Hurrah for the Tories! No, really!

I thought I’d never say this – but the Government is being quite cool…

I’M NOT A FAN of the Conservative Party. Never have been. Never will be.

I couldn’t stand Maggie and her ‘No such thing as society’ nonsense.

I hated austerity, and I’d be deliriously happy if we never, ever, ever Got Brexit Done.

The way the Johnson administration has handled the Coronavirus crisis has also been lacking in many ways (although, to be honest, I doubt that I’d do any better if I were leading the nation).

There was the early, misguided, flirtation with herd immunity before social distancing was imposed. There are still big problems with testing, and now there’s the Prime Minister’s distressing failure to heed his own advice about social distancing.

But I’m proud of one thing that the Government has done: at least they’ve tried to treat us all like adults.  

I thoroughly approve of the balance that the Conservatives have tried to keep between cracking down on social contact and letting people police themselves.

It’s important for our democracy that there can still be shades of grey, even in the midst of a deadly pandemic”

It’s quite fitting that, in the so-called Cradle of Democracy, Britons are still entrusted with the freedom to judge what is an essential journey – whether it’s a walk, a jog, or a quick trip to the off-licence.

While millions in Spain and Italy have been subjected to pretty brutal lockdowns for several weeks now, we are still free to debate whether people who sunbathe in public are dangerous renegades or fundamentally harmless.

Lambeth, my local council, shut nearby Brockwell Park on Sunday after 3,000 people had visited the previous day, some flouting social distancing rules by sunbathing or congregating in groups.

But the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, checked himself from tightening Britain’s lockdown, pointing out that most people were obeying the rules.

Well done him, I say. It’s important for our democracy that there can still be shades of grey in how we look at social distancing, even in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

On the one hand, you’ve got Derbyshire Police shaming ramblers for visiting The Peak District, even though they weren’t walking near anyone else.

On the other, you have Lord Sumption, a former High Court Judge, accusing the force of “shaming” policing traditions and overstepping its powers.

It’s also to our credit that we can debate whether it’s OK to use your daily exercise allowance to do a 201-mile tour of Norfolk on your bike, as professional triathlete Joe Skipper did recently.

Some would argue that, if Skipper’s bike had broken down, he’d have needed to use public transport or get a lift, increasing the chances of spreading Covid-19.

“If anyone can be relied upon to get home unaided, it’s probably an Ironman specialist”

Then again, if anyone can be relied upon to get home on foot unaided, it’s probably Skipper: an Ironman specialist who completes 2.4 mile swims, followed by 112-mile rides and then full marathons for a living…

Cycling – not quite so far – back from the supermarket at the weekend, I saw plenty of the people that Twitter users had branded #selfishpricks for going outside in the sun.

One of them was a woman sitting quietly on a log on the common, comfortably more than two metres away from the next person. She had her eyes closed, her face turned up towards the sun, and looked happy.

Here’s to the Tories remaining on the side of The Angels”

Of course, she was breaking the rules just by sitting down in public, but she still looked nothing like a #selfishprick to me…    

Maybe I would say that, as someone who’s been out pretty much every day despite the lockdown – whether it’s foraging for my hungry family or shoring up my dodgy mental health with state-sanctioned exercise.

But I truly can’t see the harm in what I’m doing, as long as I keep respecting the social distancing rules.

I can, however, see the harm in penning us all in against our will – like the obese, and the unquiet-minded, the purveyors of domestic violence and their victims, or the kids who’ll behave if you just let them have a run around.

So, here’s to the Tories remaining on the side of The Angels…

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