When Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were fined by the Metropolitan Police for their involvement with the illegal gatherings that took place at Downing Street during lockdown this week, Partygate once again became a national topic of conversation.
The issue has unified many people across political divides. To many, our country, in the eyes of the law, has been betrayed by its most senior politicians - which represents a slap in the face for everyone, including the Queen, who sat at Prince Philip's funeral alone the morning after one particularly chaotic government gathering.
Thousands of people took to Twitter to share their fury, with many questioning how the fine for Johnson and Sunak could possibly be as low as £50 when members of the public were fined up to £10,000 for the same type of offence during the same period. Many users, including Labour MPs, were calling for Boris’ resignation.
Among them was Rylan Clark. ‘He’s officially broke the law. That’s it aint it?’ he tweeted.
And then, in an unexpected turn of events, his Tweet was quoted by the former Conservative MP Edwina Currie. ‘No, it isn’t [it],’ she spat back. ‘Shouldn’t have happened, but it’s done now. In case you hadn’t noticed, this all happened two years ago. Putin is laughing at us. Get real.’
Rylan then replied in shock: ‘I did not have Edwina Currie on my bingo card for this morning. Edwina, there’s a war, we’re living with Covid, there’s a lot going on publicly and personally. I’m aware when it was. Believe me I don’t need to “get real” it’s a statement. Not an opinion. You stay well, as will I.’
Predictably, trolls then began attacking Rylan: ‘Stick to crap grammar and poor enunciation, second-hand car salesman,’ wrote one user.
To which, Rylan later responded: ‘Just a little reminder. Regardless of your upbringing, education, wealth or status, EVERYONE is entitled to talk about Politics as UK citizens.’ And he’s right.
Just as Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner does not deserve to be belittled for her Stockport accent and incorrect grammar, Rylan is no less entitled to a political opinion because he has an Essex accent and prefers to say ‘ain’t’ instead of ‘isn’t'.
The almost instinctive decision from trolls to use Rylan’s accent and education to attack his intelligence - and, so they imply, the relevance of his political views - exemplifies how normal it has become to expect politics to be dominated by received pronunciation and private schooling.
But we live in a democracy and that means everyone, regardless of their upbringing (or career in reality TV) has the right to vote, the right to hold an opinion, and the right to voice it online - hate speech excluded...
Those in a position of power would do well to remember that.