Hearing the news that Boris Johnson appears to have to got away with “Partygate” quite simply made me angry. The number of fines that he personally receives – which people now think will only be the one – doesn’t matter to me. The point is that he was ultimately responsible for the atmosphere in No 10, for which 126 fines have been issued. It’s the place where the decisions were being made and where the orders were coming from. It’s where he stood at that podium, waffling on.
The vast majority of the country complied with the Covid restrictions. Everybody made sacrifices. Mine was one of many families who was denied a chance to say goodbye to a loved one because of the restrictions. My father suffered from vascular dementia. He was bed-bound and in a nursing home when the pandemic struck. But he was still quite lucid. He recognised people well. You could go and have a perfectly normal conversation with him.
When we went into lockdown, we could no longer visit, so for the six weeks prior to his death we didn’t see him at all. We all used to go once a week; my sister would go two or three times a week. The home was nearby and we had a good relationship with the staff. Then, in March 2020, my mother got a call saying that he didn’t have much longer. She was allowed in to see her husband of some 60 years, but literally for about half an hour. And that was it.
Only 16 of us were able to attend his funeral in April 2020, which was difficult as we are a family of six children who are all married with their own children. My dad’s best friend, who he’d known since they were six years old, wasn’t able to go either. That devastated him. The atmosphere was so strange in the crematorium: we had to sit six feet apart at all times, with the chairs spaced out.
And so when I hear the prime minister use rhetoric to deflect what he did – “We need to get on with the job of running the country” – of course I feel angry. He doesn’t seem to care about what Partygate means to us. What’s more, the government is not even doing a good job of getting on and running the country.
There are plenty of excuses: they were operating in a bubble, the work gatherings were a continuation of the work day. But that misses the point. If you’re in a position of power and you’re asking people to do something that they wouldn’t normally do, then you have to lead by example.
Johnson just doesn’t seem to be a proper politician. He’s a journalist: he cares about how to play a game with the news; the idea that there’s a story one day and if you just let it rumble on it’ll disappear. So we have Partygate and they talk about Rwanda. Or streamlining the civil service. It’s just distraction after distraction.
I do consider myself to be left-leaning, and for a while the pandemic seemed to add an almost socialist background to everything. People were worrying about one another. They were concerned about those who were homeless, on less money, who worked in care homes, were nurses. We did the clap for the NHS. The hypocrisy of that became so clear when Johnson offered them a 1% pay rise. I don’t know how anybody can carry on looking at the government and not feel anger with the way it has carried on.
I would like to see Johnson resign because of this. And I think almost any other politician would have already. They would’ve said, “The buck stops here. This shouldn’t have gone on under my watch.” But there just seems to be a class of people running the country who have an inability to admit they’re wrong. Why won’t they admit to their mistakes?
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