The Downing Street antics show us how the revolving door of media and political elites fails to hold the powerful to account
On the day government staffers allegedly partied in No 10, British hospitals were filled with the dead and the dying. There were 514 deaths announced that day, while 2,000 Covid patients were transported to hospitals, to be put on ventilators and comforted by the exhausted footsoldiers of a shell-shocked NHS. We have endured two years of personal sacrifice at a level not seen since the second world war. As 150,000 of our fellow citizens died, we have all taken extraordinary measures to prevent an even graver human catastrophe: not being able to hold the hands of dying relatives, separated from loved ones, educations injured, enforced solitude for the 8 million Britons who live alone.
The story of that single Christmas party – with its secret Santa, cheese and wine and all – is a lesson in how power works in this country. Among the general population, compliance with the most severe restrictions on our freedoms in the history of Britain far exceeded sceptical pre-lockdown predictions. Still, the state has come down hard on those accused of violating rules. There were nearly 6,500 prosecutions for lockdown transgressions in the first six months of the crisis, while Londoners have been forced to cough up more than £1m worth of fines. These punitive rules have not been applied equally.
Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist
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