Politics

Boris Johnson party came as Dundee, Perth and Angus streets emptied

As Boris Johnson and his Downing Street team enjoyed a boozy garden gathering, life was anything but a party for the people of Tayside.

At the height of the first lockdown on May 20, 2020 – with strict Covid restrictions in place – the VIP treatment is said to have been served up to those in attendance.

The reality for those in Courier country was worlds away.

Boris Johnson.
Boris Johnson.

Families were unable to see gravely ill relatives, with friends and colleagues also separated.

And without regard for the rules which placed great strain and stress on the public, the Tories apparently lapped up food, wine and treats.

The reality for residents of Dundee, Perth and Angus was boarded-up shop windows and deserted streets.

Boarded-up shop windows in Hilltown, Dundee.
Boarded-up shop windows in Hilltown, Dundee.
One Hilltown resident pictured the same week of Downing Street garden party.
One Hilltown resident pictured the same week of Downing Street garden party.
Dundee locals being urged to 'stay in'.
Dundee locals being urged to ‘stay in’.

Our eerie pictures from the week of the Downing Street party capture a significant period in the pandemic.

The people in our communities had stayed home to save lives and only a handful of locals could be seen walking outside in the Hilltown area of Dundee.

Non-essential shops were shut while hairdressers and gyms had been closed to the public.

One banner draped from a window in the Hilltown urged neighbours to “stay in” and help stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Montrose High Street was equally desolate.

Quiet streets in Montrose.
Streets of Angus town were eerily silent.
Streets of Angus town were eerily silent.
Masked shoppers in Montrose.
Masked shoppers in Montrose.

In Crieff, a lone man can be seen walking up a hill with only one car approaching in the distance.

Courier photographer Mhairi Edwards recalls the stark silence on the streets at the time.

A closed store in Crieff.
The streets of Crieff on Wednesday May 20, 2020.
The streets of Crieff on Wednesday May 20, 2020.
Perthshire locals out walking the same week as No10 party as social distancing rules continued.
Perthshire locals out walking the same week as No10 party as social distancing rules continued.

She says: “I remember it being really eerie and quiet.

“There were people about but nobody was talking to anyone. It was quiet, you could hear a pin drop.

“The people that were out were making it a quick trip. Everyone was taking it really seriously.

“I remember in one picture a couple were full guns glazing with bright blue gloves and masks.

“It just stuck out – that’s how seriously people were taking it back then.”

The Courier's front page on May 20, 2020.
The Courier’s front page on May 20, 2020.

Scottish Government data from May 20, 2020, confirms 50 new Covid deaths, with a rolling seven-day average of more than 30.

In a coronavirus update the day before, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “As always, I want to send my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost and is grieving for a loved one as a result of this virus.

“I also want to thank – as I always do – our health and care workers.

May 21, 2020, front page of The Courier highlights economic pressure caused by Covid.
May 21, 2020, front page of The Courier highlights economic pressure caused by Covid.

“The whole of the country continues to be very grateful to you for the extraordinary work that you are doing in these very challenging circumstances.”

A year and a half on, a bombshell email from Boris Johnson’s private secretary Martin Reynolds has placed the prime minister at the centre of yet another crisis.

‘Appalling’ and ‘indefensible’

Ex-Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson slammed the Westminster party on Tuesday morning, branding it “appalling” and “indefensible”.

The former MSP condemned the party’s attempt to delay action until a formal probe concludes.

She wrote on Twitter: “This line won’t survive 48 hrs. Nobody needs an official to tell them if they were at a boozy shindig in their own garden. People are (rightly) furious.

“They sacrificed so much – visiting sick or grieving relatives, funerals.

“What were any of these people thinking?”

Speaking to BBC News, she added: “It is utterly appalling. It’s not just the Labour Party who are angry about this.

“There are plenty of my Parliamentary colleagues who have no idea what anyone in that email chain was thinking.

“This is utterly indefensible.”

Asked on Monday if he and wife Carrie attended a Downing Street party organised by Mr Reynolds on May 20, 2020, the prime minister said: “All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray.”

‘Boris Johnson’s not fit to be Prime Minister’: Forfar man forced to watch mum’s funeral online two days before No10 party



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