Downing Street: Party Problems

In a world of hypocrisy, political satire writes itself. I often find myself reading the news and thinking, “Wasn’t this in The Thick of It?” However, this is a dangerous thought as I feel more desensitized than ever to sleaze in politics. Part of me thinks, “Well I’m not perfect, I don’t expect politicians to be perfect either”, but eventually you have to draw a line. When the people who legislate, supposedly on our behalf, are doing lines to get through a tough day in Parliament, I feel like that’s a good place to draw the line. Sometimes I have a hard day what with uni and work, writing essays and articles; I come home and have a beer or two, I don’t snort cocaine. Maybe I’m just jealous, I spent my first year of uni in lockdown and developed a bit of distaste for clubs afterwards. Meanwhile, MPs are nipping in and out of the parliamentary toilets to get high and then having an absolute bash at Boris’ No. 10 Christmas Do while the rest of the country mourned the loss of loved ones or had to make do with zoom parties and a socially distanced Christmas. Yup, I must be jealous.

The Conservative Party finds itself trapped in an ever declining spiral of sleaze, reminiscent of scandals that plagued John Major’s party throughout the 90s. Maybe we’re trapped in a repeat of the 90s? The PM has been accused of sleaze, Europe split the tory party; but fear not, there’s a charismatic and popular labour leader ready to oppose the government and unseat them! Oh yeah, I guess not. Labour is, in fact, stuck a decade behind in the 80s with the far left, centre left, not-so-far left, left but just a smidge etc. fighting constantly for control of the party, while an unelectable leader traverses the unforgiving arena that is the Labour Party.

The scandals started to flood in. PPE contracts awarded to mates of ministers, Dominic Cummings’ eventual demise as Johnson’s special adviser thanks to an eye test at the Barnard Castle branch of Specsavers. Matt Hancock was always going to be the centre of attention as the health secretary in a pandemic but I think we all felt a little confused watching his class on COVID safety where Hands, Face, Space somehow morphed into Hands, Hips, Lips. No. 10 created an all new American-style press room (because if you’re going to deflect public criticism every day, you might as well do it in style!) with £2.6m of taxpayers money which, to put it lightly, pissed a few people off.

It seems, however, that this little investment has come full circle for the tories though thanks to Allegra Stratton’s enlightening secret press release where she giggles from the lectern as she rehearses exactly how the government should lie to us about No. 10’s Christmas party. It’s easy to witch hunt Ms Stratton for the way she joked with seemingly little remorse for the countless families in the UK who feel disgusted at this nonchalant attitude towards what was likely a very difficult Christmas for many last year. However, her resignation does little to remedy this nonchalance that obviously plagues Downing Street. Stratton is an unfortunate pawn in the government’s game of Risk that still seems unlikely to end any time soon.

In the midst of all this is a growing paranoia over the new Omicron variant and its potential to disrupt Christmas plans. Boris’ leadership is now suffering a severe challenge. Twitter’s highly useful(!) opinions of the government, have been trending with hastags like #BorisResign #JohnsonOut #ToryLiars and #NOPLANB, which isn’t about emergency contraceptive shortages as I first assumed. It actually references the growing dissent towards more COVID restrictions as Johnson announced that masks would become mandatory in most shops and proof of vaccination would be needed at clubs. As the government edges even closer to an introduction of vaccine passports, an odd coalition of labour voters and right-wing libertarians are united in their opinion of the Prime Minister. Although not for the same reasons, a decisions on the introduction of vaccine passports could be the final nail in the coffin for Johnson. Conservatism is generally critical of government interference in individual affairs and it looks as though many conservatives are primed to vote against the government in this decision.

With a lack of party unity and an approval rating that’s ready to drop through the floor Boris is in trouble. The birth of his daughter amidst the endless controversy has granted him an escape for now, but it seems party time is coming to an end for the government.

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