Oh god, the rage. The utter rage I felt listening to PMQs and Boris’ snivelling, squirmy little apology filled with ‘technicalities’ and ‘work meetings’ and gaslighting ‘I’m sorry if you perceived…’ like we are all pedantic idiots who have got our knickers in a twist about a meet up at the water cooler.
It wasn’t a massive surprise to find that yet again, Bozza and his mates had fucked up. But for many of us, it was the moment that we became utterly sick to the core of the leadership of this country. The Tories have set a low bar for the last twelve-ish years (even longer in history) but this last two must be some of the lowest we could ever have come to expect. And still, the disgust gets ever deeper with the constant stream of ‘revelations’ of betrayal.
“I’d hate to be in his shoes, mind”, is a familiar refrain that I often hear from those who still harbour some sympathy for the PM. Me too. What a bloody job, steering a whole country through a pandemic. You wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy. But the problem is that politics is at the mercy of many things that are outside of human control. Preparing for the unexpected is surely one of the important things that you sign up for as PM. And it’s not like they are on their own – there is the whole machine working to support the one in charge.
“He’s doing his best, could you do any better!” IS HE? Is he really? When I visit the doctor with an ailment, I expect them to use their expertise to provide a clear diagnosis and treatment plan. I don’t go to them with a plan, because that’s their job, that they are paid to do. If I engage a solicitor, I expect that they will use their expertise to give me legal advice and support, and represent me as I require. I don’t google the law and represent myself, because that’s their job and they are paid to do it. Similarly, Boris is elected by the country to lead us as Prime Minister and we expect him to have the expertise, and the knowledge within the cabinet he chooses, to do that job that he is PAID for.
As the leader of our country, the absolute basic level of what we could expect him to do within his role is to respect and adhere to the rules that he, his cabinet and his advisors created. The LAWS that they put into force that restricted our lives in order to protect the NHS, and each other. To keep those vulnerable in our society safe, and to limit the spread of the virus. We all assumed, quite fairly, that Boris and his mates in Number 10 were not only steering the country through this most awful of times, but also adhering to the rules. Boris even contracted Covid himself, was admitted to hospital and spent three nights in intensive care so you know, we naturally might have thought that he would Get It more than most. Ultimately, didn’t we assume that we were – as we were repeatedly told – ‘all in it together’. As a result, we followed the rules, we respected the restrictions, and we made the sacrifices.
Personal, high cost sacrifices.
On 18th May, my family gathered in a carpark near Reading. We stood in a wide semi-circle as we awaited our allotted turn, talking about how awful this moment was but how beautiful the sunshine was. We talked of our recent experiences with lockdown. It was the first time I had seen my parents since lockdown started, and while this happened, my children watched from the car, with my husband Matt.
We were gathered, just a handful of us, in that car park to honour the life of my Grandmother who had passed a few weeks earlier. When she died, we had no idea at that time if a funeral with any, let alone many, attendees was possible. The sun shone so warmly, and as the hearse arrived carrying my Grandma’s body, we moved inside, two metres apart aside from those in bubbles. Matt had to stay with the girls in the car because numbers were so restricted, and so I sat, on my own, for the whole service. I watched my mum’s shoulders shake as she cried in front of me and I couldn’t offer her comfort. I watched my cousin sing so movingly and my Aunt speak of her mother so beautifully and I couldn’t hug them to let them know my gratitude and support. My children watched the their Grandma-Great’s funeral from the car, via a streaming service. And when the service came to the end just a few minutes later, we filed out, separately and gathered – two metres apart of course – in the carpark again, and said goodbye to each other. It was devastatingly abrupt, unfitting, emotionally detached and wrought at the same time. It was a brutal way to mark the passing of a mother, sister, aunt, grandmother. A Grandma-Great.
Two days later on the 20th May 2020, Boris opened the doors to the garden of Number 10 and joined his colleagues and staff for a drink in the warm sunshine. Over one hundred invites were sent out via email by the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds, encouraging them to join together to enjoy the lovely weather, and to bring a bottle. During the garden ‘party’ – or, as Boris put it yesterday, ‘work event’ – Boris joined them, drank with them, and enjoyed a moment of privilege that millions of people had been denied.
There is no doubt that I would respect the restrictions all over again if it meant those who were vulnerable were kept safe, and that the spread of Covid was tempered as it was. But the personal cost of the pandemic on us all has had devastating consequences. Women birthed alone, and in facemasks during the pandemic. Pre and postnatal care has been virtually – literally – non-existent. Women have been informed that they miscarried their babies alone, while their partner was kept in the car, waiting for news with baited breath. Babies were met by family via the power of Zoom, or through windows. Cancer patients had their treatment delayed, or interrupted, with fatal consequence. Women spent lockdown with their abusers, terrified for their lives. Children died through the most horrific neglect and abuse behind closed doors. Desperate family and friends said their last goodbyes to loved ones through video calls, and others died, alone. They died alone.
And this all happened while Boris chatted in the garden with his staff, praising them for their work, and sharing a drink to celebrate their outrageous privilege and sheer arrogance.
When Boris says he ‘understands’, there is no doubt in my mind it’s like my little son telling me that he ‘understands’ that he shouldn’t do something. Only my son is TWO. This pathetic, juvenile and flippant apology offered to the country means nothing – it’s the tip of a deep iceberg into much worse. An inquiry has been ordered but with a government as dishonest as this one how on earth do we trust that it will be conducted fairly, and without bias? Let’s face it, the last ‘inquiry’ that was ordered when the previous slew of parties was revealed appointed a bloke who had, himself, ATTENDED the same parties he was supposedly investigating. You can’t make it up.
Some people will say that there are more important things to worry about than a few cheese and wine gatherings for the ‘suits’ of No.10. And in part, they are right. There has been some really disturbing stuff being pushed through whilst we have been distracted with the idea of Bozza on the Malbec. But my reply to that is that this is important too, because this is a potential tipping point for those on the fence about Boris and the Tories. These personal moments in politics are important because they directly cause people to feel outrage and disgust on a deeper level, and it makes, for some, politics feel relevant and relatable.
Not every voter is politically engaged – some simply vote through duty and do so for the most appealing character or headline policy. Many of Boris’ supporters voted for him – not necessarily the Tories, but him as an individual – because they felt he was different to the stuffy, staid politicians that he was up against. They loved his ‘schoolboy charm’, his chequered past was a bit ‘naughty’. He felt relatable in a way that other candidates didn’t – he’d hung by his crotch above the Thames as Mayor, for goodness sake and had an endearingly familial, ‘comedy’ nickname! He was a dishevelled rascal, and for some of those who voted for him they will have had ambitions for him to take politics into a more relevant and entertaining direction.
That’s why it’s important that this is personal. That’s why it feels personal. Because Boris isn’t a lovable rascal, he’s dangerously at the wheel, steering our country with one hand on the bottle. The sheer arrogance, lies and corruption of him and his mates throughout the pandemic have meant that we will all be suffering for a long, long time.
There are no words to explain the devastation and betrayal that the country is feeling right now. For those who experienced trauma, loss, who’s mental health was deeply impacted, those who lost their lives through a lack of treatment, or, or or – there doesn’t need to be a list does there? We know the stories, we read and share them between us all the time. We know the deep impact because we have lived every moment of them.
And while we did, Boris sipped on his wine, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine, basking in his arrogance and elitism.
F*ck you, Boris. F*ck you very much.