When is a party not a party? That seems to be the question of the moment. It has taken up more media space and time than anything else at the moment. Well, okay, maybe I am exaggerating but the 10 Downing Street Christmas Bash 2020 has been receiving a lot of attention.
Which is worse, I wonder, condoning a breach of covid regulations and allowing a party at 10 Downing Street or admitting that you have no idea what goes on in your own establishment, under your own roof? Leadership? Accepting responsibility?
Somebody in one of the discussions on the radio pointed out that it wouldn’t, indeed couldn’t, have happened under Theresa May’s leadership. She was a great stickler for obeying rules and regulations and somehow she didn’t inspire party-going or part-giving. Looking back to her entry into the party conference doing a sort of stiff dance confirms that idea. And that was before the coughing began.
Boris Johnson on the other hand has always been a bit of a joker, willing to join in all sorts of jolly japes. Even if he didn’t know what was going on, his staff probably felt he would be happy for them to have some fun and games. I’ve never been to 10 Downing Street, so I can’t comment on the sound-proofing between the PM’s residence and the rest of the building.
But scape-goating a junior member of staff seems a bit extreme.
As ever, the estimable Michael Rosen gives us his take on the matter
Did you see my wheeze? I'm pretending I don't know if there was or was not a party. Like the walls and floors of No 10 are sound proof! And the press pack have bought it! I am so bloody good.
Allegra requiescat in media,
Thanks for taking one for the team. We will of course be able to remunerate you in the appropriate way. May I also make a request? I think we are all agreed that certain matters are best kept private.
Detritus in camera
With the exit of Allegra, I fear the Praetorian Guard is crumbling. Who is friend, who is foe? I foresee a future dragging my weary limbs round TV studios in order to sustain a decent level of appearance fee. Who is Cassius? Who is Brutus?
And in the midst of all that chaos, the Prime Minister has just informed us that further covid restrictions are about to come into force. Of course, some are saying this is another Johnson dead cat.
Incidentally, my brother-in-law just sent me this from the London Economic:
“Amid accusations he has activated England’s ‘Plan B’ coronavirus restrictions to distract from the scandal engulfing Downing Street, an old article written by Boris Johnson has revealed his love of “dead cat” politics.
In an article for The Daily Telegraph in March 2013, Johnson introduced the public to the ploy – pioneered by his former campaign manager, the Australian political strategist Sir Lynton Crosby.
“Let us suppose you are losing an argument,” he wrote. “The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality the worse it is for you and your case.
“Your best bet in those circumstances is to performer a manoeuvre that a great campaigner describes as ‘throwing a dead cat on the table, mate’.”
The beauty of the move, he added, was that people would still be “outraged, alarmed, disgusted” – but they’d be talking about the dead cat, rather than “the issue that has been causing you so much grief”.
Johnson’s old column was dug up in Thursday’s edition of the Telegraph.”
Sajid Javid isnstanding up for Plan B, Insisting that the shift to the coronavirus Plan B is an attempt to “buy time” to avoid the threat of a million Omicron infections by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, we’re just hoping our much more modest Christmas gatherings can go ahead without scandal or restrictions. Our son, due to arrive at the end of next week for a pre-Christmas celebration, has a sneaky fear that travel restrictions could come into force, if not now, then in the new year. He hopes to get their visit in before such an eventuality.
We shall see.
Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!