Today
Tue 25 January 2022

By sharing the story of her brother on social media, Dr Pam Jarvis discovered how many others were suffering while Number 10 partied on 18 December last year. She has a plan to make sure that this is not forgotten

On 18 December 2020, my brother died. He died of cancer not COVID-19, but all the issues around the Coronavirus lockdowns meant that, during the last month of his life, he was unable to see family members other than on FaceTime.

Like many others who died in that period – of COVID-19 or otherwise – he died in the care of kind strangers. As bad luck would have it, our 92-year-old mother, who was in the final stage of Alzheimer’s, died seven weeks later, under the similar circumstances.

These events obviously had an impact on me and my family. My coping mechanism across the lockdowns last year was to write a novel, which deals with family, tragedy, love and loss. By the time of these deaths, it was in the final pre-publication stages and I managed to complete it. It was published in July 2021. I also wrote a short article about my brother’s death in Yorkshire Bylines.

On the evening of 1 December 2021, I watched the news of the alleged Downing Street Christmas party pop up on my social media feed. My first reaction was simply disgust at yet more sleaze. Then I looked more closely. And a date jumped out: 18 December 2020.

When my brother was dying without his family around him due to lockdown rules, the Government that had mandated this was partying.

I posted an angry tweet and received quite a response:

One of my friends who saw it messaged me: “I wonder what was happening to other people on that day?”

I followed up with another tweet asking this question, and was immediately overwhelmed with replies – about relatives who had died without family members present on or around that date, about people who could not attend funerals, about lonely Christmases where families were unable to meet. They were stories of ordinary people, just like me, who were obeying lockdown rules, despite considerable personal costs.

Responses to my tweet continued to pour in. Anger at the Government and its fecklessness was the overwhelming theme that connected everyone contributing to the thread, regardless of the personal circumstances that they were relaying.

Inevitably, I was contacted by several representatives of the national press. Most wanted intricate personal details of my family and asked whether I want Boris Johnson to apologise.


Not Just About Me

About this time last year, drawing on my knowledge as a chartered psychologist, I wrote an article in the Yorkshire Bylines setting out how the Johnson Government has been able to ‘coercively control’ the press and the public.

My immediate thought on being asked by the national media to speak about my experience – in this ‘reality TV’ fashion – was ‘here we go again’. Once the situation is isolated and personalised, I would become just one more person who is angry with Boris Johnson.

But the social media thread that I had unintentionally started impressed on me that I must make it crystal clear that this is absolutely not the case.

This is not about one person who is angry with Boris Johnson’s Government for the ways in which it treats the British public, it is legion. I am not interested in engaging with the Prime Minister about my own personal circumstances (about which he would, no doubt, have little interest) or receiving some type of insincere apology that he would treat as a publicity exercise.

This is what I am interested in finding out:

  1. Was there a Christmas party at 10 Downing Street on 18 December 2020, contrary to legislation at the time?
  2. Were 40-50 people living in different households present, contrary to legislation at the time?
  3. Was the Prime Minister aware of this, and/or did he attend such a party or any others on this day?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it is a resigning matter. And it is not just me who should receive an apology – but the entire nation.

My hope is that 1 December 2021 will mark the date when the circus is finally over; when the public will finally see this Government as it truly is; as the lights go out, the music stops, and the clowns remove their greasepaint.

I am inviting people to post their comments on how they feel about this situation and what they think should happen now on the twitter hashtag #18thDecember. 

Dr Pam Jarvis is a chartered psychologist, author and citizen journalist. She writes for Yorkshire Bylines

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