Column: Political leaders have really been shown up by our heroic NHS staff
Not long before Christmas, I had my vaccine booster. It was a real weight off my shoulders and, as usual, the NHS impressed me beyond words, says guest columnist Stefan Lamb, chairman of Ashfield constituency Labour Party.
Although I stood in line for an hour, neither myself nor anyone else complained. Maybe it’s that old-fashioned and quintessentially British love for a good queue.
As far as queues go, this one rates among my top favourite queues.
You could feel an unspoken spirit of camaraderie - a feeling we were all in the same boat. This virus has humbled us all. We’ve lost so much, and yet we’ve come together.
I think that’s why recent allegations about what did or didn’t happen at number 10 last Christmas have cut through so deeply. I’ve been trying to put into words exactly why.
You can look at the plummeting compliance rates after the Barnard Castle debacle, with officers finding it considerably more difficult to enforce lockdown rules. This sorry affair will have the same impact, if not worse.
But aside from a technical analysis of how this impacts our pandemic response and the effects that has on the daily lives of ordinary people, it’s more of a feeling of people being betrayed by our leaders. Their actions are offensive.
Essentially, it’s not British. In fact, I’d call it anti-British. Whatever ‘Britishness’ is, when leaders tell us to lockdown and then do the exact opposite to what they’re telling the rest of us to do, they’re demonstrating that they think they’re above us. One rule for them, another for the rest of us.
It’s my belief that the core of ‘Britishness’ is the idea of fairness. We have a very deeply engrained and treasured sense of fairness in Britain.
Our leaders, however, do not. They have a sense of entitlement.
Their actions are alien to the rest of us. But because they are our elected leaders, we take it as a personal offence, a personal corruption of our own values.
There’s a much better example of British solidarity to be found in the actions of the NHS staff that administered the vaccine.
They have had an incredibly difficult job, and despite not always having the support and leadership they’ve deserved, they have risen magnificently to the challenge. They are nothing short of heroic, the very best of British.