you’re an obscure academic who has become accustomed to being invited to opine on assorted radio and TV shows, and treated with reverence by politicians from the PM downwards.

Would you rush to return to a life which previously offered little more excitement than doing the Guardian crossword over tea and crumpets in the common room?

Like the politicians and civil servants, they’re all still drawing their full salaries, courtesy of the mug British taxpayer. Why wouldn’t they want to keep this crisis going for ever?

They also serve as convenient cover for ministers, who hide their stumbling incompetence behind the advice being given by the ‘science’.

That’s why yesterday Boris was bookended by the Two Ronnies. They’re his human shields. Don’t blame me, guv, blame the experts.

We’ve played by the rules, put in the hard yards, but we’re still being treated like children.

It’s no coincidence that just as Boris was trying to flog his boosterism bull last night, the scientists of SAGE were briefing that the vaccines aren’t good enough to allow a resumption of normal service — depite the fact that the number of Covid-related deaths is now close to negligible. Social distancing, vaccine passports and masks are here to stay.

Just as I warned, there’ll be nothing normal about the new normal. The early release scheme has been cancelled.

Better start digging that tunnel. Looks like we won’t be out of jail until this time next year at the earliest.

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