Welcome to libertarian Covid fantasy land – that’s Sweden to you and me | Nick Cohen

The right fails to recognise that the Swedes’ real virtue in this pandemic is their social cohesion

Sweden is to the 21st-century right what the Soviet Union was to the 20th-century left. Conservatives have transformed it into a Tory Disneyland where every dream comes true. On the shores of the Baltic lies a country that has no need to curtail civil liberties and wreck the economy to curb Covid-19. “I have a dream, a fantasy,” sang Abba. “To help me through reality.” For much of the right, that fantasy is called Sweden.

Let the leader of the Conservative backbenchers stand for the Tory press and innumerable ideologues inside and outside Westminster. Sir Graham Brady ruined a perfectly good argument that parliament must have the power to scrutinise Johnson’s emergency decrees by announcing that there was no emergency. We could look to a country that merely had a ban on gatherings of more than 50, restrictions on visiting care homes, a shift to table-only service in bars and see that “Sweden today is in a better place than the United Kingdom”. Or as the Sun explained on Thursday as Boris Johnson met Anders Tegnell, the Swedish public health “mastermind”, a do-little strategy has spared Sweden a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

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