Scottish Catholic Conservative activist James Bundy says the Downing Street parties during lockdown were an awful betrayal.
I am a member of the Conservative Party. One of the reasons that I am is because I believe deeply in the Rule of Law. And that law should be developed through everyday interactions over time rather than imposed from the top-down by the Government. That way the law evolves to promote the ‘Common Good’, rather than support the personal interests of those in power.
In times of emergency of course the state has a role to play in promoting the ‘Com- mon Good’. The restrictions imposed by Government during the COVID-19 pandemic were in this spirit and recognising this, most British people followed them despite the personal toll that they had.
The personal sacrifices that were made is why the anger that people feel about the revelation of parties in Downing Street is just.
Those who impose legal restrictions that go against our human instinct have a moral duty to follow these restrictions. Leaders must feel the sacrifices that they are asking others to make. If they do not, it should make us question if they actually believe that the restrictions they imposed were for the ‘Common Good’?
As a Catholic, one of the biggest sacrifices I made during the height of restrictions was going without the Sacraments. I attended Mass online, but it was not the same. Central to my Faith, and therefore central to my life, is participation in the Sacraments.
As a sinner, having access to the Sacrament of Confession is of great importance as it gives me the opportunity to be reconciled to God. The reception of the Blessed Eucharist restores, sustains, and delights my soul.
Since the first lockdown, I opposed the Government closing places of worship. I believe that this decision epitomised Government focus on materialism and its neglect of the spiritual.
The decision to keep Catholic churches open in Scotland should have been made by the Church: either collectively through the Bishop’s Conference, or through the dioceses, or by individual churches.
If the Church decided to close its doors in the name of promoting the ‘Common Good’, it would have had much greater moral authority than Government imposing a blanket ban.
But despite disagreeing with the Governments closure of places of worship, I followed the restrictions due to the understanding that we were collectively doing this together. Not just as a Church, but as a country.
Now I feel like a fool. Knowing that parties were taking place in Downing Street when I was making sacrifices, which took a spiritual and mental toll, has left me angered, frustrated, and disappointed.
Angry because the leadership of my country didn’t follow the rules they imposed. Frustrated because I followed restrictions which I believed not to be for the Common Good but did so anyway because I believed that this was a collective effort. Disappointed because I have been let down by the leadership which I campaigned for throughout the UK in the 2019 General Election.
Yet the sacrifices I made during the pandemic are miniscule compared to what others went through.
Throughout the pandemic, but especially during the past week, we have heard the incredibly painful stories of people saying goodbye to their loved ones over FaceTime.
At the height of restrictions, we saw arbitrary limits put on attendances on funerals, resulting in many close family and friends not being able to attend.
The collective sacrifice we made is epitomised by the image of Her Majesty the Queen at the funeral of her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. After over 70 years of marriage, the loss she felt would’ve been immeasurable. But the restrictions forced her to sit alone at this terrible time.
I have seen many comments that whilst staff in Downing Street showed no leader- ship by partying the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, the Queen showed leadership by following the restrictions at one of the toughest moments of her life.
Whilst that is true, it also raises another question: can we honestly say that the most inhumane parts of the COVID-19 restrictions were for the ‘Common Good’? I don’t think we can.
So, in the weeks and months ahead, please do continue to voice your anger about the behaviour of those who lead the UK Government.
I will certainly do so because those in leadership must be accountable for their actions. And that is why I have called for the PM to resign.
But even more important than who leads the country is that the Law is used to promote the Common Good, and that the most inhumane parts of the restrictions are never imposed again.
James Bundy is the operations manager of the Freedom Declared Foundation and a Conservative activist.