I’M thinking of trying out some political trickery on my daughter.

In the kitchen there’s a bag of pillowy-soft marshmallows that I bought specifically for the mugs of hot chocolate that she demands nightly in the run up to Christmas.

I really want to eat them. I want to stuff my face with the entire bag and then deny any involvement in the crime.

If I did, it wouldn’t take long for her to notice their absence and question me about it. I’d have to come clean and admit to my selfish gluttony.

Or would I?

I could just tell her: “I do not recognise your account of the missing marshmallows.”

When she, as any reasonable person would, counters with: “Does that mean you ate the marshmallows or you didn’t?” I would tell her that no laws have been broken and I disagree with the premise of her question.

That was the line taken by a Downing Street spokesperson this week when he was asked about the now-infamous government lock-ins during lockdown at Christmas last year.

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On the Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Minister for Mojitos Dominic Raab was asked a very straightforward question: were Christmas parties allowed last year?

After the briefest of pauses Mr Raab stuttered an answer: “So look, if you’re – eh – generally … no.”

We were over the first hurdle. The minister admitted what is already a demonstrable fact.

Andrew Marr went on.

“And yet we know there WAS a Christmas party at Number 10. So how did that NOT break the rules?’’

I would usually edit a long quote for the sake of brevity. But in this case, Dominic Raab’s response is worth reading in full.

Get comfortable and try to resist the urge to weep that these eejits are paid handsomely to take decisions on our behalf.

“So look, I’m not going to say anything beyond what the PM has said in relation to this, we’ve got – let’s just be clear what we’re talking about here – something that took place a year ago, unsubstantiated, anonymous claims being made.

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"The PM has been crystal clear in relation to any eh, ah, circumstances or events in Downing Street, that the rules were complied with and – ah – and the police have been very clear they’ll look at any letter but they don’t normally look back and investigate things that have taken place a year ago I don’t think – ah – I don’t think – in the absence of some form of substantiated …’’

At this point, Andrew Marr interjected and saved us having to endure any more of Dominic Raab’s incoherent rambling.

Imagine Poirot, Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple investigating the case of the Downing Street piss-up. They would all come to the same conclusion before the first witness was interviewed or the first pipe was smoked.

The National: Boris Johnson in Pritchett Family Butchers..Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Salisbury Christmas Fair in the Guildhall Square, Salisbury DC9338P18 Picture by Tom Gregory.

Christmas parties were against the rules last year. Number 10 hosted a number of Christmas parties. Boris Johnson’s government broke the rules that they had imposed and expected people in England to follow.

Yet we are subjected to this agonising disfigurement of language: where government representatives frantically scramble for any linguistic loophole that will save them from having to admit to their failings.

This line that we’ve heard in recent days – that the police apparently don’t investigate crimes retrospectively – is an insult to our intelligence.

That’s the only way crimes can be investigated. Plainly, a crime has to have happened for the police to investigate it.

To deny the parties took place would be a lie, so instead Tory MPs tell us that none of this matters because it happened so long ago.

Tell that to the families of the bereaved, many of whom missed out on precious final moments with their loved ones because the restrictions at the time didn’t permit them to say goodbye in person.

Like so many of the scandals that this government has been embroiled in recent months, it all comes down to fairness.

Should the people making the rules be given a free pass to break them at will? Or should they, being as they are in a position of responsibility, be expected to set a good example?

I think we know the answer. Extracting that – or any – straightforward explanation from the UK Government is a little harder to come by.

The instinct of Boris Johnson will be to ride out the storm. That’s his go-to strategy for dealing with bad press. Experience tells us that he will probably be successful in his endeavour.

There will come a point when we will stop talking about it and it will slip from the front pages.

But with every passing day, incidences of “one rule for them and another for the rest of us” are having a corrosive, cumulative impact on the fortunes of the Conservative party.

Once the public start to notice how often they play us for fools, they will begin to register it every time it happens.

And with this government, chances are we won’t have to wait too long before the next one comes along.