Against a light blue background, a small green tree has tiny gold ornaments on it. Two blue disposable face masks hang from the tree.

Do they know there’s a pandemic at all?

By Basilia Weir

Basilia Weir examines the faults of the UK government throughout the pandemic, highlighting the most recent scandal of the Christmas parties held last year.

I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t surprised to learn that the Conservatives had a Christmas party last year when Covid-19 cases were on the rise and indoor socialising was against the rules. I was quite surprised when the PM said he knew nothing about it, considering it took place in his own house. But, other than that, it seemed fairly predictable and evoked only an eye roll.

That lack of surprise does not, however, mean that the Conservatives should not be scrutinised and punished for this. It merely speaks to how much corruption and scandal has already happened over the course of Johnson’s term. This is the same government that failed to fire the PMs aide, Dominic Cummings, after he went to Barnard Castle at the height of the pandemic. The same government whose health secretaryyes, that’s correct, health secretary – broke social distancing rules and scarred us all for life with that video of him and his colleague/love interest. The latest breaking news about the Christmas party falls in line with this precedent of the Tory government following a law unto their own, and the British press and opposition being completely fine with that and no consequences being brought forth. But, the Tories aren’t just getting away with breaking social distancing rules. They are, quite literally, getting away with murder. 

“They are, quite literally, getting away with murder.”

As of the 17 of December, 147, 355 people in the UK have died of Covid-19. A number too big for anyone to comprehend. The government’s poor handling of Covid-19 is responsible for so much of that death toll.

That is why I am not particularly interested in whether Starmer asks Johnson to resign. Why I am not praising the members of the Conservative party willing to admit that the Tory festivities were wrong, and that Johnson may be culpable. It’s why, whilst it was a good and moving speech, I feel Ian Blackford’s words are all too late. That, and absolute terror at the possibilities of who might replace Johnson.

I struggle to comprehend why, at this stage, we are asking Johnson to resign or critiquing him fiercely, and not before now. Not because of the death toll that lies on his shoulders. Or his government’s cronyism when handing out contracts for vital PPE – the lack of which put us at a serious disadvantage when first trying to tackle the pandemic. Or their decision to put the country’s fate in private, incompetent, hands yet again with the track and trace app.

Yes, this is a list of all of the ways the government has mishandled the pandemic and put people’s lives at risk. I list these things because it is absurd that the government has gotten away with so much, and that we are asking for Johnson’s resignation only now. I write this because I am scared by the apathy and the lack of surprise I feel whenever a new Tory scandal is unearthed. The government having gatherings during the pandemic, when no one else could, is something I should feel worked up about. But after everything that has happened, it is impossible to.

“I am scared by the apathy and the lack of surprise I feel whenever a new Tory scandal is unearthed.”

My point here is not that we should forgive the Christmas party scandal or let ourselves sink into this apathy. It’s that we should be calling for Johnson’s resignation and critiquing the government for this and for everything that has happened up until now. Especially the large and growing death toll. We should not be surprised when the opposition leader, Keir Starmer, fails to do much more than make silly puns about the government’s scandals. He has shown time and time again that he has no interest in properly opposing the Tories or asking Johnson to resign. After all, he is seemingly vying for the attention and support of the same voter base.

So, should Johnson resign? A year ago, yes. While I do believe in the phrase “better late than never”, I am terrified by the concept of a Tory government led by Priti Patel or Michael Gove. In this case, I don’t have an answer. We need to keep an eye on the policy decisions and changes happening in the background, the ones that don’t make breaking news. They are equally as scary, and, for some, equally as life threatening. Finally, do not convince yourself that the Tory’s are stupid or incompetent. In a lot of cases, the truth is more sinister. They know exactly what they are doing and where their priorities lie, and, unfortunately, their priorities are the private sector and themselves. Not, it would seem, the public health.


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