No. Do not let Johnson just ‘move on from this’

May 25, 2022

by Martin Odoni

Is there anything more maddening or nauseating than a sleazy politician caught absolutely bang-to-rights breaking the law, saying he “takes responsibility,” and then lectures the whole country that, “It’s time to move on”?

My utter detestation of Boris Johnson will not be news to anyone who reads this blog. What bewilders me is that, although there has never been a politician in this country so transparently out for himself as he, never equally has there been a politician less equipped to learn from his blunders.

I will not weary anyone with details of the Gray Report into Tory Government transgressions of their own lockdown rules, published today. If you wish to check them, try here. But I want to draw attention to the absurd response from Johnson, the partier-in-chief, at Prime Minister’s Question Time.

The Gray Report is out and tells us what we already guessed

Johnson claimed – reported with remarkably little critical analysis by the media – that he accepted full responsibility for ‘Partygate’, and “everything that happened under my watch.”

Asked if that meant he was resigning, which was surely the bare minimum form accepting responsibility must take, what with Johnson having been shown to have lied repeatedly about this affair to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister quite naturally said, “No.” At an ensuing Press Conference, he added, “I’ve got to keep moving forward.”


The horrifying alcoholism that clearly pervades the current Government and has been itemised in such crude detail in the Report is reason in itself for the whole Administration to be forcibly brought to a halt. Drunks at the wheel are never a healthy idea, be they at the wheel of a car or the wheel of a nation, so moving forward is a recipe for meltdown.

Worse though, this sort of disgusting, puerile, publicly-subsidised drinking culture is out of control at a time when the Tories keep patronising the British poor with instructions to ‘budget better’ and to eat more cheaply, when they should instead be trying to fight the cost-of-living crisis. Why not transfer the Cabinet’s drinks budget to the poorest for a start? This is before we even consider that most people in the country were dutifully observing lockdown rules for two years, even those who were losing loved ones while the rules cruelly stopped them from attending funerals. While all that was happening, Johnson was turning Number 10 into a posh man’s tax-funded pub.

Johnson actually had the nerve to insist that he had been “humbled by the whole experience” of ‘Partygate,’ and that he had learned lessons. Oh yeah? What lessons? That lying is wrong? That getting caught lying is damaging? That he should be subject to the same rules as everybody else? I am quite confident he already knew the second and third, and that he will never understand the first.

As for “humbled”? Go to hell, BoJob, you condescending rhinoceros. You are the accused here, and you have been found to have a massive case to answer, and for which the full penalty has not been decided on or paid. When you are the subject of an inquiry into serious misconduct, you are the last person in the country to get a say in when the matter is closed, or when it is time to ‘move forward’ from it. Humbled, my backside, Johnson! Quite the opposite, you sound even more arrogant than ever.

That in itself demonstrates that, as I say, Johnson is incapable of learning lessons, because if he were, he would have figured out that right now, declarations from on high are a bad look. Humility is really needed, and it is a talent he lacks. He has to show himself to be subordinate to the law and the public, not as though he sets the terms of his own investigation. That is the unaccountability of an Absolute Monarch, and it is far from the first time that Johnson has tried to claim it.

Has it never occurred to Johnson that no one can trust him to carry on any further? That is the whole point of there being an investigation – to establish whether the Prime Minister’s conduct is acceptable. In a democracy, that matters.

Think of the late Sarah Everard, and the way women attending a vigil in her memory – a vigil note, not a ‘protest’ against the police culture that led to her murder – were physically attacked by the Metropolitan Police? Physically attacked for holding candles?

When do the Met wrap BoJob, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove in cuffs and gag them? I will happily volunteer to hold them down for them. But of course not; let us remember that the authorities originally were not going to investigate the lockdown parties in Downing Street at all, and even Sue Gray herself does not seem eager for things to be taken any further. They would not hesitate if it were someone poorer.

The Establishment in the United Kingdom really does treat us like herd animals, and those who are most obedient to it are the ones they treat that way the most.

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