I WAS listening to the radio when the news broke that Jeremy Corbyn had broken the lockdown rules – rule of six AND social distancing – by attending a dinner party with nine at the table.
Corbyn has apologised for breaching the rule of six and faces a £200 fine along with his wife, Laura Alvarez, their hosts and fellow guests.
Now, my initial reaction to this was outrage. ‘Typical politicians,’ I thought. ‘Breaking the rules they set for us. I’ll put money on it he doesn’t have to pay the fine.’That remained my attitude until I heard political commentator Helen Dale talking to Mike Graham on Talk Radio about the snitch at Corbyn’s evening out. One of Corbyn’s companions (though this may have been a casual acquaintance), breaking the same regulations, thought to take a picture, then this person or someone else sent it to the papers. You can’t trust anyone these days, can you?
In these situations, it’s difficult not to feel anger towards public figures who have spent months telling us to do things for our own good and then who go and break the same restrictions. (How about Scottish Nationalist MP Margaret Ferrier, who took a train from Glasgow to London when she had virus symptoms, then went back by train after receiving a positive test result?) At the same time, knowing the apparent risks, what is wrong with having a few friends over to dinner? Does it make a difference if there are six or nine of you? Corbyn must have thought the same thing but I’ll bet that’s not what he’s thinking now. Once he gets past the embarrassment at being caught out, he’ll start to ponder over his circle of friends, wondering who to trust, and that’s the problem with this informer culture. You might decide on dinner with friends; your child may be turning a significant age and you may decide, to hell with the rules, and hold your own event not knowing that one among you, maybe a close friend or relative, will shop you to the authorities.
In the midst of the lockdown measures and everything else that is happening, our government have brought about a culture we would never have thought possible in this country and the informers are taking it up with aplomb. If Corbyn gets a fine for this, that’ll be the last thing on his mind.