Sir Charles Walker KBE MP is the Member of Parliament for Broxbourne and served as chair of the House of Commons Procedure Committee from 2012 to 2019. He also served as Chairman of the 1922 Committee in 2019 during the leadership election.
Sir Charles began the discussion by outlining his magnificent backstory, with his parents divorcing when he was eight years-old and his mother marrying Sir Christopher Chataway, a previous Conservative minister. Sir Charles also worked as Colin Moynihan’s constituency aide in December 1991, an unpaid role delivering leaflets in the 1992 general election. He was a councillor in Wandsworth and set up his own business before being elected to Parliament as Member of Parliament for Broxbourne in 2005.
Sir Charles made an interesting observation about the length of parliamentary careers, which have become more truncated since Tony Blair’s premiership where MP’s were called to serve as ministers far quicker than the typical five to seven years. However, he also questions whether the traditional advice of one needing to be elected before age 40 holds true, with many of his colleagues becoming MPs over 40 enjoying fruitful ministerial careers.
The conservation then turns to the very genesis of the coronavirus pandemic. Sir Charles recalls Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, discussing the matter with the 1922 Committee in January 2020 when Sir Charles favoured a lockdown. However, this soon changed when more information became available on the virus, Sir Charles claims.
In his constituency, Sir Charles discusses being criticised by some for his anti-lockdown position while receiving support from others. He makes clear that while he believes that government scientific advice is written in good faith for the right reasons, he believes that they are for different reasons than what should be considered by policymakers, such as through a perceived lack of consideration for the economy.
Sir Charles sincerely hopes that lockdowns are not permanent features of society, ridiculing the idea of lockdowns for influenza, as posited by some. He also fears for increasing levels of cancer deaths due to people not attending GP surgeries and thus not receiving a diagnosis.
This article is only a summary of the points discussed in the event, of which there were many, and you can watch the full recording here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U3M5EJAPDc&t=206s