The Granada Debate: Can people still trust politicians after Downing Street Xmas party claims?

MPs Andy Carter and Andrew Gwynne join political correspondent Lise McNally on November's installment of The Granada Debate.

On this episode, the panel discuss the Prime Minister's Plan B, compulsory coronavirus jabs and whether people can still trust politicians.

On the panel for December's edition of The Granada Debate:

  • Andy Carter, the Conservative MP for Warrington South

  • Andrew Gwynne, the Labour Party MP for Denton and Reddish

  • Rachel Statham, senior research fellow from the Institute for Public Policy Research

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson release details of his 'Plan B' covid restrictions amid the new variant. Credit: PA

Plan B - buying time for the NHS, or the Prime Minister's distraction gamble?

With the arrival of the Omicron variant in the North West, talk quickly turned to Covid restrictions, and whether an exhausted NHS could cope with another wave of infections. 

On Wednesday, the Government confirmed that we are moving to Plan B, which includes more people working from home, more masks rules and Covid passports in nightclubs.

But will this big step in the fight against Covid be haunted by the ghost of Christmas parties past - that alleged Downing Street bash in December 2020, while the rest of us were in lockdown.

Watch the moment ITV News exclusively revealed a recording of a senior Downing Street staff member joking about holding a festive party in Number 10.

Speaking to political correspondent Lise McNally, Conservative MP for Warrington South Andy Carter said he was "really angry" after watching the leaked footage, and said "there is now excuse for that type of behaviour."

He says it is important that we have an inquiry to understand if the party did, or did not, happen at Number 10 days before Christmas in a lockdown.

Andrew Gwynne, the Labour Party MP for Denton and Reddish, said an inquiry is not enough, and the Prime Minister should "own up" to any alleged parties.

He said: "There can't be one rule for law makers and another for law breakers"

Mr Gwynne told Lise McNally: "At the end of the day, this has damaged the public's view of, not just of politics, but our public health message - and I think that's incredibly dangerous."

Credit: PA

What does Plan B look like?

As Omicron cases rise across the UK, the government has introduced new restrictions to prevent further spread.

Face masks are now compulsory in most indoor settings and, from Monday,  people are advised to work from home if they can.

Places like nightclubs and sports stadiums will need to ask for proof of a double Covid jab or a negative test before letting people in. 

In a bid to avoid another pingdemic, those who come into contact with people infected with the Omicron variant will be able to take daily tests, instead of isolating. 

MP Andrew Gwynne says these measures are necessary if we want to prevent further spreading and stop the health service from becoming overwhelmed over winter.

He said: "We can't afford to let it run rip, we have to make sure we know exactly what we're dealing with and that's why I think this precautionary approach is sensible."

With a rise in the omicron varian, should vaccines be made mandatory? Credit: PA

Omicron variant - is it time for compulsory Covid jabs?

During a press conference, the Prime Minister said there should be a national conversation about mandatory vaccination.

Both MPs on the panel told Lise McNally that they have both contracted coronavirus in the last year and urge other people to get vaccinated.

"Getting a vaccination is our best way of protecting us from another lockdown in the New Year", Andy Carter said.

"So, I would encourage anybody if you're in any doubt go speak to a medical professional, they will give you the reassurances that you need - that a vaccination is the right thing to do."

Credit: PA

As the end of the year approaches, we ask - can people still trust politicians?

A YouGov poll suggests that many just don't. Almost 2 in 3 said they now see politicians as merely out for themselves.

That is a big drop in public trust compared to 2014 -  and even greater than when the same question was asked in 1944. 

Rachel Statham, who is a senior research fellow  from the Institute for Public Policy Research - and co-authored this study, the government need to improve on making people believe they can make a positive difference.

She said: "The risk of failing to act now is that we look down a path that looks like the US where we see growing polarisation, which makes it harder to have conversations across divides and could risk further cycling down of outcomes in terms of peoples lives."

Mr Carter believes there is a real drive from all politicians to try and make a difference in their communities, but said "we need to promises we made at the last election are delivered."

Catch up with previous episodes of The Granada Debate here.