He might just get away with it…
Like many thousands of people over the past 2 months, I have been nurturing a quiet rage as more and more details of consistent law breaking during the covid lockdowns by the UK Government have emerged.
I’ve been most surprised at the impact of these stories on my mental health and general willingness to engage with the day to day tasks of my life. It’s like every new revelation takes a little bit more from my armour to the point where I have become weary of the simplest of things.
In March 2020 we became first time parents. There’s not an area of your life that isn’t morphed into something else when there’s a tiny person looking at you to keep them safe and well. I don’t have birth children but in conversations with my friends who do, it’s clear that becoming an adoptive parent (and going through the assessment process) brings a different set of concerns and worries that don’t dissipate as your child moves through the developmental changes of childhood in the way that they might do with birth children. The concerns and worries morph and change in the same way your child does. It’s wild…
Quite aside from my disdain for what Conservatism in the UK has come to represent (tribalism, identity politics and the anti-trans rhetoric to name some of the more obvious themes), it’s at the intersection of my becoming a new parent, the COVID-19 pandemic and the consistent lies, obfuscation and rule breaking within government that I’m writing.
I think I’m doing it because I can see that it’s becoming possible the Prime Minister and his colleagues might get away with their law breaking. I know people that define themselves as ‘Tories’ and to be clear, I don’t think they are bad people. I don’t know if they will read this but it’s so important that people speak about the sacrifices they made during the lockdowns so that people aren’t fooled by the fool that lives in 10 Downing Street and summon the strength to hold them all to account.
In March 2020, as the talk about some virus from China was getting louder, my husband and I were in the final stages of readying our house and our lives for a 2 year old. We had been approved as adopters on Christmas Eve 2019 and formally matched with our daughter in February 2020. Our focus was on preparing to become a family — so much so that on my last day in the office, I said goodbye to my team and that I would see them in about 6 weeks and one replied ‘not if this virus ends up in the country’ and oh, how we laughed!
It seems disrespectful now, after over 150,000 families have lost someone they care about. But that was the national attitude at that point. We knew next to nothing. By the time our introduction schedule was complete, it was March 17th 2020. I vividly remember us both sitting down in our living room having done our first solo bed time routine, starting at nothing, listing for a sound, primed and ready to deploy all the techniques we had been exposed to in our preparation sessions.
Luckily, there was no sound so we popped the television on and we watched the news for the first time in about 3 weeks. I think I turned to my husband and said ‘oh shit… this is really serious’ as the death toll in Italy was climbing. Some 5 days later the UK was in lockdown and we were on our own with a traumatised 2 year old.
In ‘normal times’, new adoptive families are visited at least once a week by social workers, health visitors and the like to check on progress and support everyone to find a routine and attach. That stopped. We had some contact but it was fleeting, brief and transactional — 2 zoom calls and a visit that we pushed and pushed for.
I had struggled all the way through the assessment process with the fact that we, a normal, decent couple had to go through this really intense, intrusive process and be judged by strangers when two people can do the nasty once, conceive a child without any checks or judgement from “professionals” and just get on with it. So, in some ways I was happy to be left alone but there was a period of time where we really needed some help and advice and we just had to figure it out. Biological parents have to do it, I know, but their children generally aren’t born with generational trauma, separation issues and care experience.
We have made nowhere near the level of sacrifice others have during the pandemic — whether that is moving out of the family home to keep everyone safe or working on the front line, dealing with governmental incompetence on a daily basis. We haven’t lost anyone, which is a mercy and not one enjoyed by many thousand of others.
As new parents, we lost a vital network of support from social services, family and friends. We were alone. We couldn’t just nip over to see family or friends when we needed a break from parenting or from each other. There was no escape — no BYOB parties in our back garden. No cake.
We didn’t plan on introducing our daughter to anyone for at least a month after placement but that month turned to 2 and then 3. We muddled through the rule of 6 for her 3rd birthday party as best we could, battling with a bouncy castle in the July rain, moving this group of people in and this group of people out so we wouldn’t be prosecuted or issued with a fixed penalty notice.
Ultimately, we can’t know the impact on her social development or the social development of the millions of other kids in this country but I’m left thinking ‘what the hell was all that for?’ even though I know doing what our elected officials were doing could have put people in early graves.
The past couple of weeks have shown that this country’s leadership is failing from the top down and to it’s core. If you take politics and political leanings out of it, this is a question of the character of the individuals we have leading us, making difficult decisions and representing us internationally.
We have to be so careful with the notion that ‘all politicians are the same’ because they are demonstrably not. On a fundamental level, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are different people. One has a track record of championing truth, compassion and integrity and the other leaves a trail of destruction from his litany of scandals, obfuscation, lies and deceit.
With today’s news that the Metropolitan Police have intervened in Sue Gray’s report and limited references to potential criminality — I’m starting to think that the Government might just get away with it.
And if that happens… I’ll be the one with a cullender on my head moving off grid for a while.