It may seem an odd thing to say when in the UK we have had more people contracting Covid in recent weeks than ever before, but I think this week may mark the end of the pandemic. Numbers of cases are now reducing, and numbers of people in hospital have not reached anything like the peaks of last spring. When we look back in a year’s time I think Omicron may be seen as having been a good thing. It has given millions of people increased immunity, adding to the benefits of vaccines, without immobilising the NHS or killing vast numbers. Of course I know that every death is a tragedy, and I feel for everyone impacted, but at last can we now get back to normality?
I wonder if living more normally is one reason that the UK public have been so angry this week at the revelation that Boris Johnson attended a party in his garden, while we were in full lockdown back in 2020. Most of us have suffered materially in the past two years, whether through loss of friends and relatives, or damage to our own physical and mental health. Despite this we have got on with our lives. We have built up anger with nowhere to direct it. Now perhaps we can let that out a little. And when we find out that the likes of Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Dominic Cummings have been ignoring or bending rules, then that anger overflows.
Personally this week I have felt a mixture of anger, fascination with the politics and some sympathy with those involved. The latter may seem a contradiction, but I do have sympathy with the civil servants who had been putting themselves at risk, working 12+ hours a day in close contact with each other to try to help this country through the pandemic. Back in May 2020 I was leading a large operational team, most of whom where working at home, but some who had to work in an office. Those people did not have alcohol or parties but sometimes they would let of steam in the grassy area outside the office. They would maintain social distance and I believe followed all rules, but to someone outside would it look as if they were taking things seriously enough? I don’t know.
In the UK we have a reputation that we can laugh at anything, smile in the most trying of circumstances, make fun of serious events. We all needed those safety valves in May 2020, as we do now. If this is truly the end of the pandemic, let’s adopt the ideas of the recently deceased Desmond Tutu, who led the Truth and Reconciliation reviews after apartheid was dismantled. Let’s try to find out the truth about what happened and how it could have been better, let’s apologise for things that were wrong. And then let’s move on.
Am I mad?
I think you might be a little wide of the mark here.
This week we have 3 headlines but for me a common theme. Senior politicians, royal family and professional sportsman. Their commonality is privilege.
All 3 examples evidence that normal rules and laws shouldn’t apply to them. Almost beneath them to behave like normal people.
It’s not so much their misdemeanours, it’s the fact that they believe their right to get away with it.
Whereas it’s the exact same people that should be setting the right example for others to follow… the Queen has always seen fit not to abuse her privilege and those in other privileged position of society, in my mind, should follow suit.
I know what you are saying Matt. What started off as a positive blog about the end of the pandemic ended up quite provocative. I didn’t really mean to defend Boris himself. I agree with your point about privilege and I find his obvious lying offensive. But I think we should cut some slack for the civil servants. Does that make any sense?
Personally I wouldn’t cut them too much slack
1. They work in an office where the rules and laws are made
2. It wasn’t a spontaneous ‘we’ve put in 3×15 hours shifts let’s get some fresh air’. These were organised parties
3. They clearly chose to hide their actions by apparently using a suit case for booze.
These will be well paid civil servants, and some quite senior, who knew the rules and chose to break them when others chose to abide. It smells like a clear ‘tone from the top’ , we make the rules and don’t get caught breaking them. Rather than we must show the highest adherence to the rules.
I remember at times working in an environment where the eyes of the world were on us. One of the early correct decisions was no parties and that wasn’t during a pandemic when it’s about public safety.
So whilst I might have some empathy for one or two junior individuals I still feel the environment of the workforce in Downing Street will be one of privilege
PS thanks for the usual entertaining blog 😁