The Metropolitan Police have announced that they will after all investigate the numerous parties alleged to have taken place in Downing Street while the rest of us were in Lock down, bereaved families who had lost loved ones were unable to give them a proper farewell and people in hospital for months on end with life threatening or life changing conditions were not allowed the comforting presence of a visit from a partner or a spouse.
On a personal level, I fall into that latter category. During the height of Lock down, I suffered a massive stroke which has left me with lasting and most likely life long disabilities, I had to learn how to walk again, how to dress myself again, and had to come to terms with the fact that I almost died and that my life had changed forever. And I had to face all that entirely alone, without the reassuring presence of my husband or my closest family and friends. It was the hardest and most frightening experience I’ve ever had in my life, worse even than the death of my partner of 25 years in 2014. At least when Andy died I had the comfort and reassurance of people I loved being with me to hold my hand, give me a hug, and tell me it was going to be OK.
Because of covid restrictions, I had to face the aftermath of my stroke entirely alone. It was just as hard for my husband and mother, who were unable to see me start to make progress on the long hard road to recovery, and who were left alone with their nightmares and fears who were terrified that I might be left incontinent or unable to walk, dress, wash, or feed myself, and they too had to deal with the possibility that their lives had changed forever as well, but because they were not allowed to see me to a very large extent they were left in the dark about what they were going to have to deal with when I was finally discharged from hospital.
That was the reality and hardship of lock down, for me and for many thousands of others. It was a time of fear, of grief, of extreme hardship and crushing isolation, it was far far more than merely a tedious imposition and restriction on your right to party. Yet we all, at least most of us, tolerated lock down restrictions because we understood that it was necessary in order to protect people. When I was in hospital, there was still no vaccine, and I could see for myself that the wards were full of vulnerable people who would not have stood a chance should a visitor to the hospital brought covid onto the ward.
We were constantly being told that we were all in this together, covid was a threat to rich and to poor, it was no respecter of social position or standing, and that made the deprivations of lock down a little easier to bear. We were all suffering isolation for the greater good, in order to protect ourselves and our vulnerable friends and relatives.
It came as a shocking slap in the teeth and the worst kind of betrayal to discover that throughout that time the man in charge of the UK, the man who had ultimate responsibility for depriving millions of people in England of the most fundamental liberties in order to protect the vulnerable, the chronically sick and the elderly, the man whose government set the pace that the likes of Douglas Ross was always demanding Scotland should follow, was himself ignoring the rules that the rest of us had to follow, often at immense personal cost.
It is now clear that throughout lock down, Johnson refused to accept that the restrictions which his government imposed on the public should in any shape or form hamper his ability to down a bottle of wine in the company of his sycophantic lackeys. His behaviour is a gross insult to those who endured lock down despite far greater hardships and deprivations than Bring Your Own Bottle Johnson ever had to face. When his supporters remarked on how tired and wiped out he looked during lock down as supposed evidence of how he was sharing our struggles, we now know that it was most likely that he was still hung over from last night’s party.
It is welcome news that there is now to be a police investigation into the parties in Downing Street but judging from the long and inglorious tradition of the British state failing to hold the rich and powerful to account it is highly unlikely that anything will ever come of it, just as nothing ever came of Dominic Cummings’s lock down busting trip to Barnard Castle in order to give himself a vehicular eye test and not as a birthday outing for his wife, not at all, oh no. We have already seen, just in the past couple of years a number of instances of senior Conservatives being found by the courts to have acted unlawfully, Michael Gove, Priti Patel, and Matt Hancock have all been ruled to have acted unlawfully, and Johnson himself was ruled to have unlawfully prorogued Parliament in 2019 in order to evade parliamentary scrutiny of his Brexit deal. What all of them have in common is that every single one of them was able to break the law with impunity, not one of them suffered any negative consequences as a result of their law breaking, and the odds are very much in favour of Johnson doing exactly the same this time.
Johnson may or may not face a leadership challenge, in the absence of a clear successor and with his willingness to use blackmail and intimidation in order to bully supine Tory back benchers into line, it is by no means certain that he will be forced out of office. If he does survive a leadership challenge, the Tory party rules say that he cannot be challenged for another year. If that happens, the position of lightweight Ross will be untenable, he will either have to resign, or prove that he is indeed a lightweight by doing nothing while continuing to avoid the press.
But even if the lying cheating buffoon in Downing Street is forced out, he will merely be replaced by another Conservative who displays the same rank entitlement and contempt.
Johnson is merely a symptom of a diseased and corrupt Westminster system. It’s a system which cannot be reformed. Scotland can only protect itself with independence. The poor quality of Westminster governance will be a central issue in the independence referendum which lies ahead.
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