If the Government acts, and draws up Covid rules for Christmas, Boris Johnson is pilloried as the worst thing to happen to Christmas since King Herod.
If the Government had only advised instead, the Prime Minister would have been compared to another Biblical figure, this time an Easter one: Pontius Pilate, washing his hands of responsibility. And since it has now done both, it is being trashed for giving us the worst of both worlds.
This site has been very critical of aspects of Government policy over the Coronavirus – such as its failure to produce a proper cost-benefit analysis of the collective impact of lockdowns, restrictions and Covid itself.
And perhaps Johnson should indeed be implementing a gentler squeeze for longer – putting more areas in Tier Two, rather than placing more in Tier Three, easing off for Christmas, and then reverting to Tier Three. If not then trying to implement, heaven help us, a third national lockdown.
Then again, were he to have tried clamping down on Christmas Day, he would have run the risk of so many people ignoring it as to make the Government look weak (or even weaker, according to your point of view). And looking weak can have tough consequences not ony for governments but voters.
At any rate, we can’t see what is wrong with Ministers supplementing the rules with appeals to common sense. Yes, they will be caught out saying different things by different interviewers: all fun and games for those of us who work in the media. But we doubt that many voters will really hold that against them.
“Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. And I’m afraid this year, I do mean little.” Like him or loathe him, the Prime Minister retains an awesome capacity to get his message across.