Neil Oliver: If we are to condemn husbands to scream their grief in cars in hospital car parks while wives die alone, are there any leaders left worthy of the trust of decent people?

Our trust is a gift we choose to give. It’s a pricelessly valuable commodity and may form the foundation for a happy life, for long and fruitful relationships.

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According to The Beatles, All You Need Is Love.

It’s a fine sentiment heartfelt and hopeful. I would say though, that once you’ve been round the houses a few times, seen a bit of life, you come to realise that in all things that matter – from affairs of the heart to business dealings – it’s really all about trust.

Our trust is a gift we choose to give. It’s a pricelessly valuable commodity and may form the foundation for a happy life, for long and fruitful relationships.

But given unwisely and in error, offered up to an undeserving recipient and then abused by them, trust is as fragile as a soap bubble.

In truth, trust is a one-time-only offer; real, meaningful trust can only be given once. Once the soap bubble is burst, there’s no fixing it.

Once trust is gone – on account of it’s being misused – it never really comes back, not in the pure form of before.

After a breach of trust, everything is different and forever and in our hearts we all know that’s true. A broken vase might be glued back together, but you could never again be as confident as before about filling it with water.

A functioning and civilised society is also based in large part upon trust. Short of the application of physical force – tanks on the streets, soldiers with rifles – the power of democratically elected governments such as we have been taught to listen to, even to take for granted, is just an illusion.

But a handful of people is put in charge of the affairs of state, and a multitude of citizens lets them get on with it. This arrangement is wholly predicated, however, on trust, by the many of the few.

If the handful of people trusted with keeping the lights on, and the streets safe to walk, abuses and loses the trust of the millions, then that functioning society is no more.

What follows is either despotism that must be sustained at the point of a bayonet, or anarchy and chaos.

Without recourse to the tanks and bullets, that untrustworthy and untrusted handful of people is suddenly and utterly powerless, impotent in the face of all those they have wronged.

All at once the curtain is pulled back to reveal the Wizard of Oz for the pitiful little conman he really is.

Fool me once, shame on you – as the old adage has it – fool me twice, shame on me.Over and over again, during the last two years, we have listened to the handful of people – and by that, I mean not just the elected government but their supposed opposition as well, craven and complicit in the abuse of trust – and always we have been let down.

I say we have been deliberately and cynically misled for many months. Repeatedly we have been told things that were, to say the very least, subsequently proven to be incorrect and incomplete.

Countless statements were made with the intention of frightening us into obedience. Information that might have enabled us better to understand the reality of the situation, better to make informed decisions for ourselves, has been withheld or suppressed – worse yet, ridiculed and dismissed as nonsense and conspiracy theories.

Time and time again we have had to listen to experts predicting catastrophes – catastrophes that never happen.

We have been told that our submission to this or that inconvenience, indignity, or imposition on our freedom and rights will secure a return to the normality of before – normality freed from the constant fear that what is permitted today will be forbidden again tomorrow.

The cumulative effect of all of this has been the erosion of trust – trust in elected representatives; trust in scientists and even in science itself; trust in the mainstream media; trust in medical professionals; trust in the NHS – the list is long indeed.

Also desperately damaged, perhaps beyond repair for many, is trust in the police. It’s been trotted out repeatedly that here in Great Britain, we are policed by consent – which is to say that for around 200 years the police force has based its legitimacy not on the application of naked force – as is the case elsewhere in the world – but on account of having the confidence, the trust, of the British people.

During the past two years however, the police have increasingly been seen, rightly or wrongly, as enforcers of government will. In the face of public protests, they have been seen to favour those in tune with official sentiment, and rigorously to oppose those deemed dissenting from the government narrative of the moment.

Among many errors, this one is especially gross. If a point is reached when too many citizens come to regard police officers not as people to be trusted but as a group to be avoided, then a Rubicon has been crossed.

There will be no going back.I say again: trust is precious and fragile. Collective trust in society is made ultimately of the trust of individuals.

Each of us must be persuaded that the society of which we are a part is a good thing, something worth having and defending – honest and humane, a cradle for our best interests.

Each of us must believe – and have genuine reasons for believing – that our efforts as citizens are helping maintain something honourable and right.

Last week, in the thick of Downing Street Partygate, the Labour Party released a statement by an NHS nurse named only as Jenny.

As news broke about suitcases full of wine and dancing in the basement of Number 10, Jenny was quoted as saying: "I remember 20 May 2020 vividly, I spent hours on the phone to a man who was in the hospital car park, utterly desperate to see his wife. He begged, wept, shouted to be let in, but we said no – for the greater good of everyone else. She died unexpectedly and alone, as the government had a party".

I read the words over and over. Utterly desperate … begged, wept, shouted … we said no … for the greater good… she died… alone…The tone was even ambiguous somehow, so that it was unclear whether the talk of the greater good was sincere or sarcastic.

It was also gallingly and eye-poppingly disingenuous hypocrisy coming, as it had, in the form of tweet, from a Labour Party that has, while supposedly in opposition, been nothing but a bag carrier and excited accomplice of the application of the very rules that gave us Nurse Jenny’s testimony.

Regardless … how on earth could have we reached a point where, in the face of a disease with a high recovery rate, such a scenario was ever deemed appropriate, and also unavoidable.

For want of a surname or any other details, we cannot know if Jenny is a real person, or a composite brought together by a PR professional to illustrate a general point.

There is, however, no hiding from the fact that the picture painted of a human being broken and crying, denied the right to be by the side of someone dearly loved, holding her hand, at the end of her life, was made real too many times to count during the course of this human tragedy we have called a pandemic.

That such traumas were inflicted by authority figures who then flouted their own diktats, presumably because they knew there was no need for them, because they had evidently gleaned that there was nothing much for them to fear from the disease, is a thought hardly to be borne by decent people.

I struggle to know how even to begin to express my horror at how far we have fallen as a society.

Breach of trust is one thing, but if this is where we are now, then we are close to lost entirely.

A civilised society must hold some things as sacred, never to be broken or dishonoured. Throughout this crisis the sanctity of the family has been ignored and set aside, apparently for the greater good.

Family members have been deliberately isolated from one another, denied the togetherness that makes life worth living.

Men, women and children have been consigned to lonely deaths from all manner of ailments, while those they loved broke their hearts elsewhere.

Attacks on the family are always in the playbook of those with a view to establishing new power and new control.

But there are bonds between people that no government has the right to deny, far less to seek to break.

As the marriage vows have it: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate".

If we are to condemn husbands to scream their grief in cars in hospital car parks while wives die alone, then are there any leaders left – anywhere in the land – worthy of the trust of decent people.