I need to get this out of my system.
My mother died of Covid-19 on 18 April 2020, in a care home 260 miles away, alone. I said my final goodbye to her via mobile ‘phone as I was not allowed to visit. Two weeks later I drove to her funeral and back all in the same day. I could have stayed at my sister’s house a mile away from the graveyard instead of completing the 520-mile round trip in one go, but I knew that would have broken the lockdown rules. She died the same weekend that Dominic Cummings drove to Barnard Castle. London to Durham and back is also 520 miles, but Cummings decided he could break the lockdown rules and stay up in the north-east with family. And Boris Johnson knew it was wrong, but allowed Cummings to get away with it, because Johnson was breaking the rules too.
On 20 May 2020 I was in school, overseeing a team of colleagues as we supervised and taught a large group of key workers’ children and some of our most vulnerable students. I have the staff rota from that day and every single one of my colleagues was in school feeling both scared of catching Covid-19 and proud that we were doing our bit to help combat the pandemic. At 3.45pm I went home, put my clothes in the washing machine and showered, just as we were instructed. The weather was glorious. I then chaired the York Schools and Academies Board Covid-19 Response meeting, something I did every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the first year of the pandemic. On that same sunlit evening, Boris Johnson was drinking wine and eating cheese at a social gathering in the 10 Downing Street garden. He was breaking the lockdown rules. Again.
In January 2021 my son finally returned to his student house in Newcastle. His first year at university was difficult. The first term was fine, but then the second term was interrupted by strikes and then Covid-19 all but closed the universities. Having a few beers via Zoom in your bedroom back at home on a Friday is not quite the same thing as going “out-out” round the Toon. It had been a big decision for him to go back up to Newcastle a year ago. The lockdown rules were still in force. When he arrived at 7pm, there were seven others already in the house. He made eight. At 9pm the Police arrived and, quite rightly, all of them were fined £200. He had never been in trouble with the Police before and found the whole experience traumatic. And yet, just a month before, there were parties aplenty in 10 Downing Street as, yet again, Boris Johnson broke the lockdown rules.
Johnson broke the rules repeatedly, whilst millions of people like me obeyed them week-in, week-out throughout the lockdown, at some significant personal cost. That is why “partygate” cuts through. It is one rule for the common people and one rule for Johnson and his cabal of hedonist hangers-on.
I watched Johnson this afternoon – the “greased piglet” – twist and turn as he evaded the truth yet again in Parliament. He sickened me. I have always been proud of this country, but I am ashamed at what we have become under Johnson’s leadership. It is time the decent people in the Conservative Party did the right thing and got rid of him.
The sooner Johnson is replaced, the better, for all our sakes.