The recent news from Britain demonstrates my theory that politicians aren’t brought down by corruption, by undermining democracy, or by heartlessness toward the vulnerable. It’s the human-size scandals that do them in. Not the kind that wreck a country–we’ve developed a high tolerance for country-wrecking–but the ones that show the politicians as human-size jerks, people no larger than ourselves who we can afford to wipe off our plates.
Yes, it restores my faith in the basic lunacy of my species. (I’m assuming that’s your species as well.)
What’s happened, you ask? Or you ask if you’re not British, because over here we’ve been following this with either glee or despair or fury, depending on our pre-existing political convictions, our temperaments, and how warped our senses of humor are. Or in my case with a destabilizing mix of both glee and despair–a mix that leaves me wondering what kind of excuse for a human being I really am.
What I’m talking about is a drip feed of stories about Boris Johnson–Britain’s prime minister when he can spare the time and attention–along with the circle around him having broken every rule of the Covid lockdown that they imposed on everyone but themselves. At a time when people couldn’t be with family members as they died, Johnson and his cohort were holding parties. Or gatherings. Or work events. With wine and cheese. And, for one of them, a bring-your-own-booze invitation.
At a time when extended families couldn’t meet in parks, never mind at funerals, they were holding more work events involving alcohol. And in the spirit of screaming irony, dozens of people from the Cabinet Office’s Covid task force showed up at one of them. On the same day the government tweeted that workplaces couldn’t hold Christmas lunches or parties.
The prime minister has variously said that he wasn’t at one or another of them, that he was there but thought he was attending a work meeting, that no one told him they broke the rules, and that he was there but is really, really sorry, especially about the party the day before Prince Phillip’s funeral, which (this being Britain and all) may be the one that sinks him.
On the other hand, the video of Johnson dancing around with a light saber isn’t from any of the lockdown gatherings. Fact checkers have established that it predates the pandemic.
You feel better now, right?
Meanwhile, Michael Fabricant, a Member of Parliament from Johnson’s own Consevative Party, accused the BBC of attempting a coup.
How? By covering the Partygate story.
“This is not news reporting an event,” he said. “This relentless news creation is a coup attempt against the prime minister.”
What the hell, a coup attempt made big news in the U.S. I expect he thought tossing the phrase into the conversation would trigger the same sort of attention here.
At more or less (mostly less) the same time and no doubt backing the BBC’s coup attempt, dozens of people in dark suits, Boris Johnson masks, and floppy blond wigs turned up in Trafalgar Square and outside Downing Street with beer, wine, music, and British flags to drink, dance, and chant, “My name is Boris,” and “This is a work event.”
I heard some pundit on the news saying that when the political response shifts from anger to mockery, a politician’s career is over. Stay tuned and we’ll see if it’s true.
And in party news from elsewhere
A December 30 charter flight from Montreal to Cancun, Mexico got so rowdy that the passengers were banned from their return flight.
The trip had been organized by something that describes itself as an “exclusive private group,” the 111 (pronounced Triple One) Private Club.
If exclusivity depends on who you exclude, I’m happy to be among the people who get left out of this.
The passengers drank and danced in the aisles, maskless, and of course video’d themselves to provide evidence. Because nothing that happens happened if you don’t have a selfie to prove it.
The airline they flew down on, Sunwing, canceled their return flight. It did negotiate with Triple One about taking them back, and it got as far as agreeing that the passengers would show up sober and not be served any alcohol on the flight, but negotiations broke down over food: Sunwing said it wouldn’t serve meals. Triple One said that on a five-hour flight they’d fade away without it.
Okay, I haven’t a clue what Triple One actually said, but negotiations did break down at that point. Last I heard Triple One said it was working to get the passengers home and two other airlines also refused to have them on board. I
Who were these little charmers? Influencers. Reality TV stars. A small handful of the organizer’s business partners. They were facing fines when they got home. And possibly jail time, which gives a whole ‘nother meaning to the word reality.
And finally, an Australian four-year-old wanted to have a party of his own–he had a birthday coming up–and used his father’s phone to order $1,139 worth of cake and ice cream, including a personalized birthday cake, from Uber Eats. It was delivered to the fire station where the boy’s father works, and the firefighters accepted the order.
What sane person, after all, would ask questions before accepting a thousand dollars worth of cake and ice cream?
Uber Eats agreed to refund the money and the parents are speaking to the kid again, although I don’t know if he got to eat any of the stuff he ordered. Which doesn’t make it much of a party for him.
Boris Johnson will be drafted in to consult with him on his party planning as soon as he’s booted out as prime minister.