The current government has yet again been caught red handed in another scandal after a video has emerged of senior staff joking about a ‘fake’ Christmas party last year whilst the country was in national lockdown. The video involved the prime ministerial advisor Ed Oldfield and other staff making a series of jokes about a not socially distanced party that was excused as a ‘business meeting’. Several other sources have also since come out with allegations of at least five other parties that the Conservative government held under lockdown. Since the video has emerged, there has been public outcry, and rightly so. Although Boris Johnson has made a public apology since the events came to light, the amount of backpedaling and misleading information the whole conservative government has engaged in to cover their tracks on this issue leaves a feeling of insincerity. The Met Police has decided to not investigate the allegations due to ‘retrospection’. Indeed, Boris himself has offered his sleuthing skills in figuring out what happened, which undoubtedly have little effect in the truth coming to light. The government has taken some responsibility with Allegra Sutton (the PM secretary at the time) resigning and this year’s Christmas party being cancelled to appease public opinion. However, through the lies and muck-ups of the past two years, the feeling of ‘one rule for them, another rule for the rest of us’ is even clearer.
Beyond all the memes and laughter about the situation, there is a more serious reason for outrage. Particularly for students, this comes as a shot in the chest for those of us who cancelled Christmas plans, worried about putting their families at risk and put our lives on hold for government guidelines last Christmas. Furthermore, last year, the Tories passed the buck of rising Covid cases onto us students and slapped us with fines of up to £10k for illegal parties when it seems that they were engaging in the same behaviour with no price to pay.
These events come at a time at the height of the Omicron variant and the irony of Boris imposing Plan B ‘work from home’ orders and new mask mandates a day after the scandal does not go amiss. The government expects us to follow their new mask mandates when Boris himself failed to wear a mask on a hospital visit three weeks ago. Furthermore, these new restrictions of mask mandates and covid passes for nightclubs target students and young people the most. Yet time and time again the government has capitalised on restrictions, from Covid contracts to rule breaking showing that university students are the least of their priorities. At least the sense of the current normality will be continued at Bath, as the University has confirmed that teaching will continue as planned for semester 2 for now, with the addition of face coverings required in study spaces.
So is this the last straw for the Conservative party? After the past two years of constant letdowns, lies and failures you would hope so. It seems that the government is hit by a new scandal every week yet it has an innate ability to survive each one and it is likely that the same will be true for this one too. Although this week, Labour polled ahead of Conservatives for the first time since October 30th 2021, these polls often mean little unless there is an upcoming election. Certainly, a vote of no confidence is more likely. However, there is the question of how many more scandals should the government be able to get away with at the expense of us students.