JANET STREET-PORTER: All I want for Christmas is a set of clear rules

JANET STREET-PORTER: All I want for Christmas is one set of clear rules the whole country can unite behind and if that means not eating and drinking till I’m sick, then so be it

Banning Xmas would be ‘frankly inhuman’ says Boris but, according to the polls, the public don’t agree.

The majority want Boris’s ‘relaxed’ Christmas rules cancelled, half say the current rules aren’t strict enough and only a third want everything to continue as planned.

We’re crying out for someone to have the guts to take control in this crisis, to stand up and make tough decisions, not behave like a second-rate Santa dishing out cringe-making catchphrases like ‘have a very merry LITTLE Christmas’.

The life of Christ ended in an inhuman manner, with a crucifixion, so Christians are quite prepared to deal with unpleasant things.

And in the scheme of things, being told we must endure for one year only a Christmas where we can’t drink until we feel sick or gorge our way through an enormous bird, followed by pudding and brandy butter, huddled up round the table with relatives we normally can’t stand – is probably not the end of the world. Anyone who lived through the war will have seen far worse.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson asks families to cut back their Christmas plans at Downing Street yesterday

When Boris decided that Christmas 2020 was going to be a special treat – without consulting the public or his MP’s – he created a ‘reward’ of five days when we could mix with up to three other households.

It was presented as a pay-back for our ‘good’ behaviour during two lockdowns, putting up with confusing tiers and because his test and trace system was crap and not the ‘world-beating’ scheme he’d promised.

But it turned out that our good behaviour hadn’t been good enough and after dipping for a while, infections are now going back up fast

Meanwhile, the UK has descended into tribal chaos. Boris has managed to create discord and dissent with a system of localised tiers – Manchester has been in open revolt, the North and Tyneside have had enough.

He’s been besieged by Tory MP’s demanding special treatment for their constituencies. As for business, the hospitality industry in most of the country is on it’s knees and retail is in freefall.

In London, millions of pounds worth of food and drink has had to be trashed after Boris decided to put the capital into Tier 3 at a day’s notice, closing restaurants and bars for their busiest week of the year.

And if pitting one region against another in this lottery of tiers wasn’t enough, leaders in Scotland and Wales have exploited the situation to introduce variants and promote their self-centred bids for independence.

Even during a pandemic when lives are being lost, nothing must stop Nicola Sturgeon’s single goal of an independent country north of the border.

Covid has split the United Kingdom far more successfully than Brexit ever did, pitting towns against rural areas, with posh people fleeing the cities to second homes with gardens and space while the poorest remain in Covid hot spots in inner cities.

Ministers like Matt Hancock (pictured on Monday) are touring broadcasters promoting the new message that we should be ‘responsible’ this Christmas, and scale down our plans

Formerly thriving high streets are deserted and boarded up, and Christmas lights are shining on empty market squares up and down the land. Putting Christmas in the hands of our hapless party planners Boris, Sturgeon and Co has proved to be a disaster. Thank God they didn’t plan any of my major birthdays!

In his bid to please, the Prime Minister has consistently baulked at re-imposing a single set of rules on the whole country. Instead, he’s tinkered with the toys, setting up city zones and local tiers and bubbles and constant revisions, while all the medics and the scientists have begged for a different, tougher approach.

Yes, infections might have fallen in the North and Bolton and Greater Manchester as a result of being placed in Tier 3 – but relaxing the rules for Xmas or allowing these places to go down a Tier this week would be madness.

As one scientist put it yesterday: ‘Somehow we seem to think that Covid will realise it’s Christmas and not infect anyone’.

The offer of five days of relative freedom at Christmas meant that people bought train tickets, made plans and thought Xmas was sorted.

Now, as infections rise – an estimated 1.9 million people currently have the virus and infections are rising by 50% – we’re being told to reverse shunt, think ‘small and local’ and not travel from one Tier to another.

The Welsh have it even worse – only two households can mix, and they face a total lockdown from December 28th into ‘Tier 4’, although they can cross the border and visit England to celebrate at Xmas if they wish.

Welsh leader Mark Drakeford’s policy is not just confusing, it’s the patronising posturing of a tin pot leader who managed to ‘lose’ 11,000 positive Covid tests this week, due to computer ‘maintenance’.

In England ministers like Priti Patel, Matt Hancock and Robert Jenrick are touring broadcasters promoting the new message that we should be ‘responsible’ this Christmas, and scale down our plans because they are frightened by the latest figures.

The truth is, we were already being ‘responsible’- it’s the politicians who have signally failed to be consistent, bold, brave and tough. What a bunch of wimps!

Throughout this pandemic, we’ve been led by a man who only seeks to please. Who thrives on big gestures, big promises and hyperbole – with war-like metaphors and Churchillian rhetoric.

But it’s all a façade – what the public desperately wants now is what we had we had the start – one clear set of rules for the ENTIRE country.

Rules that are Sensible, Simple, Strict and the Same no matter where you live. It’s the only way to end the bickering and the power-broking in the regions.

When we attend school, there’s plenty of rules. A start time, a finish time, lunch break, rules and uniforms.

The entire pupil population (well, almost everyone) signs up to being educated, sitting exams, and being taught in classrooms where we sit behind desks listening to teachers.

But when it came to Covid, politicians decided to treat us like babies – who couldn’t be told the true picture, who would not be able to cope with strict rules.

The only way to contain covid in the long term will be through vaccination, and thankfully, that’s started.

But in the meantime the only way to get through Christmas and the current spike in infections is for politicians to stop offering us treats.

They have created a confusing mess of rules and regulations, bubbles and households which vary from one country to another and one borough to another. These will be re-juggled and re-jigged weekly, but nothing will alter the undeniable fact – each one of us must make our own choices over the coming months until we get a jab.

So this Christmas, I’ll be trusting my own judgement more than the handouts from the shoddy Santa of Downing Street.

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