In a frantic series of tweets over the past week, London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has been practically begging Londoners to follow the rules or risk having London moved into Tier 3 Lockdown. Some experts have, according to the BBC, been warning that London should already be in Tier 3. This follows – as I have previously noted – Mr Khan’s party accusing the government of “blaming the public” for the spread of the virus. Now it seems obvious that the public adhering to the rules is an important part of ‘managing the virus’ and that breaking the rules has consequences for everyone.
So you would think that our civic leaders ‘leading by example’ was terribly important, particularly in London. And you would think that London’s Labour MPs would have a special responsibility to back up London’s Labour Mayor. Sadly, this is not the case.
MP for Hackney – a borough with one of the highest infection rates, no less – Dianne Abbott was out leading a protest meeting in support of disgraced former Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, MP for the London borough of Islington North. Mr Corbyn has had the whip removed, but her remains a member of the Labour Party. This demonstration, led by his former Shadow Home Secretary, was in support of having the whip restored.
But take a look at the photo above. It breaks several of the key Tier 2 rules: there are more than six people, there are people from more than two households, it does not fall into any of the ‘allowed’ purposes for an outdoor meeting, there is absolutely no social distancing, and – to crown it off – almost half the people are not wearing masks (the red-faced ones).
Now, mask-wearing is not required outdoors, but this is premised on the assumption that the other rules are being followed. It is certainly advisable in a large group, from from multiple households, who are not social-distancing.
This is a terribly poor example to be setting for London.
What’s more, it should attract the attention of the police who have fined other high-profile rule-breakers, such as singer Rita Ora, small business owners Andreas Michli and Sinead Quinn, and of course the thousands of ordinary members of the public.
The police have threatened “very serious consequence” for rule-breakers as the spectre of Tier-3 looms. Let’s see if Dianne Abbott gets away with it. I bet she will.