Sunday, July 05, 2020

Are we a party for pubgoers or for curtain-twitchers?

Embed from Getty Images

Ed Davey has written to Kent Police asking them to investigate whether Nigel Farage has breached quarantine rules.

Farage was, inevitably, photographed going for a pint yesterday morning and it is not clear that he had completed his 14 days before he did so.

Davey told the Mirror:
"It is clear from his social media posts that he was in American (sic) on June 20th, and he was pictured at a Trump Rally that evening. 
"Given the current requirements for visitors returning to the UK to isolate for 14 full days on their return, Nigel Farage appears to be in violation of the quarantine.

"It is a responsibility of everyone to take the lockdown requirements seriously in order to stop the spread of the virus. By choosing to go to the pub when it appears he should have been staying at home, Mr Farage is showing a flagrant disregard for the safety of people in his community.

"I have written to Kent Police asking them to urgently investigate the timeline of Mr Farage's travel and ascertain whether he has breached quarantine rules."
I suspect it will turn out that Kent Police have better things with its time. If Farage had not completed his full fortnight then he had very nearly done so, and drinking alone in a pub does not present much of a risk to anyone.

We Lib Dems must be wary of playing along with the government narrative that is taking shape. It will tell us it did all it could in the Covid-19 pandemic, but the people just wouldn't cooperate.

And this narrative will then be used by the Tories as an excuse to bring in some pet repressive Tory measure supposed to make the population more biddable.

Rather than make this process easier, we should be emphasising the economic and social reforms needed to slow the spread of the virus.

I can see that Ed's letter may appeal to Lib Dem members - and he has a good reason for wanting to appeal to them at present - but I wonder how it will play with the wider population.

Despite his outings to Dover, it will be hard to make the charge of hypocrisy stick on Farage. He had no part in framing the regulations he appears to have bent.

So people may be left with the impression that Ed is just out to cause trouble for a political opponent. And that may not play well at all.

One of the unlovely things about the early days of lockdown was the readiness to report their neighbours for supposed breaches of the regulations. Remember the outrage by people sunbathing in the park?

I never warmed to the New Labour project precisely because it sought to appeal to this curtain-twitching tendency in British society and I don't want to see the Liberal Democrats appealing to it now.

My sympathies are with the pubgoers, even if one of them is the odious Nigel Farage. And I suspect this is true of many other voters.


Anonymous said...


We cannot have one set of rules for the powerful and a different set for everyone else - or a set of rules intended for the benefit and safety of all which are ignored by the powerful.

I note there is a move afoot to bring a private prosecution against Cummings. Good - I'll be happy to contribute to the crowdfunding. And in respect of Farage if the opportunity arises.

Anonymous said...

I share some of your discomfort, but simply allowing Farage and Cummings and Stanley Johnson and Johnson himself and the other prominent members of the Brexit elite to break whatever rules and ignore whatever guidance they want, without consequences, is unacceptable and deeply corrosive. You absolutely can’t have any kind of liberal democracy where how likely the Police are to investigate and take action against you, whether for minor or major things, depends on where you sit in the de facto hierarchy of power.
The apparent “cheeky chappy” or “bad boy” persona would be irritating but unimportant, except that it hides an extremely serious and determined attack by these people on our fundamental rights and freedoms and on our democracy itself. While the media is being diverted by a super-spreading Farage, or whatever gathering we later find out Johnson wanted to go to on 4th July, it is not reporting the many millions of pounds worth of public contracts being granted with all kinds of inappropriate people without any discernible diligence or benefits for the public, nor the real purposes of Farage’s jaunt to the US, nor the network of people he is a part of, whose avowed aims are nothing much short of authoritarian control of the UK and much of the rest of the world.
I agree it would be better to fight these awful people on the more important matters, but they should be exactly as accountable, and face the same consequences, as everyone else. It’s really not unreasonable, nor unfair, to ask the Police to enforce the law.

Phil Beesley said...

The thing is that we expect the police to treat Farage and his like in the same way as any other person. And in fact, that is what the police are doing. They do not have the resources to pursue every minor behavioural breach (assuming that the "laws" themselves are valid) and most will be treated with a few words of advice rather than investigation.

Are people like Cummings, Farage and Stanley Johnson taking the piss out of the rest of us? Most certainly so, and it is right to point out their contempt for us little people. Make some noise about it but expect the police to concentrate their resources on things which matter, such as the distressed people who have wandered away from home or domestic violence or any of the other less visible social problems.

Herbert Eppel said...

On a related note see "Do we have a British Covid Stasi?"