Updated: Apr 17
Column first published in both the Milngavie and Bearsden Herald and the Kirkintilloch Herald.
We saw in the bells this year without the usual fireworks or live music, no hugging of strangers or first footing, and thankfully no traditional New Year’s Day hangover. Just me, my fiancé, and Alfie the dog.
But while the big Hogmanay parties were cancelled, that didn’t stop us looking forward to 2022 with a tad more optimism than last year. As slow as it may seem, we are taking cautious and steady steps down the road to recovery from Covid.
However, as we try to look forward, it’s hard not to have our focus dragged back as the news, general chat, and my inbox is dominated by the boozy-lockdown party that was held in Westminster in May 2020.
The rest of us were at home. Unable to visit our friends or family. Struggling to home-school our kids. Missing out on saying those crucial goodbyes to loved ones. Battling feelings of isolation, anxiety, and loneliness as people died in droves. At that moment the Prime Minister’s most senior advisors were sending cheery emails to more than 100 staff inviting them for drinks in the garden of 10 Downing Street.
Conveniently, Boris Johnson has recently suffered from a bout of amnesia, but the good news is his memory is slowly returning, improving with every leak of incriminating evidence.
First, he told us there was no party. Then he explained how angry he’d be if it turned out there was a party. That was followed by the announcement of an inquiry into the party that he didn’t know anything about, was fairly sure didn’t happen, and definitely didn’t break any rules. And finally, last week he admitted attending the party – although at the time he thought it was a “work event”.
A “work event” with 100 people. And wine. And cheese. A defence that would stretch the credulity of even the most trusting devotee of Team Boris.
He cut a pitiful figure in Westminster last week. The characteristic bombast was gone – smile absent, eyes twitching, hands firmly on the dispatch box he cowered behind.
It was a statement by a man who knows his time as Prime Minister is coming to an end. The party is well and truly over.
But let’s not allow Johnson’s exit to cleanse Westminster of every one-rule-for-them scandal. These shenanigans happened before Boris Johnson, and they will happen after he’s gone. They are merely the expressions of a Westminster system based on, and one that perpetuates, privilege.
Just think what we could achieve free from that system as an independent country in Europe.