Now fined, why did Boris, Rishi, Carrie and the No. 10 team have so little fear of Covid?
I am certain that, if they had felt that there was any real risk from the disease, they would not have behaved as they did. Their behaviour demonstrates not merely contempt for the rules applying to everybody else but complete freedom from fear for their own health. They felt that the risk was minimal.
This must mean they did not believe the rules were either justified or necessary. So we are surely entitled to conclude that the government was subjecting us to a campaign of hyperbole and exaggeration - that Michael Gove and others were simply not telling the truth when they talked about us all being at risk? Certainly there was from the beginning a school of thought embodied in the Great Barrington declaration (remember them?) and in the decisions of the Swedish government that a looser, less draconian regime relying on the public exercising its judgement and self-protecting could achieve satisfactory results. It has at its heart the belief that most of the public can be trusted, that volunteers are better, more reliable than conscripts. Latterly, this seems to me to be confirmed by the Christmas/New Year break which is the nearest we have to a controlled experiment. England's looser rules compared with the other three regions of the United Kingdom has - if anything - produced the better results, certainly no worse. Even the BBC's Newsnight acknowledged this when it ran a piece making comparisons on 28 January.
What have our Opposition parties to say about all this?
They have got extremely exercised about whether Boris lied to Parliament about the parties and what he knew. (Personally, I have sympathy with Lord Hannan's explanation that he probably didn't really think about it, seeing all of it if he thought about it at all as an authorised extension of work - he is NOT a 'details man'!)
By contrast, the Opposition have completely failed to raise the much more important issue that the public was misled about the risk and, in particular that for most people - the young and those without pre-existing conditions - the risk was minimal. This by the way has to be understood in the broader context that, covid or not, at least half a million people die every year in the UK, well over 1000 every day; so highlighting individual deaths, especially of the over 70s or 80s gives a totally distorted perspective. Yet this is what news bulletin after news bulletin on every channel has done since early 2020.
Effectively, the Labour party, the SNP and Lib Dems have focussed on issues of Boris's individual honesty whilst ignoring the bigger, much more important lies about real risk - lies which really matter. The reason is that all four parties have colluded in misleading us. The opposition parties, all of them, have consistently called for tighter rules, more severe, longer lockdowns when the evidence seems to be growing that this greater severity takes away our freedoms, criminalises the unlucky turning students running no real risk into scapegoats, and massively damages the economy to no identifiable benefit.
The only opposition that now looks as if it has made the right call - belatedly but better late than never - is the Conservatives' Covid Recovery Group. It and not Boris is undoubtedly responsible for the lighter regime in England over the last couple of months and the evidence already seems clear that this was the right call.
In short, I don't respect the Opposition attack on Boris. It is 'ad hominem' and it is easy.
I will only respect them when they start raising the big question - the lie that matters - whether our loss of freedom and the massive economic damage and personal misery it has caused was necessary, proportionate and unavoidable - and on that subject they are mired up to their necks even more deeply than the Government they condemn.
I knew before this that I couldn't really trust any of them - obvious examples are tendentious lies about the impact of devaluation, the ERM, sovereignty, AIDS, 'weapons of mass destruction' and smart meters (I hate, loathe and detest the Government's totally dishonest Einstein smart meter ad). I now have another, much bigger, more important one to add to the list - and the only people who are emerging with any respect in my mind at least are the small, brave group of libertarian-leaning Conservatives. I suspect Boris is right about one thing: Starmer is another tendentious, duplicitous lawyer.
And as Matt Ridley has tenaciously sought to prove, I do now believe it originated in a Chinese Lab and did not occur naturally, whatever the WHO, Fauci or any other 'reputable international scientist' may say... for me at least any residual trust in their honesty or respect for the truth has departed as certainly as 2021 did on 1 January 2022!
Tony Brown - Former Political Advisor