Covid crisis: Boris Johnson is a court jester at a time when we need a real leader who tells the truth and obeys the rules – Robert Aldridge

Can anyone work out what the rules are for Covid just now, especially if over the festive period you are travelling to different parts of the UK to see friends and family? I thought not!

Boris Johnson is left hanging in mid-air after he got stuck on a zipwire in 2012 (Picture: Ben Kendall/PA)
Boris Johnson is left hanging in mid-air after he got stuck on a zipwire in 2012 (Picture: Ben Kendall/PA)

As we face the unknown impact of Omicron and people are unsure how dangerous it is and what to do, we need clarity and consistency from our leaders. We need people leading by example, who we can trust to tell us the truth and take responsibility for anything they get wrong.

Instead we have a Prime Minister dithering and blustering his way through contradictory statements, trying to avoid responsibility for anything (except the vaccine rollout which is down to the heroic efforts of the NHS).

We have a Prime Minister who makes rules which are then broken many times by his closest advisers, giving the dangerous impression that the rules don’t really matter. The result is that increasingly people are deciding which rules they will and won’t follow. The whole public health message has been undermined by the behaviour of the Conservative party.

Thankfully most people are far more responsible than those in the upper echelons of the Tory party and recognise the importance of taking extra care for the sake of those around them. Most of us understand the importance of mask wearing, vaccinations, hand washing and limiting social contact.

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One of the most offensive excuses given for the Christmas parties in Downing Street was that staff had worked really hard. I’m sure they did, but so did the care workers, nurses, doctors, delivery drivers, shop workers, bus and train drivers, ambulance drivers and so many more who all stuck to the rules at the expense of their family life in many cases. Not to mention the awful experience of so many families unable to visit terminally ill relatives or attend funerals in person.

There is nothing worse than politicians pompously taking a moral high tone. We are all ordinary people with ordinary failings and we all make mistakes. At the very least though, we should take responsibility for our mistakes. But when the Prime Minister tries to dodge responsibility and actively seeks out the moral low ground, and can’t see anything wrong in it, we have reached a new depth.

At a time of potential national crisis, the last thing we need is a court jester in charge, dressing up in ever more bizarre costumes trying to deflect attention from his responsibilities. While there is a very serious drama unfolding, our Prime Minister seems permanently locked in a pantomime. But the joke is no longer funny.

The people of North Shropshire have given their verdict in no uncertain terms. The magnificent Lib Dem victory shows just how out of touch the Conservative government has become and that real people will bring arrogance down to size.

Let’s hope it heralds a New Year where the Prime Minister takes responsibility, tells the truth and obeys the rules. The alternative is chaos and potentially a real public health disaster.

Robert Aldridge is councillor for Drum Brae and Gyle, and leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrat group

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