And this brings me to the real horror of the Christmas Covid amnesty: the cowardly absence of political debate about it. I’m generally quite keen on political consensus, but the five-day break from fatal reality has been delivered by something bordering on a conspiracy of silence by politicians of all parties and nations. MPs who know perfectly well that relaxing restrictions for Christmas will mean more harm and more severe restrictions next month are not saying so.
Britain’s media culture doesn’t help here either. There are significant voices on what used to be Fleet Street who are heavily invested (in several senses) in the idea of a jolly Christmas with turkey and happiness and consumer spending. That means any politician who dares offer a Scrooge-like note of caution – or just some basic critical thinking – on the Christmas relaxation risks the pillory.
Social media can be at least as bad. When I wrote a while back about the folly of the Christmas amnesty, I was struck by the volume and ferocity of the Twitter backlash I faced – and by how many of those claiming furious anger at my attempts to crush their Christmas dreams bore all the hallmarks of being bot accounts run from elsewhere.