Labour parliamentarian Stephen Kinnock has been scolded by police on social media for making a socially-distanced visit to his elderly father on his birthday.
“Dad turned 78 today. Incredible, but true,” wrote Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP, husband of former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and son of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock.
“Happy birthday, mate,” he added — provoking a hectoring public admonishment from law enforcement.
“Hello [Stephen Kinnock] we know celebrating your Dad’s birthday is a lovely thing to do, however this is not essential travel,” replied South Wales Police.
“We all have our part to play in this, we urge you to comply with [British government] restrictions, they are in place to keep us all safe. Thank you,” the force added.
Hello @SKinnock we know celebrating your Dad’s birthday is a lovely thing to do, however this is not essential travel. We all have our part to play in this, we urge you to comply with @GOVUK restrictions, they are in place to keep us all safe. Thank you. ^cy
— South Wales Police | #StayHomeSaveLives (@swpolice) March 29, 2020
The Labour MP stood his ground, however, answering that he “felt that this was essential travel as I had to deliver some necessary supplies to my parents”.
“I stayed long enough to sing ‘happy birthday’ to Dad, and then I was off,” he added.
“All the best, Stephen.”
The Government lockdown rules do allow for members of the public to visit vulnerable persons, such as elderly relatives, to deliver groceries and the like during the pandemic — but some police forces have been accused of extending and even inventing new restrictions, enforced overzealously and, according to critics, unevenly.
South Wales Police force’s treatment of Kinnock was criticised by conservative newspaper columnist Peter Hitchens, who asked “what conceivable damage Mr Kinnock did” by making the visit.
“We are told the regulations are to protect us. In this case, how? It seems [supporters of the police] think they are just there to give the police and nosey parkers more power over us. Alas, the Police seem to think the same.”
The police were defended, however, by Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan.
“All you have to do is stay at home and obey the rules. There’s a section of our community who doesn’t care. Who can blame them when you have a politician, Stephen Kinnock, driving from his constituency in Wales to London to see his father?” Morgan asked.
“He says he’s taking essential supplies. Really? … I’m sure someone closer than Wales can get essential travel to your parents.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 30, 2020