Desultory mood music bodes ill for a truly democratic test

COMMENT: By default, something close to a 'one-party state' in Camden could well be on the way

Thursday, 14th April

Boris Johnson

For prime minister Boris Johnson it’s one rule for them, one for the rest of us

THE bald facts are so simple and now well-known, that perhaps they do not need to be rehearsed further.

Everybody can recount a sacrifice from the past two years and we all felt the pain of the Covid lockdown.

One of the enduring blows is the number of times that it was said and written that there would be “a full celebration” of a loved one’s life when conditions allow.

Nobody outside the strategy rooms of government could contemplate that the lockdowns would go on so long, and that restric­tions would lift so slowly.

More people died, more people to celebrate properly when this is all over, but we never really did see all of those memorial events that our lost neighbours deserved.

People died alone, people mourned alone. Those were the rules.

At the New Journal, you may remember we ran our series of tributes to people who died from the coronavirus, with the label: Not just a statistic. That’s because as the daily deaths were read out, real lives became dots on graphs, another slide.

Maybe somewhere along the line the cocooned staff and politicians at Downing Street began to see the pandemic that way, as charts that went up and down. Good numbers, bad numbers, but not people.

Something after all must have led to the brazen rule-breaking, and for prime minister Boris Johnson, his wife and the chancellor to ignore the laws they themselves had set for us.

When we lecture other nations around the world and champion our democracy, it might be worth considering how our leadership is living up to the old adage: one rule for them, one for the rest of us.

Their fines for partying during the lockdown are of course so paltry it will be just like paying for lunch twice by mistake for Johnson and Rishi Sunak.

As an aside, in courts up and down the country people who commit crime in a position of trust are dealt greater penalties, but not seemingly the man trusted to lead the UK.

These are the days where political storms do not lead to noble resignations. They are there to be weathered. Keep your head down long enough and hope for a different crisis to befall somebody else.

But while the PM may know how to cling on in post for months and years, there will be Tory councillors privately cursing both his oafish behaviour – and also the timing of these emotionless apologies.

Just three weeks before voters go to the ballot box for council elections, including in Camden, they are having to try and win council chamber seats against this backdrop.

No wonder the Conservatives here want to be known as “Local Conservatives” at this election.

Labour already had the box seat for the race ahead but, like their leader Sir Keir Starmer, they may have been able to get by with not saying much at all against this wounded Tory party, the Lib Dems searching for an identity and the Greens who have only 12 candidates in the field.

By default, something close to a “one-party state” in Camden could well be on the way.

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