There’s Nothing More Frustrating Than Watching People Act Like Rules Don’t Apply To Them
Earlier this week, news broke that Stanley Johnson jetted off to his holiday home in Greece for so-called ‘essential business’.
Johnson – a former Conservative politician and the father of our current prime minister – documented his journey in a series of (now-deleted) posts on social media on Wednesday, showing his plane coming in over Athens and even posing for a selfie in the airport at one point.
Which would be absolutely fine, if a travel ban wasn’t at the time in place prohibiting residents of the UK from doing that very thing. Prompting the question: is it one rule for us and another, completely different rule for them?
It certainly seems that way – less than six weeks after Dominic Cummings addressed the nation from Downing Street following his trip to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight, refusing to utter even a single apology, Johnson has proved yet again that the rules simply don’t apply to them.
The travel ban in effect that has just today made exemptions to 50 countries, including Greece, prevented British travellers from flying to the country until July 15 at the earliest. Yet a whole two weeks before that ban was expected to end, the former politician dodged it completely by flying from Luton to Athens via Bulgaria.
In blatant disregard for the rules which have so far meant around 400,000 people have had their family holidays cancelled – sometimes for the second and even third time – Johnson arrived in Athens on Wednesday, to visit his four-bed villa. A villa which boasts a pool and multiple terraces, no less.
Speaking from one of the balconies of his villa that evening, Johnson told Daily Mail reporters that while Greek officials are ‘trying to stop bulk arrivals from the UK’, they were seemingly ‘quite happy to have [him] coming in’.
‘All they wanted to know [was] where I was coming from and what I was doing,’ he continued. ‘Then I had my temperature taken and was swabbed twice… From what I’ve seen the arrival of the British will not be a danger to the Greeks because they’re so careful here.’
Except the Greek government clearly does perceive our arrival to be dangerous to the country’s population, citing concern about the high levels of COVID-19 infection in the UK as the reason flights between the two countries was not permitted.
Not to worry though, because the former politician insists he’s only there for ‘essential business’. Which, I suppose, it would have to be seeing as though official guidance from the UK Foreign Office states Britons should only go on essential trips. Wouldn’t it?
Well, our Stanley certainly thinks so, telling reporters he’s there to ‘COVID-proof’ his property for the upcoming letting season. ‘I need to set up distancing measures at the property because they’re taking it very seriously here,’ he said.
Fancy that, a country actually taking a life-threatening virus ‘very seriously’ – and one which has been successful in containing the virus, reporting less than 200 deaths across a population of 10.72 million, no less. Us, on the other hand? Well that’s another story.
This weekend, the UK government is easing its lockdown measures even further, with pubs, bars and restaurants opening their doors for the first time in more than three months.
And while I’d love nothing more than to go enjoy a pint with my mates, I just find it impossible to trust a government that has proven time and time again it will put its own interests above the health of the country and above its most vulnerable residents.
When it continues to flout the rules in blatant disregard for the rest of us, how am I supposed to believe that we’ll be safe? When it advocates the types of behaviour exhibited by the likes of Cummings and Johnson, how can I trust its judgement?
When it brushes such behaviour away with the same excuse – the prime minister’s spokesperson yesterday defended Johnson’s actions by saying, as per the Daily Mail, ‘It is advice. It is for individuals to make judgements themselves,’ the same rebuttal given during Cummings-gate – how can you put your faith in them?
The answer’s simple for me: I can’t. Neither can 23-year-old Esme, who told UNILAD that while she has tried to put her trust in the government’s handling of the pandemic, it has given her ‘reason after reason’ not to.
‘They just don’t stop lying, covering things up and avoiding interviews,’ she said. ‘And it’s extremely unfair. This is obviously an unprecedented crisis, but there has been no transparency, no accountability, and thousands of people have died.’
Esme, from Cornwall, continued:
It definitely makes you feel like there is one rule for us, and another for them. I just feel like people have sacrificed so much.
[They] have missed out on weddings, visiting newborn babies, finishing school, graduating university – let alone the people who have not been able to visit sick and dying loved ones, the people who have died alone in hospitals, have lost everything because of the pandemic. To me it is just a slap in the face to all of those people.
Lucy, from Derbyshire, agrees, saying the government’s behaviour is ‘making the problem worse for everyone’ because it’s ‘sending the wrong message to others’.
The 34-year-old explained that, while she would like to think ‘most people will behave responsibly no matter what others are doing’, some people will undoubtedly think, ‘well he’s done it with no consequences, so why can’t I?’
People such as Cummings and Johnson are ‘getting away with doing something that could cost lives’, Lucy added, saying: ‘This virus needs to be contained, not just in the UK, but everywhere, and fast, before people suffer any more.’
The Cummings and Johnson Sr. situations have given out the message that if people with links to the government can’t or won’t follow the rules, why should anyone else bother? And that’s an extremely dangerous situation for us all.
Dan, from London, told UNILAD actions such as Johnson’s ‘make you lose faith in the government’. The 28-year-old, who is shielding, described it as ‘really tough’ to see people such as Johnson breaking the rules, especially because ultimately other people ‘will follow’.
It feels like they give rules but then also hold back and put decisions onto the public. It feels as though they don’t want the responsibility of things going wrong.
You only need to look at the mixed messages given by the government regarding the reopening of pubs this weekend – first in a (now-deleted) tweet from the Treasury urging people to ‘raise a glass’ and celebrate, then in a statement from Downing Street warning people not to ‘overdo it’ – to know Dan’s got a point.
We’re supposed to use our ‘common sense’ when it comes to this pandemic and our own actions regarding it, but when the government fails to demonstrate such common sense in its easing of lockdown – or throughout the whole pandemic, for that matter – I’m struggling to see how that’s possible.
I’m struggling to see how I can trust a government whose main concern is protecting its own. No, scratch that, I’m finding it impossible. And I’m not the only one; according to a Reuters Institute factsheet, trust in the UK government as a source of information about coronavirus has declined substantially since April.
Just 48% rated the government ‘relatively trustworthy’ in late May, down from 67% just six weeks earlier. Not only that, but the percentage of people who say the government is doing a good job responding to the crisis is down 21% since April.
But hey, as long as people like Johnson get to jet off to their fancy villas whenever they feel like it, I guess that’s all that matters – not the millions of people who have sacrificed seeing their loved ones for the past few months.
Or those who have done everything in their power to protect others from the spread of the virus, for that matter, or even those who have had to miss family members’ funerals. Nope, as long as Stanley’s sorted, we’re good.
Time will tell whether the prime minister’s father is likely to break any additional rules, specifically the one that says he must quarantine for 14 days after returning from Greece to the UK.
Oh but wait, that rule doesn’t apply anymore because in a shock turn of events – just two days after Johnson flew to the country – Greece has been listed as one of the countries for which quarantine will not apply to people arriving back in England from today July 4, despite the fact travel from the UK is still banned by the Greek government until July 15.
I wonder why that is?
It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.
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