The recent chaos in the political landscape in the UK reached an apogee of sorts this week with a vote in the House of Commons in which members approved the censure of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his literal ex-communication from the seat of power.
Last week Johnson resigned as a member of Parliament just before the public release of a report by a parliamentary committee that set out the findings of a year-long investigation into his behaviour and role in rule-breaking activities in Downing Street during the Covid pandemic in 2020.
The vote by MPs on June 19 saw near unanimity by the 361 who voted on the report’s findings and recommendations for the punishment of Johnson. 354 voted ‘aye’ with just seven saying ‘no’.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of the 200+ MPs who abstained from voting or just didn’t turn up were Conservative Party members. And while Johnson has received some just desserts, this isn’t the end of this matter by any means.
Public anger about “Partygate” is mounting as the revelations revealed in the committee’s report quite clearly illustrate the utter contempt by government leaders and some government staff for social distancing and related rules put in place by Johnson’s government during the pandemic.
The starring example is in a leaked video showing staff partying and dancing in Downing Street at a Christmas 2020 event now labelled “Jingle and Mingle” after the invitation sent to staff. Yes, at a time when such gatherings were forbidden under pandemic rules, they actually had an invitation emailed to employees. It’s as if they wanted to be found out! More likely, no one cared less.
The sheer arrogance of it all.
But nothing likely emphasises public anger better than this very British approach via the device of humour in a clever satirical way with a repurposed version of Scottish artist Jack Vettriano‘s famous work, The Singing Butler, shown at the top of this page and in the tweet below.
Note the small sign on the background wall reminding you of the social distancing rules that were common at that time.
Perhaps we should call this version “Jingle and Mingle at Number Ten”. It looks as though it could well be an excellent example of an AI-generated work created with the aid of Adobe’s new generative fill tool for Photoshop!
You might be familiar with the actual The Singing Butler, below, a photo of the print that hangs in my hallway.
And so while the report published by Parliament is the culmination of the Partygate police investigation and answers the question about ‘did he or didn’t he’, the still-emerging revelations of parties, etc, have attracted police attention once more.
More significant, however, is what all this may mean as we go through 2023 and into 2024 with some speculating that the next general election could be as early as mid-2024.
Consider the reality that everything related to Partygate, everything concerning the lead-up to the pandemic in the preceding five and more years, everything about Brexit and the dreadful consequences of it, happened when the Conservative Party was the party in government (most of the time with a significant majority in the Commons), led by David Cameron in 2010, Teresa May in 2016, Boris Johnson in 2019, Liz Truss very briefly in 2022, and Rishi Sunak also in 2022 and continuing.
Thirteen years of the Tories running the country, with much of this time spent presiding over disasters and failures, argues the Labour Party, and civil wars within their own party setting a nightmare scene for them in the immediate future, argues the Daily Telegraph.
Perhaps we’ll get signs of which way the wind blows for the Tories with four by-elections due in the coming few months, following Johnson’s resignation as an MP and three other Conservative MPs who subsequently quit as well.
Maybe it really is time for someone else to have a go. Voters seem up for it.
It would be nice if we could have a general election and campaigning for it that is focused on what a new government will do for this country and its people. I find that immensely preferable to a campaign and election based on voting a certain way just to get the Tories out.
Still, if needs must.