Finally we come to the scandal that has topped all scandals this year, a scandal that almost spawned an entire advent calendar of its own. Well after the first pieces in this calendar started to be published, a litany of revelations came out about parties held by members of the government and the Conservative Party during the lockdown period of November and December 2020.
The parties that sources claim have happened include (as far as we know):
- A “victory party” after Dominic Cumming’s sacking in No.10 (13 November)
- An ‘impromptu drinks’ held by RIshi Sunak’s staff during national lockdown (25 November 2020)
- A leaving party held in No.10 Downing Street for outgoing advisor Cleo Watson, at which Johnson is alleged to have spoken (27 November)
- A party at the department for education, hosted by then secretary of state Gavin Williamson (10 December)
- A party at Conservative HQ with members of Shaun Bailey’s campaign team (14 December).A christmas quiz hosted by the prime minister. The event was apparently remote, but Johnson is pictured sitting with two colleagues
- A party held in the office of civil service head Simon Case, who had been tasked with investigating the various allegations, with email invites with the title “Christmas party!” (17 December)
- A Christmas party in Downing Street, where Johnson’s director of communications Jack Doyle handed out awards to staff (18 December).
The scale of this one-rule-for-them-one-rule-for-us party culture has shocked many. Much of the British public had to cancel plans over the holiday season, spend the darkest days of the year alone, and even say goodbye to relatives for the last time over Zoom.
This may finally be a scandal which has lasting consequences. Since news broke of the first party on 30 November, the Conservatives have plummeted in the polls, they lost the ultra-safe seat of North Shropshire in a by-election, and letters have been sent in to the 1922 committee.
As 2021 draws to a close, the fate of Johnson’s premiership, and his party’s electoral dominance, is still unknown. As the Omicron variant tears through the country, now is the worst time for the internecine conflicts that this scandal has produced. We can only hope that the New Year’s resolutions of our leaders include a pledge to actually follow the rules…
Check out the rest of the advent calendar’s entries here, and stay tuned for more releases!