JANET STREET-PORTER: All I want for Christmas is freedom

3 weeks ago 6

Who will control your Christmas? According to a distinguished former Supreme Court Judge, it cannot be left to politicians.

Lord Sumption says 'Christmas is not in their gift - but their re-election is in ours'. He believes we must be allowed to take whatever risks we choose at Christmas, even if it means breaking the law.

But what is the law? Planning the D Day landings would have been simpler than negotiating your way through the four different sets of draconian regulations (which change daily) attempting to control the spread of covid in the UK.

Anyone who speaks out against the bonkers 'rule of six' because they are desperate to see aged relatives or young nieces and nephews is immediately shot down as irresponsible and careless.

Victoria Derbyshire - a brave woman who documented her battle with cancer and won millions of fans in the process - has been badly bruised by daring to state what so many of us were thinking- that Christmas is sacrosanct, and it's our own business how we spend it.

Victoria Derbyshire had said she would be inviting her mother Pauline (pictured together at her wedding day in 2018), her mother's partner and Sandell's father for lunch no matter what. She later issued an apology 

Derbyshire has spent her career as a campaigning journalist - so why issue an apology twenty four hours after speaking out on behalf of the frustrated folk of lockdown Britain? Was she silenced so that the increasingly fed up middle classes don't rise up against Boris and his army of rule makers?

A couple of days ago, I applauded Victoria's sensible declaration that the Derbyshire household would be ignoring the 'rule of six' on Christmas day because there are 7 in their family.

The mother-of-two told Radio Times they planned to invite her elderly mother plus partner as well as her father-in-law over to celebrate, admitting, 'it feels almost irresponsible, but I don't think we're alone in feeling that way. We'll do it knowing what the risks are. We're not stupid'.

At last, a lone voice of reason. What's so scientifically special about the number 6 anyway?

A day later, in a total about turn, Derbyshire issued a grovelling apology, claiming her answer was 'hypothetical' and of course she would be abiding by the rules.

I don't know what pressure from her bosses at the BBC (or in Downing Street) forced this award-winning journalist into claiming her remarks were based on a 'hypothetical situation', but it smelt fishy. In modern Britain it seems we must all fall into step, accept the government's dictats, or face huge fines. Side with the thought police or lose our jobs.

Only the other week, three students were fined £10,000 each for hosting an illegal party - so god knows whether police vans will be touring suburban streets on Christmas Day, counting the numbers in every living room and frog-marching excess elderly relatives back to their care homes to die all alone, untouched by hand. Some police have suggested they will.

The moral of the Derbyshire debacle is - if you have plans for Christmas, don't tell anyone. At the current rate, the clowns running our Covid strategy will have banned Christmas pudding in the next couple of weeks on the grounds it's a non-essential food.

Food rationing will be in force and movements in and out of your postcode will probably be monitored by drones. You'll need a ration book for luxuries like crackers and mince pies and all sausages will be measured to make sure they are 'substantial'.

Luckily (if the abysmal success rate of our 'world beating' Test and Trace system is anything to go by) there's little chance of getting caught breaking the rules, but an army of enforcers will have been hired at a cost of billions and an advertising agency paid to come up with happy clappy slogans for posters, badges and stickers. 

Why give money to feed hungry kids when you can pay consultants and advisors to attempt to make your policies palatable?

Christianity is about humanity and humility – somehow I can't see Jesus having truck with the 'rule of six'

Every week brings even more restrictions – a fourth tier is a 'possibility' according to Matt Hancock and a fifth must already being formulated on a fag packet somewhere in Downing Street.

By Christmas we should have reached Tier 10 in the Liverpool Area, which will involve food being deposited in sacks at the end of each locked up street, delivered by men in red clothing wearing white fake beards. 

Now the Lib Dems want a 'Christmas summit' bringing together the heads of four regions of the UK to synchronise their plans and make travel and getting together easier. God help us.

We're being bullied into submission by politicians and scientists who don't agree and who secretly know that their virus containment plans are full of holes. Mutiny is in the air. 

Leading restaurateur Jeremy King has gone public with a declaration that he intends to let people from different households into his fashionable eateries if they are conducting 'business' meetings, exploiting a loophole in the existing restrictions. He's decided to risk being prosecuted, or face closure. All over London, other restaurants are joining the rebellion.

It's plain that the ever increasing mess of rules surrounding every aspect of our lives can't be sustained. There are Welsh men in suits dictating whether we can buy tampons, toys and copier paper. Coppers are storming into churches and checking the number of celebrants. 

Another load of petty Hitlers are policing pizza slices. I feel as if I'm living in pre-war Germany or North Korea.

Lockdown isn't working anywhere in Europe. In Germany, Angela Merkel has admitted that her country is on the brink of losing the battle with the virus. Italy is on a third wave of infection. France has declared a State of Emergency. There's rioting and demonstrations on the streets of Milan, Turin, Rome, and Barcelona.

Derbyshire has sons Oliver, 16, and Joe, 13, with Mr Sandell. She is pictured together with her children after the Race For Life at Windsor Racecourse in Berkshire in June 2018

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have all devised even stricter rules than England - but what are the chances they will be successful?

Not much, if we follow the pattern being repeated all over Europe. In the meantime fighting a virus with a ban on buying toys for toddlers seems laughable. And don't tell me we just have to grin and bear it until a vaccine comes along.

Viruses can mutate, we now know immunity against Covid fades fast, meaning even if we eventually get a vaccine we may need immunisation annually.

So eventually, we will have to learn to live with the virus whether we like it or not.

And that will mean allowing people not politicians to decide what personal risks they take.

In the meantime, Victoria Derbyshire must reissue the invitation to her relatives for Christmas Day.

Christianity is about humanity and humility – somehow I can't see Jesus having truck with the 'rule of six'.

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