Rossendale Free Press

Why the sound of silence on Covid party games?


PERHAPS like you, over the last few weeks I know of more people reporting they have contracted Covid than at any other time in the pandemic.

Fortunatel­y, thanks to a combinatio­n of the new variant, Omicron and the UK’s vaccine programme, all have suffered what can broadly be summed up as a very bad cold.

That’s so very different to the early days of the pandemic, when contractin­g Covid was a much more serious affair.

I remember a couple of months into the pandemic, the number of obituaries and death notices in the Free Press began to increase.

Some were clear that Covid had claimed a loved one, others did not.

There were other signs of how it was ravaging life in Rossendale too.

The care homes which had Covid imported into them thanks to the Government’s botched movement of elderly patients from hospitals to residentia­l settings.

The funerals which could only be attended by 10 people, with others gathering, stood two metres apart, outside and hoping they wouldn’t be told to move on.

Parents struggling to juggle jobs and teaching their children at home.

Key workers performing amazing roles constantly petrified of taking Covid home to their families, frantic with worry that because of their jobs they were putting their little ones at risk by sending them to school.

Teachers in those schools battling to provide a semblance of normality for those children despite rules which essentiall­y returned us to Victorians­tyle school settings. Playground­s closed. Small business owners petrified the next bill could be the one which sees them go under.

Families prevented from seeing each other for months.

Youngsters feeling the mental health strain of their lives being turned upside down.

It is quite remarkable, in hindsight, what we went through.

And that’s what makes the events in Downing Street - the confirmed party involving 30 people in May 2020 when you or I would be stopped from meeting up in Whitaker Park by police who were trying to enforce rules which were created in that same London landmark all the more galling.

But not as galling as the absolute silence, at time of writing, several days on, from local Tory representa­tives.

To an extent, it doesn’t matter whether Boris Johnson was at the party. It’s his house. It’s his party.

It smacks of a contempt for the public from his party that they feel there was one rule for us and one rule for them.

And Boris Johnson sets the tone.

Remember when Jake Berry had to share why he spent so much of early lockdown in Anglesey because members of his family had come down with Covid and then obeyed Welsh travel rules?

Legitimate scrutiny from local why now silence from Mr Berry about what his boss’s team got up to?

Likewise, only the other week, Haslingden MP Sara Britcliffe was having to explain why she hadn’t broken mask-wearing rules during a surgery held in a supermarke­t.

Both MPs have been vocal on social media encouragin­g us to obey the rules and justifying the more draconian ones during the early months of the pandemic, so why at time of writing have they said nothing?

They will perhaps argue people just want them to get on with their jobs, not play party politics.

But to argue that would be to treat voters with contempt.

What of our local Tory councillor­s?

They don the blue rosette when standing for election.

They campaigned for their leader to be in office.

We know local councillor­s don’t like speaking against their own party they’ve been utterly

pathetic at fighting against cuts for council funding for a decade now.

But they also rely on national politician­s to win local elections.

So why aren’t they shouting about what their leader is up to?

At a time when the Free Press’s pages were carrying

more tributes and death notices than they had in years, our Prime Minister’s back garden was being used for a party.

If our local politician­s really can’t see that’s something to condemn and demand action about, we once again are in a sorry place.

 ?? ?? ●●Scribbler finds it galling Valley MPs Jake Berry and Sara Britcliffe (inset) have remained silent about the party in the garden of 10 Downing Street in May 2020
●●Scribbler finds it galling Valley MPs Jake Berry and Sara Britcliffe (inset) have remained silent about the party in the garden of 10 Downing Street in May 2020

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