Does anyone remember what they were doing 12 months ago? I was in the process of changing my Christmas plans so thbrat I limited contact with people. I wanted to be able to spend some quality time with my parents after what had been such a challenging year, and to do that safely I had to make sure I didn’t meet many people. Social distancing happened but I was lucky that I could see my parents and spend some moment with them. Many other people couldn’t and were on their own on Christmas Day.
It appears that if you were an employee at Downing Street you were able to enjoy a party, which may or may not be fictional depending on who you choose to believe. The footage that has emerged tonight of staff joking about the situation days after it may (or may not) have happened is shocking. It is shocking on many levels. There were people losing loved ones, struggling with their mental health, and trying to stay safe for themselves and their family.
Whether or not the party happened (which I hope we get the definitive position on soon) the ongoing discussion, debate and denial has only served to damage trust and confidence in the Government. It is leading to conversations about if there are lies over this what else are there lies about? All this is hugely damaging at a time when people need to trust the response to the Omnicron variant.
It is not just a distraction anymore it is quickly becoming the main conversation. It is not a trivial matter it is seriously threatening to undermine the crisis response.
I had the opportunity this morning of speaking on a panel at the Global Communication Summit about crisis response Covid and the role of whistleblowers. Given that we are 12 months from these events I am surprised that there was no-one operating as whistleblower to the behaviour that may have been taking place. One of the key points made this morning was that facts matter, people matter, and honesty matters.
Perhaps this is time for a new style of political leadership one that is built on trust, honesty, and a desire to serve people. One where the rules and laws apply to everyone and there is accountability when things go wrong. These are the principles I talk about of effective crisis communication, where we are at the moment is far from that.