Sunday, 16th January, 2022

[Day 671]

Today being Sunday is a morning of early rising so that I can go down and collect my newspaper before breakfast. It was an overcast morning but not particularly cold and as is usual at this time on a Sunday morning, I was passed by the occasional jogger but that was all. After breakfast, we watched the successor to the Andrew Marr (politics) show, imaginatively called the ‘Sunday Morning‘ programme with a new presenter in Sophie Raworth. The BBC say they have plans to relaunch the programme with a new title, a new look and a permanent presenter but Sophie Raworth did a good job in some penetrating interviewing of Keir Starmer. It seems an irony that the next week or so may be some of the more dramatic weeks in British politics with the ‘partygate’ scandal running continuously but the BBC are working with a ‘temporary’ programme format each Sunday morning. After breakfast, we slowly got our act together before making a lesiurely trip down to the park.There we met with two of our Sunday morning regulars – our University of Birmingham friend and Seasoned World Traveller with whom we chatted yesterday. Today, I took along with me a couple of tubes of Ibuprofen gel which had prescribed for me by the doctor when I was suffering from an affliction called ‘trigger finger’ (now righted itself without much intervention). As my medication prders repeat themselves, the Ibuprofen supplies seem to keep expanding so I thought I would give a couple of tubes away to friends and associates (both appreciated by the way) Just after midday, Meg and I went along to have a coffee with our Irish friends down the Kidderminster Road. The coffee transmogrified itself a beer and as it was cold outside, our friends had kindly made some soup and sandwiches for us so we finsihed off having an instant (and very welcome) lunch. We always have the most wonderful of chats and, as usual, we always seem to have masses to talk about, not least the national political scene now that Boris Johnson’s Operation Save Big Dog is swinging into action. I think this weekend may prove to be quite significant, even though no announcements or political action takes place on a Sunday, as the weekends are times for MPs to have conversations with families and supporters in their constituencies and therefore get an intimation of what the current electorate are thinking of the goings-on on Downing Street. When MPs return to Westminster on Monday mornings, some of these soundings can be compared with the perceptions of their fellow MPs once they return to the metropolis. Of course, everyone is waiting for the Sue Gray report into the partying at Downing Street but I have a feeling that the whole may yet prove to be a damp squib. After all, on a factual basis, the journalists have done a pretty good job in ferreting out that which needs to be known.

There are various items in the news today – and they all share common features. The principal item is, of course, the personality of Boris Johnson, because it is evident to many (not least, his house master at Eton) that Boris Johnson refuses to be bound by the rules that affect the rest of us. The second item is Prince Harry who is asking for a level of police protection when he comes to visit the UK. This request reveals a mindset in which Harry wishes to be a member of the royal family when it suits him but not a member when it suits him. The third example is Novak Djokovic whose appeal against deportation from Australia was lost. It appears from various press accounts that Djovic is a vaccine denier – when attempting to enter Australia legally for the first time, he made a false statement on the immigration form so do the normal rules apply to him? The Spanish authorities are also pursuing Djovic for the same reason in that he may have not been entirely honest when it came to declaring his vaccination status. To my mind, each of these examples (and I haven’t bothered to mention Prince Andrew yet) all share one common feature which is this. They relish their ‘elite’ status and then to argue that the rules that bind the majority of the population do not apply to them. Hence they are prepared to ‘bend’ the truth, make false or misleading statements or otherwise argue that they are a ‘special case’. I think it is this aspect of ‘partygate’ as it is beginning to be called as members of the public are rightly incensed when they had to endure the emotional agonies of seeing relatives and loved ones die without being at their side whilst partying was going on in Downing Street. The press have seized on ‘partying’ but in most cases, the transgressions occurred in what, is effect, an ‘after-work drink’ but the wider point is still valid in that most of the population observed the rules whilst the Downing Street personnel did not.