by Peter Franklin
Monday, 31
January 2022
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18:04

Sue Gray’s report is good news for Boris… so far

There have been no new revelations about Partygate
by Peter Franklin
Boris Johnson in the Commons today

An “update” on Sue Gray’s investigation into Partygate was published today. The good news for Boris is that it doesn’t land him in any more trouble than he is already. 

The media has focused on phrases like “failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times.” However, thanks to the police investigation, the specific details have been held back for the time being. 

There was one bit of the report that should have received more attention. Speaking of “blurred lines of accountability”, Gray writes that “too much responsibility and expectation is placed on the senior official whose principal function is the direct support of the Prime Minister.”

This appears to be a reference to the Prime Minister’s Principle Private Secretary — meaning the civil servant who is the head of the Prime Minister’s Office. If Gray can be read as saying that this individual should not be expected to control everything that goes on in Downing Street, then shouldn’t the same apply to the PM? Boris Johnson is meant to be a head of government, not a facilities manager.

Are we really saying that he should be held directly responsible for the behaviour of every official in Downing Street? If it’s too much for his Principle Private Secretary, then it’s certainly too much for him. 

Of course what Boris Johnson is responsible for is his own behaviour. According to Gray, one of the events under investigation is described as a “gathering in the No 10 Downing Street flat” on the 13 November 2020. This happens to be the day that Dominic Cummings departed Downing Street for good (as he writes about here). 

Naturally, Gray’s interim report contains no further specifics about this alleged gathering or what might have happened there. We don’t know if Johnson was either present or involved. On this and most of the other key events, the details are still frustratingly unclear. 

Paul Brand of ITV tweets that the police have been handed a “bundle of evidence” containing “500 pieces of paper” and “300 photos”. It seems that these will now determine the Prime Minister’s fate — unless, of course, his colleagues can’t wait to find out. 

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Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 months ago

I am so sick of this story. I don’t think anything of Boris’ lax and debauched approach to government but the hysteria on the other side is driving me to support him somehow. They’re like a pack of hyenas. It’s one thing to demand accountability from the PM – it’s another to completely lose the plot on your ceaseless search for the All Singing All Dancing Boris Removal Agent.
There’s something so unbelievably BRITISH about getting your collective knickers in a twist over some wine & nibbles and almost completely losing sight of the fact that Russian troops are amassing on the Ukrainian border and it’s anyone’s guess about how the situation will develop.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I hate to sound such an unpopular note but Russia and Ukraine are EU, and specifically, German problems, not British ones. I don’t have to be pro-Russian to acknowledge Russia’s extreme sensitivity to perceived encroachments upon its security by foolish attempts to seduce Ukraine and Belarus into Nato and EU realms of influence. If I were Russian I might be a tad paranoid. When the Soviet Union allow near Ukrainian neutrality, welcome it with both hands but don’t attempt to take more than was offered.

Last edited 3 months ago by Terry Needham
David Jennings
David Jennings
3 months ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Well, no actually, the UK DOES have an obligation to Ukraine. The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances for Ukraine, 1994 obliges the United States and the United Kingdom (AND RUSSIA!) “to respect the independence and sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine” and to “refrain from the threat or use of force” against that country. The UK and the US act as guarantors, and did so in order to convince Ukraine to surrender the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world, including some 1,900 strategic nuclear weapons designed to strike the United States.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 months ago
Reply to  David Jennings

I do wish that our government would cease to run around the world poking its nose into matters that need be none of its business. We have no strategic interest in The Ukraine, any more than we had in Afghanistan. We have spent the post war years acting as a poodle to the US to no conceivable benefit to ourselves. And I doubt that Putin is awestruck by the thought of incurring the wrath of Boris Johnson – The leader of a country that has no money and no guns.

Last edited 3 months ago by Terry Needham
Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
3 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

It strikes me there may be something in your last point. In 1843 Macaulay wrote ‘We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality’. This has become a slugger’s contest, the MSM entered the ring desperate for revenge after Brexit, Trump, the Red Wall election etc. It was gleefully super confident the knockout blow would come in the early rounds. Now the hall is emptying as punters look east, the lumbering MSM hauls itself out for the final rounds hoping for the knockout blow that will never come. Cakes and Ale.  

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Jeez Katharine I’m so in agreement. I’ve stopped watching the news except for opportunities to see the disappointed faces of hacks when they have to report that Johnson is still there. It’s been quite funny to see BBC news camping live outside No10 in the desperate hope of being able to announce his departure.
And the bitter Tories that hate Johnson for getting to the top are just as loathsome – more so with their silly blackmail and racism accusations and snitching on the whips. They’ve so overplayed their hand and lost the plot that even if Johnson does go no one will ever trust these spiteful politicians again – especially the members of the 1922 Committee. If you’re going to assassinate someone get the job done quick and clean the first time, otherwise you’ll be remembered as a loser and failure.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Haha, yes watching those hacks camp out in front of No. 10 is eerily reminiscent of the way they camp out in front of the Lindo Wing when a royal labour is in progress…except for in the latter case they have much better chances of coming away from the gig with what they wanted.

jill dowling
jill dowling
3 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Completely agree with you Katherine. The press have an agenda and are abusing their powers of influence.

Andrew Barton
Andrew Barton
3 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

For me, the wine and nibbles is the last straw. Far worse is Boris Johnson’s willing embrace of big government, high tax and high spend. He has reneged on his pre-Brexit promise to deregulate. He is completely seduced by the climate emergency nonsense. There seems to be no attempt to make us energy self-sufficient. He was far too slow to put an end to the Covid hysteria. If he loses the next general election and the country is run by angry Labour harridans, I doubt we’d notice the difference. Wine and nibbles is a very minor factor.

Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
3 months ago

Douglas Ross has left the Scottish Tories high and dry with his strident anti Johnson stance. Unless Johnson goes, he looks weak and ineffectual. But how can they now endorse Johnson as PM in another UK election?

Matt M
Matt M
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

It suggests that if Boris stays Ross will have to go, doesn’t it?

George Glashan
George Glashan
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

They should play Neil Youngs “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” at Ross’s upcoming leaving do

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
3 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

…..The Needle and the Damage Done?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Maxwell

He could get a job on one of those crippled creek ferries when they’re finally commissioned.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Let’s hope Ross has to go. He is totally not up to the job

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

Johnson doesn’t need their endorsement. The Scots have no option but the Tories to protest against SNP, Labour (same as SNP) and Green policies.

stephen archer
stephen archer
3 months ago

Peter, It’s principal not principle! Embarrassing.
And if the principal private secretary is now to be given the blame for some of the shennanigans then I think it’s important to recognise that in many companies and organisations it’s the man at the top who’s responsible for setting the standards (morality, integrity, honesty, professionalism, etc.) and regulations to be followed. If the principal private secretary doesn’t get the correct message and impression from his immediate superior then it could be expected that he/she will take some liberties when the situations present themselves where deviation from the rules and laws for the rest of the nation seem to be no big deal.

Last edited 3 months ago by stephen archer
Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
3 months ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Er…it’s ‘embarrassing’, isn’t it…?

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
3 months ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Personally, I’ve lost count of the number of gatherings in my flat that my colleagues went to during the various lockdowns without me being either present or aware. Totally unfair to expect Boris to have noticed what was going on when he was probably busy redoing the wallpaper.

R S Foster
R S Foster
3 months ago
Reply to  stephen archer

…true, up to a point…but one of the quirks of the Civil Service is that elected politicians only have a direct relationship with a very limited number of very senior Civil Servants…and it is they who are supposed to give the orders and set the tone further down the food chain…the exception being the Special Advisors, but I think there are quite a lot of rules governing who they can and can’t talk to, much less order about…so I think in this context it is a bit more complicated than “it’s all down to the PM”…
…even if you imagine that the PM sends out the invites to the Office Party, which I rather doubt…

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
3 months ago

“Sue Gray’s report is good news for Boris…,,”
So we won’t have to declare war on Russia, then?

Last edited 3 months ago by Eddie Johnson
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 months ago

Gray’s report and the police investigation may be of interest to political and media operatives but I don’t give a fig. I have already found him guilty of taking me for a sap for the last two years. Of course he is being witchhunted and I don’t care about that either. He should be de-bagged as soon as possible, not because of his parties, but because the financial and economic disaster that his “green” policies will inflict upon this country will lead to the destruction of the electoral credibility of any conservative voice for a generation.

Last edited 3 months ago by Terry Needham
R S Foster
R S Foster
3 months ago

…seems highly likely that it was Mrs Johnson who organised the party after Dominic Cummings departed…in what is both her home, and his…and probably involving those members of Downing Street staff that the PM’s wife is friendly with.
Fascinating to see Women…many on the Left…arguing that a Husband should be able to tell his Wife what to do, and how to behave…in her own home…with her friends.
In other contexts, wouldn’t he be seen as an “Abusive Partner”, exercising “Coercive Control”?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 months ago

Boris’s Lewinsky moment….

andrew harman
andrew harman
3 months ago

Sort the editing. It is PRINCIPAL Private Secretary.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 months ago
Reply to  andrew harman

In principle, you are right

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
3 months ago

Oh dear, Peter! “Principal” not “Principle” Private Secretary (they have no principles, after all, it would seem.