From: Vivienne Rivis, Burton Leonard, Harrogate.

By YP LettersThursday, 20th January 2022, 4:22 pm

WHILE the Tory party psychodrama plays out yet again with its shifting cast of questionable characters, Yorkshire’s Conservative MPs and councillors would do well to remember that grief and anger are not limited by convenient five-year terms.

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As a local and family historian I can attest to the powerful impact of bereavement and loss down the generations. I grew up with inherited grief for my grandmother’s three infant sisters who died before she was born of ‘endemic’ diseases of poverty in affluent Scarborough at the end of Victoria’s reign.

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My aunt, aged nine, never forgot that her two-year-old brother died of meningitis ‘because the doctor wouldn’t come’ to their remote hill farm.

Nine years later, her mother’s sudden death left her, aged 18, with a traumatised family and a dolly tub full of washing. She sent her two youngest siblings to their stern eldest brother up on the Wolds. He failed to provide the information or comfort they needed, so my 10-year-old father ran after a bus thinking he’d caught a glimpse of the mum who had disappeared so abruptly from his life.

People build such narratives around their grief and loss – depending on our age, we all know where we were when President John F Kennedy was shot in 1963, or when we learned of Princess Diana’s death in Paris in 1997.

So it will be with the Downing Street parties: which of us hasn’t checked our diaries or phones to find out what we were doing, or, more likely, not doing on May 15 and 20, 2020? I know I had not seen my only grandson for two months, nor comforted my newly-bereaved best friends after their terrible sudden loss, nor visited my friend with worsening dementia in her care home.

I will always remember that while we kept to the rules, did what we could within our own community by raising money for charity, helping with remote home-schooling and trying to combat loneliness with Zoom talks, those in power scorned our sacrifices, large and small. They literally meant nothing to them.

Even when I write to my MP, Julian Smith, about the appalling behaviour of Dominic Cummings and now of the latter’s former cronies in Number 10, I have come to expect nothing except courteous but non-committal replies.

What all of us need now is for Mr Smith and his colleagues to get off the uncomfortable fence they are sitting on and remember that we ordinary folk control the people’s narrative of history.

We’ll be telling our long-suffering grandchildren about the very bad people, called Conservatives, who were running the country when they had to miss loads of school, who didn’t protect them from a deadly disease that most of them caught in the end, and wouldn’t even let them say goodbye to their dying granny or grandad. We won’t hesitate to remind them that all the while those very same bad people were having a non-stop party, to which none of us were invited.

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