Forget the No 10 Christmas party, everything you gave up in the last 18 months was still worth it
Yes, the double standards are horrific, but let’s not pretend we should have all been ignoring the rules.
Like the Golfgate scandal before it, this week’s news that potentially multiple Christmas parties took place in Downing Street last December has rightly caused widespread outrage. And when the very people in charge of the rules ignore them so flagrantly, people understandably begin to question why they bothered to follow them.
Over the past few days, social media has been awash with people sharing the sacrifices they made while politicians partied, many of them truly heartbreaking.
My brother died in hospital on 18/12 last year. He hadn’t seen any family irl for over a month due to #Lockdown. On that day, it seems a Christmas party was in full swing @10DowningStreet. Do others remember what they were doing on or around that date?
— Pam Jarvis ? (@Dr_Pam_Jarvis) December 1, 2021
So latest line is “hard working staff needed a break”
When my colleagues & I were working 13 hour night shifts last Xmas, we were working hard
But we didn’t get a party. We made sacrifices for sake of others
Clearly, we were all mugs for believing we were “all in it together”
— Dr Sonia Adesara (@SoniaAdesara) December 8, 2021
It’s NOT just ‘of interest in the media’, minister. I followed the rules and did not see my Mum last Christmas. It would have been my last Christmas ever with her. She has since died. This outrageous pretence that the Downing St party was ok is contemptible and insulting #r4today
— Sarah Hemming (@SarahHemm) December 6, 2021
Last year we stayed in at Christmas, we ate cheese and pickle toasties, there was no party, no celebration unless you count seeing a hundred reflected toasties in a Glitterball. My old Dad was on his own at Christmas for the first time in his life. Boris is mocking us all.
— Bill Bailey (@BillBailey) December 8, 2021
But although their anger is fully justified, we need to remember that just because politicians broke the rules, it doesn’t mean that we should have as well. At the risk of sounding like someone’s mother, “If they jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?” comes to mind. The ‘why did we bother’ attitude forgets the entire point of the restrictions in the first place.
The restrictions on gatherings in the UK, here in Ireland, and across the world weren’t some pointless punishment handed down simply to stop us having fun, they were to save lives.
Every single one of us that chose not to see loved ones last Christmas ultimately made that decision because it was the safest thing to do. We weren’t afraid of the Gardaí knocking on the door to count how many people were at the table, and for many young people, we weren’t especially afraid of becoming seriously ill ourselves.
What we were afraid of was passing on a dangerous disease to vulnerable people around us, and some politicians choosing to ignore that risk doesn’t mean it would have been any safer for us to do it.
So while we should absolutely be angry and hold those in power to account, let’s not see it as a reason to abandon our caution around Covid. We still need to keep each other safe, and sometimes that means sacrificing beloved traditions and much looked-forward to gatherings.
Politicians who have one rule for themselves and another for the rest of us aren’t a sign that restrictions are pointless, they’re a sign that we need to reconsider who we vote into power.